Look Up From Your Phone

I went to a wine walk yesterday here in Camarilllo. It was being held in our little downtown district to help bring more visitors and drive traffic into the stores. A good concept to be sure. I took an uber to get there, and had this interesting out of body observation of myself.

I spent the entire 10 minute trip from my house to Studio Channel Islands on my phone. Not looking up once to see where we were, or even say a word to the driver.

I had a wonderful time with some wonderful friends tasting some excellent wine and stopping into stores and businesses that I had never entered before, even though I have lived here nearly 20 years.

In the uber on the way home, I was struck by the fact that this young man’s car contained water bottles in each of the seat pouches in front of the passengers as well as a little jar of dum dum lollipops and eclipse gum if you wanted to freshen your breath or were in need of a sweet treat.

A small but thoughtful touch, costing less than $5.

The young man struck up a conversation with me. I asked him what he did besides drive for uber and he let me know that he had big dreams among which were taking care of his immigrant parents. He wanted to have multiple revenue sources, he wanted to inspire people, he wanted to help people live better lives through health and fitness. He wanted a gym, a record company and a marketing and design company, all in the next decade.

Big dreams!

Big goals!

Very crystal clear intentions of what he wanted.

No 9-5 job for him.

He was not quite 25!

We talked about meditation then.

He said his favorite way to meditate was to visualize his future.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Kudos Vincent. (Yes i asked him his name)

So often these days we hide behind our screens instead of engaging with humanity. We use it as a way to zone out, numb out, the endless black scroll on social media dulling our senses and our abilities to connect.

We think we’re connected.

After all we have 2,000 friends and 9,000 likes on our feed.

But what do you REALLY know about those friends?

Are they really friends?

Recently someone pinged me and said- oh my goodness what a small world– we have mutual friends on FB. I stared back at her blankly– I didn’t know those people. They’re friends of friends so I didn’t reject their friend request.

So today, or tomorrow, instead of looking into your screen, following someone’s political rant, someone’s viral video or someone’s riveting schedule as it unfolds on social media, leave your phone tucked away, pretend that you don’t have that distraction.

And when you have a few minutes to kill in the grocery line or in an uber, just ask the person in front of you–

So how are you?

You might be inspired by their answer!

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Exercise is Poetry of the Body

Exercise moves your physical body and occupies your human mind for you cannot exercise and think about anything other than what you are doing for fear of injury. Stay focused. Exercise helps you engage all parts of your body and mind and get them working in unison in a way that few other activities can do. Exercise is the execution of God-consciousness. It is poetry of the body just as meditation is poetry of the soul. 

Lifestyle DIVA Top 10 Arbonne faves

I often get asked what my absolute favorite Arbonne products are. After all I have been a huge fan of the pure safe and beneficial philosophy and have incorporated as many products into my house as I possibly can. You might say my home is ‘Arbonnized!’ When I do a wellness presentation I am often asked – what are the few products that I can absolutely NOT do without…so I thought about it a bit, and came up with my favorites! I am not going to give you the company speak about the products – after all, you can get that by reading up on the website – rather, I want to share with you MY personal experience, and why I choose to use these products. These are by the way in no order of importance – rather they are in the order that they popped into my brain as I thought about this post.

  1. Chocolate Protein Powder – with 20 g of Vegan protein powder with THE BEST TASTE on the market – this one is a no brainer for breakfast! I am a busy mom of two very active kids under the age of 7 and my daughter’s school is 20 minutes away from our home; prior to dropping her, I drop my son off at his school – so I have to build in that detour time to my morning. There is no other way for me to get done all that I need to get done in the morning – run or ride, meditate, clean kitty litter, get dressed (with full makeup and hair done because I often meet clients and go to networking events first thing after drop off), get two kids up and make sure they’re getting through their morning regimen, pack lunches and feed THEM nutrient dense breakfasts. After all this, there is no room for me to sit and eat breakfast – so I semi-prep this protein shake the night before with whatever raw vegs I have in the house, flax seed, couple berries, teaspoon of almond butter and then in the morning, I add the powder and almond milk, couple ice cubes and my breakfast to drink in the car is ready! I really don’t know how to survive breakfast any other way. This is afterall the single most important meal of your day – your body has starved for more or less 12 hours from last night’s dinner onward – you owe it to yourself to eat/drink a healthy energy-filled breakfast!
  2. Energy Fizz Drinks in Citrus or Pomegranate – This is actually a new addition in my household – I try not to consume caffeine even if its from Guarana which is a natural caffeine – except for the little that I get from my decaf almond milk lattes that I indulge in once or twice a week. One day it occurred to me that I should try this as my exercise hydration drink instead of FRS which is the brand my husband prefers. And holy cow, not only did I feel great during the workout, but the whole day went well – I wake up at 5.15 (inching my way up to 5:00) so that I have an hour to myself before I have to start the household. I often don’t get to bed till 10.30 – and lately it has been 11pm. I did not drag.
  3. Chocolate Protein Bars – with only 7g of sugar, these are the least sugary bars on the market today! Arbonne re-purposed the texture so they no longer taste like the texture of cardboard! (Thanks Arbonne!) I always carry this in my purse, because I never know where I will be during lunch time since I no longer work out of an office outside the home. (Thanks Arbonne!!)
  4. RE9 Advanced facial cleanser – Ok, so this cleanser is incredible at removing makeup. I have done full on stage makeup (not for stage, just because I wanted to REALLY doll up for an event I was attending) and this cleanser did such an awesome job of taking it all off without me feeling like I had stripped my skin of its natural oils. My husband with eczema even on his eyelids can use this without issue.
  5. Revelage SPF 30 day cream – This one is specially awesome because its a two-fer – day time moisturizer and UVA/UVB protection SPF 30 sunblock all rolled into an incredibly natural, not-to-thick-to-apply moisturizer with a really lovely barely there naturally occurring fragrance. (remember no synthetic fragrances!)
  6. Arbonne Baby Care (ABC) hair and body wash – this is the rock star in our house because not only do both my kids use it and I don’t have to be careful around their eyes with this – it is truly NO MORE TEARS unlike another brand that shall remain unnamed. I also use this as a hand wash at every sink in my house including in the kitchen. It is gentle yet effective for my husband’s eczema-stricken hands. (as a scientist he washes his hands a million times a day)
  7. FC5 Skin Conditioning Oil – My daughter had a spot of eczema on her face when she was 5 years old. I washed the affected skin with the baby wash mentioned in #6 3-4 times a day and followed with this oil. It cleared it up in no time. This also worked wonders for my poor calico cat Zeta who had serious dry skin issues and whose scratching would wake us up at night. She had scabs the size of peas by her ears and around her neck – this miracle oil cleared those up as well as soothed her skin. PS: If I had a dog, i would probably wash him/her with the baby wash too!! Cats of course can sense that I am even THINKING of bathing them and will go so deep into the recesses of my Eastern King bed, that there’s no way to fish them out.
  8. Ginger Citrus Body Butter – this is a seasonal favorite that I stock up on when it hits the Arbonne shelves on September 1. It’s usually out of stock by mid November! This body butter has become the hot favorite of any client or friend who I gift it to! It has the lightest scent that is so subtly elegant and the silky feeling on my arms and legs lasts anything else I have ever tried – except maybe the Shea Butter lotion which is pretty darn awesome.
  9. Primer – The Arbonne primer goes on like a lotion and dries to a powder finish! The texture of this product is so incredible – the feeling on my face ever so luxurious. I love the way it prevents my eye shadows from creasing, how my foundation stays on true all day long and as I pointed out already, my days are long. On a Sunday morning, I often use this alone – without following it with foundation…perhaps just a dusting of mineral powder.
  10. Pencil Eyeliner – Ebony – As an Indian, I like to ‘kohl’ my eyes. I have for as long as I can remember lined my eyes in black all around. The thing is – pencils usually don’t last 12 hours and I have such long eye lashes (yes I know, cry me a river!) that liquid liner smudges…I used to use the MAC gel pot, but I had the hardest time removing that at the end of the day – even after using two cotton pads per eye with eye make up remover – I would still have a residue look of eyeliner from the day. I hated how much I had to rub the gentle/sensitive/1/4- thinner-than-anywhere-else skin under my eyes to get it all off. Enter Arbonne’s Ebony 5 years ago and my eyes, the skin under my eyes and I have all been a happy customer! Ebony is pitch black, smooth and long lasting…and yet comes of easily with Arbonne’s ever so gentle eye makeup remover, making me feel truly free of makeup at the end of the day!
  11. It’s a Long Story Mascara – yes that’s actually the name of the mascara and yes, I realize I ran out of the 10 spots…but I HAVE TO leave you with this – there’s not a single woman that I know that doesn’t wear mascara. Remember I mentioned that I have long lashes…well these make it so that I not just sweep but even mop the inside of my sunglasses! It’s the one thing we all buy every three months (if you don’t do that – start NOW!) because the pump action introduces airborne bacteria into the tube and do you really want to mess with your eyes for a $36 product? (if you’re using an $8-$12 mascara off the shelf…here’s my question to you…do you know what you are putting that close your eyes? Read the labels!)

So there you have it! I use over 45 Arbonne products in my house daily – from skincare for men, women and children, hair care, baby care, makeup, vitamins, supplements, etc. These are products that I would buy anyway. So the fact that I could buy good quality, superior-ingredient products delivered to my door for an amazing price appeals to me a lot. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Days 3, 4 and 5 – there are no shortcuts

RisottoSo ends the first five days of my cleanse. I fared well. I had a couple slips– a bite of bread when we went to Daphne’s Grill for dinner tonight, the most delectable chocolate ball by Lindt… Hazelnut truffle! but other than that I did rather well. I treated myself to a gluten free lemon scented risotto with seared scallops and green beans At the Blue Stove in the Thousand Oaks Nordstrom- possibly my favorite restaurant in the Conejo Valley.

All week I managed to create some rather delicious gluten free dishes for my family, thanks to the amazing support of the Facebook group thats supporting this program. Yesterday I ran out of time to cook, and resorted to an old standard– linguini with vodka cream sauce…something that needs 5 ingredients and can be cooked in 20min. But luckily I had quinoa, sautéed spinach and mushrooms and pan-seared chicken breast finished in the oven- but of course like any cook, I had to taste the food I cooked and holy cow it was delicious! But my meal was awesome too.

Seared Ahi Tuna salad
Seared Ahi Tuna salad

Today my friend Deanne took me to lunch to celebrate my transition from W2 to 1099! I had the most delicious seared Ahi tuna salad with mixed greens, daikon sprouts, carrots and tomatoes. I made sure to eat all the tuna first and sure enough it was so filling that I couldn’t finish the salad. A-ha! My stomach is shrinking already. A week or two ago, I’d have no trouble eating the whole thing. The cleanse is working, my stomach is shrinking.

Today an interesting thing happened — I was on my way to meet with a friend in Malibu at the Starbucks in my old stomping grounds– I got my MBA at Pepperdine 13 years ago. There’s a traffic light by the school entrance where you can take a short cut to the mart by turning left but you can’t do that till after 9am. It was 8:56am, and the memory of the ticket I got for not paying attention to the time as a sleep deprived MBA student is still fresh Even 13 years later. So I crossed the light, and for not taking that shortcut I was rewarded with the beautiful vision of 6-7 deer grazing on the grass at Alumni Park. I was in the wrong lane to pull over, nevertheless I said a silent prayer of gratitude at the vision that started my morning well– my reward today for not taking a shortcut. The entire day went amazingly well. I spent time with good friends, then with my little girl alone, then with both my kids at Daphne’s. We laughed a lot today! Now I’m snuggled near my husband with the fireplace candles, watching a movie with half an eye as I write this. Life is Perfect!

Tonight i send to you my wish — I wish for you the complete peace I felt today. I wish for you the chance to stop and smell the roses or see the deer as the case may be!

Sending you you all love and light from a heart filled with love

Niki

Day 2

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I thought I would have cravings, and I thought I’d be hungry. I experienced neither today. I even felt inspired to go for a 2mile run! I’m training for that Hollywood Half Marathon on 4/5 so definitely need to get my mileage going.

5:30am – 5oz warm water with a squirt of lemon juice

7:30am – Arbonne protein powder blended with spinach, broccoli, celery, strawberries, blueberries, flaxseed, almond milk and almond butter.

11:30am – boiled egg

1:30pm – post run/lunch smoothie more of what I made for breakfast! I added in some peppermint extract for a yummy minty flavor!

4:30pm – handful almonds (I get the 50% salt ones from Trader Joes)

6:30pm – Hungarian goulash made with grass fed beef (I omit the sour cream) over quinoa with the side salad pictured here. That’s quinoa, chick peas, onion, cucumber, tomato, mint leaves, sea salt, evoo, lemon juice and avocado. My 6yo loved it too!!

7:30pm- no twizzler bite today- rather some Indian fennel candy that served my sweet tooth and also as a digestive aid.

Needless to say I’ve been drinking water enough to run to the bathroom every hour!

I’m feeling rather good about myself– I’ve started on my vitamins again– something I’d stopped taking over the break. From the discipline of minding my nutrition stems so much good stuff, I’m on top of my professional game, I feel more in control as a mom, as a wife and even as a woman. Yes it’s only day 2– but if I can keep this up- and truly embrace this lifestyle for — well, life— I can see how my family will benefit. After all you know what they say– Happy Wife, Happy Life!

Good night all!

Day 15: 30 days to fit! Down 4lb in 2 weeks

Today was step on the scale day! I have to admit I was a bit leery– after all these past few days have been not exactly as the program prescribes! I’ve had roti (gluten), cucumber raita (dairy), beer (alcohol), and even a small sliver of the delicious chocolate tart (sugar)– and believe me when I tell you– I usually HATE tarts! I don’t like the pudding texture– all gooey in my mouth– same reason I don’t like marshmallows!

Another 2lb down!! Down to 128lb! And I haven’t seen that number since my wedding 9 years ago so WOW I’m thrilled!

My son woke up at 4:45am– not as bad as 2:45am– but he wouldn’t go back to sleep– keeping a toddler quiet so the rest of the house can sleep for another hour or two was interesting to say the least! We did rather well.

Breakfast was my smoothie as usual, lunch was chicken with black eyed peas (yum btw– really turned out well!), dinner was left over salmon and 1/2 ear corn on cob! Snacks in the middle of the day were cherries, smoked almonds, a couple of Arbonne mango kiwi chews and a lot of water.

So here’s my observations for today- given that I’d not been diligent on the program for a couple days didn’t seem to matter too much– what was interesting to me was that I was very aware of my slips and also forgiving! I enjoyed everything I ate- didn’t guilt myself at all- not even for the beer! But I did do everything in moderation– way more moderation than I would usually consider moderation. Only a thin sliver of the pie- not a whole slice. Only a tablespoon of raita (cucumber yogurt) – not a whole bowl, only one roti- not 2 and no basmati rice!

My observation is that our idea of normal sizes has gotten so skewed because of everything being Grande/Venti/Supersized that our idea of moderation is what normal size should be– and so when I did real moderation– it truly was ‘smaller’ amounts and therefore didn’t derail me!

I did this program in March and went from 138lb to my pre baby weight of 130lb. Toward the end of June with all the graduation parties and July 3rd AND 4th BBQs I was up to 132lb the day I started this program. My drivers license says I’m 125lb– a weight I haven’t been since my wedding day 9 years ago (and that too because I ate every last bite of our scrumptious meal and cake- I only barely saw that number on the scale!).

Now the reason I’m sharing this is simply this: I feel empowered! I feel in control both emotionally, mentally and physically to do this program- one that assures me success as long as I follow it even within a modicum of diligence! I’ve made adaptations for my lifestyle! I love food too much to have so many restrictions on an ongoing basis! I want to control my food– not be controlled by it! I want to eat and drink to savor – to live- to celebrate and to love! I don’t eat to survive! I eat with all my senses– my eyes and nose even more strongly than my taste buds although those are in close third! And no way will I give up eating baguette and French Brie forever! My Belgian friends taught me a true appreciation for good Belgian ale, my husband and I developed a taste for excellent coffee and tequila together, he spoils me on BBQ that I consider world class– and apparently I can bake pretty damn well! My mother still cooks the best Indian meals on the planet! There is no way on God’s green earth that I will give up these flavors that I’ve developed memories around. I can still recall my mom’s hand feeding me my favorite ‘Dhansaak daal’ as I studied late into the night as a high schooler, I still remember where we were when Jason and I went on a tequila tasting expedition, I still have fond memories of my first few tastes of Abbey Leffe Blonde in Marseille surrounded by amazing friends, a platter of Belgian fries with mayo (not ketchup) straight out of the fryer at 3am! Baguette and Brie still reminds me of trips taken on the TGV throughout Europe 12 years ago. Nope– food isn’t just sustenance– food is memories- memories that I want to remember for a lifetime. How could I never eat those foods again?

So for me this program puts me in control- I continue to do it every now and then not because I want to disappear– honestly I’m happy with my weight and if I hadn’t lost a pound i would be fine. I’ve gotten past my identity being tied to a number on a scale way early in life. What I continue to do this for is to create habits- a lifestyle that will last forever. It takes us years of unhealthy eating to get to where we are when we are overweight and yet we expect to drop it in days/weeks/months! Nope– it will take just as long to establish a lifelong lifestyle – doing it for 30 days helps kick start it– then I fell off the wagon a few times– and knowing that I have something healthy to follow to get back to center and re-equilibriate is really awesome! It takes discipline that then flows into other areas of my life- it takes patience that I benefit from having as does my family – and it takes dedication and a never gonna quit attitude!

Finally– anyone can do anything for 30 days– and the power and control that this program gives you is liberating! You ought to try it– the only thing you have to lose is possibly inches and pounds and you have everything to gain– including energy!

Day 8: 30 days to fit – down 2lb in the first week

I’m concentrating on staying healthy, having peace, being happy, remembering what is important, taking in nature and animals, spending time reading, trying to understand the universe, where science and the spiritual meet. —Joan Jett 

Today’s Tuesday – and I haven’t written about Monday which is technically day 8! So here goes…

Yes, today was the big WEIGH IN day! And considering I had fallen slightly off the wagon on Sunday, I wasn’t looking forward to it…but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I am down 2lb! Yup!! 130lb even!!!

I made up for Sunday…

7:30am – Arbonne vanilla protein smoothie with the usual medley of fruit and vegetables – strawberries, blueberries, green beans, kale, carrots, ginger, kiwi, blended with almond milk and ice! YUMMM – had a cup of decaf coffee with 1/2 tsp turbinado and splash of soy creamer – what  I wouldn’t give for a FULL tsp of real sugar and real half n half! mmmmm 

10:00am – small apple and handful of 50% less salt almonds (thank you Trader Joes!)

12:30pm – left over Indian food – without the rice or roti that makes it a perfect meal – think Indian chicken curry soup I guess…because that’s how I was eating it…it does taking getting used to – no Indian worth their salt loving our food the way I do- would eat it the way I did…it’s bordering on blasphemy! The first meal I have after this program is complete in 21 days is an Indian meal (mom’s cooking) eaten the ‘right’ way! yes…with gluten-filled basmati white rice and glutenous whole wheat rotis! YUMMM ok, I digress.

3:00pm – Arbonne chocolate nutrition bar – with only 7g of sugar, this is a really great chocolate treat that fills me up and keeps me going till dinner time!

6:30pm – gringo tacos – no crispy corn tortilla shell for me! sigh!!! ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, jalapeno slivers, and a healthy dousing of cholula – 

8:30pm – I found these YUMMY dark chocolate nut clusters – cashews, pistachio, sea salt and 60% cacao – one is plenty – yes have you noticed I have a chocolate thing?

Ok, so week one is complete – yes it’s been a bit more challenging than I expected…this is good, because now I can speak intelligently and empathetically to my clients on the program. “Yes of course I know how hard it is Jane…I have been there myself! I promise you it gets easier! How do I know? I did the program just so that I could experience it first hand!” 

It’s 9.50pm right now, and I just want to go get something to eat, instead I will go upstairs, brush my teeth and read – or better yet, sleep while I can, since my toddler is still intent on waking at 2am for me! So I think that’s my distraction technique – go to bed, so I can’t go to the kitchen and eat instead! I also think that I am not drinking enough water – and of course, I haven’t exercised in over a month – life is such— my exercise has to happen at 6am before the house awakens – or else it doesn’t happen. There’s no way to wake up at 5.30am if you’re up at 2am for nearly an hour!

YAWN!!!

 

Day 7: 30 days to fit

There’s lots of people in this world who spend so much time watching their health that they haven’t the time to enjoy it. ~Josh Billings

Sunday yesterday and I allowed myself to ‘cheat’ — remember I didn’t drink the day before yesterday– well I was going to a beach party for a 4 year old with some of my closest friends– and the mom– my dear friend is an extraordinary event planner and baker and well pretty much everything– she’d made this incredible granita consistency rum punch that was the perfect addition to surf, sand and sun!

I compensated for my 2-3 drinks by not eating birthday cake! Strawberries, watermelon and 1/3 jersey mikes sandwich with only the bottom half of the bread rounded out my beach experience.

Thereafter we head to Staples Center to see Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey circus with the kids! $14 cotton candy, $12 popcorn and $10 peanuts!

Dinner after the show was at Lawrys – spicy beef salad!

Yes I need to weigh in- I did– I’m a day behind- I promise to catch up tomorrow! At the moment I have to catch up on much needed sleep!

Bon Nuit

Day 4: 30 days to fit

They claim red meat is bad for you. But I never saw a sick-looking tiger. ~Chi Chi Rodriguez

7:30am – Arbonne vegan vanilla protein shake with almond milk, almonds, celery, carrots, strawberries, ginger and blueberries

8:00am – décaf coffee with 1/2tsp turbinado sugar and a splash of soy creamer

12:30pm – Asian chicken salad

3:45pm- 1 small peach

7:30pm – homemade chicken curry

9:00pm – 2 dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt and turbinado

Only 20oz of water today- a super busy day training a new recruit! Yes I know– not enough especially with this weather being as hot as it is!

I REALLY wanted an icy cold Belgian ale this evening but only the fact that I had to report to you made me resist!

Thank you for reaching out to me with your comments both via email and here – it helps me stay on track and I love sharing my journey with you!