Anti Inflammatory Diet Help

11 Food Rules For The Ultimate Anti-Inflammatory Diet

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If you want to eat for long-term health, lowering inflammation is crucial.

Inflammation in the body causes or contributes to many debilitating, chronic illnesses — including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and even cancer.

That’s why, as a doctor and founder of the Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine, I recommend my patients eat a diet focused on anti-inflammatory principles.

Recent research finds that eating this way not only helps protect against certain diseases, but it also slows the aging process by stabilizing blood sugar and increasing metabolism.

Plus, although the goal is to optimize health, many people find they also lose weight by following an anti-inflammatory eating pattern.

Here, I’m sharing the 11 principles I recommend everyone incorporate into their diet for optimal health:

1. Consume at least 25 grams of fiber every day.

A fiber-rich diet helps reduce inflammation by supplying naturally occurring anti-inflammatory phytonutrients found in fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods.

To get your fill of fiber, seek out whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Thebest sources include whole grains such as barley and oatmeal; vegetables like okra, eggplant, and onions; and a variety of fruits like bananas (3 grams of fiber per banana) and blueberries (3.5 grams of fiber per cup).

2. Eat a minimum of nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

One “serving” is half a cup of a cooked fruit or vegetable, or one cup of a raw leafy vegetable.

For an extra punch, add anti-inflammatory herbs and spices — such asturmeric and ginger — to your cooked fruits and vegetables to increase their antioxidant capacity.

3. Eat four servings of both alliums and crucifers every week.

Alliums include garlic, scallions, onions, and leek, while crucifers refer to vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts.

Because of their powerful antioxidant properties, consuming a weekly average of four servings of each can help lower your risk of cancer.

If you like the taste, I recommend eating a clove of garlic a day!

4. Limit saturated fat to 10 percent of your daily calories.

By keeping saturated fat low (that’s about 20 grams per 2,000 calories), you’ll help reduce the risk of heart disease.

You should also limit red meat to once per week and marinate it with herbs, spices, and tart, unsweetened fruit juices to reduce the toxic compoundsformed during cooking.

5. Consume foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis — conditions that often have a high inflammatory process at their root.

Aim to eat lots of foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like flax meal, walnuts, and beans such as navy, kidney and soy. I also recommend taking a good-quality omega-3 supplement.

And of course, consume cold-water fish such as salmon, oysters, herring, mackerel, trout, sardines, and anchovies. Speaking of which:

6. Eat fish at least three times a week.

Choose both low-fat fish such as sole and flounder, and cold-water fish that contain healthy fats, like the ones mentioned above.

7. Use oils that contain healthy fats.

The body requires fat, but choose the fats that provide you with benefits.

Virgin and extra-virgin olive oil and expeller-pressed canola are the best bets for anti-inflammatory benefits. Other options include high-oleic, expeller-pressed versions of sunflower and safflower oil.

8. Eat healthy snacks twice a day.

If you’re a snacker, aim for fruit, plain or unsweetened Greek-style yogurt (it contains more protein per serving), celery sticks, carrots, or nuts like pistachios, almonds, and walnuts.

9. Avoid processed foods and refined sugars.

This includes any food that contains high-fructose corn syrup or is high insodium, which contribute to inflammation throughout the body.

Avoid refined sugars whenever possible and artificial sweeteners altogether. The dangers of excess fructose have been widely cited and include increased insulin resistance (which can lead to type-2 diabetes), raised uric acid levels,raised blood pressure, increased risk of fatty liver disease, and more.

10. Cut out trans fats.

In 2006, the FDA required food manufacturers to identify trans fats on nutrition labels, and for good reason — studies show that people who eat foods high in trans fats have higher levels of C-reactive protein, a biomarker for inflammation in the body.

A good rule of thumb is to always read labels and steer clear of products that contain the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated oils.” Vegetable shortenings, select margarines, crackers, and cookies are just a few examples of foods that might contain trans fats.

11. Sweeten meals with phytonutrient-rich fruits, and flavor foods with spices.

Most fruits and vegetables are loaded with important phytonutrients. In order to naturally sweeten your meals, try adding apples, apricots, berries, and even carrots.

And for flavoring savory meals, go for spices that are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, including cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, rosemary, ginger, sage, and thyme.

Bon appétit!

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Tiny House Trend

I Built Myself A 196-Square Foot Tiny Home To Live In. Here’s Why

Everyone has their own reason to minimize and downsize. Mine had to do with creating a lifestyle free of debt and full of the flexibility to do what I want with my day, everyday.

After designing, building and occupying a 196 square foot home, I often find myself explaining that it’s really not about the (tiny) house — its about the life it enables me to live.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the rat race and compete with the proverbial Joneses. I know it was for me. After graduating college, I landed my “dream job” in architecture, in my hometown of Boise, Idaho — exchanging 40 to 60 hours weeks for a great paycheck so I could buy my starter home, get married and drive a nice car.

Ultimately, I was strapped with debt and stuck in a loop. Work occupied much of my week, leaving little time to do the things I enjoyed like going out with friends and enjoying a social life with my then husband. What once was a desirable lifestyle had quickly become a very heavy obligation and I realized how unrewarding this path was for me.

I needed a change. My partner and I were not on the same page — the lifestyle I hated was one that he loved and we ultimately decided to part ways. I started a massive downsizing effort that led me to find great satisfaction in living minimally. Three years later, in 2011, my tiny home journey began.

I thought it would be a tough transition from my previous 2,400-square foot home. I have never been so wrong.

I put aside one year’s worth of rent payments to build a house and better learn about construction and various green technologies firsthand. I decided to live in it for two years so that it could pay for itself and I could save some money for my next venture, and hopefully get ahead of all the bills.

Even though I was single at the time I started construction, I knew I did eventually want a family so I kept that in the back of my mind while designing. I made the space flexible enough to adapt to life as needed.

My new home would serve as a tool — its job to provide me shelter and comfort while enabling me the lifestyle I wanted without demanding so much of me in return.

It definitely came with some challenges. There were location issues, legal concerns, and technical construction hiccups. Not to mention, it was difficult explain my choice to others who couldn’t wrap their head around how I could exist in an area roughly the size of the average American’s master bathroom.

I was very lucky to have a supportive set of friends and family members who encouraged me anyway. I was given a place to build, friends to bounce ideas off of and eventually, after 18 months of construction, a network to help me find a final location for the home, just across town.

Here’s what I know now: creating a tiny house is an act of deep introspection. Not only is it physically demanding, it’s emotionally taxing and socially limiting. The planning and labor really do consume your thoughts and spare time, and many people won’t understand it.

But living tiny is not about compromising. It’s about examining what you want from life and making THAT happen for yourself. It’s doing without all of the excess so that the important parts of life can become central.

I thought it would be a tough transition from my previous 2,400-square foot home. I have never been so wrong.

It streamlined my life and clarified my path. My important goals (like being debt free) very quickly became realities, and excess complications drifted away. It was heart wrenching to sell all my brand new furniture for pennies compared to what I paid for them, but to be relieved of the burdens they carried was freeing. In reality, most things I owned were never really used — only purchased to fill rooms.

I no longer have that ‘to-do’ maintenance list in the back of my head, because I’m no longer obliged to take care of so much. I no longer own things unless they hold great value to me.

I relish in my family’s closeness, both literally and figuratively

 

Today — well past my two year goal — my worries are few, my wants are minimal I’m able to enjoy the gifts given to me in life every day. I have a loving partner who I met through the process. I am able to stay home and raise our daughter (and soon to be son), and I take on work because I want to, not because we need the money to pay endless bills. We have no ambitions to ever supersize our house again, though we have renovated recently to adapt the original design to better fit our growing family.

Every tiny house is unique because every individual is unique — there is no one size fits all.

It certainly won’t work for everyone and shouldn’t. But if it’s right for you, oh, it’s so worth the journey! To create your own home with your own hands … there is nothing quite so challenging and empowering.

Sure there are moments, or even days, that it’s not all rainbows. We still have to deal with the outside stresses of the world, but this lifestyle has allowed us to live with less stress and given us the ability to slow down.

Today, I view challenges as something I “get” to do rather than something I “have” to do. That small change in perspective is the difference between a crowded kitchen being a frustration verses a fun dance.

Today, I relish in my family’s closeness, both literally and figuratively, and I wish the same happiness and simplicity for everyone.

Downsizing to live large

I’ve Lived In A Van With My Family For The Past 6 Years. Here’s What My Life Is Like

Six years ago, I was living with my then-boyfriend (now-husband) in a funky waterfront apartment in Venice Beach, California. While my boyfriend ran his outdoor adventure Internet business, Outdoorplay, from our home, I worked as a sales representative for a large corporate conferencing company in a cubicle in West Los Angeles.

Despite making a six-figure income, we lived quite modestly. I drove a used Volvo S60. We cooked at home nearly every night, and my wardrobe consisted of vintage clothing and hand-me-downs from a couple of fashionista friends. Cost of rent aside, we were not the picture of luxury and excess.

Downsizing is more a shift in attitude that affords you the resources to live your passion.

So if someone had challenged me to downsize my life back then, I would have balked. Trimming the fat off of my strenuous routine would have seemed an act of austerity, an ascetic denial of small pleasures, a cruelty set to make me even more miserable than I was. And boy was I miserable. I constantly worked overtime, my anxiety levels were soaring, and I couldn’t sleep at night.

Then, without fanfare, the ax dropped.

I was let go from my fancy, soul-crushing job in the fall of 2009, during the height of the Great Recession. Without my income, we could no longer afford our apartment, and I scrambled to find a job with equal or greater pay. Within two weeks, I was on my third interview for a position paying a quarter of a million dollars a year.

As I lay in bed the night before the final interview, I worried about my no-win dilemma. If I didn’t get the job, we’d have to move inland and give up our seemingly idyllic life — no more sunsets on the beach, no more shopping for organic fare at Whole Foods. But if I did get the job, things might be worse. With larger salaries come long hours, endless internal meetings, and unyielding corporate pressure to do more, more, and more. I might just lose my mind.

The next day, I came home crying. I’d been on enough interviews to know I didn’t get the position. My boyfriend, who had a keen understanding of our situation, held me in his arms and consoled me, but he didn’t give me the proverbial get-back-on-the-horse pep talk. Instead, he lobbied for us to do something dramatically different.

“Let’s go on a road trip,” he said.

“Sure, okay,” I whimpered.

“To the tip of South America,” he added.

Six years and 18 countries later, we haven’t stopped driving.

We quickly dispatched all furniture and appliances to friends and Goodwill, and gave away our extra clothing. Old trophies, journals, and photo albums were put into storage, and the rest — a couple of bags of clothes, 10 pairs of shoes (mostly mine), five surfboards (mostly his), and some kitchen supplies — were packed into our Sprinter van.

We drove through Mexico and Central America, shipped our van from Panama to Colombia, and drove down the Pacific side of South America to Patagonia, and then continued back up the Atlantic side through Brazil. It was — and still is — the trip of a lifetime.

The Sprinter had a bed, a small two-burner stove, a tiny fridge, and some storage space for gear. Without a bathroom, we peed in a bottle (thank heavens for the female funnel) and used a hose to rinse off out back. At first, I often chose to stay dirty rather than take a cold shower, but as we moved further south into Central America, I started to look forward to the afternoon cool down.

Regardless of which country we were in, our routine looked similar. In the morning, we ran our Internet business from coffee shops or hostels and did our other business there as well. In the afternoons, we explored our surroundings, whether they were small pueblos, big cities, ancient ruins, or wild spaces.

At the start of our Pan-American adventure, we lived on $1,500 a month. Given my unemployment and the serious cash crunch that affected thousands of businesses during the last recession, our income had dropped to less than our rent was in Venice; just a hair over the poverty threshold. And, yet, even though we were living in a tiny space in times of financial austerity, we could afford to do things like travel to new places, rock climb, and surf amazing breaks.

We spent countless hours outside together — because, hey, nature is free — doing what brought joy and purpose to our lives. Not only did we not miss the things money could buy, living on the cheap never felt so rich.

People think of downsizing as simply giving things away, spending less, and living in a tinier space. And, while that’s certainly a part of it, downsizing is more a shift in attitude that affords you the resources to live your passion. Basically, downsizing your lifestyle means super-sizing your life experience.

Downsizing your lifestyle means super-sizing your life experience.
Perhaps more poignant than the time and geographic distance traveled are the “mental miles” traveled away from who we were when we began the trip to who we’ve become on this journey. Today, our goals are in line with our authentic needs. We’re easier to please, more grateful, and infinitely happier.

So even though the economy has recovered and our online business is again stable, we still choose to live the same downsized lifestyle in exchange for a life filled with intimacy and adventure. We still have no home base, live in a recreational vehicle (albeit a bigger one), and restrain our consumption. We’re able to set aside money we don’t spend on high rent and car payments for our retirement accounts.

Three years ago, we gave birth to a baby girl in Lima, Peru. Now we’re a family of nomads, road-schooling (homeschooling on the road) our way around the world. Next stop, Europe!

13.1 for the first time

13.1 Tips For Your First Half Marathon

If you’re new to running and have just signed up for your first half marathon, I know exactly how you feel. A mixture of emotions churn your stomach as you make the overwhelming realization that running 13.1 miles is a daunting prospect, especially if you’re a beginner and the idea of even running one mile is scary.

Whether your reasons for signing up to run a half marathon are weight loss, charitable, in memory of someone or simply to get into running, this race is important to you and you want to do your best. The great thing about having a training goal such as a half marathon is that the deadline of race day will keep you tying up those laces for another run when you’d normally flake out for sofa and Netflix time.

I’ve now successfully completed two half marathons and am currently training for the Stockholm Marathon in May. Last year, I could barely run a mile without stopping to huff, puff and despair at myself. So here are my 13.1 tips for your first half marathon:

1. Find a training plan that works for you.

One of the mistakes I made in my first half marathon was not following any training plan at all. A quick search for “beginner half marathon training plan” will turn up many great options. Just pick one and go!

2. Don’t run every day.

Your body needs time to recover in between training runs and your rest days are actually just as important to your half marathon training as your long runs. Aim to run three times a week.

3. Squat!

Did you know that your glutes power most of your stride when running?Squatting is the best way to strengthen your glutes and legs to condition them for your half marathon and will also build a great booty.

4. Find sneakers that are right for your feet.

I ran for years in the wrong type of shoe and without realizing, caused myself unnecessary injury and hardship. The type of shoe you need depends on how your feet land when you’re running: you can have either neutral, over-pronating or supinating arches. Sound complicated? Don’t worry, your local running shop will be able to evaluate your stride and point you in the right shoe-direction.

5. Plan a 10k race as part of your training.

Not only will a 10k keep you motivated during your half marathon training, but it’ll also allow you to experience “race day” so you can establish your own routine when the big one comes around.

6. Have a training buddy.

Training with a friend — even if they don’t plan on running the race — makes training a social event and, therefore, more fun! You’re less likely to flake on a training run when it means letting someone else down too.

7. Cross train.

Sure, you’ll need to run to train for the half marathon, but you should also make sure to incorporate other types of exercise into your routine. Cycling, swimming, an aerobic class or strength training are great ways to supplement your running because they all build strength and flexibility in muscles running doesn’t always utilize. Expanding your training routine beyond running will also help prevent injury and boredom.

8. Plan your nutrition and hydration.

Practice drinking and eating energy-rich carbs on your run to avoid fatigue. Sip water rather than gulping it and take dried fruit with you on your longer runs for an instant boost without the horrible digestive side effects you can get from runner’s gels.

9. Incorporate yoga into your training.

Yoga is the perfect complement to running as it stretches and strengthens your muscles while also working your core and improving posture.

10. Study the course.

Knowing what to expect from the course on race day will help you prepare yourself mentally and physically. Watch out for where the hills and water stations are!

11. Invest in safety pins.

So important yet so easily forgotten! You’ll need four safety pins to attach your race bib/number to your top. Don’t forget!

12. Take care of your feet.

This may seem like a silly tip, but cutting your toe nails the night before race day is crucial. Think about all the pressure and friction you’ll be putting on your feet during those 13.1 miles … the shorter your toenails, the less likely they’ll be to interfere with your stride.

13. Don’t set a time target.

Unless you’ve been running for a while and have a good level of fitness to start with, setting a time target for your first race could actually be a bad idea. 13.1 miles is a long distance and one that is completely new to your body. Setting yourself a time target could leave you feeling disappointed rather than proud, which would be terrible considering you’ve just run the longest distance ever in your life! Make your goal to finish with a smile instead!

13.1 Enjoy the amazing feeling commonly known as “runner’s high” once you’ve crossed the finish line!

Enjoy!

Coloring Mandalas!

The ancient practice of making intricate mandalas (repetitive art designs) out of colored sands is something Buddhist Monks have done forever.  Then they dump it all and start again has always fascinated me so when coloring books started coming out, I was all over it!

5 Reasons To Give In To The Adult Coloring Book Trend

The adult coloring book craze is an international phenomenon sweeping the front tables of bookstores everywhere. Wonder what all the fuss is about? Here are five good reasons to surrender to the coloring movement:

1. Coloring helps you unwind.

Let’s face it — our day-to-day lives are jam-packed and stressful, full of long hours, deadlines, hellish commutes, and draining social interactions. Studies show that coloring helps clear your mind and center your thoughts to help you relax and de-stress after a long, hard day. Sitting down and focusing your attention on one calming activity can have a tremendous effect on your mood, energy levels, and how well you sleep.

2. Coloring stimulates your right brain and helps you think more clearly.

If you’re not already nurturing your imagination daily, coloring can help you express your creativity in a fun and constructive way. Research shows you have your best ideas when your right brain is stimulated. Coloring gets those creative juices flowing and helps you think outside the box (while trying to stay inside the lines).

3. Coloring makes for a fun night in with friends.

Coloring isn’t just a solo, quiet activity. In lieu of going to overpriced restaurants or crowded bars, inviting your friends over for a glass of wine and a coloring party is a fun way to spend time with people you love.

4. Coloring is a great creative outlet.

No matter your artistic ability, there’s no right or wrong way to color. Trees don’t have to be green; the sky doesn’t have to be blue. It’s your world – only stay inside the lines if you want to.

5. Coloring books make the perfect gift.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Ugh, coloring is the worst?” Neither have we. Coloring books are a perfect birthday or holiday gift for that one person who seemingly has everything. Coloring books are extremely thoughtful gifts that pay homage to a simpler time in life, when our biggest decision of the day was what color to choose next.

Happy for the Holidays!

What Makes One Person Happier Than The Next (Hint: It’s Not Money)

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What makes one person happier than the next? It’s not money. It’s not the circumstances into which they are born. It’s not even what happens to them in this uncertain world. Positive Psychology, often referred to as “the science of happiness,” generally suggests that happiness is largely dependent on learnable habits.

Our brain changes with experience, and we get good at what we practice. The neural networks that you exercise become stronger, and eventually the thought patterns and mental habits that are being represented by those neural networks get stronger and become effortless and automatic.

The most powerful way to change your brain is not actually medication, it’s behavior, because that’s what it’s designed to change in relation to — not just any behavior, specifically mental behavior or mental habit. William James called habit “the basic structure of mental life.

This Happiness Map is my own elucidation of some of the habits and principles espoused by Positive Psychology.

Notice the starting point. It’s mindfulness. That’s the first step to happiness. Once you’ve developed a habit of mindfulness, there are three tracks to follow to reach authentic happiness: gratitude, self-care, and altruism.

Learn These Happiness Habits

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the single most important happiness habit. Research shows that contemplative practices, such as mindfulness meditation, can literally change the brain. Bringing focus and awareness to your behavioral patternsis a prerequisite to making different choices. Whether you choose yoga, meditation, journaling, or some other mindfulness practice, just be intentional and stick with it.

Gratitude

This article on the habits of supremely happy people cites the appreciation of simple pleasures as one of the key indicators of happiness. An attitude of gratitude will help you find joy in every day. Robert Emmons, a leading scientific expert on gratitude, has demonstrated that gratitude is good for our bodies, our minds, and our relationships.

In his article, “Why Gratitude Is Good,” he writes, “Gratitude journals and other gratitude practices often seem so simple and basic; in our studies, we often have people keep gratitude journals for just three weeks. And yet the results have been overwhelming. We’ve studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits.”

Self-Compassion

Writing for Psychology Today, self-compassion expert Kristin Neff says, “Most people … feel compelled to create what psychologists call a ‘self-enhancement bias’ — puffing ourselves up and putting others down so that we can feel superior in comparison. However, this constant need to feel better than our fellow human beings leads to a sense of isolation and separation.”

So how do we get off this treadmill, conquer this perception that we need to feel superior to feel better about ourselves? In her TEDxTalk video, The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self Compassion, Neff declares that self-compassion is the answer.

In an insightful article called The Difference Between Self-Compassion and Self-Esteem, Grace Bezanson makes these important points:

  • Unlike self-esteem, self-compassion is not linked to self-evaluation. You should feel compassionate towards yourself because all human beings deserve compassion.
  • Self-compassion frees us to be ourselves. It “removes all the veils that hide the parts of yourself that you do not like, allowing for clearer, big picture-thinking and the recognition that you are only human.”

Here are some key benefits of self-compassion:

Kindness

“People who engage in kind acts become happier over time… When you are kind to others, you feel good as a person ― more moral, optimistic, and positive.”

Virtually every leading psychologist agrees: When it comes to pursuing activities that can boost our happiness, helping someone else is a surefire strategy.

A look back…

2015 has been a big year!   If I had to sum it it up into one word I’d have to say gratitude! 

From expanding my business from a tiny massage sole proprietor to an LLC that’s healthy  growing with multiple lines of business and now a retailer…it’s enough to make your head spin.  But all that is due to the best clients ever.  There’s not a single one I would trade! 

This year I added an iron distance swim (2.4 miles in an 85 degree lake) and 2 more 1/2 marathons (27 days apart is maybe not the best idea by the way) but I got a PR to boot despite broken plastic pieces hovering around in my foot since March and a stress fracture in September.  

But best of all I’ve worked less, lived more and been a lot happier, and that’s what this change was all about!  And I get to spend more time with these crazies!  And a lot of 2 legged friends I’ve been missing and a ton of new friends!

I can’t ask for anything more from 2015 so it’s time to just sit back and enjoy the holidays a bit!  May you have the Merriest Christmas ever! 

    
   

Better Moods by Food!

9 Food Choices That Will Boost Your Mood

It’s common when we feel sad or depressed to reach for comfort food — and by comfort food, I mean the fatty, sugary, and processed kind. We might not realize it at the time, but we could be doing ourselves a further injustice.

The food we eat is intricately linked to our mood, emotions, and behavior. A famous study demonstrated that when prisoners received adequate micronutrients, scientists found a dramatic reduction in violent incidents and behavioral issues.

As the “gut-brain hypothesis” suggests, what we eat affects how we think and feel. Below are nine ways to nutritionally boost your mood that are backed by science:

1. Eat healthy fats.

Researchers have found that polyunsaturated fats (in particular omega-3 fatty acids) play a vital role in the brain and in modifying inflammatory pathways.

Neuro-inflammation is associated with symptoms of depression, so a diet rich in omega-3 fats may be beneficial. Sources of omega-3 fats include seeds, walnuts, and oysters, although the highest amounts exist in oily fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel.

2. Try more tryptophan.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid (the building blocks of proteins) and is required to produce serotonin. Serotonin is thought to produce a stable mood, and reduced levels have been found in people with depression.

Foods that naturally support tryptophan levels include seeds, nuts, cheese, oats, and meats.

3. Let the sunshine vitamin in.

Vitamin D does more than just support bone health. This hormone (yes, it’s actually a hormone!) is vital in activating the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin. Inadequate vitamin D levels could be linked to symptoms of depression.

Few foods are rich in vitamin D, with oily fish topping the list, but the best source is sunshine.

4. Make a beeline for the B vitamins.

B vitamins, including folate (B9), play an important role in producing brain chemicals that regulate mood and other brain functions. Low levels of folate and B vitamins have been linked to poor mood. The best way to ensure adequate B vitamins is to consume a healthy, varied diet.

B12 can be tricky for those who restrict animal-derived foods; try giving fortified soy products and nutritional yeast a try.

5. Slow down on the sugar!

Have you ever had a sugar binge over a weekend and then found your gut “messed up”? Well, sugar can indeed mess with your gut!

When we overconsume sugar, it’s poorly digested and passes into the colon. There it fuels the growth of “bad” bacteria, which can wreak havoc on your health, promoting inflammation and disrupting the healthy ecology of your gut microbiome.

The majority of serotonin is made in the gut, which could be influenced by the health of your microbiome.

6. Choose complex carbs.

Complex carbohydrates are more slowly digested and offer a gradual release of energy into the blood stream. They also support the body’s natural detox systems and promote the activity of desirable gut bacteria.

Try adding more root vegetables, legumes, and buckwheat to your diet.

7. Dig into fermented foods.

Cultured and fermented foods promote a healthy gut, which can lead to a more positive mood.

Food choices include yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchee.

8. Seek selenium.

Selenium is a wonderful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Itprotects against oxidative stress and inflammation, which are both damaging to our mood.

Ensuring adequate intake of this tiny mineral by eating wholesome, real food (as selenium is abundant in the soil) will boost your mood and overall health. Supplementation of selenium isn’t recommended as high doses can be toxic.

9. Drink water!

Water is the elixir of life. It’s essential for the trillions of tiny chemical reactions that energize us throughout the day and stabilize our mood. Dehydration can cause fatigue and irritability, and drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated.

Your Year Review!

20 Signs You Had A Good Year (Even If It Doesn’t Feel Like It)

This time of year, many of us feel as though we aren’t where we should be. We didn’t stick to our resolutions or make the changes we envisioned for ourselves, or we feel stuck by certain life circumstances. But regret isn’t productive. Instead of being angry with yourself, focus on what went well for you.

One great way to do this is by creating a “Year in Review.” Look back over your year and make a list of notable events. Reflecting creates an opportunity to realign yourself with your goals on the cusp of a new year. In the spirit of the holiday season, give yourself the gift of self-love and celebrate how far you’ve come.

In my book, Adventures for Your Soul, I talk about the benefits of making happiness a practice through reflection and focus on our own personal growth.

If you feel as though your life didn’t go as planned this year, take a second look. You’ll likely realize you’re more on track than you thought. Here are 20 signs you actually had a great year, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

1. You focused more on what you wanted than on what you didn’t.

2. You took risks, even in the face of fear. Despite the outcome, you know you did what was right for you.

3. You fell short of certain goals, but you’re okay with that, because you love who you’ve become in the process of trying.

4. You’re capable of celebrating how far you’ve come.

5. You haven’t worried about things you can’t change. You trust that you’re right where you need to be to get where you want to go.

6. You take yourself less seriously than you used to. You can laugh at yourself and find humor in most situations.

7. You have forgiven your past and let go of unnecessary anger.

8. You smile more — even when you’re alone.

9. You enjoy spending time with yourself. You’re working on becoming your own best friend.

10. You can appreciate the moment. You’re more patient than you use to be.

11. You’ve relinquished your need to know the answers or outcome. Instead, you enjoy the adventure of the journey.

12. You focus more on reasons for doing things instead of the results you see.

13. You know your dreams matter and the world needs what you have.

14. You’ve opened your heart by showing more of your true self to those you love.

15. You no longer define yourself by your achievements or outside influences; you know you matter and are enough as you are.

16. You’ve stopped comparing yourself to others (or have at least made progress) because you like who you are much more.

17. You don’t overreact as much as you used to. Instead, you focus more on the big picture.

18. You believe in your future self and are proud of the direction you are heading in.

19. You’ve released your expectations, and instead you trust (or are trying to trust) divine timing in all areas of your life.

20. You no longer force anything. When it’s right, you know.

Great article on Meditation by an Olympic Athlete

I’m frequently referred to as a pioneer in the snowboarding world. I have an Olympic silver medal and have won four X-Games gold medals — though I’ll be the first to tell you it hasn’t been an easy journey. After I won the silver medal at the Olympics, I faced a lot of distractions. There were so many other opportunities and responsibilities surrounding snowboarding, I lost my excitement for the sport.

I was no longer riding every day because I allowed the business opportunities — such as media requests, photo shoots, and appearances — to take precedence. I believed I needed to make the most of this small window of opportunity to earn money and build my business and my brand.

Snowboarding had gone from being about pursuing a dream and a passion to now solely capitalizing on the achievement of that dream and passion.

So when I did finally get to snowboard it was either for a photo or film shoot or, on the rare occasion that I was able to snowboard without a project at the center, then I had the mentality that I needed to “train” for competition, and I put more pressure on myself to be productive and efficient rather than doing it for the love of it.

Without realizing it, a switch had been flipped. Snowboarding had gone from being about pursuing a dream and a passion to now solely capitalizing on the achievement of that dream and passion. Snowboarding had become draining and overwhelming. It was no longer what brought out the best in me; it was beginning to bring out my worst.

When I focused on making my meditation practice a priority, I found that it actually helped improve my snowboarding.

After some time and contemplation, I came to realize that I needed to make my meditation practice the foundation of my life. Meditation is the practice of sitting quietly with yourself in order to experience the peace, tranquillity, and happiness that is within you. The only thing we can count on to remain the same and never change in this life is our own inner nature. That is what we reconnect with when we practice meditation.

When I focused on making my meditation practice a priority, I found that it actually helped improve my snowboarding. Prior to learning about andpracticing meditation, snowboarding had become unconscious for me. I no longer had awareness of what I was really doing; I was on autopilot. Meditation helped bring awareness back into my snowboarding. And just like meditation itself, regaining this awareness took practice. It took time for me to become re-aware of what I was doing when I was on the snow.

This all clicked for me at the 2009 Grand Prix in Killington, Vermont. For the first time in a long time, I became aware once more around what edge I was on as I ollied into the halfpipe, and how much weight was on my back leg versus my front leg, and what angle I took as I rode up the wall before throwing my Crippler. And while these might seem like very basic and foundational steps of awareness to someone who rides the halfpipe every day, it was actually overwhelming and almost scary because I just wasn’t used to being aware of it all anymore so it took a lot of energy!

I had to shed the security blanket of my being on autopilot and reengage if I was going to break through to another level of skill on my snowboard. I stumbled a bit in this. It was like taking off my earmuffs and listening to my intuition again. And it was my intuition that knew the tiniest of tweaks and adjustments that would serve my body in pulling off these things that I was asking it to do. I was also more aware of what external factors could help or hurt my snowboarding by listening to my newly aware intuition.

All too often, athletes, when they feel they’ve hit a plateau, will just try to force themselves through the rut they are in. Other athletes, when stuck at a plateau, will turn to a new coach or a new diet or a new trainer. I would say, “Stop!” First simply return to your own intuition and awareness by introducing a meditation practice. This will help you become re-aware of your sport and your progression. Meditation can help you see the ruts you’re in without having to find an external or unsafe source to help you break through to your full potential.

This isn’t to say bringing meditation into your life will be easy or a quick fix. There is no such thing as a quick fix! To be honest, meditation takes the passion, discipline, and commitment of an Olympic athlete. And when it comes to meditation, it’s hard to see the benefits unless we have put in the practice.

There’s always room to grow on your journey for inner fulfillment, peace, and happiness, and the more you explore it, the more fully you will experience it, and that’s something no one can measure or define for you. Additionally, there will be twists and turns along your journey. You’ll have to release expectations and judgments. You’ll have to let go of wanting to control the outcome of what the journey will look like and how it will feel. But you will continue to practice for no other reason than to practice, and the journey along the way will be the point.

Photo courtesy of K2 Snowboarding