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AN IMPORTANT LESSON LEARNED IN INDIA
As many of you know, I spent six weeks in India this summer with 15 holistic health counselors from NYC. India was an intense experience. I'm so grateful for the chance to visit this vibrant and diverse country. Although the trip wasn't a traditional "vacation," it was certainly a life-changing adventure. It's hard to describe what my trip was like, but because so many of you have asked about it, I'd like to try and share some of my experiences with you.
This quote (from Sarah MacDonald's book Holy Cow) sums up my India experience perfectly:"India is beyond statement - for anything that you say, the opposite is true. It's the rich and poor, spiritual and material, cruel and kind, angry but peaceful, ugly and beautiful, smart but stupid. It's all the extremes. India defies understanding… and that's okay."
In particular, there was one very important lesson that I'd like to highlight, once which applies to people of all countries.
You're The Expert on Your Body... No Matter What Anyone Else Says!
I've spent nine years getting to know my stomach intimately. That's because I've had IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) since I was a 20-year old college junior. Since becoming a holistic health counselor, I've been able to figure out what I need to do to heal my stomach and keep my IBS symptoms under control.
However, being in India was a tough challenge for me. The food quality was poor, and the 24+ hour journey (complete with airline food) wreaked havoc on my belly. Needless to say, my stomach wasn't in perfect shape during my first few days in India.
Some of my colleagues (who had similar temporary digestive troubles) went to see a local doctor, and they were experiencing good results from their treatments. So, I decided to go see the same doctor for a consultation. He proposed a fairly vigorous treatment program and assured me that he would get my stomach back on track for the trip... in fact, he told me that he was confident he could get rid of my IBS completely.
Now, even though my IBS is almost completely nonexistent these days, the thought of getting rid of the last 2% of my symptoms was pretty appealing. So I decided to go ahead with the treatment.
However, when I got home from the doctor and read through his list of "good" and "bad" foods, something didn't seem right. Many of the foods in the "bad" category were ones I know work well for my stomach. Many of the foods in the "good" category were foods I know - for a fact - do not sit well with me.
I had to force myself to take the herbs he prescribed (they tasted like rotten eggs). My body wasn't responding well to the treatments. It was as if my body's intuition was telling me that the treatment wasn't right for me... but I didn't listen.
Three days into the treatment, I decided to stop. And I was really happy with my decision. My stomach started feeling better for a while.
A few days passed. Because my colleagues were responding so well to their treatments, I started questioning my decision. Maybe I should have stuck with the doctor's plan... maybe he knew best... maybe I was just being a wimp.
So, I went back to the doctor and started the treatments again. The results were the same as the first round. My body did NOT want to take the herbs, and it didn't want to go through the treatments. My stomach was not getting better - it was getting worse. Needless to say, my first two weeks in India were pretty frustrating. I felt like I'd undone all of the healing I've done for my belly over the past few years.
So, I decided to go back to what I knew would work. And that meant listening to myself, my body, and my intuition as my own healer. I made a list of all the things that I knew I could do to get my stomach back on track. And I did each of those things every day. Sure enough, my stomach slowly got better throughout the trip. Now that I'm home in Boston, it's back to normal and I'm feeling great.
I was shocked by how quickly I agreed to a treament that I knew - deep down - wasn't the best course of action for me. As I reflected in preparation for writing this newsletter, I realized just how many times I've blindly and rashly tried a fad diet, bought a new medicine, or followed advice that I knew, deep down, wasn't going to be healthy for me.
Have you ever gone against your body's wisdom and started a health treatment, signed up for fitness program, or bought a product that wasn't right for you?
I'm not saying that you shouldn't listen to your doctors, or try new products or medicines. I'm not saying that at all. What I AM saying is that you are the expert when it comes to your body. Your body has amazing intuition, and it will speak loudly if you listen. Whenever you are thinking about working with a new health practitioner... or trying a new diet... or experimenting with a new healing approach.. I urge you to first check in with yourself and see how the idea feels to you.
Any good health practitioner should listen intently to you and your opinion. He or she should learn as much as possible about you and collaborate WITH you when discussing treatment options. If you don't feel like something is right, please speak up. That's the only way s/he will know how you're feeling.
Last, but certainly not least, I urge you to spend time this fall focusing on your health. This may mean taking a class, going to a lecture, scheduling a long overdue doctor's appointment, buying a book (email me if you need recommendations), or just eating breakfast each morning. It's up to you. Check in with your body first and see what it needs.
If you want to get your health back on track after a summer of indulgence, please check out the classes and events listed below. All of these programs were designed with your needs in mind! If you have any suggestions for future classes or lectures, please email me.
FREE Tele-class: "Smart Nutrition Choices for Busy People"
If you are really busy and need a quick nutrition fix, just pick up the phone! This seminar will be offered over the phone during East Coast lunchtime. It's conveniently timed so that you can call in while you munch on lunch. This tele-class is jam-packed with useful tips and solutions that you can use the second you hang up the phone!
**THIS SEMINAR IS FREE... you pay only for the cost of the phone call.
TIME: 12:00-12:50 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Nutrition 101 for Marathon Runners
Are you a beginning marathon runner who is confused about what to eat during training? The "Peak Performance Nutrition Program" is a web-based nutrition program that teaches you the dietary changes you need to make during a 19-week training season. The program includes nutrition education, recipes, a runners' shopping list, and free admission to one of my health food store tours. The entire program costs $80.
Here is a sample of one of the weekly webpages that you'll receive: http://www.bostonhealthcoach.com/training/recovery.html
If you are training for a Winter Marathon, now is the time to sign up for PPNP.
Corporate Nutrition Seminars
Do you work with employees who are overwhelmed by the challenge of eating healthy and reducing stress on the job? I've gained a reputation for presenting enjoyable, enthusiastic corporate seminars that include actionable tips and information that participants can use to immediately improve their health. Participants experience increased energy and productivity at work and home... which leads to reduced sick time. They learn the secret to staying healthy when traveling, and become experts at integrating fitness and healthy eating into their hectic schedules.
If you would like to improve the health of your employees, please contact me.
"Wild and Well... For Life!" Group Program (For Women)
The next 6-week program will begin on Wednesday, October 13 and is designed for women who to jumpstart their nutrition this fall. The gentle, enthusiastic support of the group will help you design a way of eating that gives your body energy, moves you towards your ideal weight, and helps calm your food cravings. This program is designed for women who want help cooking new foods and redesigning their relationship with food. We will help each other make healthy food choices a habit that sticks ... for good!
Location: my office in Porter Square, Cambridge
Time: 6:30-8:30 p.m. every Wed. for 6 weeks starting 10/13 (excluding Thanksgiving week)
Your investment in your health: $300
To sign up: email me or call 617.492.6450 for more info
Grocery Shopping Tour
Location: Whole Foods, River Street, Cambridge
Time: Monday, September 27 from 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Cost: $20 (free for clients, $15 for TNT runners) - you'll get a $5 store coupon
To sign up: email me
Individual Health and Nutrition Counseling
Looking back on those carpool trips, I now know that my mom brought those snacks for her sanity as much as mine. Apparently, I used to get really cranky if I didn't eat at regular intervals. Actually, who am I kidding? I still get really cranky if I don't eat regular intervals!
Let's think about this for a moment. At 3:00 every day, we all came home from school and had a snack BEFORE we went out to play or do our homework. We (and our parents) knew that we needed energy to last until dinnertime.
Flash forward 20+ years: where are you every day at 3:00 p.m.? At work, right? And how do you feel around that time? Tired, cranky? Having a hard time focusing?
Similar to how you felt after school, right? Hmmm...
Do you torture yourself by trying to make it to the end of the work day without having a snack to recharge you? Or do you make a late-afternoon trek to the vending machine or coffee shop for a quick pick-me-up?
Both of those strategies are recipes for disaster. Avoiding food all afternoon will only make your blood sugar plummet, increasing your crankiness and causing a post-work binge. Vending machine snacks and coffee aren't healthy for you and won't provide long-lasting energy.
So, what's an adult to do? My suggestion is simple: practice the same technique your mom used when she picked you up from school:
I highly recommend stocking your office drawer or fridge with some of the following snacks:
- Kashi's "TLC" crackers with salsa
- Veggie sticks with hummus
- Cottage cheese with apple and cinnamon
- Banana slices with peanut butter and raisins on top
- Homemade trail mix (nuts, dried fruit)
- Organic yogurt and fresh fruit
- Amy's or Healthy Valley bean soup
All of the snacks listed above have complex carbs as a base, which provide long-lasting energy. They also have a bit of protein and good fat in them, which satisfy you and keep you full.
Oh, and one last thing: don't wait until you're ravenously hungry to eat. Try having a snack 1/2 hour before you normally crash. If you're proactive about fueling your body, you will be much more productive at work and you won't ruin your good eating habits with a post-work binge.
If you want more tips on integrating healthy eating into a busy work schedule, check out the free tele-class listed in the Fall Events section on the left.
RECIPE - Stuffed Red Peppers
The days are still warm, but the mornings now have a crispy fall feel to them. Don't be surprised if your taste buds start to change over the next few weeks. Raw fruits and vegetables may seem less appealing in late summer than they did at the 4th of July BBQ.
Now is the time to shift from the cleansing, light foods of summer to the building foods of the harvest. My next few newsletters will help you transition to a fall diet, which should focus on more protein-rich foods, a little more fat, and lots of fuel from whole grains.
Thanks to my new sister-in-law, Jen Vasche, for sending me the original version of this recipe. This is a wonderful autumn recipe!
3 red or orange bell peppers
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb. spinach
3/4 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (optional)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Halve peppers lengthwise through stems (leaving them attached). Remove seeds. Lightly brush peppers with 1 tbsp. olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Place peppers cut-side down on baking dish. Bake until tender (10-15 minutes).
3. While peppers are cooking, chop onion and mince garlic.
4. Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until golden (6-8 minutes). Add garlic cook for 30 seconds.
5. Stir in the spinach, rice, cheese, nuts, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Divide filling among pepper halves. Add 2 tbsp water to the baking dish. Cover peppers with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake 5 more minutes. Serve hot.
*Lundberg makes a quick-cooking brown rice (done in 15 minutes). Look for it near the couscous packages in the healthy section of your grocery store.
ABOUT CHRISTI LEHNER
Christi Lehner, H.H.C., AADP, is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor accredited by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. A Holistic Health Counselor is a nutritionist and life coach all rolled up into one. Christi studied Eastern/Western nutrition and modern health counseling at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City and earned a B.A. in Honors in Communication Arts from Villanova Universty. A three-time marathoner and triathlete, an avid pianist, and a newly converted Red Sox and Patriots fan, Christi delights in helping her clients make nutrition and lifestyle changes that boost their energy, heal chronic illnesses, clear up the confusion around fad diets, and reduce stress.
Christi can be reached at email@example.com or 617.492.6450.
About "Nourishing News"
Note: the information in this newsletter is presented for educational purposes only. This information is not intended as a substitute for diagnosis and treatment by a licensed professional. To suggest topics for future Nourishing News issues, please contact me.
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