My 10 Personal Practices for Self-Care in Challenging Times

My 10 Personal Practices for Self-Care in Challenging Times

In the midst of so much uncertainty and daily changes to our reality, I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to share with you that might be helpful. I don’t know about you, but I’ve felt almost bombarded the last few weeks with so much information, ideas, tips, resources, and suggestions. Some I have felt truly helpful and grounding. I wanted to share a few of my personal commitments and take-aways that I am doing my best each day to truly PRACTICE . . . with grace, kindness, and compassion. Perhaps you might find them helpful, too.


The Simple Practices (or scroll below for more details):

  1. Eat to NOURISH your body
  2. Stay hydrated
  3. Honor your need for sleep and rest
  4. Move your body every day
  5. Practice mindfulness
  6. Be in nature
  7. Express gratitude and appreciation
  8. Affirm the importance of creativity, play, humor, and love
  9. Welcome opportunities for empathy, compassion, kindness, radical acceptance, and receiving/giving support
  10. Create healthy boundaries through discernment

The Practices in More Detail:

Eat to NOURISH your body: Foods that support your immune system include colorful, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein, and healthy fats. Adding spices and fresh herbs can also be beneficial (think onion, garlic, fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley, and spices like turmeric). Fermented foods like raw apple cider vinegar, raw fermented vegetables, and kimchi may also be beneficial–a happy belly supports a strong immune system. Be mindful of sugar and processed foods as these can deplete your immune strength. If you are feeling “phlegmy” I also suggest taking dairy out for a while since it is quite mucous-producing. Most importantly, if you do find yourself stress-eating, be kind to yourself and reach out for support.

Stay hydrated: This one may seem obvious but I added it to my personal list when I noticed early last week that I was not drinking enough water. I think I got thrown off my routine. So now I’m making a conscious effort to drink plenty of water and herbal tea throughout the day. A cup of nourishing broth works too! I try to use a colorful cup for my water so that it catches my eye and I’m reminded to drink. Adding a little lemon or lime to water can also make it more enticing to drink (plus a little vitamin C!). Herbal teas like ginger, licorice, and mint would be beneficial too.

Honor your need for sleep and rest: You might be finding that as we adjust to our new routines and ways of working that you have more energy fluctuations. Be gentle with yourself in this time and rest when you need to rest. It’s okay to need a break. I also encourage you to keep to your regular sleep times as sleep and rest are also an important part of supporting our immune system. If you can sleep in a little now that you don’t have to commute, do so! But still go to bed at your regular hour to keep consistency there.

Move your body every day: There are absolutely no shoulds on exactly how to move your body every day. Have a dance party, join a streaming fitness class, create your own home workout, walk your neighborhood, go up and down the stairs in your home, do some stretches. Just move!! Many of us are sitting way more than we usually would, so you might need to be more conscious about body your body daily. Beyond my daily walks and fitness routine, I have also found it helpful to take mini-breaks through the day to stretch, grab a cup of tea, sit in a different location or sit in a different way (like on the floor instead of at my desk).

Practice mindfulness: Again, there are a myriad of ways to do this including meditation, yoga, taking a hot bath, reading a comforting spiritual book, taking 5 deep breaths throughout the day, using essential oils for aromatherapy, coloring, knitting/crocheting, walking, gardening. New to meditation and want to give it a try, Deepka Chopra and Oprah are offering for free their 21-Day Meditation Series “Finding hope in uncertain times.”

Be in nature: If you feel comfortable doing so, get out into nature every day. Find nature in small places like your neighborhood (the flowers are glorious here in Oakland right now!), your backyard, your patio. Plant and grow something, if you can. Garden. Get your hands in dirt. Watch the sun rise or set. Look at the stars. Connecting with nature on a daily basis is one of the most important things we can do right now.

Express gratitude and appreciation: My husband and I have made it a daily practice to share each day: one “win” from the day, one challenge, one gratitude, and one appreciation to the other person. It’s become a lovely ritual, one I hope to continue. Gratitude is key right now. Even on the most challenging days, we can find something to be grateful for. Some days it might be something big like, “I’m so grateful for the health of my body” and other days it might be simple like, “I’m grateful for running hot and cold water.” Even in the midst of great unknowns, we can practice expressing our gratitude. Appreciation is slightly different in that it is the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something. If you’re co-housing and co-working suddenly with a lot of people, a little appreciation can go a long way: “I appreciate that you gave me space to do my video meeting today” or “I appreciate how you cleaned up our morning dishes today.” If you live alone this appreciation might extend to a friend, family member or neighbor: “I appreciate you checking in on me.”

Affirm the importance of creativity and humor and love: Even in the midst of great challenge and difficulty, there are opportunities for laughter, joy, and pleasure. Take these moments and cherish them. I truly believe this time is calling on us to get creative. This may look like actually creating some piece of art like music, painting, knitting, writing, cooking, etc. Or it can be about having a creative mindset and getting innovative with solutions. And humor is also so important right now. Not only does it feel good to laugh but it can also boost our immune system! Lastly, and most importantly, these times are calling on us to CHOOSE LOVE. This might be love for our families and loved ones but also radical self-love. Love is the antidote to fear.

Welcome opportunities for empathy, compassion, kindness, radical acceptance, and receiving/giving support: I know I’m not alone in appreciating the myriad of stories out there of someone expressing kindness to strangers in these difficult times. I believe that what we give our attention to expands, so I am choosing to focus on places where I can be compassionate to myself and others. We are all handling this major event in different ways and I know I handle it differently depending on the day, the hour, the minute. That is all ok. Radical acceptance is about fully being with what is happening right now. It doesn’t mean you have to like it, but you stop resisting or denying it or wishing for a different outcome. Letting go of expectations or the sense that we can control things can be challenging, but it is good work to practice right now. Lastly, if you are in a place to give support right now, please do so: donate to a favorite non-profit, buy gift certificates to your local businesses who are closed right now, call a friend or neighbor to check on them. And if you need support right now, practice receiving kindness and generosity.

Create healthy boundaries through discernment: Right now we are all being asked to create a physical boundary for the well-being of our society, but remember to also create healthy boundaries mentally, psychically, and spiritually. This might mean being careful about how much news you watch (or when you watch it), being mindful about time spent on social media, choosing thoughtfully what shows you are watching, or even being more conscious of your own thoughts and where you place your attention and intention. Discernment is about consciously deciding what you bring into your world . . . whether that’s food, people, information, or your own thoughts. I find this to be very empowering.


Like all of you, I’m taking my life day by day right now. What this time of sheltering at home amidst a global pandemic seems to be highlighting for me are my daily practices of self-care so that I can show up for the world feeling as healthy, strong, energetic, clear, and grounded as possible. I hope you have found some of these to be helpful, too.

I would love to hear from you in the comments below: What daily practices are working for you and your household?

WHOLE LIFE NOURISHMENT FOR CHANGEMAKERS

WHOLE LIFE NOURISHMENT FOR CHANGEMAKERS

Welcome to the

WHOLE LIFE NOURISHMENT

FOR CHANGEMAKERS!

This program is for YOU, the changemaker, the progressive leader, the one who needs to optimize your health and well-being so that you can show up as an agent of positive transformation for our world!

Be the amazing changemaker you were called to be without the burnout and fatigue!


Next group starts March 2020!


This four-month online coaching program is specifically designed to optimize your health and well-being—mind, body and spirit!

I know these are challenging times and I know we are all feeling overwhelmed some days with burnout looming . . . but here’s the deal, you can take small steps on a daily basis to better support your health and well-being so that you can show up for your mission, yourself, your team, your relationships, and our planet.

So how do you make this happen? With support and guidance and prioritizing your health and well-being, knowing that you can’t give from an empty cup.


The WHOLE LIFE NOURISHMENT program will address your health and well-being from the following angles:

* Establish more clarity and confidence around your FOOD/NUTRITION choices and routines so that you can feel more energized, balanced, and nourished all day long.

* Practice effective strategies to support better quality SLEEP/REST because sleep is essential to having more energy, less cravings, and more resilience in handling everyday challenges.

* Create the healthy SCHEDULE/HABITS/ROUTINES that allow you to move through your day with greater ease, energy, and focus.

* Prioritize more daily MOVEMENT into your routine so that you can be more present in your body, relieve stress, and feel stronger.

* Cultivate ways to have moments of meaningful CONNECTION TO SELF in the form self-care practices, self-love mindset, expressions of creativity, and opportunities for pleasure and joy.

* Focus on your MINDSET and creating more mindfulness, practice slowing down, and cultivating rest.

* Continue to build meaningful CONNECTION TO OTHERS (your larger community, your personal and professional relationships, your organization/business, your cause, our planet) from a place of authenticity, giving from the overflow, and healthy boundaries.

* Continue to develop and nurture your sense of PURPOSE/MISSION/LEADERSHIP because I know you came into this world at this time to make the largest positive impact!


Over the course of four months, you’ll receive:

  • Twice a month intimate video group coaching calls to build community, support, accountability, and clear guidance to meet your health and wellness goals. We do better when we’re connected together and can support each other!
  • Two engaging, inspiring, and video modules a month to support your ongoing well-being that you can listen to or watch any time (works great as a “mental health” break!). My signature WHOLE LIFE NOURISHMENT program focuses on all aspects of your life–nutrition, sleep, movement, connection, etc. to holistically support your wellness.
  • Private Facebook group page to easily stay in contact with each other in between calls to ask questions, receive ongoing support, share wins, and stay connected.
  • Accountability partners to help you stay on track with peers who can celebrate your wins and understand your challenges.
  • The convenience of an online group. I know you have a full life and I want to make prioritizing your health as easy as possible!
  • And as a very special offer . . . TWO 1:1 30 minute sessions with me (in person in Oakland, CA or over the phone/Zoom) to personalize this Whole Life Nourishment experience for you!!

If you want to learn how to optimize your health and well-being so that you can continue to be an energized changemaker, then let’s set up a 15-Minute Clarity Call phone conversation to see if this program is the right fit for you!

Have questions? Set up a complimentary Clarity Call or email me directly at [email protected]

Next group starts March 2020!


Testimonials:

“Michelle has a breadth of knowledge on holistic healing but what sets her apart is her care for her clients. She’s gotten me through a major health crisis and I wouldn’t be where I am today professionally or personally without her.” –AZ, activist and university professor

“Michelle is the most intuitive and attentive practitioner I’ve ever worked with and has given me very usable and helpful advice. I’ve already made great strides toward all of my health goals and look forward to continuing to work with her in the future.” –AO, grant writer

“Michelle is knowledgeable, engaging, and on point. All of her recommendations are evidenced-based, simple to implement, and life-changing. She’s wonderful!” –JS, Executive director of a foundation committed to a thriving planet


Sound good? Let’s talk. Book a Clarity Call online today!

Here are all the benefits of joining today . . .

* More energy, better quality sleep, and practical ways to nourish yourself with food (even when traveling)!
*Greater ease in creating healthy habits that support your well-being on a daily basis. Small steps lead to great shifts!
*Practical tips and suggestions that you can apply immediately. Let’s stop waiting for “when” or “if” and take action today!
*Personalized guidance in how to make small changes that yield big results. Every body is different and I’m here to support you through a model that works for your unique body, lifestyle, and situation.
*Opportunities to set practical goals/action steps that you can actually achieve to keep you on track with your health and well-being (so you can keep being an amazing changemaker!).
*Ongoing accountability, encouragement, and connection so that you can really show up as your best–this is key! We can’t do it alone!
*The support and wisdom of your fellow group members who know exactly what you’re going through!

Still wondering if this is the right program for you? Are you . . .

  • A progressive leader in a non-profit, organization, B-Corps or other socially conscious entity committed to the bettering of our planet
  • A changemaker who knows there is a reason you are on the planet in this challenging but exciting time
  • An educator, a builder of dreams, an activist, a person who sees themselves as an agent of positive change!
  • A person who cares about what is happening to our planet but gets overwhelmed, burned out, stuck in fear and knows there is a way to show up differently
  • Someone who supports any one of the many causes I am personally and professionally committed to! For a full list, go to my post HERE!

Looking forward to connecting with you soon!

In health,

Michelle Dwyer, Transformation Coach, Holistic Health Coach and Certified Nutrition Consultant, MS in Health and Nutrition Education, Educator, Agent of Positive Change

Why Breast Health Awareness Month is Personal For Me

Why Breast Health Awareness Month is Personal For Me

October is a poignant month for me. You see, my mom passed away on October 15, 1995 from complications from metastatic breast cancer. I was 21 years old. She was only 48.

Way too young. Both of us. Me, too young to lose my mother. My mother, way too young to die.

And ironically October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. However, I like to call it BREAST HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH instead.

This is more than an abstract pink-ribbon month for me. It’s personal. For me, I’d rather focus on having a healthy and balanced body.

At the age of 21 I made a choice. I was not going to go down the road of my mother’s body. I was going to do what I could, on a daily basis, to take good care of myself. I realized I had two choices: I could choose FEAR or I could choose LOVE. I chose LOVE. Love for myself, my body, my breasts, my health, my future.

And so, decades before I would eventually become a holistic health coach and nutrition consultant, I started to pay attention to my health in a way most 21-year-olds don’t. For years I’ve been clearing out potential carcinogens like harmful beauty products and cleaning supplies, unnecessary plastics, toxic food, and even harmful stress and mindsets (and people). I wasn’t anywhere near perfect (and I’m still not) but I have been making a conscious effort to be mindful of what goes on my body, in body, near my body.

Let me take a moment to tell you a little about my mom because I don’t want her to be defined by how she died. My mom was a strong woman and taught my sister and me to be strong women, too. She put herself through college at UC Santa Barbara and taught high school her entire adult life (first home economics and then history when they began to phase out home ec classes). She loved to shop and had a great eye for color. She was a fantastic gift giver and would shower us with presents at Christmas, often with gifts she had been collecting for us all year. She was actually very “crafty” and made all sorts of decorations (many of which we still have). She loved going to Hawaii, visiting historical sites, and planning amazing trips for our family. She could be incredibly “thrifty” but also was incredibly generous. We didn’t always agree (what mother and daughter do?) but I never doubted that she loved us deeply. Or that she continues to watch over us.

This is a picture of my family at my sister’s graduation from high school, just four months before we’d lose our mother. (My sister asked me to crop it! LOL!)

Each year I choose a different way to honor and celebrate my mother and this year it is the form of hosting a pop up event focusing on breast health and safer, cleaner beauty. Please join me. Here are all the details:

Please join me and Carolyn Bernstein, Integrative Nurse Practitioner and breast health specialist for our Breast Health and Cleaner, Safer Beauty Pop Up!

Thursday, November 1: 7:00 p.m. in Oakland, CA (exact location TBA)

At this small, intimate event we will address:

  • How our personal care products are affecting our health and may contribute to cancer risk, autoimmune issues, hormonal imbalance, allergies, and many other health concerns.
  • How to make cleaner, safer choices in terms of our beauty products, foods, and self-care practices.
  • How to read labels on your beauty products and what to look for. (Bring one or two of your favorites and we can take a look together!)

We’ll also have to sample a line of non-toxic makeup and skincare from Beautycounter! It’ll be fun to play with some of our favorite products and hear what this B Corporation is doing to move the market to safety!

***This is a FREE event but please RSVP HERE so that we can plan the space accordingly!**

Light refreshments will be served!

We will be meeting in Oakland–exact location TBA via email as the event gets closer. Please be sure to RSVP here!

Can’t make the event but want to make difference . . . please consider making a donation to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP). BCPP works to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease. They are a founding member and national coordinator of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition working to eliminate dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products.

Curious about safer, cleaner beauty products? Take a moment to check out Beautycounter products here: https://www.beautycounter.com/michelledwyer I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite products in future blog posts!

Nourish Yourself Group: Next enrollment starts in August 2017

Nourish Yourself Group: Next enrollment starts in August 2017

I’m thrilled to be putting together an exclusive new online group called Nourish Yourself. There is currently a group running, but the next one will start August 2017.  I am excited about creating a really dynamic, positive, focused group of women who will support each other in self-care practices, truly nourishing ourselves, and cultivating our mind-body-spirit connection so that we can show up powerfully in the world.

I’m calling the group Nourish Yourself because I think these times are calling for us to nourish ourselves in so many ways—food, movement, sleep, creativity, joy, and self-love. I also think we are more powerful together, which is why I want to create a group experience.

Having facilitated and participated in many groups over the years, I know how fantastic a well-guided group can be when we compassionately hold each other accountable, draw on our collective wisdom, celebrate the positive steps forward, and raise each other up.

What you will get out of the group:

★   Discover a personal solution that works for you because one size does not fit all!

★   Develop a platform for personal growth and transformation that addresses your thoughts, feelings, habits, and patterns to create new ones that help you achieve your goals around health and nutrition.

★   Practice ways to let go of guilt and fear around eating and instead really enjoy and celebrate food.

★   Learn to feel more confident in your ability to create nourishing meals or meal plans that support your body, mind and spirit.

★   Focus on gratitude for our body, enthusiasm for making small changes that lead to big results, and creating awareness about what we really need and want.

★   Explore various ways to nourish yourself and bring more joy to every day.

Email me at [email protected] if you are interested in adding yourself to the waiting list for the next group!

 

Using The Hormone Cure to Address PMS

Using The Hormone Cure to Address PMS

flower-936895_640As many of you know, I was trained in Dr. Sara Gottfried’s Hormone Cure program to become a Hormone Cure Coach. I find that addressing people’s health challenges like fatigue, struggle with losing weight, stress, and cravings, it is helpful to include an assessment of their hormones gives me more tools to guide my clients back to a place of balance.

One hormonal challenge many women struggle with is PMS or pre-menstrual syndrome.

According to Dr. Sara Gottfried in The Hormone Cure, “PMS is related to a problem with progesterone, but frosting yourself in progesterone cream does not automatically fix the symptoms in all women. Our best science shows that PMS is the result of the poorly synchronized interplay among four entities: progesterone, allopregnanolone (a derivative of progesterone), and in the brain, the GABA and serotonin pathways. It’s a complicated neurohormonal mix that results in progesterone ‘resistance,’ which is why topping off your progesterone may not be the answer. Your body may respond better to a ‘cure’ that addresses upstream causes—including precursors, such as vitamin B6, that help you make serotonin, or perhaps an herb that alters progesterone sensitivity, such as chasteberry, as well as lifestyle techniques to calm your brain.” (page 50)

Not only can progesterone, GABA and serotonin affect PMS symptoms, but so can cortisol, the body’s stress response:

“When stress is high, cortisol rises and PMS worsens. When progesterone is low, PMS also worsens. In other words, there’s a dance between cortisol and progesterone in the development of PMS, and you want to address both adrenal function and your production of cortisol as well as your progesterone to minimize PMS.” (page 283)

When addressing something like PMS, it often can take a multi-prong approach: food, exercise, mindset and maybe even some complimentary treatments or supplements.

Let’s take a look at some of these suggestions here.

  • Exercise frequently: 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes
  • Nourishing whole foods eating plan (Not sure what that looks like for you? Book a complimentary Discovery Session with me today!)
  • Limit sugar (especially added and refined sugar)–join my next 10-Day Sugar Retreat to banish those sugar cravings!
  • Reduce caffeine
  • Acupuncture
  • Reflexology
  • Address cortisol levels and chronic stress
  • Increase fiber
  • Support your liver (because all hormone processed through the liver)–check out Andrea Nakayama’s Replenish PDX excellent handout on supporting your liver!)

Some supplements can also help but aways seek advisement from your health practitioner:

  • Vitamin B6: 50 to 100 mg/day (or if you are on a birth control pill, you may want to consider taking a B Complex)
  • Calcium (carbonate or citrate): 600 mg 2x/day
  • Magnesium (citrate, glycinate taurate, aspartate or chelated forms like malate, succinate, fumarate): 150-300 mg/day (for more on the benefits of magnesium, check out this great article from Dr. Mark Hyman)
  • Vitex (chasteberry): 500-1000 mg/day (take in morning if possible)

What have you found helps with PMS? Have any of these approaches worked for you? Need more personalized guidance, please contact me today!

A Few of My Favorite Things

A Few of My Favorite Things

Why should Oprah get all the fun? 🙂

Slide1Remember when she would do her “favorite things show”? People would go crazy with excitement and sales for whatever she was sharing would sky-rocket. Well in this holiday season I wanted to share a few of my favorite things with you all.

When possible, what I’m sharing will be local to the San Francisco Bay Area (since that is where I live), organic, made by a small business, and/or environmentally or socially conscious. Some of these things might make good gifts or could be part of your self-care practice this month. Mostly these are things that I love and want to support by writing and sharing about them. And I think you’ll love them too!

I have chosen 21 of my favorite things which will also be posted on my Facebook page each day until December 21st, the date of the Winter Solstice where I live.

What are some of your favorite things?

1. Donate to a charity organization on #GivingTuesday (or any other day!): I’m going to start this list of “a few of my favorite things” with the act of giving. Many of us are blessed with abundance, and Giving Tuesday is a way to bring awareness in this busy holiday season to the importance of giving to charities, non-profits, and organizations or people we want to support. It can come in the form of a donation of time, talent or treasure. When we give and act generously, we not only support others but it also helps us appreciate what we have in our own lives even more. My husband and I regularly give to organizations we support and believe in, but this time of year is a great day to give a little more, if we can. Who do you like to support?

2. Essential oils: I love essential oils and use them every day. The brand I like to use is doTERRA but there are other great companies out there as well. If you are just starting with essential oils, lavender is a good place to start because it is very calming. Add a few drops to a bath or spray on yourself or your pillow before bed. Scents are a wonderful way to balance your mood as well–they can be calming, uplifting, grounding, or invigorating. If you like a pleasing scent in your home or office, quality essential oils are a much healthier option than artificial fragrances from other sprays, plug-ins, and candles that can actually contain endocrine disruptors. What are your favorite scents or essential oils and what do you use them for?

Oakland Floats3. Oakland Floats: I love to float! Floatation tanks are described on the Oakland Floats website as, “lightless, almost soundproof tanks of warm saltwater. They remove external physical stimuli, creating a state of ‘sensory’ relaxation. Under these conditions your body has a chance to restore its natural powers of self regulation, while you simply lie back and relax.” If you’ve never floated in a sensory deprivation tank, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. For me, there is something amazing about having no noise, no light, no distraction, no sensory input for that hour. It’s a humbling experience. It’s also been shown to reduce cortisol rates (our stress response), help with pain, support quality sleep, open up creativity and so much more. If you want to read more about my experience floating, check out my story here. Where I love to float is Oakland Floats but if you live outside the Bay Area, there are floatation centers everywhere. Give it a try or give it as gift! Have you ever floated? What was your experience?

4. Oaktown Spice Shop: Spices! I love to cook and spices make a huge difference in how your food turns out.  Spices add not only delicious flavor, but also often have positive health benefits as well. One of my favorite places to get my dried spices is Oaktown Spice Shop. Their cinnamon is amazing and I just made their mole poblano last night over tempeh and grilled vegetables. Fantastic! Head over and check out all the wonderful spices they have! And if you don’t live in the area, you can order online. Some of my favorite spices that we use on a weekly basis are cinnamon, cajun, poultry seasoning, turmeric, and curry. And they really make a great gift! True story: about ten or fifteen years ago I asked for spices for Christmas and my stocking was filled with about 10 jars of spices! What are your favorite spices to cook with?

5. Broth: I love making broth, drinking broth and using broth in soups and stews. Here’s an easy recipe to make your own vegetable broth. Really warming and nourishing this time of year! Do you make your own broth?

spiral-zuchinni-noodles-Michelle-Dwyer-health-coach-nutrition6. Spiralizer: One of my favorite ‪‎kitchen gadgets‬ is my spiralizer! If you’ve never heard of a spiralizer, it basically makes “noodles” out of vegetables. You can spiralize lots of veggies like zucchini, sweet potatoes, potatoes, butternut squash, and beets. We do zucchini noodles often in our house. Easy, yummy, and nutritious and very satisfying for a noodle craving! This is the one I have

7. Crio Bru: This roasted cocoa is my favorite way to start the day. It is so delicious and full of antioxidants. I add a little coconut milk to mine but you can drink it plain. It’s not sweet like hot chocolate, but has this wonderful, rich, chocolate-y, roasty flavor. You can read more here! And I’m a lucky woman because my husband usually makes it for the two of us, and since he gets up before me, it’s all ready to go when I get out of bed. And it’s so easy to make–just add hot water to a French press and you are ready to go! 

8. Moving my body: I love moving my body, whether that means taking a walk, going for a hike, doing yoga or pilates, doing a few stretches, or lifting weights (which is good for your bones, ladies!). Read more on some of my favorite ways to move my body! What’s your favorite way to move your body? What are the benefits you notice?

9. Dancing at Hipline: To expand on the previous post, I want to share my FAVORITE way to move my body and that is dancing at Hipline, a dance studio in Oakland. For those of you who have never been, it can be hard to put into words the magic of this place, so I’ll let their mission statement do the talking: “Hipline exists to inspire and empower women through movement. We nurture community, health, and creativity through all aspects of our company.” I have been dancing at Hipline for over five years and I can honestly say that I ALWAYS look forward to going and I ALWAYS leave the class feeling better. It is an amazing community of women and I continue to meet so many inspiring people there. It’s a place to dance, to leave it all on the floor, to work out any frustrations or pent-up energy from the day, to be silly and fun and sexy just for yourself, and meet other beautiful souls doing the same. Want to give it try? I’d be happy to meet you there!

Check please group photo10. The restaurants encuentro and Millenium: Two of my favorite restaurants are Encuentro cafe and wine bar and Millennium Restaurant, both in Oakland. Oakland has an amazing food scene but I want to highlight these two fantastic restaurants for what they are doing to make plant-based eating delicious, beautiful, and a true celebratory experience. Some of you might know that I actually reviewed encuentro for the TV show Check, Please! Bay Area. You can see the video here or read my review here.

11. Homestead Apothecary is my favorite place to get loose herbs, tinctures, quality body care products, teas and other amazing plant products. If you have any interest in herbs, making your own tea or broth, self-care or just curiosity of what all those herbs actually do for your body, then seek out Nic at this lovely shop on Temescal Alley. 

IMG_186812. Coloring: I’m pretty happy to say I was a head of the current trend of adults coloring. I started doing it a while ago and quickly realized how relaxing and meditative it is for me. For me the key is letting go of perfectionism, of doing it “right” or concerning myself with the final product. I love the use of color and the focus it brings to my mind. This is my favorite coloring book author. Have you tried coloring? 

13. Bitchin’ Sauce: This yummy sauce is a recently discovered favorite of mine. It’s so yummy but also happens to be vegan, gluten-free, and tastes great on anything. You can use it as a dip, spread or sauce. Plus it comes in a bunch of flavors like chipotle, pesto, and bombay but I think I might like the original the best. If you see it in the stores, give it a try! 

14. Massage, acupuncture or reflexology: I strongly believe in investing in my health, and some excellent ways to support my body is to get body work done like massage, acupuncture and reflexology. I work closely with some amazing practitioners, so you would like a referral to an excellent person, please let me know and I’ll get you connected. I know a lot of places also offer gift certificates!

15. Kombucha: I know this fermented tea is not for everyone, but I think it is just delicious! I thought it was a little “weird” the first time I drank it (“Really, people are drinking vinegar?”) but I really appreciated the flavor more when I tried it again. Kombucha is not only tasty, but is also good for your digestion because it is full of probiotics (the “good” bacteria that make your digestion happy and in balance). You can try the different flavors out there; I just suggest getting one without too much added sugar. My favorite is GTs Multi-Green!

16. Tea: This one is one the most simple and wonderful pleasures in life! I drink tea just about every day. My usual favorites include many from Yogi Tea, Traditional Medicinals, Numi, Choice and Rishi. I love teas like Every Day Detox, Ginger, Roasted Dandelion, Egyptian Licorice, Chai Green, Throat Coat/Throat Comfort, Rooibos, Peppermint and so many others! What is your favorite cup of tea? 

17. Travel: This one is so close to my heart that it’s hard to put into words, but travel–the literal act of moving in space–is such an important part of my life and such a pleasurable one. I included it here on a holiday favorite things list because many people travel this time of year to see family. My husband and I are one of those who will travel, albeit not very far, to visit family this holiday season. Travel and experiences together can also be a great “present” to give each other. My husband and I have traveled to some amazing places together.  We got engaged in Scotland, went on our honeymoon to Puerto Rico, celebrated our fourth anniversary in Iceland, and have enjoyed many of our National Parks like Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, Zion, and my favorite, the Grand Tetons. 

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18. Sunset Magazine: This might seem like an odd thing to include, but honestly I get such a feeling of joy when a new Sunset magazine arrives. It’s one of the only magazine subscriptions we still get and I always get a tip, idea or suggestion from each issue. For example, this summer we went camping for five days at the lovely Mary Smith Campground in the Trinity-Shasta area of Northern California and we learned about this quiet, bird-filled, awesome campground from Sunset magazine. Whether it’s travel tips, restaurant suggestions, recipes or just beautiful gardens to admire, I’m always excited to look through this beautiful magazine (and again, I think this can make a great gift!).

FengShuiYourMindbookcover19. The book Feng Shui Your Mind: Four Easy Steps to Rapidly Transform Your Life by Jill Lebeau and Maureen Raytis: It cannot be said how much I love this book and how much it has changed my life. I was lucky enough to get a chance to read it and help edit it before it was published, and I was transformed just reading it. Now I have the honor and pleasure of taking the amazing principles of this book and applying them to the mind, body and spirit in a new project I am doing with one of the authors, Jill Lebeau. Jill and I have been meeting weekly for our “play dates” to create an amazing online program and e-course that we will be launching very soon. Stay tuned! But in the meantime, pick up this book now!

20. Oprah: I feel like I need to take a moment to pay homage to Oprah herself. Not only did she inspire this post, but she has inspired me in so many ways. From her support of literature and reading, to her focus on empowering girls and women around the world, to her Soul Sundays, meditation series and work with spiritual greats like Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra, Oprah has brought so much positivity to our world. She is the embodiment of abundance, grace and passion. To celebrate her, I’m going to share one of my favorite moments of the Oprah show. I love this video because for once a huge crowd did something really special for Oprah! This video still brings tears to my eyes! 

21. My family, friends and clients and colleagues: Honestly, all of these things really are some of my favorite pleasures in life, but the most important things in life are not actually things at all. They are the beautiful people in my life. They are the ones that make life beautiful and sweet. So I wanted to end with sharing about some of my favorite people: my husband for his love and support, my dad for always being there for me, my sister for sharing my life with me, my nephews for the joy and laughter they bring to my world, my god-children for the opportunities to love like a parent without the responsibilities of being one, my dear friends whom I rely on for fun, clarity, memories and happiness, my colleagues who support also are committed to bringing health, vitality and peace to the world, and my clients for this opportunity to share my passion and who allow me to be witness to their transformation. I am grateful for you all!

Happy Holidays to you all! Whether you are celebrating Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Three Kings, Boxing Day, the Winter Solstice, Yule, Christmas or any other holy day this year, I wish you the happiest of celebrations and a bright new year in 2016!

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