Why I have left Facebook (and other social media)

why I left facebook

I made aliyah (immigrated to Israel), in the summer of 2007.  Soon after, an old friend, Sue (not her real name), who had been in Israel a bit longer than me, asked me how I was feeling.  “Like I’ve fallen off the planet!” was my reply.  Sue told me about a great new website she was using to stay in touch with friends in the US, in particular, our mutual close friend, Kaye (also not her name).  The website was Facebook and I was delighted to get on it and start communicating with friends near and far, especially my ole girl posse, Sue and Kaye, yeehaw!

Within a couple of years of Facebook fun, Sue and Kaye were no longer my friends.

Sue and I disagreed over politics and unfriending followed.  While Kaye and I had one of those notorious Facebook blow-outs: words were written, tone was absent, offence was taken, and without picking up a phone or talking human to human, a friendship of over 10 years was over in one simple “unfriend” and “block”.  I never spoke to her again.

I wish I could say they were my only casualties of Facebook, but it happened numerous times.  I wrote more about it in this post.

Facebook became like a traumatic accident I couldn’t turn away from.  Not only that, it became a time-sucking traumatic accident I couldn’t turn away from!

Understanding that I needed to take action, I pruned my friend list.  I stopped posting anything other than blog posts I wanted to share.  I disabled my news feed.  I never had the app on my phone – I had to log in to the website to use it so I never had to deal with notifications.  I only used Facebook for the groups I was in and those I administered.

And yet, I still somehow managed to be spending a ton of seriously unproductive time on it!  I also simultaneously managed to pick up two new internet addictions, Instagram and Snapchat.

I kept telling myself that all of this was “for my business”, but was it really?

During my 10-week to Summer online group program, I led participants through an exercise on defining our top five values in life and then designing lives where we spend the corresponding amount of time and effort on the things we value most.  I had done this exercise before, but somehow, this time, it totally changed my life and perspective.  Among other things, it caused me to take a hard look on how much time I was spending on social media and evaluate whether it was worth it or not.

  • Yes, I got clients from Facebook, but did the hours I was spending there justify the few people who found me via that platform?
  • Did the stress caused by reading drama and nasty comments bleed over into my mental well-being?
  • Sure, I made great connections on Instagram and Snapchat, but was anything actually coming from those connections?
  • Were all the damaged relationships worth it?? (Regrets, I’ve had a few…)
  • Was scrolling through pictures of other people’s meals, lives, workouts, becoming more important than living my own?  More important than paying closer attention to my nearest and dearest?

The final straw came when a little boy fell into a gorilla enclosure during a visit to the zoo, and the Facebook Judgement Squad went on a vicious blame-the-mother-crusade, without knowing the mother, or the circumstances, or what actually happened on that tragic day.  People were writing that the child should have been “left in the enclosure to die, as befits evolution!” and that anyone defending the mother should be “euthanized themselves”! Instead of reacting in horror over words like that, others were circling like sharks smelling blood. That mother was going to be torn to shreds by this angry mob of non bystanders! (Read, The Death of Harambe and the Rise of the Internet Mob for more).

Straw, meet Back.

For the first time in NINE YEARS, I logged completely out of my Facebook account.

I knew I was finally done there.  I deleted all social media apps from my phone immediately.  It turned out to be a lot more difficult to disengage from Facebook.  Facebook has it’s tentacles in you deeper than you think!  Every permission you have allowed to connect with FB;  every connection between Facebook and your website; it all has to be dismantled one at a time.  All the while, FB does everything it can to keep you there!  It was actually alarming in a VERY Big Brother sort of way!

I wanted to try to keep my business page, which you cannot do without a personal account.  I finally managed to delete my personal account and set up a new one, (with no friends), to be the administrator of my business page. I’m still not sure it’s going to work.

I declared to all that it would be a 30-day experiment for the month of June, but I am on day 5, and honestly, I could have never have predicted how happy being off of social media would make me.

  • I eat food that is maybe messy and imperfect looking, but it doesn’t matter because I don’t have to post a photo of it to Instagram.
  • I walk the dog in the morning, and just enjoy the beauty of the dawn.  (I used to use that time to scroll and catch up on social).
  • I am writing again.  ( I didn’t have the time or interest before because I was too busy trying to think of something good to share on social).
  • My kids have my full attention when they are speaking.  I am not even tempted to sneak a peak at my phone because there is nothing on it to look at.
  • My kids AND my husband have expressed great delight to not be competing with the strangers who lived in my phone. (omg)
  • I have read three books in 5 days. 
  • I am so freed from the compulsion to not photograph and share everything!
  • I am so freed from the compulsion to watch the lives of other people!
  • I am now the one who chooses what I want to think about, not an algorithm, and not because the drama is impossible to look away from.

Now, if you are not this addicted and Facebook’s foibles don’t bother you in the least, then scroll on, dear reader!  But then again, I didn’t realize just how caught up I was until I got off of it.  So if thinking about taking 30 days off, makes you squirm a bit, maybe you want to look at that a little more closely.

And for those of you who will say “Hypocrite! You are sharing this very article on Facebook!” I will say, you are right. Maybe it is hypocrisy?  I’m not sure.  Or maybe it is me using Facebook, rather than allowing Facebook to use me?  I still after all, would like you to find and read my work and Facebook has managed to grab millions of eye-balls.

This is an experiment and an eye-opener for me.  I am not sure where it will end.  I do not intend to judge those of you who use social media.  I was very much one of you until just 5 days ago!  I am only sharing my own experience.

And maybe, just maybe, I will inspire someone else to take an honest look at how they are spending their own precious time and decide to make some changes.

Easy Tofu with Zucchini Noodles

tofu and zoodles with basil and garlic

Do you guys know about spiralizers?  They are a kind of vegetable and fruit slicer that turns your food into fun-to-eat ribbons.  I mean, come on, who gets excited over zucchini, just plain?  But turn zucchini into noodles and you’ve got ZOODLES!

(I may be easily amused…)

I bought a spiralizer years ago.  I used it from time to time, but it only made really thin noodles and if you cooked them they would get mushy.  It was a good way to get the kids to eat carrots though.

I was in the store the other day (Itzhak Cohen in Kfar Saba for those who will ask me), and saw this new spiralizer:

spiral slicer Israel

It was 199nis, again for those who are going to ask.  Someone else told me there was a baligam recently for same machine, same price.

It has four different blades for a variety of shapes and thicknesses.  I generally use the middle-sized one for zoodles and they come out perfectly!  I tried to do potatoes and then bake them in the oven, but that recipe needs to go back to the drawing board (too mushy).  I have created an entire Pinterest board for spiralizer recipes.  Next up is a beet-carrot spiralized salad with pistachios and mint.  After that I’m going to try a recipe for butternut squash noodles in a creamy curry sauce.  Lots of possibilities!  (In other words, I’m hoping this doesn’t become yet another cool kitchen tool I buy, use a ton for like a month, and then put away to gather dust.  Can anyone relate or is it just me?)

Here is a quick, healthy lunch I enjoyed today. So simple and delicious!

Easy Tofu with Zucchini Noodles

Serving Size: 2-3

Ingredients

    For the Tofu
  • 2 - 300 gram packages of soft tofu, cubed
  • 1/2 Tbsp oil (or oil spray and a non-stick pan)
  • 1 tsp onion powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika or cayenne
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • For the Zoodles
  • 2 medium-sized zucchinis, spiralized into ribbons with a medium blade
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Warm the oil in a frying pan.
  2. Toss in the tofu cubes and saute for 4-5 minutes, over medium-high heat, gently stirring, until tofu begins to turn light gold.
  3. Toss in spices and soy sauce.
  4. Remove tofu to a bowl.
  5. Return the same frying pan to the heat.
  6. In the oil still in the pan, saute the garlic and tomatoes over medium heat for 2 minutes.
  7. Add the zucchini noodles, and toss with tongs for 2 more minutes, until they start to soften and turn lightly brown.
  8. Remove to serving plate.
  9. Top with tofu and chopped fresh basil.
http://triumphwellness.com/easy-tofu-with-zucchini-noodles/

The Vegan Start Passover Cookbook

I have ANOTHER Vegan Cookbook to share with you lovelies!  This one is specifically for Passover.  How exciting to have all these new vegan resources for Jewish food, right??

But before we get into that, I want to thank you all for entering the Jewish Food Hero Book give-away.  The winner of the free book has been notified, so if it wasn’t you, you can pick up a copy of the book for only $9.99, right HERE.

On to the Vegan Start Passover Cookbook!

Vegan Start Passover Cookbook

You may remember that I shared this book with you last year (HERE) along with a sample recipe from it for Vegan Matzo Balls. But the book has since been updated with a bunch of new recipes and has been completely reformatted.  There is also now a print version that you can buy on Amazon for those of you who don’t like ebooks.  How cool!

Let me turn it over to author Rena Reich to tell us about her book:


Thank you, Emily for giving me the opportunity to share one of my favorite Passover recipes!

I’ve been vegan for over 5 years now. During the year, I really don’t think about what I’m going to eat. There is a lot of vegan fare to choose from. Passover limits my choices a bit. Over Passover, my main source of protein is nuts. During the year I gravitate more to seitan and soy products. Even though there is kosher for Passover tofu, I don’t do soy on Passover. My family is Ashkenazi and we don’t eat kitniyot (legumes) the whole week.

As a kid, I ate practically everything. My mother loved the fact that when other kids turned their noses up to liver, I would devour it. My tastes haven’t changed, but my diet has. Mock chopped liver is one of my favorite things to make. It’s really easy and it tastes so good. The main ingredient is walnuts, so it’s also an excellent source of protein. My kids love it as much as I used to love the its non-vegan brother. We eat it all week long.

During the week of Passover, we enjoy spending family time, especially going on hikes with our kids. Mock chopped liver is always my go-to food for them. It makes a great matzo sandwich stuffer.

In general, I’ve found my groove for what to make on Passover. I’ve created a vegan, kitniyot-free cookbook to share my recipes and tips for eating vegan and well on Passover. You can check it out on my website Vegan Passover or order in paperback or kindle format from Amazon HERE.

For vegan recipes all year long, visit my blog, Vegan Start .

I wish you all a Chag Kasher v’Samech!

~Rena

Chopped Liver Vegan Start Passover Cookbook

Vegan Mock Chopped Liver

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mushrooms
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • oil for frying
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in fry pan
  2. Add onions and mushrooms and cook on a medium heat until caramelized. Add oil as needed
  3. Put walnuts in a food processor and process
  4. Add caramelized onions and mushrooms and process until smooth
  5. Mix in salt and pepper to taste
  6. Enjoy!
http://triumphwellness.com/the-vegan-start-passover-cookbook/

 

GIVEAWAY! Jewish Food Hero Vegan Cookbook

50 Simple Plant-Based Recipes for your Holiday Meals

As so often happens in my world these days, I met Kenden Alfond through the internet.  Kenden is the founder of Jewish Food Hero, a website dedicated to nourishing the minds, bodies, and spirits of Jewish women around the globe. She offers vegan recipes which give a modern twist to  traditional Jewish meals, as well as resources to support greater health within the Jewish community.

Obviously she is my twin sister, separated at birth.

Kenden’s journey began in 2012 while Googling recipes for a family Purim meal.  All the recipes she found seemed dated and stodgy, unhealthy and old-fashioned, and were not reflective of her or her daughter’s more health conscious generation. She wondered if poor health and weight gain were the “price to pay” for engagement in Jewish life.  (Listening to most of my clients struggle with healthy eating on Shabbat and holidays, I often sadly wonder the same).

Kenden decided to create menus for every Jewish holiday that better reflected her family’s healthy values.  The Jewish Food Hero Cookbook is the result of her creativity and dedication.

I was given a copy to review and wow!  First of all, this is a very beautiful ebook.  The photographs by Matkonation are drool-worthy and inspiring.  The recipes are creative and fresh.  Every major Jewish holiday has it’s own menu and each comes with background and an intended mood and theme.  The Jewish Food Hero Cookbook will inspire the Jewish home cook, as well as emboldening us to step out of  our culture’s current unhealthy, heavy, and over-the-top indulgent holiday meal paradigm, and into one that has everyone leaving the table with a smile on their face and a spring in their step.

Kenden writes, “Cooking healthy holiday meals can be a form of creative expression, self-care, and love. I see a different food future for the Jewish people. I’m so glad you’re here and part of this vision.”
Below I am sharing a sample recipe from the book that Kenden was so generous to share with us.  It is from the Passover section and is perfect for your seder table. The recipe is vegan and does not use kiyniyot.

In addition to the recipe, Kenden has generously offered to give one copy of her cookbook away to one of my readers.  To be eligible for the give-away just comment below, or on this post on FB, or send me an email to Emily@TriumphWellness.com with your return email so I can contact you.  The winner will be chosen by Tuesday, April 12, 2016.  Contest is international – this is an ebook delivered via the internet.

 

To order a copy of the cookbook for yourself, a steal at only $9.99, go to the Jewish Food Hero website HERE.  This book would also make a lovely holiday gift.

Enjoy the sample recipe!

vegan shepherd's pie

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

Ingredients

    Mashed potato topping
  • 3 pounds red skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pie filling:
  • 2 cups diced onion (from about 2 medium onions)
  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms (from about 1/2 pound whole mushrooms)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (not low sodium)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
  • 2 cups, peeled and sliced carrots (from about 2 carrots)
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets (from about 1 small head)
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • Garnish
  • Steamed carrots, yellow summer squash, and zucchini (cut into rounds) **If you eat kitniyot during Passover, you can also use peas and thin string beans here.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
  2. Place the prepared potatoes in an extra large soup pot, and cover with at least 1 inch of cold water. Boil, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
  3. Set aside to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, sauté the onion and mushrooms in 1/4 cup vegetable broth or water for 10 minutes, adding more broth if needed.
  5. Add the sage, thyme, and carrots, and sauté for another 5 minutes
  6. Add the cauliflower and cook for 5 more minutes
  7. Add the vegetable broth to the vegetables in the skillet, reserving 1/4 cup to mix with potato starch
  8. In a small bowl, combine the potato starch with the 1/4 cup reserved vegetable broth. Mix well.
  9. Add the potato starch mixture, sea salt, and pepper to the vegetables
  10. Stir until thickened. Set aside.
  11. Drain the cooked potatoes and mash them, adding the almond milk, pepper, and sea salt.
  12. Assemble the dish and bake
  13. Pour the cooked vegetables into a lightly oiled 9 x 13-inch glass casserole dish
  14. Top with the mashed potatoes and smooth the surface with a spoon
  15. Bake for 30 minutes
  16. Prepare the garnish:
  17. While the casserole is cooking, chop the vegetables for the garnish, paying attention to maintaining a uniform and delicate shape
  18. Steam the vegetables for the garnish just enough so they retain their beautiful color and a bit of crunch.
  19. Arrange the garnish and serve
  20. Arrange the warm vegetables on top of the casserole in a design that inspires you
  21. Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.
  22. Serve family style on the table.
http://triumphwellness.com/giveaway-jewish-food-hero-vegan-cookbook/

Recipe reprinted with permission of Jewish Food Hero. Copyright©2016 Jewish Food Hero

All photos in this post are by Matkonation.

 

 

The Alchemy of Words

“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.”

– John Greenleaf Whittier

I have been so busy marketing my new program, that I totally forget to blog about it!

Since this is my blog and not a newsletter or sales page per se, I am going to go with a more personalized and nakedly honest approach.

I became a health coach because I wanted to help other women heal their broken food relationships and weight issues, just as my coach helped me.

So I trained, and I started my health coaching business in 2006.  For ten years, I have been doing this same thing.  I have gained a tremendous amount of experience.  My coaching skills have improved ten-fold.  I have touched the lives of hundreds of people, through my blog, through workshops, through cooking classes, and through one-on-one clients.  It is my passion and I feel very fortunate to be able to pursue it.

For the most part, it is rewarding and inspiring.  But what people don’t realize is the sheer amount of marketing I have to do to get clients.  It’s a business, after all.  And I gotta tell you, times like right now, when I am in the middle of a program launch, I feel simply awful.

I spend so much time year-round, creating all this free content.  I try so hard to really give so much value here, in the other publications I write for, and in the free Facebook group.  But when it comes time to actually ASK people to step up, hire me, and enroll in my programs… well, if I didn’t already have issues with anxiety, this would have surely pushed me there!  And if I didn’t have a great support network, (thank you, you know who you are), I would just crawl into a dark, shadowy hole and hide.

So as I was sitting here at my desk tonight, feeling like “ugh, I literally cannot write a single word more to promote this program”, I got the following text:

text from happy client down 24kgs

 

That’s it. There isn’t really anything more to say.  All the words, all the copy, all the cajoling… the ONLY purpose for any of it, is so that people like that dear woman right there can find me, and hire me, and change the course of their entire lives.  Amen.

My 10-week online program starts next Sunday.  It looks like this:

Get Ready for Summer Program!

You can read all about it HERE.

You can read my answers to the most common objections and excuses I have received HERE.

If you have any questions for me, Emily@TriumphWellness.com

 

If you want your own success story, sign up.

If you are ready to make some changes, enroll.

If my words, words, words, make a difference for you, act.

I can write until I am blue, but it all depends on you, dear reader, to perform the alchemy that lifts these words off the screen and into the gold of prayers answered and dreams fulfilled.

 

Bread Machine Vegan Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Bread Machine

The weekend is over and as you turn your thoughts to the upcoming week and the lunches you need to pack come Sunday morning (in Israel) or Monday morning (everywhere else), if you’re like me, you always grumble, “Crap, we’re out of bread.”

It seemed like we were constantly running to stores in search of a good loaf of sandwich bread at all hours!  And we are picky about our bread, as any former New Yorkers are wont to be.  We like those artisanal breads you have to go to a special bakery to buy.  We are not big fans of the taste or additive levels of supermarket bread. And don’t even get me started on pita!  Basically unless pita is “baked-it-fresh-this-very-moment” fresh, I will absolutely make a disastrous mess of trying to stuff sandwich fillings inside of it. I think you have to be Middle Eastern born and bred to make proper pita sandwiches.

So one day at the airport, with time to spare before our flight, we wandered into the Duty Free electronics store, as one tends to do. As my roaming eyes came to rest on a bread machine, I saw a solution to my constant “we’re out of bread” conundrum.

I purchased the Morphy Richards 900g Breadmaker several years ago now and it has been in use literally 5 days a week since. My recipe and technique have changed over the years, but today I want to share with you the sandwich bread I make daily for my family, and exactly how I do it.

A few things first:

  • You will notice that I use a combination of 1 cup semolina (solet), 2 cups whole wheat flour, and 1 cup high-gluten bread flour (kemach lechem). For me, in this machine, this gives the consistency of loaf we prefer. The semolina gives the loaf a nice crust and airy texture and the high-gluten bread flour gives it beautiful lift and light, soft crumb. I’m sure you can play around with any mix of flours – I have used part spelt, part ground oats, part chickpea flour, etc – as long as your total is 4 cups.
  • You will also notice that I use 2 tablespoons of sugar in my bread and many of you will write me nasty letters about the evils of sugar. I agree that sugar is very bad for you. But we are talking here about 2 Tbsp in a loaf that makes 12-14 slices of bread. Do the math – it ends up being a VERY small amount of sugar in each slice. Don’t lose the forest for the orthorexic trees!  And besides, as I understand the science of baking, the yeast actually eats a good part of that sugar which is what gives your bread the rise. That said, I’m sure you could cut it to 1 Tbsp if that makes you feel better. You could also use a less processed form of sugar such as molasses or maple syrup but scientifically, it’s pretty much the same to your body.
  • I don’t bake in the machine.  You CAN put the ingredients in your bread machine, set it and forget it, and it will mix, rise, and bake the entire thing. I did that, but found that, firstly, the machine’s canister makes an awkward shape and size of bread for school kid lunch sandwiches. Secondly, I didn’t like losing what amounted to several slices on each end of the loaf – one side for the baked-in mixing paddle you have to dig out, which leaves a big hole, and the top side that bakes into a domed shape. So, I put the ingredients in the machine, set it to a 1 1/2 hour mixing and rising cycle called “Dough”, then remove the dough, plop it into a normal-sized loaf pan and bake it in the oven. Why use the machine at all you ask? Because the machine kneads the dough for about 30 minutes and if you have ever tried to knead dough for 30 minutes, you know why I would prefer to avoid it. Honestly, I used to make bread that was the consistency of a door-stop. It was awful. This machine kneads and rises the dough so beautifully, my bread could now win prizes for lightness and perfection!
  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE having fresh baked bread in the house every day. It smells amazing and makes my family feel very happy. I also make our weekly challah dough in the machine and take it out to braid it. It’s amazing. My bread machine is my most used and most loved kitchen appliance!  When this one kicks the bucket, I will definitely but another one. Recommended!

Bread Machine Vegan Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp sugar or any sweetener of your choice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups wrist-warm water
  • 1 cup semolina (solet)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup high-gluten bread flour (kemach lechem)
  • 2 1/2 - 3 tsp dry yeast

Instructions

  1. Place the ingredients in the canister of your bread machine in the exact order listed above.
  2. Turn the machine to the dough cycle only. (You can set it to whole wheat bread if you would like it to bake right in the machine (see my objections above)).
  3. When the 1 1/2 hour cycle is over and the timer rings, spray a loaf pan of the size you prefer with cooking spray.
  4. Spill a dollop of olive oil on the counter.
  5. Spread the oil around a little, coating your hands and your work space.
  6. Turn the dough out of the canister on to the oiled work space.
  7. Roll it tightly into a log, the length of your loaf pan.
  8. Place the loaf in the pan, seam-side down.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
  10. At the end of the 30 minutes, uncover the loaf and place it in a COLD oven.
  11. Turn the oven on to 180C (350F) and bake for 30 minutes.
  12. Turn loaf out on to a cooling rack to cool.
http://triumphwellness.com/bread-machine-vegan-whole-wheat-sandwich-bread/

 

My Favorite Workout Resources

Top Workout Resources

 

In 1991, I moved from Portland, Maine to New York City. For the first 9 months or so, I bunked with my childhood best friend, a fledgling actress busy with auditions and photo shoots. Keeping fit was the name of the game in that apartment. My roomie had a series of VHS tapes called The Firm, which were, a then, revolutionary combination of calisthenics and weight training. We Firmed ourselves Firm every single night.

I absolutely adored my first experience with at-home, follow-along workouts and kept up with The Firm for years to come, eventually moving over to DVD’s as technology changed. Being able to do a full-body workout in the comfort and privacy of your own home was a revelation to me. Prior to that, working out had meant jogging outside, joining a gym, or finding a jazzercize class in a church basement somewhere.

Fitness options have exploded with the advent of the personal computer and then the smart phone. There are tons of online workouts (many free) and loads of excellent phone apps (yes, free!)  If you are an experienced exerciser and know proper form on basic exercises, the info below will give you some terrific options to choose from. If you are a beginner, or someone who needs the accountability of other people to get your workout in, you probably will want to join a class or gym or hire a personal trainer. Know thyself.

Online Programs:

  •  BodyBuilding.com has several free online programs. If you click on Find A Plan you will see the full list from beginners to advanced, from fat burning to muscle building and everything in between. Their plans give you exact workouts for each day, as well as meal plans (not vegan, sadly). Each move comes with an instructional video or you can search their database to find videos of how to do exercises listed or what you can do for substitutions if your gym doesn’t have a piece of equipment or if it’s something you’d rather not do. Most of these plans do require access to a well-equipped gym with machines and free weights. Two programs I have done and loved were: Jamie Eason’s 12-week Live Fit Trainer and Erin Stern’s Elite Body 4-week Fitness Trainer.
  • SparkPeople.com is an online food tracker but it also has a gazllion of free workouts. Some you do right there in your office, in front of your computer, others are things like running and walking plans you can print and use offline.  You do need to be a member, but membership is free. These are good for beginning exercisers.
  • BodyRock.TV has tons of workouts online to do right there in front of your computer, some using easy to buy equipment, others without any equipment. You can find any workout you need here. There are some free sample workouts, but then series do cost a small fee.
  • TheBettyRocker, aka Bree Argetsinger, is a trainer who posts free kick-butt online workouts and group challenges. Many are free, some are for pay. I have done several of her challenges and they are HARD but fun. She gives plenty of modifications for beginning exercises. You will sweat blood, but be happy to if that’s remotely possible. Check out her youtube channel where she posts free workouts as well.
  • YogaToday posts daily yoga classes of all types. You can do a 2 week free trial before purchasing membership.
  • handstandingVegan calisthenics athlete Frank Medrano sells beginner to advanced calisthenics do-it-yourself programs from his website. I bought an earlier version of his beginner ebook and it got me hand-standing. There’s proof to the left…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apps:

  • Nike+Running is a free phone app that tracks your mileage, pace, gives you encouraging feedback and allows you to compete against others. This is what I use personally for running. I like that it allows podcasts or music to be playing while it’s running in the background.
  • Nike+Training Club (N+TC) is a free non-running workout app that gives you loads of workouts to follow with videos demonstrating each move, then voice cues while you are working out. You can workout at home or in the park or wherever. Some need equipment, some don’t. It’s a great app and I have used it a ton, but honestly the reason I don’t use it more is because I use an armband for my phone and if I can’t remember what an exercise is from the voice cue, it’s a total pain to unstrap my phone to look at it. Otherwise, it’s anything you could ever want.
  • MadBarz is a calisthenics app, also free, also amazing. So many apps, so little space on phone!
  • Freeletics, another free app, has a large European following which is fun to mix with other exercisers in foreign lands that have much worse weather than yours! (Hey look at those people doing burpees in the snow! Guess I don’t have any excuses…)

YouTube:

There are LOADS of free fitness programs on YouTube, just do a search. FitnessBlender and Zuzka Light are popular. BeFit is a storehouse for a ton of popular online videos like Jillian Michael’s 30-Day Shred and more.

Online Trainers:

Working with a trainer online sounds impossible, right? But for more experienced exercisers who know how to perform basics like barbell squats, deadlifts, and chest press with proper form, having someone remote write you a plan works just great. I worked for about 6 months with Vegan Body Builder Claudia Lailhacar and absolutely loved it. Claudia would send me weekly workouts and I would send her bi-weekly pictures of me in my undies (didn’t so much love that part) so she could see how things were coming along and make adjustments to my plan. If there were ever any exercises I wasn’t familiar with, or needed to make a substitution for, I went to bodybuilding.com’s video database (as mentioned above).

There are loads of online trainers, but be careful because this isn’t a well-regulated industry. In addition to Claudia, I can also recommend: Christy Morgan, Lori Brannen-Graham, and Di Hickman  (Bonus, they’re all vegans)

In-Person Trainers:

For people in my area, the Sharon region, in Israel, I can personally recommend personal trainer Mia Gabrielli (miabeth18@gmail.com) and Rella Itin’s Bootcamp Israel.

If you read all of this and thought “Great, but too bad I can’t motivate myself to actually start exercising”, might I humbly suggest you book an Intro Session with me? We will talk through your resistance, blocks, obstacles, and fears, and map out a plan to get you on a consistent fitness path. There is no obligation to continue on past that first session. You can see my calendar and availability HERE.  Sessions are conducted via phone, Skype or FaceTime.

Being fit, full of energy, flexible, and strong is not only a healthy thing to be, but it greatly improves quality of life across the board. I hope the above resources help you in your pursuit of a healthy life!

The Fluffiest Vegan Omelette

Fluffy Vegan Omelette

For years I have been making my vegan omelettes with just chickpea flour (besan) or later, red lentil flour, which is less bitter than the chickpea flour. Here are some recipes for those very simple, tasty, filling omelettes:

The Basic Chickpea Flour Omelette

A lighter, Chickpea-Corn Omelette with Herbs and Garlic

Chickpea Flour Omelette as Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

I had long-admired the popular tofu version of vegan omelettes but the recipe contains ingredients I couldn’t get here in Israel, namely: silken tofu, vital wheat gluten, and egg replacer.  But it’s 2016 and all things have become available here in the land of plant milk and bee-free honey!

Now, truth be told, compared to the fool-proof bean flour omelettes above, this one is fiddly. It’s delicate and you can’t just heave it up and flip it over. Either don’t flip it at all, as in the original recipe, or you use the slide-onto-a-plate-cover-plate-with-pan-and-flip method. It also took me a few tries to get it not to stick to the pan. But despite the care it takes to make this, the results are definitely worth it! It is light and fluffy and the most convincing egg-like vegan omelette I have ever had.

The Fluffiest Vegan Omelette

Serving Size: 2

Calories per serving: 157 calories per serving

Ingredients

    Filling:
  • 8 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Onion, sliced
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • Omelette:
  • 1 box Silken Tofu (Mori-Nu, the shelf-stable tofu in the carton)
  • 2 Tbsp Soy Milk
  • 2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch or powdered egg replacer
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten (get at health food store or baking supply store)
  • ¼ tsp Onion Powder
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric

Instructions

    For omelet filling:
  1. Spray a non-stick skillet with a little oil spray.
  2. Saute mushrooms and onion over high heat for 5-7 minutes or until mushroom liquid is mostly gone.
  3. Remove to a bowl and return skillet to the heat.
  4. Toss in bell pepper strips in the skillet for 3 minutes until they begin to brown slightly.
  5. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. For Omelet:
  7. Blend together all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  8. Heat and spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and pour half the batter (a little less than 1 cup) into the center.
  9. Spread out batter thinly over the bottom of the pan with a spoon.
  10. Turn the heat to medium, cover and cook for 6-8 minutes.
  11. Place half the cooked mushrooms, onions, pepper strips and spinach in a line down the center of the omelet.
  12. Use a spatula (and help with your fingers if you need to) to flip both sides over the veggies, cover and cook an additional 2 minutes.
  13. Remove from heat and gently shake the skillet to loosen the omelet.
  14. Carefully slide omelet onto a plate.
  15. Repeat with remaining batter and filling.
http://triumphwellness.com/the-fluffiest-vegan-omelette/

 

 

The 5 Steps to Adopting Healthy Habits that will Stick

The 5 Steps to adopting healthy habits that will stick

Have you ever said this:

“I just want to be the kind of person who naturally eats right and exercises. I wouldn’t even have to think about it and make all this effort. It would just be automatic.”

That does sound good, doesn’t it? I’d also like to be fluent in Hebrew without ever having to work at it. Do you think that’s realistic? Probably not. To become fluent in a new language you need to practice it, right? Likewise, to become this natural eat right/exerciser person, you have to practice being just that.

It all boils down to habits.

When a client says to me “I want to lose 20 lbs”, my job as a coach is to unpack this desire into actionable steps. So I ask, “what kind of person weighs 20 lbs less than you? How does she behave on a daily basis? What are her habits?” The habits that my client then lists are the ones we generally start working on. For instance,

  • She exercises every morning (or evening, or lunch hour) without fail.
  • She plans some meals ahead and even cooks some things in advance so that healthy food is ready when she comes home starving at the end of the day too tired to cook.
  • She gets all the junk food out of the house so it can’t derail her when she experiences cravings or the drive to emotionally eat.
  • She learns to eat only when hungry and stop before totally stuffing herself.
  • She constantly remembers her goals and stays strong in the face of temptations.

So how can you get these habits (or others you’d like) going in your own life consistently?

 

Step One: Decide on ONE habit to start with

I know, the desire to change EVERYTHING all at once is overwhelming and you are so sure you can handle it all! Well, you probably can for a little while. But then when you start to slip on this momentous change-everything-all-at-once reformation, you’ll drop ALL the habits, as they are all linked together, and be right back at square one, feeling like a failure. You aren’t a failure, darling, just an over-achiever! And in this case, over-achieving isn’t a helpful thing to be.

How to know which one habit to pick? Pick the one you are certain you can do with an at least 90% success rate. Where’s the challenge in that, you ask? (There you go again, being all over-achiever-ish!) Trust me, science bears this out. Change is harder than you think it will be. That’s why you haven’t succeeded at it yet.

You will keep going with something that you are achieving. Start with the one habit you are most confident you can actually do consistently and long-term.

 

Step Two: Link your new habit to a trigger

During a normal day, we react continually to triggers all around us. The alarm goes off and you get up and brush your teeth. You weren’t born doing that. Your parents taught you to do it. The clock strikes 4pm and you start roaming the office for chocolate or sweets to help you power through the rest of the day. Again, not a natural habit, but one you developed over time. (and you can un-develop it too!)

One of my long-term habits is daily exercise. For me, the best time to work-out is first thing in the morning before I can talk myself out of it. When my kids were babies, that meant waking up before they did and getting it done. Now, I get up early to make them breakfast and lunch – a task that I adore – so while I am doing that, I am also getting myself ready to head out to the gym. They walk out the door for school and I walk out the door to the gym.

Here are some other trigger ideas for you:

  • You hit the gym right after work, before you even get home.
  • You pack yourself a sandwich and an apple and when the 4pm munchies hit, you eat what you brought instead of the chocolates and sweets in the office.
  • Every Saturday night right after Havdalah (or Sunday night during your favorite TV show, depending on what country you live in), you sit right down and plan out some meals for the week.
  • When you start to feel hunger pangs, you set the timer on your phone for 30 minutes. You can eat your next meal when it rings. (this helps you get back in touch with hunger and allow your body’s natural signals to guide you).
  • Right when you sit down to eat, push about 3 bites of food to the side of your plate. Challenge yourself to leave those bites uneaten. (This helps you stop that habitual over-eating. You can eat them later on for a snack if you are still hungry).
  • Use a food tracking app like MyFitnessPal and enable notifications. This way, you will get a reminder to your phone that you will break your streak if you don’t log into the app.

 

Step Three: Track it

I make each of my clients a personal habit tracker in google drive. I also make them for my private Facebook group members to track their compliance on our group weekly challenges. (You can join that group too!  Just go HERE.)

You want to keep working on your one habit until you are doing it for at least a week continuously at no less than a 97% success rate. When you feel solid in that one habit, you can add the next habit, following these same instructions. Honestly, the longer and stronger you can lock in each habit before adding in a new one, the better.

If you can’t get more than a few days going in your success streak, then your habit needs to be re-formulated. It is probably too hard. (see number one). If your goal is to get to the gym each morning, but you are feeling unsure of what to do when you get to the gym, or terrified of people judging you, you probably won’t go. You need to break this one down into smaller steps. The first habit might be to book 2-3 sessions with a personal trainer or find a friend to go with you to raise your confidence. If you are in the Facebook group, or working with me privately, you will get the support and accountability to work through these sorts of fears and obstacles.

 

Step Four: The Reward is the Result

If you engage in any of the above habits consistently for two weeks, you will definitely be feeling healthier, slimmer, less stressed, and more confident. Pay attention to these rewards. Reward yourself further in ways that support the continuation of your good habits – new workout clothes, a trip to the sauna or jacuzzi for those sore muscles, an expedition to a gourmet food market to buy the prettiest berries or the greenest kale, a new healthy cookbook…

 

Step Five: Get support

Consistency, consistency, consistency. Even though things are going great now, it’s all too easy to get thrown off course by a special event, holiday, trip, work deadline, or family calamity. How will you be able to stay on track or get back on track if you’ve fallen? They say your level of success in anything is mirrored by the people you surround yourself with, so if you current circle isn’t practicing healthy habits, you’ll need to add some new folks:

  • Form an exercise group or healthy habits group with friends (Just know that when one person falls in these groups, everyone seems to go down like dominoes!)
  • Pair up with someone who already has the habits you want down pat. Ask your friend the marathoner if you can send her daily emails of your running progress. Ask your friend who has successfully maintained her weight loss if she will support you in a few changes you’re trying to make.
  • Join my Healthy Habits Facebook Group
  • Hire a health coach, especially one who has accomplished what you want to accomplish.

 

Making habit changes isn’t easy. If you are like most of us, you will feel all kinds of resistance to change. But by following the above steps, you can sneak up on yourself a little. Practice the habits of the person you want to become for long enough, and you will become that person it just comes naturally to!

(If you find yourself totally unmotivated to make the changes you know you need to make, check out the 5 Stages and Change post.)

 

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

black bean soup with logo

We had a cooking challenge last week in my free Facebook Group. Some worried that it was a lot of kitchen work so I suggested utilizing a slow cooker or crock pot for making a bean dish or stew. Someone then asked for recipes and I realized that I don’t have any! When it comes to the slow cooker, I just throw things in there and let it cook long enough that no matter what, it comes out tasty. But I always get requests from those people who rely on recipes, to please spell the process out more carefully. To that end, I made a pot of Black Bean Soup in my slow cooker, measured everything, and jotted it all down so I could tell you exactly what to do.

The wonderful thing about using your slow cooker is that you do just a few minutes of prep and then your food cooks all day by itself while you do other things. Come dinnertime, you just ladle it out and a hot, delicious, nutritious meal is yours.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 spicy green pepper, such as jalapeno, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder or smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 900g (28oz) can chopped tomatoes or 4 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 500g (1 lb) dry black beans
  • dash hot sauce to taste
  • 1-2 drops liquid smoke if desired
  • 8 cups vegetable broth or water
  • salt and black pepper to taste (added AFTER cooking. Salting the beans while they are still cooking will keep them hard)

Instructions

  1. The night before you want to make the soup, put the beans in a large bowl.
  2. Check them over for shriveled beans, dirt clods, rocks etc.
  3. Cover the beans with cold tap water and let sit uncovered on counter overnight.
  4. In the morning, drain the water off and rinse the beans in fresh water.
  5. Add all ingredients except the salt to your slow cooker in the order listed above.
  6. Set slow cooker to high, cover and leave for 4-6 hours.
  7. Check the beans are soft and adjust seasonings to your taste, adding salt here.
  8. Using an immersion blender, puree about half of the soup. This is optional, you can leave it all unpureed if you prefer.
  9. Serve as is or topped with chopped fresh tomato, avocado slices, chopped fresh cilantro (cusbara) or parsley, salsa, vegan sour cream or shredded vegan cheddar.
http://triumphwellness.com/slow-cooker-black-bean-soup/