Bio-individuality

Last week I got a text from one of my college girlfriends: 

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GIRL, I HEAR YOU!

If you’ve done any sort of exploration into health and wellness you’ve probably experienced a similar sense of frustration and confusion. Whether the info comes from celebrities, friends or well known doctors, it feels like everyone is preaching a little something different when it comes to food, body and health.

While there are definitely some healthy basics MOST plans agree on (drink more water, eat more vegetables, get plenty of movement and find ways to manage your stress), the specifics vary quite a lot. And if you haven’t found the magical combination that works for you yet, it can all feel confusing and honestly overwhelming.

  • The Medical Medium swears by celery juice + high fruit diet

  • Beyonce and Jay Z went vegan and never felt better

  • But my best friend is trying out intermittent fasting and keto and has lost 14 pounds already (while eating bacon and butter!) 

  • Should I be concerned about food combining? What even is food combining?

Of all the experts and opinions, who do you listen to?

My answer might surprise you (or maybe it won’t at all if you’ve been reading some of my more recent blogs).

The best person to listen to is YOU.

I wrote back to my friend:

   Photo by Seana Pasic

Bio-individuality was one of the first principles I learned during my health coach training at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). At the time, I was {mostly} vegan and eating a lot of raw foods, mainly as a result of watching some very convincing documentaries and following health bloggers.

But even though so much I was seeing on those films and reading on those blogs told me THIS WAS THE WAY TO OPTIMAL HEALTH AND HAPPINESS, in my gut I was questioning if this was the diet for me. While some of my digestive issues felt better, I was still experiencing a lot of bloating and really strange skin issues (random rashes that would flare up on my neck and back). And more than anything else, the diet didn't feel like it fit my life.

Wait, so what is bio-individuality?

Bio-individuality means that no one diet works for everyone. Each and every person has unique needs.

Just like we all have different styles in fashion, music and movies, we also intuitively understand, on a very deep level, that one person's perfect food is another person's poison. 

Learning this concept at IIN completely changed the way I looked at food, and ultimately, how I coach and teach, not just about food but about everything.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to health.

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A vegan diet may be great for your sister, but makes you feel bloated and hangry. Your BFF may have trouble with gluten and dairy, but when you’re honest about it, they seem to work just fine for you (lucky you!). You may run fine without grains, but your hubby NEEDS them at every meal.

We’re all different, and that’s okay.

During my studies at IIN, I learned over 100 different dietary theories (yes, there are over 100 different diets out there that are popular enough to be taught at the world’s largest nutrition school).

When a client (or, in this case, a friend) comes to me feeling overwhelmed with the wellness world and confused about how to eat, I don’t automatically put them on any one diet. Instead we work together to figure out what balance works best for their body, and their LIFE. Maybe that’s ketogenic or raw or Ayurvedic, or maybe it’s a combination of all three of these.

My ultimate goal when working with clients 1:1 is to provide them with the tools and support they need to listen to their own intuitive food voice. To find their version of a balanced diet. And to have practices for checking in with themselves so that their plan can adapt to life as it changes over time.

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Whether you’re feeling lost when it comes to food, or are simply looking to further improve your personal choices, here’s an exercise you can do today: 

Take out a blank piece of paper and write down the following questions:

What’s ONE thing I’m currently eating or doing that I know makes me feel amazing?

What’s ONE thing I’m currently eating or doing that I know doesn’t serve me?

Take a few minutes to write out your answers to each of these questions. If you’re feeling stumped, that’s okay! Sit with it a little longer, or maybe come back to it when you have a bit more time to think it over.



From my experience, most of us know what we need to be doing more or less of, but often that intuition gets drowned out by other people’s opinions, or simply the busy-ness of our day-to-day lives.



It doesn't matter how many years of work you've done with food and body - there's always going to be something that could shift. Our bodies, lives and circumstances change and therefore our habits must change too.



So right in this moment: what's your ONE thing that you know needs to change? And how can you (lovingly, compassionately) support yourself in making that change?

Write this down for yourself, or better yet, leave a comment below and let me know.

Want more support with this? I have one coaching spot opening up in November. If you're looking to dive deeper into your intuitive food voice and strengthen your self-care practices, click here to apply to work with me 1:1. Even if you're not sure if coaching is for you right now, the application is a great exercise in reflection and getting clear on your own goals.

Tarot 101: What it is, what it isn't and why I LOVE it

It's been over a year since I started using and reading tarot cards - at first this was just something I did for fun, but pretty quickly tarot has become an integral part of both my self care practice AND my business.

Today's blog post has been brewing for some time. I've wanted to share more about tarot - share my story and why I think these little cards are amazing, but also clarify what these cards are NOT.

     

My tarot story

If you had asked me just over a year ago what I thought of tarot cards I probably would've shrugged my shoulders (and maybe even rolled my eyes). I didn't have any experience with tarot outside of how it's portrayed in the media: cards being read by turban wearing psychics who's eyes roll back into their heads when they're getting messages from the world beyond.

While I DO believe in energy and that there is SO much more to the world than what we can see with our eyes and rationalize with our brains, I've never been one to believe in someone who can predict the future. Even through my more recent experiences with oracles and energy healers the past year (I promise I will be sharing more about these soon!!) I still think that the future is up to us here in the present.

All that being said, I was skeptic when my friend Erika pulled out a deck of spirit animal cards during a weekend getaway last summer. Skeptic, but open (basically my motto for life these days ha!). We ended reading cards and talking about life for over 3 hours - sure, she knows me well but the cards allowed our conversation to go places and talk about things we likely wouldn't have on our own.

 

 

THIS is why I fell in love with and continue to use tarot:
the cards are a beautiful and REAL way to reflect.

 

WHY I LOVE TAROT

The tarot cards allow us to ask ourselves questions and open up the conversation around things we are dealing with in our lives, whether that's something we're conscious of (impending job change, a relationship, etc) or something that's more under the surface (belief systems, fears, patterns of behavior).

The cards definitely have a dark side - it's not all rainbows and butterflies, which I appreciate because life isn't all rainbows and butterflies. There's struggle, challenge, pain and discomfort along with joy, magic, peace and happiness. The tarot encourages us to look at it ALL - feel the feelings, learn the lessons and move forward.

I also love tarot because it allows me to connect to my intuition. I must listen to that inner voice when I decide what sort of spread to pull and how to interpret the cards that come up. It's been a really cool process learning to trust my intuition more and more through readings.

And while I do believe there is magic in the cards, I do not believe tarot cards can predict the future. I think the power is in YOUR interpretation  - what YOU hear and feel and see during your reading, and how that facilitates self-reflection, insight and, ultimately, action.

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Where did tarot originate?

The tarot originated sometime in the 15th century in various parts of Europe when a special deck of cards with additional trump cards with allegorical illustrations were added to the common four-suit pack.

The original purpose of tarot cards was to play games, and while some link tarot readings back to ancient Egypt and the Kabbalah, the first documented use of the cards for divination purposes wasn't until the late 18th century.

From there, the mystical tarot spread in popularity - likely through the upper classes of society - and different decks were created throughout the world.

 

HOW IS A TAROT DECK DIFFERENT FROM A DECK OF PLAYING CARDS?

Like common playing cards, the tarot has four suits (which vary by deck and by region). Each suit has 14 cards: ace through 10 and then four court cards (King, Queen, Knight and Jack, or like in my deck Father, Mother, Son and Daughter). These cards are known as "The Minor Arcana" (Latin for lesser secrets).

In addition, the tarot has 22 more cards known as "The Major Arcana" (Latin for greater secrets). These cards are said to be more powerful or more energetic than the other cards in the deck.

 

What exactly is a tarot reading?

A tarot reading is when you have one or more cards drawn from the deck and interpreted for you. There are an infinite number of tarot "spreads" - different configurations of cards drawn to address questions or areas of your life.

The most popular spreads I use in my readings are:

  • Single Card / 1 card - Great for beginners, and for a simple message. I often draw a Single Card spread in the morning or before beginning a big project for one card of guidance or inspiration.
  • Clarity Spread / 4 cards - To provide clarity on a specific situation. One card in the spread represents the situation itself, the other three cards provide clarity and insight.
  • Relationship Spread / 5 cards - To provide guidance on a specific relationship (can be done with another person, or with respect to your relationship with self/a project/a hypothetical person). In this spread each of the cards represents something: you, your challenge, the other person, their challenge and the uniting factor.

You can also have more involved spreads such as a Year Ahead spread or the fairly well known Celtic Cross spread. The person reading your cards will likely pick the spread (most readers have a few they prefer to work with) or ask you if there's something specific you'd like to address in the reading, and then choose the spread accordingly. Most tarot decks come with guidebooks with recommended spreads for you to experiment with.

A reading will typically start with the reader asking you to provide a bit more background on the situation, relationship or question that you have. He or she will then draw the cards and provide an interpretation, and there will be time for discussion and reflection.

 

Which deck do i choose?

If you're interested in playing with the cards yourself, you're first step will be to purchase a deck, which should come with a corresponding guide book to help you learn how to read and interpret the cards.

There are many, many tarot decks out there these days. The most important thing when choosing a deck is to pick one that resonates or speaks to you. Go to a mystical bookstore or crystal shop and browse through the decks - look at the art, flip through the guidebook and read some of the card interpretations. Use your intuition here and go with what your gut says YES to.

 

 

This is the deck I use: The Wild Unknown by Kim Krans.

 

Booking a reading

If this post has you curious what it's like to experience a tarot reading - you're in luck! I currently offer 1:1 readings over the internet and am available for small group gatherings and events in NYC!

 

 

1:1 readings - Click here for details + pricing!
Groups and events - Contact me for details!
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As always, I LOVE hearing from you (really, I do!!) and I'd especially love to hear your thoughts about tarot - have you tried it? are you open to trying it? what's your experience (or your resistance) to the cards?
Leave a comment below and let me know!

The best advice I received recently

Recently my gut has not been happy.

By recent I mean things haven't been quite right the past year, but the last few months I've been in a LOT more pain and discomfort. I tried to "fix" things myself - eliminating different foods, taking supplements, trying this and that healing diet, meditating more, doing more yoga - but nothing seemed to help. At all.

Which left me feeling frustrated, annoyed that I couldn't figure this out myself and honestly pretty angry at my body. Here I was eating so much healthier and being so much more careful with what I consumed than so many people, yet I was still in so much pain.

So I finally asked for help.

I went to see a GI and he's been sorta helpful. He ran some tests and suggested I give the low FODMAP diet a serious try, which I've been doing with some success.

But the best (and most surprising) advice I received around my current gut stuff came from Robyn.

We work together closely so she's seen me going through all of this.

 

 

After a particularly bad week I lamented TO HER:
"I'm tired of having to care about every little thing I eat. I'm tired of being more sensitive than everyone else. I just want to be normal."
Robyn's response?

"You ARE normal Emily.

There's just this one piece of you that needs a little extra care and attention right now."

 

She went on to suggest that I think of this piece of me (my gut!) like a baby and that I (the rest of me) needed to care for, protect and love this piece of me like a mother fiercely cares for, protects and loves her child.

This simple advice totally shifted my perspective.

First, I realized I was blowing things out of proportion.

Yes, my gut has been unhappy but my energy, my sleep, my skin, my mood and so much more have been good (for the most part). I'm not totally broken, there's just one piece of me that needs some extra support right now.

Second, it gave me a new way to look at my gut and how I needed to take care of it.

How does a mother treat a crying newborn baby? Well most often she tries to soothe the baby and would do anything in her power to find out what her baby needs to stop crying - out of fierce love, not just to quiet the cries (although I haven't been a parent and can guess that sometimes you do just want to quiet the cries...but that's not the point here).

 

 

Instead of being angry at my digestive system and avoiding certain foods as punishment, I'm looking at my gut like a little baby that I need to care for, love and protect like a mother would CARE FOR A SICK OR HURT child.

 

This shift has been profound for me.

Part of being an adult is learning to "grow up" - most of us are taught that we should get a job, pay our bills and be a law-abiding citizen, but there's more. Emotionally we must learn to take care of ourselves from a deep sense of self love. How (I assume) a mother or father feels for a new born baby. Unwavering, unapologetic, protective.

No matter how many loving parents, grandparents, siblings, partners, friends you have in your life, YOU must be your own best caretaker.

You must learn how to nurture, soothe and protect yourself, both physically and emotionally.

At 30 years old, even after a wonderful childhood and years of personal development, this is something I'm just learning. While there are still days where I feel frustrated with my gut for being bloated after one bite of gluten or having a stomachache so painful all I can do is curl up in a ball on my bed, I'm grateful for the piece of me for ultimately being my biggest teacher.

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Is there an area of your life or health that could use some unconditional love? A piece of you that maybe, like me and my gut, has been a point of prolonged pain, discomfort or chronic illness?

How can show that piece of you more care and love? Instead of judging, shaming and trying to fix yourself, how can you be your own best parent and nurture yourself?

<3 <3 <3

What even is Mercury Retrograde?

A few funny things happened to me recently:

  • Someone who I haven't been in touch with in years randomly popped back into my life (in a this-is-too-weird-to-be-just-coincidence way)
  • My wireless headphones stopped working out of the blue
  • As a sat down to write this blog post, I wasn't able to log on to my website hosting platform, email server or even access the internet (although it was working fine on my phone).

Sure, all of the these are just small deviations from the norm, and when taken apart I could think nothing of them. But together (and with what I know about the planets!) I couldn't help but see the wheels of Mercury Retrograde in motion.

Some of you may have heard of Mercury Retrograde. Others of you may be like "What on Earth is this girl talking about??" Depending on how much you believe in astrology stuff you may be open or skeptical in learning more about this astrological event - which is totally fine.

Today I'm going to be sharing more about WHAT Mercury Retrograde is, why you needn't freak out about it and how you can actually utilize this period to your advantage.

As I've disclaimed before, I am by no means an astrology expert. I'm simply someone who's interested, who's done some research and questioning herself and who wants to share what I've learned in the most digestible and useful way possible.

Let's get started!

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What is mercury Retrograde?

As a refresher, Mercury is the planet closet to the sun - closer to the sun than our planet Earth.

When a planet is in retrograde, it appears to move backwards (east to west rather than west to east) across the sky. The planet really ISN’T moving backward, but much like two trains or cars passing each other at different speeds, this creates the optical illusion that one is going backward.

A year on Mercury is shorter than a year on Earth (88 Earth days compared to 365), which means Mercury circles the sun 4 times in the time it takes us to finish one solar loop. A few times a year, Mercury passes the Earth in its orbit. As it rounds the bend, Mercury slows down and appears to stop (station) and spin backward (retrograde).

Why do people freak out about it?

Mercury is said to rule all types of communication, including listening, speaking, learning, reading, editing, researching, negotiating, selling, and buying. Mercury also rules formal agreements and contracts such as term papers, deeds, contracts, leases, wills, etc.

In our modern day and age, communication is also heavily linked to technology (hence my headphones and internet malfunctions) and travel.

That being said, this can be a time where normal business (both work business and personal business) feels a little haywire. Your significant other may misinterpret your text message. An email may get lost. Phones, computers, and other technology may not function properly. Travel may be delayed or trips even cancelled.

This is why people freak out. Mercury Retrograde can be a tough time to connect with others and communicate, which is why it's not the best time to launch something, make big commitments or enter into new deals. There's usually a disconnect between what you're trying to say or get across, and what the other person or people are hearing.

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How can I use the energy of Mercury retrograde to my advantage?

Retrograde periods offer us a chance to slow down and reflect on certain parts of our life.

Accordingly to Astrostyle.com:

Don’t start anything new. Focus on activities that start with the prefix “re-,” which means to go back. Review all your contracts before you sign. Renew your commitments, rather than making new ones. Prepare to repeat yourself often. Reunite with old friends, redecorate a room, rekindle a romance.

In addition, Mercury Retrograde is a great opportunity to handle unfinished business. Wrap up loose ends and finish projects you've started to clear up energetic space for new, future endeavors.

How long will it last?

The current Mercury Retrograde lasts from July 26th, 2018 until August 19th, 2018.

If you can, schedule some time to reflect and go in during this period so that you can come out the other side with more clarity and energetic space moving into the future.

 

 

Have you experienced Mercury retrograde in any of the ways discussed in this blog post?
Share with us all in the comments below!

My mantra for this summer

I've been into watching Grey's Anatomy recently, which may come as a surprise for to some of you - I've never been a big TV person, but the last year or so I've gotten into different Netflix or HBO series that I can watch on my computer, on my own time.

At first I just wanted something to occupy me while I was sweating in my infrared sauna, but I've started to enjoy the routine of watching a show and allowing my brain to wind down from the day.

 

 

Side note: I know many people numb out on TV, and while I'm definitely not immune to that, I'm starting to believe that watching a good series can also be a healing and meditative experience... I for one have had MANY "aha" moments while binging on Sex and The City and Grey's, but I'll save that conversation for another blog post ;)

 

Anyways, during an episode of Grey's (at least I THINK it was an episode of Grey's...) the narrator started going on about how life is not a race, how there's no prize for getting through it the fastest, there's no way to "win" it.

And for some reason it really hit me while watching that episode (see what I told you about TV being a space for aha moments?): There's really no rush.

Time is a funny thing - usually we talk about how time flies when we're having fun, how we don't have enough of it, how we're racing against the clock. Because our thoughts and words color how we experience reality, we then end up packing our schedules, racing from thing to thing, and stressing about not being able to fit in what's important to us.

 

 

What if we took off the pressure to "do it all" and simply focused on doing a few things that we truly enjoyed?
Instead of trying to get through our entire to-do lists, what if we concentrated on completing the ONE thing that mattered most?

 

My mantra for this summer is: SLOW DOWN.

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Maybe you (like me) are guilty of wanting to do it all. I want to travel the world, have a successful career, run a marathon and master a handstand, meet the love of my life and have cute babies. All before I'm 35 (used to be 30, but that ship has sailed...).

You don't win if you get through life the quickest, and there's no prize for checking off milestones or accomplishments before everyone else.

So this summer I'm leaning into the art of doing less. I'm making fewer plans and allowing myself time to get bored. To decorate my apartment. To read a novel (or five). To call my friends. To lay in bed a little longer than I think I should. To watch the sunset.

Here are a few practical tips to embracING the summer slow down:

  1. Prioritize and downsize your to-do list. I use an online task management system and dump all my to-dos in there. Each day I focus on 1 or 2 important tasks to complete from the list.
  2. Allow buffer time. Instead of leaving for work (or a meeting, or an appointment, or yoga class) with just enough time to spare, give yourself some "buffer." Not only will this extra time mean that you're not rushing, you may even have a few minutes to wander, window shop, call your mom, or just breath.
  3. Meditate. Seriously though, this is the easiest way to shift your perspective around time and approach your day with a more grounded, calm mindset. Even one minute helps.
  4. Streamline your online time. Give yourself windows of time when you'll be online (whether that's responding to emails and text messages, or posting to Instagram), and then resist the urge to get online outside of those windows. Social media and email can be huge time sucks if you're not mindful about how you use them.
  5. Turn your phone off. I usually put my phone on airplane mode an hour or two before bedtime, but also when I have an important project to finish or when I'm spending time with friends, or in nature. It's nice to not be reachable for a little bit :)
 Airplane mode is your new BFF.

Airplane mode is your new BFF.

Practicing these tips are helping me change my go go go reflex. It's not always easy, but it's happening. I'm slowing down and it feels pretty darn good.