Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Benefits of Flax Seed Oil

I have been recovering from a short bout of food poisoning I acquired from eating "healthy fruit" so this week's post will be short. My lesson learned; keep to eating only organic fruit.

Early last year as I was checking out my daily horoscope at Astro Twins , as usual these quirky twin gals sprinkled in some health and beauty advice in my horoscope. They advised I try organic cold pressed flax seed oil in my smoothies for beautiful hair, skin and nails. Intrigued I immediately Googled flax seed oil (Google is my Magic Eight Ball) and read up on the benefits of this oil as I was thinking of calling my smoothies, "Kitchen Sink Smoothies" as I tend to throw in anything someone recommends to me in my concoctions.

My research came up identifying flax seed as a blue flowering plant that is grown on the Western Canadian Prairies for its oil rich seeds. This natural oil (also known as Linseed Oil) is highly recommended for the general well being and whole body nutrition and is considered to be nature's richest source of omega-3 fatty acids that are required for the health of almost all body systems. Flax Seed Oil contains omega-6 and omega-9 essential fatty acids, B vitamins, potassium, lecithin, magnesium, fiber, protein, and zinc and also provides approximately 50% more omega-3 oils than what you could get from taking fish oil. What is best is that it doesn't have that fishy oil "after taste" that you get from fish oil pills. I don't taste it at all in my smoothies.

For me after using it for over a year and a half now I feel the benefits to me were mostly; my joints not cracking anymore as it was becoming ridiculous how I can hear my knees cracking when I went up and down the stairs, my nails are starting to grow without breaking (that was new for me), and my skin felt incredibly soft (I was starting to like to touch my arms, a strange new habit I developed last year). It was as if had WD-40'ed my body inside and out. Flax seed oil is also known for working on the interior of your body just as much as your exterior. Amongst the many benefits are:

- Research shows low incidence of breast cancer and colon cancer in populations that have high amounts of lignan in their diet. Flax is 100 times richer in lignan than most whole grains.
- Studies show that Omega-3 fatty acids help lower cholesterol and blood triglycerides, and prevent clots in arteries, which may result in strokes, heart attacks and thromboses.
- Helps protect the body against high blood pressure, inflammation, water retention, sticky platelets and lowered immune function.
- Shortens recovery time for fatigued muscles after exertion.
- Increases the body's production of energy and also increases stamina.
- Accelerates the healing of sprains and bruises.
- Eases weight loss in people afflicted with obesity.
- Stimulates brown fat cells and increases the metabolic rate making it easier to burn off fat.
- Improves the absorption of Calcium.
- Strengthens finger and toenails.
- Can improve eyesight and perception of colors.
- Can often improve the function of the liver.
- Can relieve the side effects and stop development of many forms of cancer.
- Can relieve some cases of Asthma.
- Helpful in the treatment of Eczema, Psoriasis, and Dandruff. 
- Lowers high blood pressure in Hypertension sufferers.
- Has been scientifically proven to treat some cases of depression.
- Can improve the mental function of many old age pensioners. 
- Can help PMS.

Our diets don't even come close to the amount of daily EFA (essential fatty acids) requirements as we don't get enough from our food sources. Food that do have EFA are; soy, canola oil, fish and flax seeds. If you eat a lot of meat and eggs your body actually starts to develop bad prostaglandins. Flax Seed oil can help restore the body's natural balance of good and bad prostaglandins.

I take about 1000mg a day in my smoothies, I also add it into my baked good and actually anywhere I think I can get away with it (soups, dressings, martinis, etc.). I buy the organic cold pressed flax seed oil in a dark bottle that is located in your health food store's refrigerated section as bottled this way makes it last longer.  It takes a few weeks to notice the benefits but just being able to do yoga without my joints making so much noise has been worth it alone for me!

For more on the benefits of flax seed oil follow this link from Healing Daily and if you have any questions on my experience please feel free to contact me.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Salsa Dancing: The Second Most Fun Way to Lose Weight

I do believe we can all agree that sex is the most fun way to lose weight. However you would have to have a marathon session lasting eight hours and be quiet bendy to make a difference in how you look and who has the time for that? Or a ready and willing partner three to four times a week? We all can't have Sting's libido.

So quite by accident I learned last summer how to lose weight in a fun and joyous way; by salsa dancing! 

Being of Latin heritage I have been exposed to salsa dancing all my life. It's something we used to do once a week as the family gathered on the weekends in my house. And although I did it once in awhile during my adult years, I had no idea how much calories were burned during salsa dancing. Did you know you can burn up to ten calories a minute salsa dancing? I had no idea!

I wasn't watching or following "Dancing With the Stars" where the audience witnessed the transformations and weight loss the celebrities acquired while they trained for their dance performances. I discovered salsa again when last summer my friend Nick decided he wanted to learn to do the tango. I volunteered to be his partner as I knew he was a good dancer and I wanted to be more in touch with my Latin heritage. After some more thought, Nick decided he wanted to take salsa lessons as you could find more venues to dance salsa than to dance tango. I was secretly relieved as tango looked very complicated to me and I at least I have danced salsa before.

We took classes around the Times Square area at the New York City Salsa Dance Company that were a total of three hours long. One optional hour for styling (a class where you learn to refine and polish your dance steps) and two hours of going over dance steps and then practicing them with your partner(s). Never had three hours gone by so quickly in my life! It was joyous, it was fun, everyone was in a good mood, I had a good teacher, a great dance partner and terrific, lively music to listen to. I also worked up along with everyone else in the room a good, healthy sweat.

Nick being half English and half Colombian was already a good dancer but in class we learned the names of the steps we had been doing all our lives and new complicated turns and twists. After a few weeks we felt like we were one of those couples you see out on the dance floor at clubs and hate because they look so good and make it look so easy. 

I noticed that I was losing weight and getting even more toned than my yoga classes were contributing to. I have to admit, I have no problem avoiding cardio in my life. That is when I started to investigate just how much calories you can burn doing salsa or any form of ballroom dancing as this link on can inform you of.

The classes for any ballroom/salsa dancing are very welcoming as there are dance studios in just about every town across America so this is not a big city phenomenon. You don't even need a partner to participate. As a matter of fact about 80% of those who go for lessons do not have a dance partner (wink, wink, good place to meet others). If you do have a partner its a fun way to get in shape together and also built up some intimacy as dancing is about letting the man lead and reading his signals correctly as a couple. Its a great way to develop a passion and/or hobby to do together as a couple. If you are parent this could be a good date night activity to get in shape, be with your partner and have time away from the kiddies. Plus it makes you feel sexy and accomplished when you start to master the dance.

Natalie enjoying the Salsa and tequila perhaps a little too much!

I am very big on mixing up your exercises routines so they do not become boring and tedious so for me yoga, some weight-lifting and dancing, particularly salsa has been a good way to get all I need without thinking exercise is a chore. I don't think you can say that when you are on the stationery bike or elliptical machine. I always feel like I am grinning and bearing it on any gym equipment. Besides salsa has been proven to be a great way to get both aerobic AND anaerobic exercise. I also just recently found out it helps built up your memory and helps fight dementia. That's a Win/Win/Win situation!

So if you want to go away from your exercises with a smile on your face, laughing and wondering where the time went, I highly recommend you try salsa!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Master Cleanse

My post this week in "The Wisdom of Beauty" is about the controversial cleanse, "The Master Cleanse". It's a popular cleanse that has been around for decades and has become popular lately due to many celebrities using the cleanse to rid themselves of excess internal body waste and weight. 

I was introduced to "The Master Cleanse" about six years by my good friend Levi who did it after a bout with skin cancer. His sister told him it would be a good way to detox his body of all the toxins he received while undergoing treatment. Levi said for the first four days he was sick and weak with fever while doing the cleanse and was tempted to stop it but his sister told him to persevere. After day four he started feeling better and better and by the end of two weeks (that's how long he decided to do the cleanse for) he felt like a new man. The next month when he went to his oncologist for a check up, his oncologist was just amazed with his blood tests as his toxic levels went back to his precancer levels. 

This inspired me to try the Master Cleanse. At the time I had gained a little extra weight I was having trouble losing (no thanks to the nightly pints of Ciao Bella ice cream I packed away on a daily basis). I bought The Master Cleanse pamphlet at a local health food store and started to prepare the cleanse according to my body weight. The cleanse consist of just four ingredients; freshly squeezed organic lemon juice, organic Grade B maple syrup, distilled water and organic cayenne pepper. I also purchased a box of senna tea and sea salt as drinking senna tea and water with sea salt was also part of the cleanse.

The Master Cleanse was created by alternative medicine performer Stanley Burroughs in 1941. In the mid-nineties it was made popular by Peter Glickman by promoting Burroughs' regimen to a modern audience. Burroughs states that it is a detoxification program that aids in the removal of allegedly harmful, nonspecific toxins from within the body, as well as a reducing diet for loss of weight, a cure for ulcers and a general panacea resulting in "the correction of all disorders."

My daily routine with the cleanse would be to drink senna tea at night (never let it seep for more than three minutes or else it can lead to painful stomach cramps as I accidentally experienced one night).  In the morning I had a tall glass of distilled water with some sea salt (yuck) and had some clearing (my nice term for running to the bathroom for dear life) to do before I would go to work (you want to do this early in the morning as having to "clear" yourself whilst on a crowded subway is my idea of hell on earth). Then throughout the day I drank the 24 oz concoction 8 oz at a time as if I was having breakfast, lunch and dinner. It doesn't taste bad, it taste like lemonade with a with a cayenne kick. There is no solid food at all! No other drinks except herbal teas that did not have caffeine and you can drink plenty of water.

The first two days were difficult. No because I wasn't eating food, I honestly did not feel one stab of hunger pains or weakness throughout my entire time on the Master Cleanse. I was able to go to work and do all the activities I did on a daily basis (which included going to the gym) with energy. The difficult part of the Master Cleanse was I discovered the psychological reasons of why we eat. 

I realized in those first two days that I ate for many reasons and none really had to do with hunger or nourishing myself. I found that I was thinking constantly about food and all the food that was around me in either my home,  grocery stores or a restaurants because it was: just there, I was bored, I wanted to reward myself, I wanted to distract myself, it was time to eat, it looked good, I wanted to feel good. I had a myriad of reasons to eat except none of them was for health and nutrition. The Master Cleanse was worth trying just alone for figuring out, "Why do I like to eat?"

After day two it got progressively easier and easier to just go about my day and drink my cleanse. At night I would have my senna tea and then in the morning after my water/sea salt solution my body would rid itself of all sorts of scary waste that had been harboring in me for who knows how long! I lost about a pound a day but this wasn't a diet for me as I knew when it was over I would start eating solid food again and  of course start gaining the weight back. Many including those in the Hollywood community use it as a diet and that is where the controversy starts as nutritionists are against using cleanses as diets and I agree. So unless you are planning on a lifetime of lemon/maple syrup and cayenne pepper to maintain and lose weight this cleanse as a diet is for you. 

My first time at  the Master Cleanse was for ten days and as I was nearing the end of my cleanse I felt energetic, yoga positions became much easier to do, my skin was literally radiant and I was very happy to lose my cravings for sugar as I was starting to think I would need to go to a sugar rehab clinic to get me off the white stuff. Sugar  is my addiction in this life time. I was almost sorry to end the cleanse as I started to live my day without surrounding my activities around food. I was even able to cook for others without feeling the least likely to take a bite.  My intuitive massage person noted that for the first time my Third Eye was starting to open. I then introduced food back into my system as instructed by the pamphlet and was able to maintain wanting to eat healthy foods after that which helped me maintain some of the weight lost I experienced whilst on the cleanse. I felt very proud of myself for mastering my mind over my food.

Now I do the cleanse twice a year (before Memorial Day and right before Thanksgiving) for two to four days as since you lose about a pound a day it will make me lose too much weight if I continue on for longer. It helps me get off sugar whenever I find myself abusing it again (and I do) and we all know sugar is one of the substances that ages you the quickest.

Some of the controversies of the Master Cleanse come mostly from those who do it more than ten days. After fifteen days on a low caloric intake your body starts to adapt and then your metabolism slows down so when you start eating again, your slow metabolism will store the food and convert it to fat. That is why cleanses should only be ten days or less. I found the people who claim the Master Cleanse is dangerous usually are promoting their own cleanse so you should ask your nutritionist or doctor for their opinion whenever you start any cleanse or diet.

Click on the link for The Master Cleanse for more specific information on the cleanse and whether it is right fit for you. I recommended the Master Cleanse for many years now and many of my friends and family now make it a yearly cleansing event. If you have any questions on the cleanse for me please let me know and I will walk you through it and be your cheerleader as it I know it sounds quite daunting at first but if I can do it any one can!


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Little Hair Secret of Mine

Thankfully in the last few years in New York, it seems just about every time I go to an event or big party there is a swag bag (gift bag) handed out as you leave the event. I seem to be one of the few that actually treasure these bags and take the time to look through them and use the products given out for free (I love free stuff).

In such an event late last year I received a bottle of Mizani Thermastrenght Serum. After sitting in my cabinet for a few weeks along with my multitude of other untouched hair products I decided to test this serum out as my hair was looking quite unruly (unfortunately all my gray dyed hair has taken away my straight, baby fine hair). I pumped a dime sized amount and ran it through my hair after I shampooed and conditioned it.  After blow drying I was just amazed with the results. My hair was soft, sleek, shiny and it looked like I had a professional blow out. 

The following few weeks I took the time to blow dry my hair correctly instead of the chaotic manner in which I always aimed the dryer at my hair and between actually taking the time to do it right and the Mizani product I received so many compliments on a daily basis that I started sharing my hair beauty secret to friends of mine that I thought had over processed hair that made them look older than they really are (yes that was quite ballsy of me to do). So now my Mizani is a product that I will not be without for as long as they make it. This is not a professional endorsement, it merely is my experience and I have been wanting to share it since the day I realized I didn't need to go to the salon to get professional looking results which in this economy can be much appreciated. 

Mizani Thermastrenght Serum can be found in beauty stores across the USA but I just order it online at (I left a glowing comment on the site). It's the little things in life like this that can help cheer you up and transform you and make everyday a great hair day. Let me know your results if you decide to try it out.