Tuesday, April 13, 2010

life/work balance?

It just occurred to me how ridiculous, yet telling the phrase "life/work balance" is. Everyone claims to want a good "life/work" balance and in doing so we seem to be implying that work is the polar opposite of life. Unfortunately for many of us, this rings true. Think of all time we spend counting down the hours until we can leave the office, or the days until the weekend. I guess what we're really counting down for is "life." So is that to say that those of us burdened by mundane jobs are not living 40+ hours out of 168 each week?

My 85 year old grandfather who doesn't look or act a year over 70 asks me how my job is going every time I see him. Regardless if my answer is "Great" or "awful", his response is always the same; "The goal is to have a job that doesn't feel like work."

Of course even the happiest of career goers never complain about a day off, but I think that this is a great philosophy to live by, and also one of the reasons for this blog. For those of us who haven't yet reached our actualized self at the peak of Maslow's Hierarchy of needs, We're all unsettled in some aspect of life and thus waiting for a better or greater tomorrow.

We all seem to harbor a "work now,live later" mentality. This is evident in retirement funds, stored up vacation days, Savings for a rainy day. So what exactly is it that we're all waiting for? How can we learn to be satisfied in the present without always looking beyond to the future?

Morning Ritual

Making green smoothies has become a sacred morning ritual in my small Manhattan kitchen. Knowing that I'm putting amazing things into my body coupled with the simple task of chopping, tearing and blending, is the perfect start to any day!
However, on this particular morning I'm feeling a little off kilter as I woke up too late to partake in this beloved ritual.

It was one of those mornings where you hit snooze a good 10 times, and each 5 minute interval feels no more than 2 seconds long. Those mornings are the worst! This usually results in showing up to work ten minutes late in a frazzled state and mismatched outfit...(If I had a camera with me, I'd upload a pic entitled Exhibit A)

Needless to say, I wish I had made time for the smoothie this morning because after yesterday's late night at the office, I can totally use the energy boost it gives me! BUT in the spirit of gratitude over negativity, I still managed to get a sound night of sleep, which isn't always the case when you live off of 8th Avenue!

Right now, my favorite green smoothie is 2-3 large leafs of kale, 1 or 2 bananas, a handful of frozen mango, blueberries, flaxseed, water, and almond milk. It's a sweeter way to get a serving of greens! Most people swear by the Vitamix or blend tech, but for now I find my 7 speed cuisine art to work just fine.

Nutritionally greens are very high in calcium, magnesium,iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K. They are also choc full of fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll, and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals. Whenever possible choose organic!

Some of the benefits of eating dark leafy greens are blood purification, cancer prevention, improved circulation, strengthened immune system, and many others, so eat your greens! The fruit you are mixing with them also have wonderful health benefits, so by making green smoothies, you are killing 2 birds with one stone!

If you're still not sold, we actually get more of the benefits from our greens when consumed in the form of a smoothie because blending ruptures the plant cell membranes and therefore releases nutrients more easily. We do not have the jaw strength to do this through chewing alone. Furthermore blending into a creamy consistency makes it easier for us to digest.

Sold yet???

Monday, April 12, 2010

Gratitude over Negativity

Although being restless at work was much of my motivation to begin this blog, my intention goes much deeper

I hope to guide others through their own quest for life, specifically through their health. I'm not just talking about good blood pressure and strong immune systems here. I'm talking about health of mind and body. I truly believe that when one is healthy in mind and body, amazing things can happen. Therefore, my intention is to reach my optimum level of emotional and physical health while helping others reach their own along the way.

I am currently a student at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and come July will be a certified holistic health counselor. Right now I have one fabulous pro-bono client and am learning a lot!

I became interested in Holistic Health after battling some minor health concerns of my own several years ago. This concern evolved into an interest and later into a passion.

As you can see from my first post, I am not the epitome of health. While I eat very well (with the exception of many weekends where dining and wining is the main social event), and go to yoga when I can, there are still many other elements that are keeping me from reaching my optimum level of well being.

I think the first step we all should take is living by "gratitude over negativity."
When we stress and have negative thoughts, our body releases a hormone called cortisol. To keep cortisol levels at a healthy level, the body’s relaxation response should be activated shortly after the hormone is released. However, the constant high stress environments people often find themselves in today do not always allow for this response to occur. Therefore, cortisol is always present, resulting in chronic stress. This can actually be toxic to our body, which isn't so hard to believe as we all know what kind of negative effects stress can have on our health. Unfortunately, life is full of stressful situations that cannot always be avoided, so what can we do?

Scientific research shows that simple things like staying positive and taking deep breaths increase endorphins and dopamine and can actually lower cortisol levels! Personally I think finding humor in stressful situations can certainly help as well. Singing in the shower or watching an episode of the office are also quick fixes :)

My Health Counselor/IIN mentor suggested that I keep a Gratitude journal where I write 2-5 positive things that happened to me throughout the day. I find this to be a therapeutic and good reflective/spiritual practice.

It's 10:30 on Monday night and I'm still waiting on the digital team to get me the files I need to successfully complete my job, but my positive take aways are:
1.) My Grandma came home from the hospital today and is fine
2.) I'm strangely energized despite being here for over 13 hours
3.) Tomorrow I can leave at 5pm
4.) I got to chit chat with my boyfriend a few times today

What are you grateful for today?

The Stephanie Way

I'm stuck at the office right now. There's nothing worse than waiting on other people so that you can finish your job. So instead of updating my status reports for the 5th time today, I am going to do something that actually makes me feel creative, happy, and well... like a human being!

So here I sit at 9:15pm on Monday...Although to the outsider, or even to the woman emptying my waste basket right now (It's always bad when you're still working during the cleaning crew) I may appear to be a confident, put together young woman, the bubbly, clumsy, curly haired “chub-ette” I was in my toddler years is still very much present in my daily life. Perhaps, even to a fault. As my dad has said before “There’s the right way, the wrong way, and the Stephanie way.”
I still struggle with whether this particular proverb is a compliment indicating my unique, loveable charm, or an insult intended to rattle my confidence. This contradiction is one that seems to effortlessly sum up my daily inner dialogue.
“The Stephanie Way” is something that I both pride myself on and berate myself for. I boast The “Stephanie way” for having many great friends who find me truly genuine and entertaining, while I paradoxically blame the “Stephanie way” for my too many to mention embarrassing moments and my inability to get out of my head.(always the dreamer)
I am the fun loving, outgoing, bubbly, funny, creative, carefree idealist, just as I am the messy, shy, clumsy, anxious, over-analytical worry wart. I suppose I’m no different from most people. A human being can’t be broken down into a mere list of adjectives or titles, as we are all complex characters forever re-inventing ourselves while simultaneously embracing and challenging new co-cultures and societal expectations. Just as “life” could never really be defined, no single human being could ever hold a single definition in the Webster. So in that way, perhaps this stream of consciousness borders around being egocentric. However, I think and hope that many people can relate to me. I'm the girl who supposedly has a lot going for her, but contesting opinions about what those things are and what exactly to do with them all. I am an unsettled New Yorker. I am in search of "life."