Tuesday, January 26, 2016

21 Questions To Help You Uncover Your Passion

How to live a life with meaning? 

I spent years feeling lifeless, lacking true passion or purpose, and one day realized a big part of the issue was the questions I was asking (and not asking) myself.

I often said things like, “Why are others on a path but not me? Why don’t I know my purpose?” These questions kept me in a cycle of hopelessness. But, sometimes the questions we ask can be more important than the answers to those questions.

Asking stronger questions became a key part of finding my life purpose. These questions became pivotal in my search & healing process. 

 Flash-forward to today: My life looks radically different, and I am living my dream life full of passion and purpose. To this day, I align myself with powerful questions every morning. Only by asking different questions can you get different results. 

If you're eager to find your own passion and purpose, ask yourself these questions:

1. What did I love to do as a child?

2. When do I feel like my best self?

3. Where do I feel the happiest?

4. Who brings me joy and makes me feel loved and supported?

5. What do I value most in other people and myself?

6. When do I feel most joyful?

7. What inspiration, idea, or vision keeps coming to me?

8. When do I lose track of all time because I am so in tune with the task at hand?

9. Who inspires me with their passion and purpose?

10. What do I want to be known for?

11. If I could do anything in the world without worrying about time, money, or energy restrictions, what would I do?

12. When do I feel the most peace?

13. If I knew I was going to die in one year, what would I do, and how would I want to be remembered?

14. When do I feel the most authentic? What am I doing? Who am I with?

15. What message does my future self have for me?

16. Where does my mind drift when I daydream?

17. How do I want to feel?

18. What’s not working in my life?

19. When am I the most happy and free?

20. What do I do most naturally, with effortless ease?

21. What do I currently need in my life that I am not getting?

Send me a note and let me know how you're doing!

~Thanks to Shannon Kaiser

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Is Someone Emotionally Manipulating You?

Healthy relationships are based on trust, mutual respect, and security.

Each person must feel they are valued and loved unconditionally, accepted for who they are, and safe to expose their vulnerabilities and flaws.

This is the ideal foundation for a good relationship, but of course all of us fall short of this ideal from time to time. We might use passive aggressive tactics to express our pain or get our way in a disagreement. We might tell white lies or throw out hurtful barbs to protect ourselves and cope with our own pain or anger. I’ve done this myself, and I always feel regretful as soon as the words escape my mouth. I know this behavior does nothing to foster intimacy and trust.
We are all self-centered to a certain extent, but emotionally mature, healthy-minded people generally recognize when they behave this way and can correct the behavior, offer an apology, and begin again with a more loving and healing approach to conflict resolution or negotiation.
This foundation of respect, trust, and security is necessary in all personal relationships — your marriage or love relationships; your relationship with your family members; and your close friendships. Both people must be committed to the health of the relationship and possess a strong emotional intelligence in order for the connection to thrive.
However, you’ve likely encountered people who are emotionally manipulative and controlling. They use passive aggressive behaviors to get their way or keep you from saying or doing anything they don’t like. Emotional manipulation can be subtle and deceptive, leaving you confused and off-balance. Or it can be overt and demanding where fear, shaming, and guilt-trips leave you stunned and immobilized.
Either way, emotional manipulation is not acceptable, and the longer you allow it to continue, the more power and confidence the manipulator gains in this one-sided relationship. Eventually, any remnant of a healthy connection is destroyed, as the foundation of trust, intimacy, respect, and security crumbles under the hammer of manipulation.

If you recognize yourself or your partner in this scenario, here are 8 signs of emotional manipulation:

1. They turn your words to benefit them.
A manipulator has trouble accepting responsibility for their behavior, and often if you call them on it, they’ll find a way to turn it around to make you feel bad or guilty.
For example, you might make a legitimate complaint like, “It really bothers me you didn’t help me clean the house when you promised you would.” Instead of apologizing, acknowledging his or her actions, and correcting the situation, a manipulator will say something like, “You would never have asked me to help you if you knew how overwhelmed I am. Why don’t you think about me for once?”
Or they might offer a quasi-apology like, “Well I’m really sorry but I was working until midnight last night. I know I should have told you about all the stress I’m under and how tired I’ve been. I may be coming down with something.” This kind of manipulation is almost worse than no apology at all, because it makes YOU feel bad for even asking and expecting them to follow through on something they promised.
Your response: If an apology feels false or if the other person replies with defensiveness or guilt-trips, don’t allow them to get away with it. If you do, it will just empower them to do it again. Make it clear that a real apology is unconditional and followed by a behavior change.
2. They say something and later deny it.
A manipulator may say yes to a request or make a commitment to you, and then when the time comes to follow through, they conveniently forget they ever said anything.
Unless you have a recording of them making the promise, you can’t really prove anything — so it’s your “bad memory” against their lying words. A good manipulator has a way of twisting a previous conversation or replaying it to suit their needs and make you look forgetful, demanding, or ridiculous. You begin to question yourself and even feel bad or guilty that you challenged the manipulator.
Your response: If you experience a pattern of these bait and switch situations in your relationship, begin to write down exactly what the manipulator has promised. Date it and post it in your kitchen or email it to yourself and the other person. This may anger the manipulator, and they may question your trust or faith in them, but it will make it much harder to deny the conversation later on.
3. They use guilt trips to control you.
This is the ultimate in manipulative, passive aggressive behavior. The manipulator finds your emotional Achilles heal and pokes it until you either give in or feel like a hound dog.
“You go ahead to the movies without me. It’s fine. I’ll stay home and finish the laundry.”
“It’s always about your needs. If you knew what kind of childhood I had, you’d never ask me to do that.”
“If you really want to go on the girls weekend, go ahead. I just don’t understand how you could leave the kids for that long.”
“I know we can’t afford to by a new car. But I’ve never had a new car in my life. I guess I’ll just live with this crap car forever. I don’t deserve nice things.”
The emotional manipulator knows how to play the victim role to perfection. They stir up a pot of guilt and sympathy and serve it to you in heaping ladlefuls. They will say just about anything to get their way — especially if they see a kind-hearted, sensitive victim.
Your response: You are not going crazy. They are playing you for all it’s worth. Don’t fall victim to these manipulative, guilt-laden shenanigans. Don’t give in to their passive demands or requests for sympathy. This person is an adult. Remind them of that, and how they are perfectly able to cope with your decision or actions.
4. They diminish your problems or difficulties.
Emotional manipulators don’t care much about your problems — unless they can use them as a platform to highlight their own.
“You think you had it bad sitting in traffic today? Did you ever think about how I have to deal with traffic every day? It takes years off my life. Be thankful you only had to deal with it today.”
“Gosh, that’s terrible you and your mom had a fight. But just be thankful you have a mom. My mom is dead, and even when she was alive, we fought much more than you and your mom do. It almost felt like I never had a mom.”
If you point out how the manipulator just turned the tables, they’ll likely try to make you look selfish and pitiful. They won’t acknowledge their narcissistic behavior or reframe the conversation around your pain or difficulty.
Your response: There’s not much you can do in these situations except walk away and find someone else who is more caring, compassionate, and mature. Don’t expose your vulnerabilities to someone who tramples all over them.
5. They use the emotional back door.
Rather than being direct and forthright, manipulators will sidestep honest communication and use passive aggressive methods instead. They might talk behind your back with others, or ask someone else to be their spokesperson so they don’t have to be the bad guy or girl. For example, they might have a friend tell you they want to break up, or mention to your best friend how unhappy they are in the bedroom.
They might use passive ways of letting you know they’re mad or unhappy by pouting, stomping, or giving the silent treatment. Or they might say something supportive, but behave in very unsupportive ways. For example, your spouse might say she’s happy for you to finish a demanding work project at home in the evenings, but then she goes out shopping, leaving you home with the kids.
Your response: For your own peace of mind, call them out on this behavior. More than likely, you’ll get a defensive, angry reaction, but at least the manipulator sees that you know what they’re up to. If this indirect, manipulative behavior occurs regularly, it’s time for counseling or to consider your exit strategy.
6. They suck the energy in a room.
Manipulators have a way of walking into a room and dragging a dark cloud along with them. They want the attention and focus to be on them, and they want to make sure everyone in the room notices if they are angry, unhappy, or discontented in some way.
People tend to scramble to accommodate the manipulator or to try to help them “feel better.” They might ask, “Are you OK? Is something wrong?” This is just the opening the manipulator needs to feed off the sympathy and energies of others. Being in the room with a manipulator, a sensitive person will feel drained and off-balance.
Your response: If possible, leave the room. Why give away your energy and good mood to a manipulator? If you’re stuck in the room, envision yourself surrounded by an impenetrable barrier that protects you from the negative vibes of the manipulator.
7. They use aggression or anger.
Manipulators often try to intimidate others with aggressive language, subtle threats, or outright anger. Especially if they see you’re uncomfortable with confrontation, they will use it to quickly control you and get their way.
The goal is to foster fear or extreme discomfort so you’ll belly up quickly. Maybe your wife has a temper tantrum every time you bring up her over-spending. Maybe your husband raises his voice and slams doors when you do something he doesn’t like. Over time the manipulator learns all he or she has to do is get a bit crazy and things will go their way.
Your response: Unless you fear physical violence, call them out on this behavior. If this escalates the anger or aggressiveness, leave the room or the house entirely. If anger and aggression is left unchecked, it can turn to more harmful behaviors. Demand counseling so the manipulator can see clearly what they are doing and how to change their behaviors.
8. They seek out the sensitive, insecure, or overly trusting.
Emotional manipulators seek out the vulnerabilities in people in order to exploit them. In fact, they may consciously or unconsciously create relationships with people who are the most vulnerable and willing to be controlled.
Manipulators can easily spot those who have a need to please or who’s insecurities drive them to put their own needs behind the needs of others. Manipulators may first come across as caring and sensitive, using these tactics to deflect their true motives. Over time, they subtly begin to exploit the more gentle sensibilities of the other person.
Your response: If you know you’re highly sensitive and giving, you are more prone to falling victim to a manipulator. Learn how to spot the traits of emotional manipulation early so you can avoid these relationships altogether.
If you’re already in a relationship with a manipulator, it may be more difficult for you to pull away, as sensitive people often have a mixed bag of anger, loyalty, guilt, and insecurity tied up in these relationships. You may need the support of a counselor to sort through your feelings and find a way to break free of this destructive situation.
Manipulative people need to be in control, and this desire for control often masks underlying feelings of insecurity. Manipulators often compensate by appearing to be self-confident and powerful. Their motives are almost always self-serving, and they have little regard for how their behaviors impact those around them. They need to feel superior and powerful and seek out people who will validate them by accommodating their manipulative, passive aggressive behaviors.
Your own emotions are your best tool for recognizing the problem between you and a manipulator. Examine your emotions to see if you feel defensive, shamed, guilty, angry, or sympathetic toward the other person. Do you find yourself making excuses for their behavior or compromising your own beliefs and choices to accommodate them? You may not recognize these negative feelings in the immediacy of the moment, but later when you revisit the situation, these emotions might emerge.
If you suspect you’re involved with an emotional manipulator, then now is the time to do something about it. Speak with a counselor to validate your suspicions and to see if there’s any hope for the relationship. The longer you remain in this unhealthy dynamic, the more of your authentic self you give away.
~Thanks to Conscious Life News

5 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Stop Wearing Heels

5 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Stop Wearing Heels

The things we enjoy aren’t always the things that are good for us. Just look at high heels as an example—they can do serious, painful damage to your feet, yet many women choose to wear them day in and day out. If you have had a hard time letting go of your high heel habit, find out what is really happening to your feet when you wear these shoes.

The Unnatural Foot Position of Heels

Consider the natural foot position of humans. You were meant to walk heel first, placing the majority of your weight on your heels and pressing on to your forefoot quickly before repeating. Heels completely change that up.
A study in JAMA indicates that wearing heels causes you to place an unnatural amount of pressure on your forefoot, shifting weight off of the heels. This effect becomes more profound as you move to higher heels. Over time, this can weaken your heels and place an inordinate amount of stress on your forefeet.

What is Happening in Your Body When You Wear Heels

Thanks to modern medical technology, researchers and doctors can look at exactly how the body functions when a woman wears high heels. High heels cause the stomach to push forward and the butt to push back. While this may look nice, it changes the natural distribution of weight on your spine and adds pressure to your lower back.
Some reports even show one vertebrae pushing forward in front of another as a result of wearing high heels. This is an extremely painful condition, and it’s one that you take the risk of whenever you wear heels.

Perhaps the worst part of wearing heels is what they do to your legs. Because of the altered position of your foot, your calf muscles are significantly shorter when you wear high heels. This leads to shortened Achilles tendons. This may not hurt you when you are wearing heels, but you’ll definitely notice it when you switch back to flats.
When you walk barefoot or in flats again, your foot once again maintains a 90° angle with your leg. Suddenly, your Achilles tendons are under a massive amount of pressure. This can cause the tendon to strain or even tear. You can undo this damage by staying away from heels and getting your feet used to flats again, but it does take time.

Dangers of Heel Usage

You run the risk of certain conditions and injuries when you wear high heels on a regular basis. These are just some of the most common dangers of high heels:
  • Strained muscles around the ankles
  • Back pain due to your center of gravity shifting forward
  • Weakened Achilles tendons
  • Numbness in the toes
  • Permanent nerve damage in the toes
  • Weakened calf muscles
You don’t have to get rid of high heels completely, especially if you love wearing them for special occasions. However, you should definitely consider wearing flats or going barefoot most of the time. This is how your feet are naturally intended to be, and keeping them this way can improve your overall health.
~Thanks to Women's Health Mag 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

How to Build Strong Bones - Dairy-Free

Believe it or not, you can get all of the calcium your body needs without ever touching a glass of cow’s milk. I'm not a huge fan of milk because, among its many problems, studies show that dairy can disturb digestion, stall fat loss, create excess mucus and exacerbate skin conditions like acne. 
Despite what those milk-mustachioed celebrities in those ‘Got Milk?’ ads have been telling us for years, humans have no nutritional requirement for milk, and it may be doing us more harm than good because of all the sugar even plain nonfat milk contains, wrote Dr. David Ludwig in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics
Let’s focus on strong bones. Studies show countries with the highest milk consumption have the highest levels of osteoporosis. And the Nurses' Health Study, which monitored 77,761 nurses over 12 years, found that those who consumed the most milk had the highest risk of bone fractures. 
Fortunately, you never need to touch another glass of cow’s milk to get calcium and other nutrients when you focus on these five bone-boosting strategies:

1. Get some sunshine. 

Vitamin D helps your body absorb and maintain calcium. One studyfound sun exposure for about 10 minutes, two to three times a week, coupled with a vitamin D supplement creates healthy bones and optimizes immunity. Ask your doc for a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test; your levels should ideally fall in the 50 to 80 ng/ml range. If you don't hit that range, work with your doctor on taking a 5,000-IU vitamin D supplement until you do.

2. Eat more greens. 

Leafy green veggies provide an often overlooked calcium source. One cup of cooked broccoli rabe, for instance, offers more than half of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) for calcium. Collard greens, kale, and spinach also provide excellent sources of this bone-supporting mineral. Combine these green leafy veggies with some good fat like extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil to optimally absorb fat-soluble vitamins D and K. 

3. Lift heavy to build strong. 

Studies show strength and muscle mass correlate with bone density. I combine burst training with weight resistance for the most effective, efficient exercise on the planet. Think plank-ups with weights or lunges with bicep curls.

4. Incorporate omegas. 

Among their benefits, studies show anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids in wild-caught salmon and other fish improve bone health. If you’re not eating wild fish at least three times a week, consider a high-quality omega-3 supplement that contains about 1 gram total of EPA and DHA fatty acids. 

5. Nosh on nuts. 

Along with protein and fiber, slow-roasted or dehydrated almonds and other nuts or nut butters pack bone-supporting minerals like calcium, zinc, manganese, and hard-to-get magnesium. One study associated inadequate magnesium with lower bone mineral density. 
~Thanks to JJ Virgin

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How to Ripen an Avocado: Pronto!

The Fastest Way to Ripen a Rock-Hard Avocado
Dang, an avocado with balsamic vinegar is awesome! Too bad the one you were hoping to eat is still totally under-ripe. Here, a speedy trick to help it ripen faster (almost overnight).
What you need: An apple, a brown paper bag and that not-quite-ready avocado.
What you do: Place the apple and the avocado together in the bag, then fold over the opening as best you can to seal it off. Let the fruits sit together overnight and--voilĂ ! You’ll have a ripe avocado, ready to be enjoyed.
Why this works: Apples give off ethylene, a naturally occurring gas required for the ripening process.

So does this work with other fruits and veggies? Yup! Bananas, corn, tomatoes…sometimes nature just needs a little help.
~Thanks to Pure Wow

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Simple Rules To Cleanse The Food Lover's Way

1. Eat at regular intervals.

Don’t skip meals, which tends to encourage binge eating later on. Aim to eat every three to four hours to keep your metabolism on an even keel during the day. That said, once you’re done with dinner, stop eating for the night, ideally giving yourself three hours after dinner before getting to sleep. 

2. Kick up your water intake to 8 cups a day.

There’s no magic number for the amount of water an individual needs to drink in a given day. You should basically drink when you’re thirsty. That said, drinking water conscientiously does a couple of things during a cleansing plan: it displaces other things you might be drinking (such as wine, diet soda, or cold-pressed green juice). It’s also something to do when you’d rather be eating a handful of tortilla chips. 
And finally, drinking more water can help your body deal with the increased fiber that comes with eating more whole grains and vegetables. 

3. Ratchet up flavor.

If you want to reduce the amount of food you eat semiconsciously during the day, make sure the food you do eat tastes vibrant. Season your food thoughtfully with salt, and then let chiles, spices, herbs, citrus juice and zest, and flavor-boosting condiments make what you eat seem all the livelier. 

4. Cut out the white stuff.

Get your complex carbs from a variety of vegetables, legumes and some whole grains instead. All of these give you more fiber per bite, allowing you to feel more satisfied, and the husks and skins of the grains also contain more diverse nutrients than bleached and polished grain products. Brown rice pasta, red quinoa, bulgur, and barley can truly be delicious! 

5. Dig into produce.

The great thing about making a cleanse for each season is that we can incorporate fruits and vegetables. 
The principle is the same whether we’re talking spring asparagus, summer green beans, or fall squash. See if you can get half your plate covered with produce. 

6. Eat more yogurt, less cheddar.

We cut way back on dairy, because it might give your digestive system a break. But we’re very interested in keeping some live-cultured foods in our program, so we include a fair amount of yogurt and some young fresh cheeses. 
Nondairy sources of calcium include almond milk and dark leafy greens. 

7. Choose quality over quantity with meat.

Meat is less of a focus in The Food Lover's Cleanse, and processed meat is excised altogether. 
Meat portions are pared back to 4 to 6 ounces per meal. If you’re a meat eater, it’s important to think about the context you’re eating it in: a hamburger on a bun with fries tells a very different story from a grilled hanger steak served with homemade tomato relish and a quinoa salad with roasted figs and walnuts! 

8. Stop the sugar creep.

Sugar can pile up in our daily diets, especially when we eat a lot of ready-made foods. For sweetness, there’s a bit of honey, maple syrup, fruit, and dark chocolate -- but even these we keep moderate since we’re aiming to curb sugar cravings. Once you introduce sugar, your body asks for more all day long.

9. Drink less.

Limit your alcohol consumption to four drinks per week max. 

10. Say YES to the avocado (and other sources of heathy fats).

We incorporate plenty of foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as nuts, salmon, and, of course, avocados. 

11. Dial back the lattes.

If you can’t give up your morning coffee, we understand (and you’re still getting a nice boost of antioxidants), but the results of cutting back can be interesting. One of the personal effects of this cleanse is that I discovered I sleep much, much better without a regular coffee habit. 

This isn’t true for everyone, but it’s a discovery I wouldn’t have made without The Food Lover's Cleanse. Try to keep coffee to a single cup, low on the added milk and sugar. After that, swap it for unsweetened tea throughout the day: green, white, and herbal are generally lower in caffeine, are good sources of antioxidants, and can give you that nice afternoon lift you might be looking for.
~Thanks to Sara Dickerman

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

How Your Body Rebuilds Itself In Less Than 365 Days

In just 365 days, your body rebuilds itself into something better (or worse), depending on how well you treat it. Within the next year, 95% of the cells in your body will die and be replaced. 

This also goes to show that you are what you eat, and that almost every cell in your body eventually dies and is replaced by new cells from the food that you eat. Every day is a new opportunity to build a new body, so why not start today?
You could re-build your body on processed junk foods, cakes, pies and pastries and frozen dinners or canned and boxed foods – OR – you could re-build your body with fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes and sprouting-grains like kamut and quinoa. If you wish to feel your optimal best, opt to provide your body with what it needs, instead of with foodstuffs that don’t nourish the body.
Fresh fruit and vegetables additionally improve cell regeneration and infuse the body with beneficial vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, all of which help us live longer, stonger lives. The Standard American Diet simply digs  an early grave. I see eating well as preventive health, an investment in avoiding chronic illness and staying out of the hospital.


 Brain – 1 year

Brain cells typically last an entire lifetime, although there is a process called neurogenesis, which has been documented in 3 areas of the cerebral cortex, whereby new nerve cells are created. For almost a century, scientists have believed that human (and other primate) brains do not regenerate or add new neurons after maturation, however in recent years, scientists have slowly been discovering that neurons do in fact regenerate, and new neurons can be added after maturity.

Liver – 6 weeks

The liver does one thing incredibly well: regenerate itself. In fact, the liver has the best rate of regeneration than any other organ in the human body. If a chunk of the liver is removed, then it will quickly regrow back to normal size, and not beyond that. In just 6 weeks the liver completely rebuilds itself! This isn’t surprising, however, given how many toxins it processes in a lifetime. If the liver didn’t rebuild itself every 6 weeks, we probably wouldn’t be living very long lives.

DNA – 2 months

With our bodies constantly being bombarded with free radicals, the DNA undergoes significant damage. Fortunately, for us, our DNA has the ability to repair itself and it takes a little over 2 months to do so. Eating a wide variety of high-antioxidant foods like broccoli, berries, and reishi mushrooms will improve DNA repair (along with enzyme-rich raw foods, and herbs like cat’s claw, which has been found to provide our DNA with super-rebuilding activity).

Stomach Lining – 5 days

Given the chance, the stomach lining can heal, but you'd best not take any prescription drugs. It takes just 5 days for the epithelial-cell lining of the stomach to completely rebuild itself. This is no surprise given their rough life of breaking down food. The average age of cells originating from the main body of the stomach is around 16 years.

Skin – 1 month

The surface layer of the skin (epidermis) is recycled every 2-4 weeks (around 1 month). The skin is one of the most regenerable areas of the body, and thankfully so, given how much it is exposed to every day. The ability of the skin to heal (even after major damage), occurs because of stem cells that are present in the dermis of the skin as well as cells in the stratum basal of the epidermis, both of which help generate new tissue.

Blood – 4 months

Red blood cells live for about 4 months, whereas white blood cells live on average more than a year. The body is constantly making new blood, especially for women who menstruate once a month (or those who have undergone injury or donated blood). As they travel through the circulatory system, red blood cells become old and battered, and are discarded to the liver, where they are stripped of iron to be used for healthy red blood cells, before the remaining old red blood cell is destroyed in the spleen.

Bones – 3 months

Your body rebuilds new bone cells in as few as 3 months! The entire human skeleton, however, is thought to be replaced every 10 years or so in adults. Your bones, in fact, are constantly changing. Cells called osteoclasts break down old bone so that osteoblasts can replace it with new bone tissue (bone remodelling). This constant bone remodelling replaces old bone tissue with new tissue over the course of around 2-3 months. That’s also usually the time it takes for a broken bone to repair itself (or at least that’s how long it took my broken leg to get better!).

Lungs – 2-3 weeks

The lung cells are constantly renewing themselves, and for good reason, too. Because the lungs are constantly taking in and filtering pollution, chemicals, and other stuff that lingers in the air, they require a fast cell turn-over rate. The alveoli of the lungs (where exchange of oxygen and gases takes place) have a steady regeneration state that takes over a year. However, the cells on the lung’s surface renew every 2-3 weeks.
~Thanks to Live Science

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