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Major Announcement + Sneak Peek

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Broga@ Yoga and Yoga for Men merge. Form YFM (Yoga. Fitness. Mindfulness.)

Dear Friends and Partners,

We’re thrilled to share a major announcement with you today, and to offer you an exclusive sneak peek.

Broga® Yoga (Broga LLC) has merged with Yoga for Men (Yoga for Men LLC), and formed a new company called, YFM.

YFM = Yoga. Fitness. Mindfulness.

The hard work we’ve put into building Broga® for these past many years will proceed uninterrupted. We will continue to offer Broga®-branded events, workshops, instructor training courses, and retreats. We remain – and we hope you do too! – fully committed to the Broga mission: To make yoga more accessible, appealing, and rewarding to everyone — especially men.

Over the years, we’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the team at Yoga for Men. They’re a great group of amazing people doing meaningful work.

Recently, while working together on cross-promotional activities, it became clear that there were strong synergies. Aside from the easy rapport, a shared vision, and natural collaboration, we also saw that each side brought complimentary skills.

  • The Yoga for Men team has fostered a significant online community and built a successful online apparel store. They also have outstanding video content, some of which has been used for a compelling study on Veterans with PTSD.
  • At Broga, as you know, we’ve long focused on instructor training/support and events, while building a library of videos in Broga Online Studios (‘the BOSS’).

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
After some discussions, the question became: If Broga and Yoga for Men merged, what would we do?

…And part of the answer to that question is what we want to share with you today.

The new company, YFM, is launching a brand new subscription-based video streaming platform at YFM.tv!

In addition to videos featuring top instructors across a range of modalities – a variety of yoga formats, pilates, functional training, cardio workouts, and guided mindfulness practices – members will also have access to exclusive discounts on apparel, training courses, and live events.

==> TAKE A PEEK: www.yfm.tv <==

  1. Please submit your own email address.
  2. Refer AT LEAST two friends — *refer as many as you’d like* — to stock up on FREE ACCESS in advance.
  3. Email adam@brogayoga.com with any thoughts.

We look forward to your feedback… Don’t forget to sign up!

Onward and upward!!

In gratitude,

Broga Team
Adam, Robert, Chuck, & Katie

 

PS – Check it out: www.yfm.tv. See you there…

FYI — In the coming weeks, Yoga for Men will transition to the new brand, YFM. Broga will remain a distinct brand under the YFM umbrella. Together, we have some exciting partnerships in the works — e.g. pro athletes, massive brands, and more. We’re also partners in some incredible new research that we’ll share more about soon.

3 Reasons Class Vibe Matters

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The next batch of Broga Instructors having their first class together at in atWhether you’re into “that energy stuff” or not, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all had experiences with an environment or person giving off a bad “vibe.” It’s also possible you’ve had the inexplicable experience of “feeling good” in a place or with someone. What you felt is considered the “vibe.” A quick Google search tells us a vibe isa person’s emotional state or the atmosphere of a place as communicated to and felt by others.”

What’s this have to do with yoga? The atmosphere an instructor creates for their class is a determining factor in why students are drawn to attend and why they choose to return. In the interest of sharing the benefits of yoga with as many people as possible, it is important for instructors to consider the student experience when planning classes. Let’s look at the 3 reasons the class vibe matters.

  • Students don’t come to yoga to learn a new language. I love Sanskrit and have a deep appreciation for my thorough training including it. However, most people are relatively unaware of this language and even yoga philosophy. Keeping the language clear, anatomical, and directional with an emphasis on the postural benefits will make the practice accessible to a wider audience.
  • Students want to breathe fresh air. I don’t know about you, but I am not into getting centered while trying to recover from an asthma attack (I speak from experience). It is much less intimidating if attending a yoga class doesn’t accost the senses or feel like a cult initiation. Many people are still resistant or fearful of yoga philosophy and symbols (statues, altars, chanting, etc) so keeping the learning space free from distractions allows them to be more present and experience the benefits of the physical practice, which is most likely why they came to class.
  • Students like music that moves them. Music speaks to me on a cellular level, and I know I’m not alone in my experience. If your class is meditative and slow paced, choose music that supports the timing. When teaching a more energetic, powerful practice, students like music with a good beat, even up-tempo at peak points in the flow. It can be instrumental, it can have lyrics, just keep them clean and positive. Choosing lyrics that don’t compete with your instruction is critical. Most important is the class’ ability to hear your cues so consider the volume of both your voice and the music throughout the practice.  

As instructors, the environment created for the students is just as important to consider as your sequencing. You can be a creative sequencer, but if your playlist is lackluster and space is cluttered or odiferous, then people will never experience your sequencing genius. Or they’ll be so focused on all the other “stuff” going on they won’t remember the practice. Word of mouth can make or break class attendance. Consider the student experience when designing or choosing your teaching spaces and marketing your classes. Bring students to the mat, give them an accessible and memorable experience, and keep them coming back. Let the yoga do the work.

What to Do When Life Asks You to Keep Moving

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keep moving, never give up, Broga Yoga, strength, one way, yoga, expansion

“I don’t think I can go any further” was what went through my mind when I went running yesterday. I checked in with my breath, my body, and the energizing Citizen Cope song in my ear and decided to at least finish the song. Before I knew it, I had traveled two more miles than I thought I could go! Possibly, you’ve had a similar experience of pushing beyond your perceived limits, your edge, only to emerge stronger. Maybe you don’t push yourself, and backing down or giving up has been your pattern. There’s a perceived comfort in the discomfort found on either path.

Clarity comes for me when I run, hit the mat, or work out. Basically anytime I apply a singular focus, and really check in, tuning out the distractions of life. During this particular run, I gained needed clarity on some ways life was asking me to expand, be more flexible, and to show up ready for action. I’ve essentially been waiting to make the turn onto a one-way road for quite some time and it is time to leave the intersection.

Life is constantly begging me to expand, become more flexible. When I resist and become rigid, something always forces an opening. I’ve jokingly said this year is the year I “let go or get dragged.” Recently I had an experience of letting go, offering forgiveness, and the freedom which resulted was powerful. Seemingly since that very moment, I’ve felt a pull towards moving forward, towards more action, and an expansion overall. I’ve felt the familiar pull before, I just always allowed something to hold me back. Now I have the space and the freedom.

While running, when I realized I was still going beyond my intended limit, the biggest smile took over my face, followed by my body. The feeling of strength, belief, and the clarity was exhilarating. I was okay, I was actually stronger than I thought. The sound of feet on pavement, the fullness of the exhale as you move to the final relaxation on your mat, the clank of the weights crashing down after the last rep, the victory groan you let escape as you reach your goal all encompass the universal experience found when we agree to show up and stay the course. Those tastes of victory, even if intermingled with “failures,” can be the greatest motivators for focused forward motion.

I can’t even count the times I have said, “I don’t think I can handle one more thing.” Each time I face a challenge head on, push a little harder, fold a little deeper, even open my heart to someone, I always learn something: I CAN. Muscles can be retrained and strengthened, new neuronal pathways can be carved in the mind and body, belief patterns can change, and our hearts can expand to hold and offer even more compassion than we thought possible.

It’s like I tell the students in Broga® Yoga classes: to fill their lungs and then sip in just a little more. I tell my training clients to check in with their body and go a little farther than the mind says they can, until they find their second wind. Same idea. When we show up and open up, we can expand to meet any demand placed upon us, or find room in our hearts when we thought it impossible.

How can you expand to meet life’s demands? Where do you need to push just a bit harder? How can you connect to your inherent, untapped strength? Leave the intersection…the horizon awaits.

Is Exercise Making You Fat?

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We all hear it. Losing weight is as simple as eating less and moving more. However, obesity rates continue to skyrocket and people are exercising themselves insane, thinking they are doing everything right with no results. More heath obsessed than ever, we are a nation paradoxically burdened with the highest levels of chronic disease. What gives?

We’ve created an abusive relationship with exercise, like a punishment used to torture the extra calories out of people who lacked the self-control or willpower to say no to that second cupcake. Not only is this a terrible way to connect to movement, but is far from the truth; forcing yourself on a 5 mile run to “burn off” those extra cookies is insane, and not at all intuitive. It doesn’t make sense to say that a piece of bread is the same as walking for 30 minutes, just because of the number of calories (defined as the amount of heat needed to raise 1 gram of water 1˚C ) are equivalent. Besides, we are meant to move, and move with pleasure. Just ask the children galloping around the playground, laughing and chasing each other, climbing trees and running up slides: our bodies were made to move.

 Although your 40 minute treadmill run inevitably burns some extra calories, it is such a small factor in overall weight loss. You could technically eat back those calories, and more, with one muffin. The stress that exercise creates within your system has been shown to tell your body to hold on to any excess weight. Intense, excessive exercise can negatively affect the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, and lead to hypothyroidism, which is known to cause depression, weight gain, and digestive dysfunction.  If it thinks that you are running from a saber tooth tiger every morning, why would it wait to let go of your protective fat? Besides, calories are hardly the most important factor in weight balance. The “calories in, calories out” mantra is oversimplified and outdated. It is now clear that hormones are far more important in the storage and distribution of fat. All growth is primarily hormonal, even horizontal growth.

 However, this is not to say that you should not take up a sport, join a gym, or neglect your body, thinking that your hormones are completely out of your control. Exercise is important in many aspects, and can greatly improve all aspects of your health. However, instead of feeling like you need to guilt yourself into doing those 30 squats, find an activity that you love and find joy in. Lose the mindset that crossfit is better than weight lifting, that sprinting is better than jogging, that soccer is better than Frisbee, that one is better than the other. All types of movement will benefit your sanity, as long as you stay away from the highly toxic mindset that you MUST run every morning to keep off the excess fat. Take your recovery days, switch it up, and remember that it is not necessary to push your body to its absolute limits every single day. Less is more, and attitude is everything. Exercise smarter, not longer.

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The Hunt For Your Yoga

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Mention the word “Yoga” and your mind (unless you’re a Broga student) may conjure that classic Western misconception: rows of women stretching in colorful spandex while an instructor floats around the room, gently instructing the students to breathe, and open their hearts, and radiate positive energy. While this is accurate for some Yoga, there are many different types, varying from the cold (snowga), to the hot (Bikram), to the esoteric, to the spiritual, to the novel (laughter yoga), to the accessible (Broga), to the athletic. Seek information about “Yoga”, online or off, and you’ll be catapulted into this vast world of options with no map and no compass.

So, with new yoga teachers opening new yoga studios and offering new yoga styles all around the world, everyday, how do we, the students, find the yoga that will be best for us?  I mean, how do we efficiently sift through the websites and Yelp reviews and Facebook pages to find the right style, with the right teacher, at the right location, at the right time?

kidding-around-yoga-3-day-kids-yoga-teacher-training-ages-2-12

Kidding Around Yoga

 

Alex Klein, Alex Jaton, and Sven Ernst decided to answer these questions for all of us, by making the world of yoga more transparent and easier to navigate. They founded a site called YogaTrail, a site where yogis are able to “share their experiences and opinions, whether they’re looking for places to practice, people to practice with, teachers, resources to learn from, or just information.”

 

I took some time to check out the website for myself, and was not disappointed. The YogaTrail team has done a beautiful job of displaying information: looking up a yoga studio nearby in Toronto, I was given a small excerpt about the studio, along with a clear display of the prices of classes, amenities, class styles available, and the level of classes that are taught. I was able to glance at the checklist and see if I needed to bring my own mat, if they offered a Mysore class, and find out how much it would be for a drop-in class.

Teachers are rated on their articulation, friendliness, attentiveness, experience, personalization, and spirituality, so I was also able to make an informed decision about which teacher’s class to attend based on my preferences.

Body to Bliss Yoga

Body to Bliss Yoga

 

 

YogaTrail’s one minor shortcoming, if it has one, is simply its relative nascency. While they’ve done an impressive job aggregating tons and tons of information on Yoga Studios and classes around the world, the site’s major value for users will lie in the reviews and ratings provided by others. We all know that power of reviews as we make online shopping/purchasing/planning decisions, so in honor of the phenomenal work being done by the YogaTrail team and as an investment into the future usefulness of the site, review, review, review! If you have an experience, good or bad, share it (with honesty and equanimity of course), on YogaTrail.

 

Overall, YogaTrail is a brilliant idea (that I wish I’d thought of!), a tremendous tool that I’ll be sure to use in the years to come, and a great collection of information and ideas.

 

Oh, there is also a great subsection on yoga retreats, teacher trainings, and events, all of which are neatly presented and well organized you should be sure to check out.

ajalila-gardens

Ajalila Gardens

Make Your Own Medicine

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Staying healthy seems to get more expensive each day. We are constantly bombarded with a new Amazonian superfood, green tea metabolism booster, or immune system gold star power drink that promises to improve our lives twofold. And if marketing wasn’t enough, these dietary supplements, because not regulated by the FDA are able to make various weakly (or not at all!) supported claims, just to get them off the shelves.

 

 

Probiotics fall into this category. Amongst the cloud of consumerism and capitalism, the benefits of taking probiotics are through the roof, as the healthy bowel is home to 100 trillion microorganisms, all of which work together to keep your gut in check: controlling pathogens, aiding in nutrient absorption, and stabilizing immune function. So how can we fuel our bodies with these wonderful microflora, without having to sift through the shelves of expensive health food stores?

 

Photo Courtesy of HealthGaugeEven cats can get weighed down by the supplement market.

Photo Courtesy of HealthGauge
Even cats can get weighed down by the supplement market.

 

Grow your own!

 

Lactobacillus is easier grown than said. With a head of cabbage, a spoonful of salt, and some patience, you can easily make your own probiotics. Fresh cabbage is already full of the bacteria needed for lactofermentation to occur. Fermentation allows the cabbage to be preserved for months (the staple scurvy preventer for sailors and explorers!), making it easier to eat seasonally. In addition, the cabbage becomes more digestible than it was previously, eliminating the naturally occurring goitrogens, which tend to block the production of thyroid hormone and ultimately slow metabolism. Fermented cabbage is also higher in B12, making it ideal for those of us who stay away from animal products. Save money, increase nutrition, and give your taste buds a treat, in four easy steps.

1. Wash your cabbage and grab a knife. Slice the cabbage into small pieces, trimming out the core. Smaller pieces are ideal, as an increase in surface area will help make the process more efficient. Throw this all in a big mixing bowl.

2. For every liter of cabbage, add a teaspoon of salt. My cabbage worked out to be about two liters, but vegetables come in many different sizes! Mix in any variety of onions, carrots, greens, spices (fennel, dill, coriander, dill). Just try to keep it under 20 percent of the total.

3. Start massaging the vegetables. Really get into it, and knead it like dough. It should start getting soft, as the salt draws out the water through osmosis.

4. Wait about 30 minutes, and massage again. The juices should really be flowing now. Pack it into a mason jar, about ¾ of the way full. Make sure the shreds are completely submerged in the liquid, but don’t pack it to the brim, or the expanding gases will crack the jar.

5. Cover the jar tightly and let it sit, room temperature, for 3 days. You may have to push the cabbage back under the liquid to aid in preservation and prevent the growth of mold. After that, move it to the refrigerator or a cellar. In four more days, it should be ready to eat.

 

Keep in mind that due to variables in temperature, altitude, humidity, and ingredients, none of these instructions are set in stone. The best way to figure out times is to simply taste your fermenting cabbage. No worries, not much can go wrong. Bubbling, foam, and white scum are all part of the process, and it is still safe to eat, as the sauerkraut is preserved by lactic acid. Any mold can simply be scooped off. However, use your best judgment.

photo

Don’t skimp on quality! Fresh, organic cabbage is worth the extra few dollars. Head out to the farmer’s market, and get your cabbage seasonally, all the while supporting your local farmer and making connection with your food. Enjoy the process, and feel free to ask questions, and let me know how your sauerkraut turns out!

Your Four-Minute Mile

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In April 1954, it was said that it was impossible to run a mile in under four minutes. Scientists and doctors said that the human body could not physically achieve such a feat; it would be too much stress on the body, and one would die trying. And so formed a public consensus that it could not be done.

 

To this day, there have been 20,000 athletes who have done just that, running 5280 feet in less than four minutes. What changed?

 

May 6th, 1954. Meet Roger Bannister, Englishman. He sharpens his racing spikes and rubs them with graphite, waiting for the wind to calm, waiting to run his race. At 6pm, the race begins. 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds later, it is over. Rodger Bannister has crossed the finish line, becoming the first athlete to break the four minute barrier.

It was hardly a matter of physical training that set him apart. His biggest difference was in his mindset, not scared of the professionals that said he couldn’t. He knew that possibilities are limitless, and that thoughts become beliefs. He believed in himself, put his mind to it, and achieved.

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Photo Credit: addedentry

 

Just to prove how powerful the mind is, let’s look at Bannister’s second record: the record for holding a record for the shortest amount of time. In just 42 days, John Landly completed a 3:57.9 mile. Roger got the ball rolling, and pushed the world to believe that the sub-4 minute mile is completely possible.

 

Looking at this athletic feat in a broader sense, we find that the common denominator of success is mindset.

 

My coach always put it like this. Calling us into a huddle, he would instruct one of us to try to pick up the volleyball. When the ball was easily lifted into the air, he would pick it up and set it back on the floor, instructing again that we must try to pick up the ball; that there is a huge difference between attempt and success. You cannot aim for mediocrity, your eye must always be on the prize.

 

That prize is worth it, and its journey is unique to everyone. Your four minute mile is far from impossible, if you just start with your mind.

Photo Credit: The World According to Marty

Photo Credit: The World According to Marty

 

“The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win” – Roger Bannister

 

Falling For Real Change – How to Get Things Done

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I know I’m not alone here, but my favorite part of living in New England has always been the change of seasons.  I love that just when we get used to (or sick of) one way of life, that’s exactly when Mother Nature switches things up on us.

Changes that are beyond our control cause us to be reactive, to adapt, and we usually manage quite well.  So why is it that changes that we have the luxury of initiating ourselves are so hard for us to embrace?  If we know, or have heard, that a certain exercise might benefit us tremendously, why is it so hard to make time to try it?  If we want something, like more energy, or weight loss, why is it so hard to do what it takes to get it?  If we need to save money, why is it so difficult to resist buying things we don’t really need?  When we understand logically that a behavior is harmful and we want to quit, why is it so difficult to stop?

There are many answers to these questions, and theories as to why we have a hard time breaking old habits and forming new ones, but I think much of accomplishing real change boils down to how we think, and talk, about what we really want, and how we plan to get it.   Real, sustainable change comes from setting clear goals that are actionable, measurable and realistic.self-deceit

Day in and day out I hear people tell me that they “want to be in better shape.”  When I ask what that means, 99% of the time I get a blank stare.  When asked to define “better shape” most people have given it little or no actual thought.  I ask them to redefine their goals by talking only about real tangible things like “well, I’d like to walk up the stairs from the T and not be out of breath,” or “I’d like to be able to run a mile” or “I think I should be able to touch my toes.”

If you would like to “get in shape” that’s great, but it’s not an action, and it’s not an actionable goal.  You do not walk outside and “do shape.”  That’s unfortunately not how life works.  You walk, run, bike, stretch or otherwise move to “get in shape” but you have to know what that means for you, you have to think about it.

Consider this: If “being in shape” means being able to touch your toes, then how will you make that happen?  Will you wake up one day and it just do it? Not likely, will you seek out exercises that are known to increase flexibility and try them, now that’s a good idea, but how often will you go, and how will you know if you’ve made progress? Do you wish to touch your toes by tomorrow, or by winter?

Think about something you have been trying to accomplish and apply the steps below:

  1. Figure out what you really want to do in simple actionable words.
  2. Set a time frame, when do you wish to be able to do this by?
  3. Break your goal down into individual actions that you can measure.
  4. Work hard and track your progress, consider sharing your goal and progress with others.  Studies have shown that people with strong support networks have more success meeting goals and sustaining change.
  5. Celebrate – reward yourself for progress at each step along the way, but with something unrelated to your goal.  If you are trying to give up soda now is not the time to have one because you have gone a week without.  Reward yourself with something healthy and unrelated, like new music, a Broga class, a new item of clothing, or a beer with a friend (unless of course beer is what you are trying to change!)
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://brogayoga.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/JenJasmin.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Jennifer Jasmin, R.D. is a nutritionist and freelance writer living in Watertown, Massachusetts. She holds a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College, and a Graduate Certificate in Dietetics from Simmons College. In her work, Jen strives to help people find balance between real nutrition facts, and realistic health and fitness goals. Her background also includes over 15 years working in the food service industry, which adds to her unique perspective on eating well. She shares her insights, personal cooking lessons, and recipe ideas on her blog at: www.skeletonsinmykitchen.com. In addition to writing, Jen shares her passion about healthy eating in casual, approachable nutrition seminars and workshops in both corporate and community settings. To Jen, the journey to wellness is incredibly personal, and should be approached in a way that is individual, actionable and unpretentious. [/author_info] [/author]

Ca-Ching! Food Production vs. Consumption and Your Money

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A finance book I read, The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ Demarco, had a very simple but true concept: If you want to get in ‘the fastlane’, you need to be a producer, not a consumer.  When you produce things you make money, and when you consume things, you lose money.  The author’s point is that if you create a business where you sell goods/services you will create more wealth for yourself, whereas people who just shop and spend their money will get poorer.  When it comes to food, this is a double whammy for the vast majority. Not only do people pay for someone else to grow their food, many pay for their food to be prepared either in the form of restaurants, pre-packaged meals, or other processed foods. If you have a diet-related illness, you are a consumer of medical treatments and that would be a triple whammy, but that’s another story…

How often do you make your own food?  If you eat at home rather than a restaurant, how much did you really make?  Do you make your own spaghetti sauce, or do you buy that in a jar? Do peeledtomatoesyou bake your own cookies?  Make your own mustard?  I know what you’re thinking, who makes their own mustard?  (Here’s a homemade mustard recipe). It’s just a given that people will buy certain things because their lives are busy (because you’re creating wealth for your employer most likely).  But as the theory goes, the more you consume vs. produce, the more you will lose.  So going to a restaurant is the biggest expense. So big, that it’s already been written about, like those articles about how buying coffee every morning wastes hundreds of dollars.  Next, is buying pre-made foods.  Are frozen dinners what came to mind?  What about ketchup and BBQ sauce? Deli meat? Pasta sauce? Is there any prepared food that is so taken for granted that it doesn’t even seem like you could produce it yourself?  In some cases it might not seem worth it (maybe aging wine into vinegar is more a of a science project).  But in most cases, I can attest it IS worth it.  Not just with cash, but with taste.  But the focus on this article is the aspect of finance.

We hear how divorced we are about where our food is from. We eat it without knowing how it was made or how far it traveled.  With food, the balance of producing for ourselves to being a giant consumer doesn’t seem like it can go farther.  Now we don’t grow our own food, so we buy it.  And we sink deeper in the consumer role by not preparing our own food because we go to restaurants or buy processed food.  If you want, you can buy certain candy and cookies in bite sized pieces, so companies even do some of the work of eating it for you!  How much more on the production side can we give up? I think it is not only critical to our health, but finances that the balance shifts back to being a producer.

My town’s big box health food store sells one organic seedless cucumber for $3.99.  Not per pound, one cucumber is seriously four bucks.  A packet of organic seedless cucumber seeds costs cucumberless than one cucumber.  If you failed miserably at growing your own cucumbers so a vast majority of the seeds didn’t work, but you managed to grow one vine that produced one cucumber – you have recouped your costs and then some!  But you will probably fair much better than that.  Some of the other absurdly expensive food at that store include: $5.99/lb organic bell peppers, $4.99/lb organic heirloom tomatoes, and $3.99 for one small, gluten – free, vegan cupcake. You know how rip-off hamburgers have patties that are way smaller than the bun so they don’t go all the way to the edge?  Gluten- free, vegan cupcake artisans learned that trick so the inadequate frosting doesn’t go all the way to the edge.  We are just getting sucked dry as consumers and this can’t go on.

People complain diets are too expensive.  You aren’t buying subsidized wheat, soy, corn and other commodity crops anymore.  You’re buying produce, meat, or dairy that was not from animals fed commodity crops.  Since tax payers subsidize the commodity crops, you are partially a producer which is why it’s ‘cheaper’ at the grocery store (and I use the term loosely because there are other costs involved with the environment and health but that’s another story). So here you are as a consumer of food that you did not produce, and it’s apparent that your role as a consumer is leveraged against you.  Isn’t time to slow down with consuming and start producing?

One of the best things you can do is grow your own food.  Yes, there are a myriad of excuses from weather, to your living quarters.  You can grow something. Seriously, if you can dedicate 2 square feet inside with shelves, you can grow a decent amount.  According to the seed company Burpee, you can get a 25 to 1 ROI on starting a garden.  The National Garden Association disagrees; they state a 70 dollar investment results in 600 dollars of food.  The information I have seen when researching for this article does not go into better detail.  What you grow will impact your ROI.  You must account for many factors of growing produce.  Besides growing what you like, consider what is available.  If you can always get organic carrots for .99 per pound and you have limited space, skip growing carrots.  You should also consider the time for a yield.  Some plants take one month, like radishes.  Others plants take 3 months.  The longer you tie up your soil, the less you grow and the less money you will save.  None of those things were mentioned in the statistics I saw, so you may fair better if you grow smart.windowsillgarden

Another thing to do is prepare your own food.  Less restaurants, less 4 dollar cupcakes, and less frozen dinners.  I know, no time and no skill, right?  There are easy recipes out there, and plenty have little hands-on time. Roasted meat, pretty much anything braised, and most sauces are so easy!  Once you develop good knife skills, it takes longer for the pot to heat up than to chop an onion.  And if you don’t have good knife skills, you can buy pre-diced onions but that’ll cost you.  And that’s the point…

I’m not dogmatic about this – not everything is worth your time.  You might be extra busy from time to time and can’t do it all yourself.  But take a look at what you buy on a regular basis. Is everything produced for you? Is this a crutch because you aren’t developing the right kitchen skills or managing your time? Opening cans and pushing buttons on a microwave are not the best skills for a producer.  Be aware that despite the normalcy of buying processed food and not growing your own, you are still taking on a role: The role of a consumer.  And if you shift to more production, you will have more money.

What do you think? Have you tried growing your own food? How did it go?

What’s simplest thing you can do to improve your health, happiness, and sanity?

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Sleep. 

Since we were little, chances are that our parents have always bugged us about getting more sleep. From 7pm bedtimes to afternoon naps, they knew that getting their toddlers and children to sleep would result in their better overall mood, preventing crankiness and tantrums in the grocery store when refused a chocolate bar. However, resistance was usually strong, especially as we grew older; not wanting to miss out on what was happening after our parents sent us to bed.

This is perhaps the biggest reason that 60 percent of adults do not get enough sleep: we do not think it’s worth it. Why sleep when we have 30 more hours of work to do? Why sleep when we could go out partying and having fun with our friends? Why sleep and be judged for being lazy, and miss out on life?

The answer is simple. A lack of rest leads to a compromised conscious life. When we sleep, both our bodies and minds are rejuvenated, reducing chronic inflammation and reducing stress. Only during the late, deep stages of sleep can our bodies relax and prepare to grow and repair our tissue. Our memories replay and our thoughts consolidate, boosting our memory. It is here when hormones like ghrelin and leptin are released, which help us feel hunger and fullness. Because of this, an off balance of these hormones can lead to weight gain. Factoring into this that our late nights are often connected to unhealthy snacking, and it spells out disaster, and studies show that sleeping for only five hours a night increases your risk of being overweight by 73 percent.

These likely look way more appealing late at night.

These likely look way more appealing late at night.

However, just being scared of sleep deprivation isn’t enough. There’s a reason that most adults spend 7.5 hours in bed, but only 6.1 hours asleep. Here are a few techniques to fall asleep quickly and get a better nights rest.

 

 

1. Step away from the screen.

As loud as that latest episode of Breaking Bad is calling your name, it should wait. Researchers are finding that the artificial light from electronic devices lower levels of the hormone melatonin by an average of 22 percent, disrupting our internal clocks and messing with our natural sleep cycles. At least an hour before bed, stay away from all electronic screens.

2. Grab some almonds.

If you’re hungry, eat! However, shy away from high sugar or very processed foods, which will give you a short energy high and then a crash. Nuts are perfect bedtime snacks, the magnesium will help your muscles relax, and Omega 3s and healthy fats will digest slowly and keep your blood sugar levels stable.

3.  Drink some tea.

The warmth of the drink will calm and relax both your body and mind. Make sure you’re staying away from caffeine, instead brewing herbal teas like chamomile, sage, or valerian lemon balm. Herbal teas are theorized to have anti-anxiety and calming effects because of its flavonoid compound, apidenin.

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4. Increased sunlight exposure in the daytime.

Especially if you’ve been traveling, it helps to establish a routine, and get your body in time with the sun. Wake up at a reasonable time Increasing your daytime exposure to the sun will regulate the release of melatonin, both a hormone and a powerful antioxidant released when the retina senses the light is low and it is time to sleep.

5. Get comfortable.

This likely goes without saying, but falling asleep when you’re hot, stressed, and hungry is almost impossible. Create an environment that will promote your slumber. A cool, dark, and quiet room is best. Grab that handful of almonds, calm your internal stressors, and avoid staring at the clock, doing the constant math to find the hours of sleep you will get “if I fall asleep in the next five minutes…”

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6. Exercise.

Getting active will help you fall asleep faster and more deeply, simply because you will be more tired. However, because exercise causes the body to secrete the stress hormone cortisol, causing the brain to go on alert, so it helps to keep the exercise to at least three hours before bed. However, a very mellow yoga or meditation practice right before bed will calm and relax your body. Just stay away from the chaturangas!

7. If you can’t sleep, nap.

Embrace your inner toddler. Instead of being tired and cranky for the rest of the day, take a nap in the morning or right after lunch, to avoid the deep and slow-wave sleep in the late afternoon caused by human circadian rhythms. The original 20 minute power nap has proven to be the most effective, improving muscle memory and clearing the brain of useless information, strengthening the long-term memory, and helping you remember your co-workers names.

 

Commit to sleeping more. You’ll look better, feel better, and be more productive.

As this baby proves, you can sleep anywhere.