Living In The Present

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Wouldn’t it be great to sit somewhere in peace without thinking of the fight 2 years ago, the discussion with your friend yesterday or the grumpy bus driver 3 hours ago who drove off even though he saw you running towards the bus? Wouldn’t it be great to sit somewhere in peace without thinking the excuse you will have to give your sister in a little bit because you just ate her cookie, of the bill you have to pay at the end of this month or the explanation of what you want to do after you finish your bachelor? Imagine it. Wouldn’t that be – nice? Incredibly refreshing?

Sometimes we find ourselves living on this big timeline, where our past and future is taking up so much of our present that we forget how it feels like to live in the moment. To be worry free for just one moment. To sit somewhere consciously, appreciating our being without fears, worries, future expectations and duties. It seems so impossible and so far away that the question is: How do we get there? Or how do we get back there?

I’m a huge fan of naturopathic and homeopathic practitioners (post will follow!). That being said, the last time I visited my homeopath I talked to her about anxiety and nervousness. She laughed and said: “Monalisa, look at the world we live in. It would be scary if people would be calm and relaxed with the work they do and the environment they live in. Our society is nervous!” 2 years ago I had this one year that included over 60 hours of sitting in a plane, traveling to different countries. I was addicted to the feeling of getting somewhere new and switched places fast! The effect I saw after the year having major troubles with anxiety and nervousness. The lifestyle we force our bodies to live isn’t always what we would really need or what we are capable of doing at this point. Thankfully our bodies do warn us in form of pain or even diseases to slow down or change what we’re doing. Our body gives us the direction of what we’re capable of doing at any given moment of our lives.

How can we learn to live in the moment? Be more present in spite of hectic and stress, worries and anxiety? Being passionate about nutrition, things started to change the moment I started to fully appreciate my body for functioning the way it does, realizing and accepting the aspects I need to change in my life and to fuel my body with the food it deserves. Also transitioning into a vegan lifestyle: If you think about how an animal gets slaughtered and what fears it passes through, there is a theory that suggests that you, eating the animal, are negatively affected by the stress-induced hormone and cortisoid production within the meat that is transmitted to your body.

Meditating is a common practice that helps to direct your focus inward and your being in the present. Personally, I found the practice of meditation to be incredibly challenging but also astonishing as you get great insight of yourself. In a hectic workweek or even on vacation I like to practice breathing exercises (post will follow!) to stabilize and feel more connected to the world I live in. Another way to help you reach the stage of living in the present is by practicing mindfulness. Try sitting somewhere quiet, appreciating the things around you, noticing and recognizing everything around you. How much more do you see, hear, smell and feel?

Thus it seems so far away sometimes to reach that feeling we don’t have to drug ourselves to blend out everything or even to “bear” our lives, we don’t have to drink alcohol until we pass out to “relax”. In our fast-changing and ever busy world we need to learn how to practice living in the present. How to be consciously alive.

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha

Thanks for reading,

XO Monalisa

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Healthy habit #1: Oil pulling

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What is oil pulling and why is oil pulling a healthy habit?

Oil pulling is one habit I included into my morning routine as it is super easy, only requires a little of your time and has many great benefits! The most obvious benefit of oil pulling is oral health as it strengthens your gums, fastens loose teeth and whitens your teeth. Oil pulling can be an preventive method for cavities and gingivitis, bleeding gums, sensitive teeth and bad breath as well as plaque. If your lips are dry and you’re looking for a natural way to keep your lips soft and smooth at all times, oil pulling is for you as well!

The oil pulls out harmful bacteria and toxins out of your blood as the oil mixes with the saliva in your mouth. This powerful remedy, also mentioned in ayurvedic literature is said to improve not only oral health but also systemic diseases such as Asthma or Diabetes.

What do I need and how do I do it?

Recommended for oil pulling is a high quality vegetable oil. I personally prefer coconut oil as it is as good as odor-and tasteless Plus, I always have coconut oil on hand as I use it for nearly everything (post will follow!). So what do you have to do? In the morning, BEFORE you brush your teeth and eat, you put one tablespoon of oil in your mouth and swish it around for around 15 – 20 minutes. Make sure you move the oil around as much as possible (don’t forget inter-dental spaces), but be careful NOT to swallow the oil! As you’re pulling out toxins and bacteria you want them to leave your body so we don’t want to defeat the purpose by putting them back in. The oil will change consistency the longer you swish it around and it will become foamy, which is perfectly normal. If you aren’t able yet to spoon that much oil, start with half a tablespoon and increase if you can. After 15 – 20 minutes you simply spit it out. You will probably feel like there is gunk coming out of your throat, which might be a bit uncomfortable but it’s leaving your body and that is a good thing so no worries. If you think you can’t hold the oil in your mouth without swallowing it, it is better to spit it out sooner than swallowing any of the oil. How did it help me? I saw great improvement in my skin especially if hormonal changes show up as zits around my chin area. My teeth are a whiter and years of gum abuse through harsh toothbrushes left my gums often times irritated. Through oil pulling my gums are stronger and I just feel refreshed with a clean mouth and teeth even before brushing my teeth. I also see more gunk coming out if I accidentally eat dairy, which only strengthens my belief and the common theory that dairy is mucus forming.

If I’m not on my laptop writing or checking emails, I use the time I shower in the morning to do oil pulling and spit it out after. Light stretching and a short meditation while oil pulling are great opportunities to start your day fresh and renewed – while taking one step closer to detox your body. Just like that 🙂

I hope this little post helped and maybe even inspired you to try oil pulling for yourself, if you’re not already doing it! If you try it let me know how it goes and if you have questions don’t hesitate to ask 🙂

XO Monalisa

A few words on positivity and reaching your goals

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“It’s an amazing experience when you focus on the positive things in your life. Things start to change. You become happier. You see things differently. There might still be negative things there, but like an airplane flying overhead, they become the background noise of your mind.”

(source: facebook.com/be-a-good-human/)

Positive people

Positive people are sometimes viewed as “living in denial” and accused of not being realistic and so overly optimistic that they seem to have lost a sense of what is real.

But focusing on positivity is – conversely – accepting of what you cannot change. It is also about doing what you can, when you can do it with the resources you have available. Dwelling on negativity often times includes focusing on things you cannot change and sits like a heavy weight on your shoulders, holding you back from doing what you could do with your time, energy and resources.

Setting realistic steps towards your goal

One thing I do to stay positive especially when I set goals for myself that I want to reach is setting realistic goals. You decide what you want to do and then work out on how you do it. Setting realistic steps toward your goals can ultimately lift your spirits and raise the quality of your life because you are creating steps that are reachable. You can actually reach the mark you set for yourself and this alone is a win.

Focusing on one thing at a time is an advice I seem to hear everywhere but it is so helpful. Being busy all the time we often find ourselves like an internet explorer with thousands of active tabs open. Alone the thought of that much information and the desperate try to hold the overview of all tabs puts us under enormous stress. Sorting out one single step, one single activity or task at once reduces the risk of feeling overwhelmed and lifts the weight off our shoulders. Finally we are doing what we can do with the time and resources we have available. Ordering what you do first is also putting things into perspective and ultimately frees you from chaos.Yes the workload can be enormous and multitasking seems so much more appealing to get things done. But even then I personally find setting the focus straight and dividing and ordering the workload in smaller packages of what has to be done makes it much easier for me and also more enjoyable. The success moments after each stage towards my goal gives me a rush of motivation and positivity and I feel even more energized to continue.

You are in my way

A lot of times something or someone seems to hinder us to reach our goals. Some people simply seem to stand in your way. In my experience people are often unconsciously standing in your way and if you don’t speak up you’ll end up standing behind them forever not getting somewhere. They’ll stand there until they decide to leave and it might be too late to reach your goal or even stage towards your goal. What could happen if you do speak up? Maybe the person will step aside saying “I didn’t even realize I was in your way”. Even if you can see your goal people may or may not step into your way and block certain roads that does not mean that you have to accept the fact that somebody is blocking it and that you have to wait patiently until the person moves out of your way. Learning how to communicate your goals and intentions with others can often times clear the path again to your destination.

Living on someone else’s agenda

People tend to set up plans and agenda for themselves. They are practical, hold together their thoughts and make it easier to hold the overview of what has to be done. So far so good. But sometimes we seem to be so involved in someone else’s agenda we literally live after a plan that somebody set up for their own good. Not for you. It can be easy to be used and taken advantage of because you will function in roles that are beneficial for the plan of someone else and not for your own agenda. Please remember that there is a great difference between being compassionate and a helping hand and living after someone else’s agenda. Speaking up for your own wants and needs and communicating them makes your intention clear of following your own agenda. It frees you, even from the foreign ballast you voluntarily carry on your shoulders, by being a catalyzer accelerating the process of someone’s plan towards a goal. You are not – I repeat – not demolishing someone else’s happiness by putting your wants and needs first. A person who loves and respects you will accept your decisions you make in life and support you as good as he or she can.

I hope you find joy in challenges and find the energy and power within you to push through your stages towards your goal!

XO Monalisa

Bulk up!

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Carrot mania!

The other day I scored 20 kg of farm fresh carrots for 3,99 EUR in Luxembourg. What a bargain! Buying in bulk became a popular topic to talk about in the world of nutrition and there are many reasons to join the conversation and start buying in bulk.

Buying in bulk means that you as a consumer pay a lower price per unit in exchange for a much larger quantity. Sound good? There is more!

The American company BIG informs consumers and grocers about the environmental and economic benefits of bulk foods. The organization states that not only bulk foods cost on average 89% less than packaged foods but also if Americans would purchase their almonds in bulk for only one month, 6,000,000 lbs of waste would be saved from landfills.

Where do I start?

Your local farmer’s market or even your supermarket are ideal places to start. Your local farmer will be willing to give away large quantities of your desired fruits or vegetables for a fair price. In my experience, as farmers and grocers get to know you, they’ll even save you foods that you buy regularly for a reduced cost. As I eat a lot of bananas I often times score on up to 20 bananas for not even a euro as they are very ripe and not likely to be sold by the markets.

How and where do I store all this food?

Especially in summer it is inevitable that parts of your bulk foods go bad. As you buy organic produce it is perfectly normal that food goes bad quickly as they are free from chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. If you have a vegetable cooler section in your fridge take advantage of it and store as much as you can fit. Often times a dry paper sheet will help to absorb the moisture and help your foods to stay fresh longer. Nuts and seeds are easily stored in mason jars or any glass jars you can find. I often times use glass bottles as well. Old cookie jars or stainless steel container do the job as well. Some produce such as apples and oranges, I store in big open paper boxes and place them underneath the kitchen counter as it is dry and dark and usually not as hot.

Shrink the carbon footprint of your meals and save big – by buying in bulk!

XO Monalisa

Classic : Monalisa’s pineapple-spinach-smoothie

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If I had to give you one signature picture that describes me pretty well it would probably look like the one above 😉

A green smoothie always gives me a rush of energy and if you know the gummi bear juice from the Disney series ‘Adventures of the gummi bears” you know what effect it has on me…

“Gummi Bears,
Bouncing here and there and everywhere.
High adventure that’s beyond compare,
They are the Gummi Bears.”

Just saying… anyways where is the recipe for the super juice?

Monalisa’s pineapple spinach smoothie

  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 1 handful lettuce
  • 2 cups pineapple
  • 1 banana
  • 200 ml coconut water or coconut water with pineapple flavor

Blend the coconut water combined with the pineapple, add the banana and then the greens. Super creamy, super refreshing!

Enjoy!

XO Monalisa

The minefield

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The other day I was sitting on the kitchen table munching on my super size salad and while talking to a few people one person said: “Wow Monalisa the “outside world” must be like a minefield for you. No matter where you go, unhealthy foods.” It never occurred to me that the choices I make in my diet are viewed as overly restrictive and exhausting. But is it true? Is a city full of fast food restaurants and bloodcurdling foods a minefield? A dangerous place where we have to avoid everything that comes our way, a place where the next bomb can blow off every moment behind every corner?

My answer? No. Empowered by the choices you and I make we focus on what we need and what we desire to create our realities. It is only a battle or a minefield if you let it. I do not avoid certain foods or hold myself back from eating what I really want, I make choices that might differ from the vast majority but are still my choices. Choices that fulfill me and make me – happy! During my journey I learned to value my body and have respect of what I’m capable of doing. I love to fuel my body with foods that help me grow, develop a healthy and clear mind and help me become the person I want to be.

Changes however do not happen overnight. It does take time for your body to adapt to the changes you make, in your diet or your environment. But always remember that your life, your being, is a process. Developing healthy habits (post fill follow!) can help you stay on track towards your goal and empower as well as remind you what is it that you’re striving for.

Another real story of my life brought some food for thought. While visiting my best friend, not having my high-speed blender, juicer or probiotics on hand, he said: “I’m sorry that you can’t really follow your diet here”. I just laughed it off but I could see that he truly wanted me to be able to follow my lifestyle. The thing is: Again this is a process not a stagnant, inflexible diet that can be “ruined” by certain circumstances we find ourselves in sometimes. You’ll find your body appreciating changes quickly and also your body is so powerful it bounces back to your healthy habits you developed pretty well. The focus we foodies develop sometimes simply because we talk, write and hear so much about FOOD should not hold us back from the joy of throwing some principles overboard if that means that we are happy and fulfilled and spend time with people we love and inspire us. While not having any appliances I use on a daily basis it was easy for me to switch to a much simpler lifestyle in increasing my fruit and veggie intake, eating lots and lots of mono meals (post will follow!) that were refreshing and perfect for hot summer days.

Those two examples were events as they happened in my life but also online I found many comments that made me think. A popular one is the complaint of not being persistent enough with a certain diet and “falling off the wagon”. What worked for me is to be aware and conscious about the choices I make so that I can truly appreciate them. Don’t beat yourself up over little things and don’t let a concern consume you. It is perfectly fine and necessary to take baby steps towards your personal goal(s). Cravings, overeating or binging (all of which would count as “slipping off the wagon”) are often derived from deficiencies. Physically or emotionally. Try to put a finger on whatever it is that you crave and try to find a source where it could come from. In my personal journey focusing on what my body needs to function well was a great way to start exploring and researching the huge flood tide of information that is out there on nutrition, emotional and physical fitness as well as well-being.

I wish you the power and energy to make a happy commitment to your body to treat yourself well. Every. Single. Day.

XO Monalisa