Category Archives: Daily Delicious (Blog)

Inaction May Be What’s Keeping You Unhappy (and how to fix that)

This is a post for mamas who are feeling the weight of this time, this administration, this -ugh- this 2017.

If you are like 99%+ of my clients you’re really freaking out about the state of the US right now. If you grew up in the 80′s it may feel like all of your dystopian science fiction anxieties are coming true — like Road Warrior water shortages plus Handmaid’s Tale reproductive rights shortages plus nuclear anxiety from every movie everywhere. We have problems with police violence and mass shootings that are significant enough to warrant overseas travel warnings.  Life is tough right now, You’re not imagining things.

It’s easy to get caught in an endless loop of scrolling through news sites and overindulging in comfort foods, something else that 115%+ of my new clients have come to me struggling with since last November’s election. It’s hard not to feel powerless, and that powerlessness is coming out in all kinds of unhealthy ways.

In my experience as a coach and an activist and a mother, I’ve seen that we often get that  freaked-out feeling when we don’t feel like we’re actively doing anything to address the problems we’re seeing in the world. (I get you mama. When there’s a job that needs doing you’re used to getting down to business and getting it done.)

But schedules are tight and bandwidth is low as it is. You may already feel you are at capacity, with parenting, work, and all of your other obligations. To this point, I think it’s important here to figure out what are the consequences of inaction. To do nothing is to feel feeling perpetually powerless, and that can be a stressful, anxious, and depressed place to be. That’s why many of my clients are looking for solutions that add big impact without a lot of time.

Kelly, a busy mom of two kids, says, “I know I can’t change everything. I focus on two things and only two things. That way I can do a little something most days a week. ”

That’s really good advice. I often think about it when I choose where to spend my yesses on a given week. I have many things I care about passionately, but only three that I actively organize around. That means a lot of saying no to things I just can’t make fit in a given week.

You may have a number of things that you’re passionate about. If you do and you find yourself frozen in inaction, it may be good to narrow down to one thing to start, and dive in. Whether that’s racial justice or disability rights or animal welfare or feeding hungry people is up to you. If you don’t have a passion but you’re desperate to do something, the following list will help you. These are 5 places to check out for small actions that will have a positive effect on the current climate and give you a renewed sense of purpose that may just feel better than nightly rose’ and cookie dough.

1. Solidarity Sundays is a nationwide network of over 100 feminist groups who are focused on taking action against injustice and inequities in the US. SolSun has two awesome ways of getting involved: one is the monthly in-person meetings for letter-writing, phone-banking, and social media in a friendly group setting; the other is their online daily actions, simple, scripted things you can do on a coffee break or in your pajamas.

2. Resist Bot is a free service that turns texts into calls and letters to politicians across the country. To sign up, text RESIST to 50409 or message Resist Bot on Facebook and the service will find out who represents you in Congress and deliver your scripted message to them in under 2 minutes with no apps or downloads required.

3.Wall-of-us, four concrete acts of resistance sent to your in box every week. Scripted letters and calls you can make in the car or, again, in your jammies.

4. Indivisible’s mission is to fuel a progressive grassroots network of local groups to resist the Trump Agenda. In every congressional district in the country, people like you are starting local groups and leading local actions. Another great site with tons of information plus weekly actions and updates.

5. Rock the Vote is still going strong, and now offers an easy-peas online voter registration tool that makes it ridiculously simple to start your own voter registration drive from the parking lot while the baby is sleeping or your couch while you binge watch Stranger Things.

How are you feeling, mama? A little bit better? Less helpless? Doing a little something every day adds up big, to help change the world and to transform a hopeless outlook into an brighter one.  Just remember that to take our power and resist despair, we all have to do something but none of us can do everything. Take it easy on yourself and remember why you want to make the world better in the first place. And breathe. They’re not lying when they say this stuff is a marathon, not a sprint.

How are you resisting and persisting, sis? Please share in the comments.

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Three Ways to Hit “Reset” on a Bad Day

mommiedearest reset a bad dayIt’s 10am and your day is not improving. You woke up to last night’s dishes in the sink (don’t you have an agreement that when one of you cooks, the other one cleans?). The kids are whiny and hangry and your partner hasn’t texted you back about that Really Important Thing you texted about three hours ago. You feel frustrated, alone, and ready to scream Mommie Dearest-style that you’ll cut the next person who has the nerve to ask you for something.

Slow down, mama. You don’t have to lose your cool. You can reset this day to move on to happier things AND model for your kids how to deal with stress and disappointment in a healthy and productive way. Win-win!

Here are three of my favorite ways to hit Reset on a bad day:

1. Get outside and into the sunlight. This is a great reset for stressed-out mamas and cooped-up kids alike. Getting into the sun for a little walk gives you crucial Vitamin D, raises your happiness hormones, improves immune system function, and reminds you that you are part of the living world and not just dusty furniture in your living room Island of Isolation. When everything else fails, get outside.

2. Sing out. Instead of yelling at your kids, say it with song. Try a silly operatic trill, or belt out a soulful blues number. “So-faaaaaaaaas! are for booooooooootaaaaaaaaays,” I will sing to my kids in my best R&B diva voice when I’ve asked too many times for the monkeys to stop jumping and I feel my yell coming on. Singing to them this way confuses them into stopping what they are doing (jumping on my couch like wild people), and it signals my brain that we’re not in a crisis situation that will only be solved if I commence screaming in 5-4-3… (My brain was raised by parents who screamed. Left to its own devices it would make some silly, misguided decisions sometimes.)

And if you’ve already started yelling and the day is looking grim, it’s time to call in the big guns:

3. Paging Captain Do-over! This is a code word my kids and I use when things have gotten out of hand, voices and words are unkind, and we need to get back to the present moment and remember that we actually like each other. “Captain Do-over!” we yell and almost immediately we stop grouching and fall into a hug. It takes a couple of seconds to feel that calm, safe, feeling of oxytocin flooding our system (mmmm, sweet bonding hormone we get from hugging and smelling kid heads)  and then we can start the process of repair. For the yelling mama, this is a great time to apologize and start over. I’ll say, “I’m sorry I spoke so rudely to you. I was feeling stressed out. What I meant to say was that sofas are for booties and I’d like you to sit quietly and read for a few minutes. Will you please do that? And then we can go outside and run around and get our energy out? Great! I love you. I’m sorry I yelled. You are so special to me.”

They will often start bouncing again, or doing some other annoying thing until we get dressed and out the door to get some sun and start our day. But at least we have all calmed down and I’ve taken responsibility for stopping the bad day before it gets too out of hand. When things are calm and the mood is good, I’m better able to deal with the little stresses: the whining kids, the non-responsive husband, the pile of dishes. They still annoy me but they don’t have to hijack my day– or my kids’.

Want more support dealing with the stress and isolation of motherhood? Get in touch, mama!

Kirsten Quint Fairbanks is health coach and holistic living expert who loves offering real-world holistic coaching for mamas who want to consciously cultivate big lives that get them totally fired up.  Kirsten lives happily, works gratefully, dances inexpertly, paints badly, cooks traditionally, and rocks a tiny homeschool in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She believes that connection can change your life.   Read more about her here.

 

It’s Not About Food

If you know me you know that I care about food. I care about food a lot. For years I have studied food, read about food, planned around food. I’ve avoided some foods and Vitamixed up large quantities of others. I have researched food, I have experimented with food. I have talked about food, talked about food. Talked. About. Food.

I have obsessed about food. I have worried about food. I have coached so many others who worried, obsessed, and talked about food.

Imagine my surprise to learn a while back that it’s not about food. Happiness, joy? Not about food.

All the time I was coaching my clients about healthy lifestyle and we’d focus so much on their eating habits. Eating habits are important. You probably have some foods that make you feel great and others that make you feel awful. But your lists and your calories and your X liters of water a day are not, I can almost guarantee you, the things that will make you happy. So for me to give advice about eating habits no longer interests me because at the end of the day I haven’t seen it make my clients happy. Can you believe that? Helping clients micromanage their diets and workout schedules and yes, even their dry brushing regimes was not what was making my clients happy.

What makes my clients happy? Connection. Purpose. Novelty. A trusted listener. A group of like-minded travelers all heading in the same direction. (Happiness City: pop. You.)

Being a mom, particularly being a stay at home or work at home mom, can be stressful,  isolating. It can be lonely. Being a parent in general can be stressful. We have our priorities. We want creative, meaningful work. Happy children. Healthy family. Nurturing relationships. A sense of purpose, to change the world. So often we are our own last priority.

My commitment to my clients has always been to help them achieve their happiest, best lives . But here in this culture we can focus too much on some of the wrong tools. I have been part of the problem. I come from nutrition schools that have the audacity to claim that there is probably a right diet for everyone and it probably includes a lot of thinking and work and expensive ingredients that not everyone can get their hands on. How ridiculous is that?

Look, I don’t claim any more to know what you should eat. And from now on I don’t even want to try to guess.  I only know what makes me feel good. I know that Goji berries and green smoothies don’t make much of a difference in my joy, and that nothing has made me happier than enough sleep, a good cup of coffee, and a feeling that I am making a difference in the world, that I belong, and that people care about me. You can’t whip that up into a smoothie or weigh it or measure it in inches.

So I don’t coach clients anymore who want me to help them lose weight or gain weight or change their bodies. I work with moms who want to lose isolation, anger, shame, and loneliness. I work with moms who want to gain peace,  meaning, connection, and joy.

Because those things – not a  “bikini-ready” body or a clean diet, whatever that is – are the point of living. The point of living is to be happy. It’s really, truly not about food.

 

Kirsten Quint Fairbanks is health coach and holistic living expert who loves offering real-world holistic coaching for mamas who want to consciously cultivate big lives that get them totally fired up.  Kirsten lives happily, works gratefully, home-schools secularly, dances inexpertly, paints badly, cooks traditionally, and nurses on cue in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She believes that connection can change your life.   Read more about her here.

Easy Wellness: Greens

normal chubby mindy

 

Are you making your wellness too hard? Let’s get back to basics for a minute.

I had a first call with a new client last week, let’s call her Mindy.* Mindy was telling me that, while she reads a lot about health and wellness, sometimes she feels confused about what to do to feel her best. (That’s why she hired me. Helping you sort through the endless noise and conflicting information about getting health and happiness and feeling fabulous is what I do.)

She said, “I get paralyzed when I think about what to eat, what not to eat. Should I be doing gluten-free or is that just a fad? Should I avoid dairy or should I have it for the calcium? What if I just drink some cream in my coffee? Should I give up coffee?  What about supplements? What about whey protein? What about juice cleansing? What about intermittent fasting…”

 

I had to interrupt. “Slow down, Mindy! Let’s just keep it simple and start on Page 1. Are you eating your vegetables?

 

“Sometimes,” she said. “Not as much as I should, I don’t think.” She paused a moment and then started off with a load of questions about vegetables: Weren’t they high in carbs? What about oxalic acid? What if she couldn’t find organic?

I interrupted again. (I get enthusiastic when the answer is a simple one. ) I said, “This week, try adding more leafy greens to your plate. Cook them well most of the time. Try it and see how you feel. We’ll get to the next thing next week.”

Now, adding more greens to your plate may sound overly simplistic if you are a health-savvy person like Mindy. (And if you’re reading this, you probably are.) But adding greens is an easy first step to achieving vibrant health, one that is so simple that my analytical clients often overlook it.

 

About Greens

 

Green vegetables are the foods most commonly missing in modern diets. Learning to incorporate well-cooked dark, leafy greens into the diet is essential to establishing good, strong health. When you nourish yourself with greens, you may naturally crowd out the foods that make you sick. Greens help build health and strengthen the blood and respiratory system. Leafy green vegetables are also high-alkaline foods which may be beneficial to people exposed to higher amounts of pollution in urban areas. The alkaline minerals in our bodies are used to neutralize acidic conditions caused by the environment. Green vegetables will help to replenish our alkaline mineral stores and continue to filter out pollutants.

Greens are high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are loaded with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals. Although choosing organic is recommended, eating non-organic greens is still preferable to not eating any greens at all. The Environmental Working Group has a handy app and list of the best foods to buy conventionally-farmed if organic is expensive or unavailable.

 Some of the proven and possible benefits of consuming dark leafy greens are:

• Blood purification

• Cancer prevention

• Improved circulation

• Strengthened immune system

• Promotion of healthy intestinal flora

• Promotion of subtle, light and flexible energy

• Improved liver, gall bladder and kidney function

• Cleared congestion, especially in lungs by reducing mucus

 

There are a wide variety of greens to choose from, so try to find options that you will enjoy and eat often. If you get bored with your favorites, be adventurous and explore new greens that you’ve never tried before. Like broccoli? Who doesn’t. It is usually very popular among adults and children. Also try to include bok choy, napa cabbage, kale, collards, watercress, mustard greens, broccoli rabe, dandelion and other dark, leafy greens. Green cabbage is great cooked or raw, or in the form of sauerkraut. Arugula, endive, chicory, lettuce, mesclun and wild greens are generally eaten raw (with an acid-oil dressing for maximum nutrient absorption), but you can make it any creative way that you enjoy. Spinach, Swiss chard and beet greens are best eaten in moderation because they are high in oxalic acid, which inhibits the absorption of the calcium these foods contain. However, rotating between a variety of green vegetables shouldn’t cause any nutritional consequences in regards to calcium. Just eat most of your greens well-cooked, and enjoy.

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Try a variety of methods like steaming, boiling, sautéing in oil, water sautéing, waterless cooking or lightly pickling (as in a pressed salad). Boiling helps greens plump and relax. You can also drink the cooking water as a health-giving broth or tea if you’re using organic greens.

If the weather isn’t cold and your digestion is strong then some raw greens occasionally can be tasty. Raw salad is an easy and tasty way to get your greens in. It’s refreshing, cooling and supplies live enzymes, and it makes a great base for sauces and stews if you are avoiding grains and tubers. (I’m not saying your should avoid grains or tubers necessarily, but I know some of you do.)

 

Simple? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely. For most people, adding more greens is an easy way to get strong bones, glowing skin, and a better overall health. So, here’s to that wilted kale salad or fresh arugula with watermelon. Keep it simple!

*I always change client names when I write about them. This week I am eagerly awaiting Mindy Kaling’s new season on Hulu. The suspense is torture.

Kirsten Quint Fairbanks is health coach and holistic living expert who loves offering real-world holistic coaching for mamas who want to consciously cultivate big lives that get them totally fired up.  Kirsten lives happily, works gratefully, dances inexpertly, paints badly, cooks traditionally, and rocks a tiny homeschool in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She believes that connection can change your life.   Read more about her here.

Weight Loss While Travelling in Paris, Lisa’s Story

pariss

My client Lisa* just returned from 11 days in Paris. When she called me for her monthly check-in session last week she was absolutely amazed that she not only maintained the 18 pound weight loss she has achieved while working with me for the past 4 months, but even after all the bread and cheese and wine and relatively few vegetables she consumed the entire time she was gone, her digestion didn’t go crazy the way she expected it would. (Lisa has a history of IBS, fluctuating between constipation and diarrhea- no fun.)

I asked her what she did while she was in Paris. “Oh,” she gushed, “we went to Sacré-Cœur and the Eiffel Tower of course. We went to the Louvre twice! I shopped a little since so many more clothes fit me now!”

She went on and on and I was whatever the happy version of jealous is of course, because I love Paris and I haven’t been there since 2004. Also because I’m nursing and so everything I wear either has to lift up or button down, and so I haven’t worn a dress in nearly two years. But I digress…

paris tell me more

 

 

She told me the food was delicious but that veggies were hard to come by, mostly sad little salads. The cheese was amazing, the wine was cheap and fabulous, and she decided it was worth it to see what would happen to her skin and her mood if she indulged in pastry or two.

She felt fine. Soon, she was having a fresh croissant every morning from the patisserie across the way from their rental apartment.

“And,” she said, “we stayed in the Marais district. We walked everywhere. All day. I was so tired every night, I slept like a rock.”

Okay! Now we’re getting somewhere, I’m thinking.  Sure, she avoids gluten and dairy most of the time when she is at home. After doing a two-month elimination experiment with me at the new year she discovered that too much cheese makes her digestion go haywire and that too much wheat makes her eczema flare up and her mood turn instantly sad. As she has been slowly adding foods back that she eliminated for those two months, she has also been working hard to repair her digestive health. We have her on a solid regimen of bone broth and gelatin, probiotic supplements and fermented foods, and real food diet that is low in inflammatory substances such as vegetable oils and processed foods.

So while she was surprised that her digestion was so strong, even after her visits to the cheese counter and her daily dalliances at the patisserie, I wasn’t shocked at all. Her diligent work in healing her digestion has paid off. And the fact that she maintained the weight loss she has achieved since starting to work with me? Easy- she walked everywhere for 11 days.

You could also point out that portion sizes are famously smaller nearly everywhere outside the US, Paris included. Also, Parisians are known to sit down, pay attention, and savor their food slowly rather than eating on the run (Venti mocha frappucchino no whip and a sconeto go!) as Americans often do. This is important. It’s hard to recognize when you feel full if you’re eating and walking and checking your email, all at the same time.

paris having fun

 

 

 

We know that stress impacts weight. Stress leads our bodies to release cortisol, and too much cortisol increases fat storage. The fact that Lisa’s trip was fun and low-stress, and that she was walking during the day and sleeping a lot at night meant that her hormones were functioning properly and her metabolism was humming along.

I think a really important piece of the puzzle was that Lisa was having so much fun that she didn’t stop to snack like she often felt a desire to do at home. Lisa and I have worked a lot on her emotional eating. She has discovered that her triggers are stress and boredom. With stress out of the way, having a fabulous time, and no time to be bored, Lisa’s snack habit was totally gone while she was in Paris. 

Lisa not only returned with cute clothes, a functioning digestion, and a body she feels happy in, she got off our call with a renewed commitment to working with her cravings and emotional eating. Avoiding emotional eating was easy for her in a new city full of fun and free time and no stress. But home and “real life” come with some stressful work deadlines, relationship questions and self-esteem issues she is still working on transforming. So we know a bit how we will be spending the next month of our coaching together.

What works for one person won’t work for everyone, but here are 5 things to think about when you think about weight loss:

  1. Ample sleep and low stress = healthy hormones and healthy weight.
  2. Heal digestion and your food sensitivities may diminish. And something you are sensitive to when you eat it often or in large quantities may be fine for you if you indulge infrequently or eat it in smaller portions.
  3. Heal metabolism and healthy weight won’t be a struggle.
  4. Moving your body helps. Move every day. A lot.
  5. When we feel happy and fulfilled we don’t need to turn to food for comfort or entertainment.

 

We can’t all jet to Paris this month (I blame you, my two kids) but we can learn a lot from Lisa’s experience of maintaining weight loss, even in the face of (delicious, delicious) bread and wine and cheese.

 

Au revoir for now,

Kirsten

 

*Names are always changed when I write about my clients.

 

Kirsten Quint Fairbanks is health coach and holistic living expert who loves offering real-world holistic coaching for people who want to consciously cultivate big lives that get them totally fired up.  Kirsten lives happily, works gratefully, home-schools secularly, dances inexpertly, paints badly, cooks traditionally, and nurses on cue in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She believes that good food can change your life.   Read more about her here.