Tag: Tension

5 Tips For Surviving The 2022 Holiday Season

Veronica, Brandon, Coco on beach

The holiday season is a paradox: it’s the best of times and it’s the worst of times. It’s the best of times because everything is so festive and beautiful. 

But the holiday season creates anxiety for many people, whether it’s getting together with family that you don’t see eye to eye with or running around all over town buying last minute gifts. 

In the cold weather months, you’re more likely to get sick than you are in the summer. Yes, some of that has to do simply with weather; viruses thrive in colder weather and are able to circulate and replicate in stagnant, indoor air. But stress is just as much of a contributing factor, if not more so. 

So what can you do to manage your stress this time of year? Follow these 5 tips for surviving the holiday season…

yoga for stress

Take Mini Meditation Breaks

Not much of a meditator? Does keeping the mind free of thought seem like an impossible task? The good news is that you don’t need to be a Zen master to quiet your mind. And you also don’t need to meditate for hours upon end to become one with the universe. All it takes is a few minutes of consciously focusing on inhaling and exhaling. Stress managed! It’s really as simple as that. 

And if while you are sitting still (a chair is fine; you don’t have to go into deep Lotus pose), thoughts creep in, that’s fine. Just bring your mind back to your breathing. Five long seconds inhaling, and the same on the exhale. Try to inflate your chest and belly like a balloon on the inhale. Deflate on the exhale. 

Still thinking about all the bills you have to pay while you’re breathing? It’s fine. Do try and not let those worries consume your thoughts. But just remember the name of the game is not to rid your mind completely of thoughts. Rather, the goal is to focus on your breathing. Because breathing is healing. 

Take Mini Exercise Breaks 

Some people make the excuse that they don’t have the time to go to a gym or take a class because they’re so busy. But nobody should be so busy that they can’t take the time to take a mini-exercise break. 

Something fun I recently started doing is dancing for 3-5 minutes in my home while listening to a song on Pandora or Spotify. I also have a standing desk/desk riser and while I’m pecking away on my laptop, I sashay my hips from side to side. Yes, shaking your groove thing is possible while working. 

As the saying goes, sitting is the new smoking. Standing all day while working is impossible. And like sitting all day, standing for several hours is also bad for circulation. But alternating between sitting and standing several times a day is ideal for good blood flow and keeping the spirits high. 

You can also set a timer and do a three-minute yoga routine every 90-120 minutes. The bottom line is that you don’t need to exercise for a long time in order to manage holiday stress. You can do a few mini movement sessions per day and reap the same benefits.

grain

Eliminate Processed Carbs

This might be the holiday survival tip you dread. If you struggle with eating too many carbs, the good news is that you don’t have to completely quit carbs. I’ll explain in a sec. 

But first, let’s take bread as an example. For people who follow a low-carb lifestyle (Keto Diet), bread is a no-no. Eating bread raises blood sugar levels and puts more demand on the pancreas to release insulin. 

The more bread and other processed carbs you eat, the more insulin your body needs to keep blood sugar levels steady. If you keep eating bread, bagels, muffins, cereal and other baked goods made with white flour (wheat flour isn’t much better for blood sugar levels), your cells will become resistant to insulin. This places you at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

But not all bread is created equally bad. About 99% of supermarket breads are empty carbs. But artisanal sourdough bread contains beneficial bacteria for your gut. You can also buy 100% whole rye bread which contains a lot of fiber. When you see that a bread contains at least a few grams of fiber, it means that the blood sugar spike won’t be as high as bread with little or no fiber. 

If you’re at brunch and you’re considering getting a stack of pancakes, think of the pancakes as a giant bowl of sugar. Foods prepared with white flour break down very quickly, metabolizing into sugar. 

The problem with this is that sugar suppresses the immune system. Eating a tiny piece of cake at a holiday party is no problem. But if you have trouble controlling your portion sizes, it’s better to just say no than to indulge. Studies have shown that consuming sugar puts your body’s infection-fighting white blood cells to sleep for several hours!

So instead of eating refined carbs, eat whole grains like wild rice, farro, emmer wheat and quinoa (technically, quinoa is a seed but let’s not split hairs). 

beach yoga

Take A Social Media Detox

If you’re feeling anxious this time of the year simply because it’s the holidays or for whatever other reason, consider putting your phone down. 

Make a phone call, text if you have to, but in order to feel more peaceful, I recommend chilling out on social media for a while. 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that recent studies reveal that social media damages teenagers’ mental health. Even if you’re not a teenager anymore, chances are that keeping up with the Joneses or Kardashians on social is negatively impacting your life. Unless you’re using social strictly for work, consider a 3 Day Cleanse. (And if your body needs to physically detox, check out Chef V’s Cleanses.)

In the Dalai Lama’s Art of Happiness book, one of his tips for being happy is not to compare yourself to anybody else. When you’re on social media, it’s hard not to compare yourself to others. 

No News Is Good News 

Tip #5 for surviving the holiday season is much like my advice to do a social media detox. Unfortunately, news and politics have made us divided and no more is that evident than on social media. In addition to detaching from social media to avoid the news, do the same from cable news, newspapers, talk radio and magazines. 

And last but not least, under no circumstances should you discuss news and politics with family who don’t share your point of view. It’s not worth the energy. The more you get triggered, the more stress hormones circulating through your bloodstream. When stress hormones flood the blood, digestion slows down. And when digestion becomes impaired, you’re more likely to pack on the pounds. In light of that metabolic fact, is it really worth arguing about who should be president? 

Hopefully these tips will come in handy and make you a happier, healthier person for the holidays…

Love,

Chef V

5 Easy Ways To Stay Positive & Healthy

Veronica, Brandon, Coco on beach

During the Long Dark Winter…

If you feel like eating tons of comfort food and hibernating this time of year, I don’t blame you. But it’s so important to stay active and healthy this time of year and I’ve got some easy, fun tips to do it! 

It’s 5:30 p.m. It’s pitch black outside and freezing. All you feel like doing is plopping down on the couch and vegging out for a few hours. If that’s what you’re feeling, should you give in? After all, aren’t you supposed to listen to your body? And if your body is telling you that you should grab the cashmere comforter, a few of your favorite snacks, a glass of wine and the remote … well … what's wrong with that?

There’s certainly nothing wrong with chillaxing—from time to time. But if that’s how you’re gonna roll from late fall until early- or mid-spring when the weather finally warms up and the days are longer, that’s not going to be good for your mental or physical health. 

So next time you’re feeling the winter blues, follow these tips:

meditate

Stay Positive & Healthy This Winter Tip #1: Meditate In Bed

This may not come as a shock but it’s important to state: In general, people who meditate on a regular basis are happier, calmer, and better able to attract what they want in life. There’s lots of research to support this—at least the part about people who meditate being more positive and calmer. 

The problem with meditation is that for people who have never tried it, it seems intimidating. But learning anything new is challenging. Beyond that, though, another problem with meditation is that many people assume that you have to sit completely still in the lotus position like a Buddhist monk, with your legs twisted into a pretzel. But that’s not the case at all…

I recommend starting each day meditating before you get out of bed, lying flat on your back. So how do you meditate? It’s simple. Listen to a meditation app. Try a guided meditation, which will tell you exactly when to breathe in and breathe out. Or, if you’d rather just listen to soothing meditative music, with Tibetan singing bowls or other ethereal sonic blissed out sounds, there’s no shortage of YouTube videos or smartphone apps for that. 

Start each morning with a 10-minute meditation before you get out of bed. It will really set the stage for an awesome rest of your day. 

yoga pose

Tip #2: 5 Minute Yoga Routine

After you’re done with your meditation routine (and your potty routine), despite how tired you are and despite how cold it may be, force yourself to do a 5-minute yoga routine. 

If you live in an apartment without central heating, before you start your meditation practice in bed, turn on your space heater in the living room where you do yoga. Get the room nice and toasty. If you’re not sure which 5-minute yoga routine to do or how to do yoga at all, there’s a ton of intro yoga videos, many of them free. 

I recommend doing a flow that keeps your body moving, from cat/cow to downward/upward dog or sun salutations. After just 5 minutes of a continuous flow yoga practice, you’ll feel like a new person, totally energized, in good spirits and ready to take on the day’s challenges. Try my easy yoga pose routine to stress less, feel better.

healthy snacks

Tip #3: Seasonal Snacking

Let’s fast forward to the evening hours when there’s no kids around, all your work and errands are done and it’s tempting to get your Netflix on and snack away. This is the most challenging part of the day. Because even if you were successful at incorporating meditation and a mini yoga session or two (or other activity), succumbing to late-night snacking can sabotage all your healthy habits from earlier in the day. 

And just like meditation is associated with a more positive attitude, snacking is more associated with depression

So what can you do when it’s 9:00 at night and it’s time to watch a few episodes of your favorite show? Personally, I try to stop eating and drinking anything with calories by 8:00—unless I’m going out to dinner. Studies on the health impacts of late-night eating are conflicting. 

If you have type I diabetes, it may be essential to have a late-night snack to prevent dangerous blood-sugar drops. If you want to manage blood sugar levels and don’t have type I diabetes, however, eating late at night has been shown to contribute to metabolic diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes. 

But other studies suggest that having a small meal before bed does not appear to be harmful—especially if you exercise on a regular basis. 

I realize that not everybody can resist the temptation to eat something. So if you are going to eat while watching TV on the couch late at night, eat a healthy, delicious mini-meal. 

My favorite healthy mini-meals are seasonal roasted veggies with some healthy fats and spices. 

    • Sweet potato with a tbsp of grass-fed butter and a dash of cinnamon
    • Brussel sprouts with avocado oil and sea salt and pepper
    • Carrots with hummus and 'Everything But the Bagel' spice (Trader Joe’s) or Zhatar
    • High-fiber toast (100% rye) with canned pumpkin and a dash of local raw honey
    • Almond flour crackers with cucumbers and lemon and pepper seasoning

I’m not going to demonize late-night snacking. The temptation this time of year is much too great. But do try your best to avoid all snacks with white flour and wheat flour (even 100% wheat). These common flours get metabolized too quickly. That means they turn into sugar and get stored by the liver as extra body fat. 

But the healthy mini-meal snacks above metabolize slowly and may even help to keep blood sugar levels within a normal, healthy range. 

read

Tip #4: Read

When’s the last time you read a good book? Many people go all day and all night staring at screens, hardly, if ever looking at printed pages, with the exception maybe of a restaurant menu. 

Reading actual books keeps your mind sharp. And when you get in bed, opening a book gets your mind and body ready for restful sleep. Sorry, reading on a tablet isn’t the same. In fact, studies show that the blue light emanating from tablets at night lowers sleep quality. 

“The use of commercially-available tablets may have consequences in terms of alertness, circadian physiology, and sleep,” the researchers concluded. Reading books has several health benefits, including keeping your mind sharp, reducing depressive symptoms, lowering blood pressure and heart rate. 

So crack open a book and get reading. If you fall asleep after reading just one page, so be it. Let reading be your best sleeping pill.

Tip #5: Eat Before You Party

When I’m invited to a party, I never know what kind of food will be served. Will it be pigs in a blanket, deli finger sandwiches and chips and dip? Most of the time, you get what you pay for, and if the food is free, it’s going to be low quality. So what I do is I have a little Organic Green Drink and then a little later, about an hour or two before the holiday party starts, I’ll eat a full healthy meal. That way, I won’t fill my belly with empty carbs and veggies that have likely been sprayed with pesticides. 

I’ll still indulge a little bit because I’m only human and when in Rome, ya know…

Hopefully, following these tips will keep you more positive and healthier this winter. 

Cheers,  Chef V

Cleansing In A Winter Wonderland

Veronica, Brandon, Coco on beach

It’s easy to do a cleanse in August, or RAWGUST, as Chef V calls it. When it’s warm, eating lots of light, raw foods like salad seems so satisfying and appropriate for the season. But in mid-winter, what are you supposed to do if you’re looking to give your digestive system and liver a fresh start? Chef V dishes out the tips for winter cleansing…

It will probably come to you as no surprise that most of my customers begin a CHEF V CLEANSE or 21 DAY DETOX in the summer. When it’s so hot you don’t even feel like eating and certainly not cranking up the oven to 425 degrees, it’s simple to go raw. 

But how can you give your digestive system a reboot and stay warm in the winter? This is the time of year when we crave starchy carbs like mashed potatoes, pasta and bread. 

For carnivores, the dilemma gets even more complicated. Freezing cold weather leads to cravings for red meat. But if your elimination is sluggish, eating a steak is like throwing more toilet paper into a backed-up toilet. 

The good news is that you can gently detox your digestive system with these smart winter cleansing hacks…

detox tea

Winter Detox Tip #1: Warm Yourself Up From The Inside Out

When you’re following a cleanse program like this one, it’s a good idea not to exercise too hard. That’s because you’re going to be consuming less calories than you ordinarily would. So it’s best to take it easy whether you’re just doing a 1 day cleanse or a 3-day or 5-day one. 

But that doesn’t mean you can’t crank up your internal thermostat without hardcore exercise. 

One of the easiest ways to quickly go from frozen to toasty warm without moving your body all that much is through kundalini breath of fire exercises. Just do a search for kundalini breath of fire for beginners on YouTube and you’ll come across several free videos. 

These breathing exercises involve short and powerful inhalations and exhalations and as a bonus, your abs get a workout. Practicing the breath of fire pattern for a few minutes will heat your body up and you might even feel tingly all over. 

You can also do a light yoga posture flow going from cat/cow to downward dog or full sun salutations for 5-10 minutes. 

Another simple tip for staying warm while doing a cleanse/detox in the winter is sipping hot beverages throughout the day. Duh, right? But not just any plain hot tea or water will do. To generate internal warmth, add a dash of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, cayenne pepper and ginger to herbal tea or water. 

And what to do about sipping on Organic GREEN DRINK? After all, on a CHEF V CLEANSE, you drink four of these refrigerated drinks on each day that you’re cleansing. If you’re lucky enough to have central heating in your home, maybe it’s not a problem to drink cold GREEN DRINK. 

But even if your cozy comfy home is set to 72 degrees, just knowing that it’s frigid outside might not put you in the mood for a GREEN DRINK straight from the refrigerator. 

So here’s what I do. In the morning after I wake up, one of the first things I do is pour myself a glass of green drink. I pour it in a mason jar and seal it with a lid to reduce oxidation. I let the jar of GREEN DRINK sit at room temperature for about an hour so it’s not so cold. 

Important side note: Make sure you put the bottle of GREEN DRINK you’re not using back in the fridge right away. Each GREEN DRINK is made fresh and because it’s raw to preserve all the phytonutrients, it has a shelf life of 7 days unlike dead, pasteurized commercial juice that never goes bad.

red beet hummus

Winter Detox Tip #2: We’ve Got The Beet

Beet juice is not a staple in a CHEF V CLEANSE. (You get 4 Green Drinks, 2 vegan protein shakes and 1 Detox Soup with your juice cleanse.) But I feature beets in many of my recipes including red beet hummus. For my customers who want a longer program to reset their metabolism, my 21 Day Detox features some of these recipes with beets. 

So why are beets one of the best winter cleansing foods? The answer is that because of the winter holidays, many people overindulge in added sugars. The excess sugar gets stored as body fat by the liver. If the liver is already overworked, this is bad news. Beets are a cleansing superhero because they protect the liver (this study shows). 

Sure, you can eat beets any time of year. You can add them to summer salads. But in winter, you can add them to a veggie soup.

Tip #3: Sip On Bone Broth

Now, with my guided cleanses, I recommend going meat-free for the duration of the 1, 3 or 5 day cleanse and the 21 Day Detox. But if you’re following all my other instructions to the “V” I think it’s perfectly ok to add some chicken bone broth that you can sip on during the day to stay warm. 

If you want to learn how to make your own chicken bone broth, check out my video recipe here

Tip #4: Drink Your Greens & Cook Your Greens

In order to support my digestive system, I make ORGANIC GREEN DRINK a part of my daily routine 365 days a year. Even when I travel, I take GREEN DRINKS with me. But in the winter, I also make sure to eat a ton of cooked leafy greens. I sautee the leafy greens in a cast iron skillet with avocado oil. To feel full, I’ll add a scoop or two of healthy grains like quinoa or wild rice. 

Again, the CHEF V CLEANSE includes 4 Green Drinks, 2 vegan Protein Shakes and 1 Detox Soup per day. But you don’t have to do an official Chef V cleanse to give your digestive system some cleaner fuel. 

(But if you do want the quickest transformation then follow a CHEF V CLEANSE…) 

Eat a few servings of cooked leafy or cruciferous greens every single day in the winter. The healthy fats in the avocado oil and the clean-burning carbs from the quinoa, brown rice or quinoa will keep your tummy satisfied and give your digestive system a break from all those Christmas cookies and eggnog. 

To your health, 

Chef V

read

5 Tips For Surviving The 2021 Holiday Season

Veronica, Brandon, Coco on beach

The holidays are stressful enough without a global health crisis. But now that the media blitz is scaring the bejeezus out of many people with a new variant, surviving the holiday season requires extra fortitude. Chef V is here to keep you calm and grounded with these 5 tips for staying sane during the holidays…

The holiday season is a paradox: it’s the best of times and it’s the worst of times. It’s the best of times because everything is so festive and beautiful. 

But the holiday season creates anxiety for many people, whether it’s getting together with family that you don’t see eye to eye with or running around all over town buying last minute gifts. 

In the cold weather months, you’re more likely to get sick than you are in the summer. Yes, some of that has to do simply with weather; viruses thrive in colder weather and are able to circulate and replicate in stagnant, indoor air. But stress is just as much of a contributing factor, if not more so. 

So what can you do to manage your stress this time of year? Follow these 5 tips for surviving the holiday season…

yoga for stress

Take Mini Meditation Breaks

Not much of a meditator? Does keeping the mind free of thought seem like an impossible task? The good news is that you don’t need to be a Zen master to quiet your mind. And you also don’t need to meditate for hours upon end to become one with the universe. All it takes is a few minutes of consciously focusing on inhaling and exhaling. Stress managed! It’s really as simple as that. 

And if while you are sitting still (a chair is fine; you don’t have to go into deep Lotus pose), thoughts creep in, that’s fine. Just bring your mind back to your breathing. Five long seconds inhaling, and the same on the exhale. Try to inflate your chest and belly like a balloon on the inhale. Deflate on the exhale. 

Still thinking about all the bills you have to pay while you’re breathing? It’s fine. Do try and not let those worries consume your thoughts. But just remember the name of the game is not to rid your mind completely of thoughts. Rather, the goal is to focus on your breathing. Because breathing is healing. 

Take Mini Exercise Breaks 

Some people make the excuse that they don’t have the time to go to a gym or take a class because they’re so busy. But nobody should be so busy that they can’t take the time to take a mini-exercise break. 

Something fun I recently started doing is dancing for 3-5 minutes in my home while listening to a song on Pandora or Spotify. I also have a standing desk/desk riser and while I’m pecking away on my laptop, I sashay my hips from side to side. Yes, shaking your groove thing is possible while working. 

As the saying goes, sitting is the new smoking. Standing all day while working from home is impossible. And like sitting all day, standing for several hours is also bad for circulation. But alternating between sitting and standing several times a day is ideal for good blood flow and keeping the spirits high. 

You can also set a timer and do a three-minute yoga routine every 90-120 minutes. The bottom line is that you don’t need to exercise for a long time in order to manage holiday stress. You can do a few mini movement sessions per day and reap the same benefits.

grain

Eliminate Processed Carbs

This might be the holiday survival tip you dread. If you struggle with eating too many carbs, the good news is that you don’t have to completely quit carbs. I’ll explain in a sec. 

But first, let’s take bread as an example. For people who follow a low-carb lifestyle (Keto Diet), bread is a no-no. Eating bread raises blood sugar levels and puts more demand on the pancreas to release insulin. 

The more bread and other processed carbs you eat, the more insulin your body needs to keep blood sugar levels steady. If you keep eating bread, bagels, muffins, cereal and other baked goods made with white flour (wheat flour isn’t much better for blood sugar levels), your cells will become resistant to insulin. This places you at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

But not all bread is created equally bad. About 99% of supermarket breads are empty carbs. But artisanal sourdough bread contains beneficial bacteria for your gut. You can also buy 100% whole rye bread which contains a lot of fiber. When you see that a bread contains at least a few grams of fiber, it means that the blood sugar spike won’t be as high as bread with little or no fiber. 

If you’re at brunch and you’re considering getting a stack of pancakes, think of the pancakes as a giant bowl of sugar. Foods prepared with white flour break down very quickly, metabolizing into sugar. 

The problem with this is that sugar suppresses the immune system. Eating a tiny piece of cake at a holiday party is no problem. But if you have trouble controlling your portion sizes, it’s better to just say no than to indulge. Studies have shown that consuming sugar puts your body’s infection-fighting white blood cells to sleep for several hours!

So instead of eating refined carbs, eat whole grains like wild rice, farro, emmer wheat and quinoa (technically, quinoa is a seed but let’s not split hairs). 

beach yoga

Take A Social Media Detox

If you’re feeling anxious this time of the year simply because it’s the holidays or for whatever other reason, consider putting your phone down. 

Make a phone call, text if you have to, but in order to feel more peaceful, I recommend chilling out on social media for a while. 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that recent studies reveal that social media damages teenagers’ mental health. Even if you’re not a teenager anymore, chances are that keeping up with the Joneses or Kardashians on social is negatively impacting your life. Unless you’re using social strictly for work, consider a 3 Day Cleanse. (And if your body needs to physically detox, check out Chef V’s Cleanses.)

In the Dalai Lama’s Art of Happiness book, one of his tips for being happy is not to compare yourself to anybody else. When you’re on social media, it’s hard not to compare yourself to others. 

No News Is Good News 

Tip #5 for surviving the holiday season is much like my advice to do a social media detox. Unfortunately, news and politics have made us divided and no more is that evident than on social media. In addition to detaching from social media to avoid the news, do the same from cable news, newspapers, talk radio and magazines. 

And last but not least, under no circumstances should you discuss news and politics with family who don’t share your point of view. It’s not worth the energy. The more you get triggered, the more stress hormones circulating through your bloodstream. When stress hormones flood the blood, digestion slows down. And when digestion becomes impaired, you’re more likely to pack on the pounds. In light of that metabolic fact, is it really worth arguing about who should be president? 

Hopefully these tips will come in handy and make you a happier, healthier person for the holidays…

Love,

Chef V

© 2021 Chef V, LLC.