Tag Archives: health

meatless monday: try this, this and this

via vogue.com

via vogue.com

wear this: a fresh pair of jeans.

via aloha.com

via aloha.com

make this: raw superfood bites.

matcha latte, some succulents, matcha bar, brooklyn.

matcha latte, some succulents, matcha bar, brooklyn.

drink this: a matcha latte. earthy, soothing, healthy. from matcha bar in williamsburg.

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feast & famine: alternate day fasting

sara little yoga blog nyc feast famine
A burger and fries one day, sucking on a piece of lettuce the next. This is dieting in 2013. The latest (and greatest?) new trend/controversy in waist-line management is ADF, Alternate Day Fasting, which sounds like it has potential as the perfect weight loss plan for lazy girls and guys. Exactly how safe (and effective) is it?

ADF is all the rage, the weight loss approach that takes yo-yo dieting to the extreme. Basically, ADF (the British version is the 5:2 diet) involves a 24-hour cycle of eating normal amounts of foods (2,000 calories), followed by 24 hours of serious calorie restriction, with no more than 500 total on fasting days. The theory goes that all the misery of fasting becomes more bearable, knowing that after a day spent starving yourself (literally), you get to eat whatever you want. And that includes a milkshake. In other words, you’re only on a “diet” half of the time, while the other half hardly feels, or looks like, a diet at all.

Proponents suggest ADF makes the ever-popular fasting/cleansing approach more sustainable for long-term benefits. It also gives you some power over your social calendar, since you’re only “dieting” every other day (ever been the Bummer Buddy on a juice cleanse and gone out with your friends? Not. Fun.). Other possible benefits, according to Ariane Hundt, a nutritionist, personal trainer, and founder of the Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp: on fasting days, the digestive system gets a rest, blood sugar levels balance out, and energy levels can be regulated without an onslaught of sugar and starches. “With fasting, you can teach your body to become more sensitive to calories from sugar and starches, so that when you do eat them, you’ll have a more negative response,” says Hundt. “You learn to dislike those foods and create an aversion rather than seeing them as a treat.”

And further evidence shows weight loss has occurred in ADF participants, as is the case whenever you restrict caloric intake, say most experts.

But what are the long-term effects of this binge/deprive approach to food? And can someone even diet this way as a lifestyle? Studies are inconclusive at the moment, and experts who weigh in tend to agree that this type of eating only reinforces an extreme relationship with food, an “all or nothing” approach. “If you were to eat a lot of sugary calories one day and then none the next, you would simply undo a bad day of eating without making any true progress. Hence, fasting for a day would be a wasted effort,” Hundt says.

With no focus on nutrition, ADF disregards any guidelines for replenishing those essential nutrients on your “eating days” that are clearly not taken in on your “fasting days.” “This approach simply doesn’t teach you about the impact of foods on your body,” adds Hundt. “You don’t learn anything about food and health, and you don’t learn how to eat properly to create a healthy body and mind. It simply perpetuates the diet model, which isn’t working in the long run.”

My take? I’m certainly not an anti-fasting fascist, and have fasted a number of times, for different reasons. But this diet not only bolsters an unhealthy, extreme relationship to food through a punishment/reward mentality, it also fails to teach anything about good nutrition, or the actual effects of food on the body. I’m all about finding balance, and there’s nothing balanced about starving yourself one day… and gorging on a large meat lover’s pizza the next.

lessons learned from physical pain: more than just coping

anatomy of a foot. via pinterest.

There was a lovely article published this week at MindBodyGreen, called “Finding Messages & Meaning in Chronic Pain.” As a professional yoga teacher, amateur anatomy junkie, and hobbyist athletic movement fiend, I’m constantly learning about the relationship between movement and pain. I grew up in an active environment and everyone I knew participated in rigorous sports. Mantras like “No pain, no gain” and “Pain is temporary, glory is forever” and “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” were pasted to the insides of our gym lockers and reminded us that we were going to experience pain (a personal fave: “If it hurts, change your mind.”). Some of it would be nearly unbearable, and some of it, sadly, would sideline us for a season or two.

At the tender age of fifteen and as a sensitive, creative, wildly imaginative girl, I had the capacity to feel things at a very deep level. I also had a frightening, self-destructive capacity to completely ignore these feelings at all costs for the good of the team. This second tendency overcame me in high school and led to a two-year struggle that started with foot over-pronation, resulted in painful shin splints, and ended in stress fractures that cut my cross-country and basketball seasons short. Custom-made orthotics, physical therapy, ultrasound and electrode therapy, and innumerable amounts of ibuprofen and icepacks. My deepest fear was that I’d be hurt forever, and I started to forget what it felt like to have legs that functioned without each step producing a shooting pain.

I wasn’t sophisticated enough to understand “good” pain versus “bad” pain (in other words, physical intensity versus physical destruction). Today  all kinds of studies support the thesis that pain does not have to be a necessary evil of sport and exercise. In fact, there’s something to be said for avoiding pain (a fave mantra of yoga teachers: “If it hurts, don’t do it”).

To my total amazement, my shins healed, eventually, and today I rarely think about the pain I experienced. Those afflicted with chronic pain from arthritis, Fibromyalgia, MS and other degenerative diseases might not be so fortunate. And mantras like NO PAIN NO GAIN are not helpful in this case.

My point is this: know thyself. Some pain (like physical exertion and intensity) is okay. Most pain, though, is your body’s way of trying to tell you something important. Listen. Explore. Become your own expert and advocate. Learn from your experiences and adapt your practice. Ask a million questions. Also…get yourself a foam roller (more on this soon, I promise! I want to properly introduce you to my new best friend). And if pain management means seeking out doctors and medical treatment, especially in the case of disease, seek them out.

Keep practicing in good health, and in good spirits…xx