Tag Archives: exercise

If I Were a Bell, I’d Be Ringing!

That’s how I feel about holding little Electra in my arms finally. She made us wait for her–according to our dates, she arrived at 43 weeks, longer by other estimates! She was born at home in our bedroom in water, just as I had hoped she would be. As she is my third and last child, I’m so grateful to have had the experience of a home birth with her.

I must have been pretty loud because our neighbors below and above us called down to the doorman asking if they should call the police (they thought I was being murdered). The doorman let them know that I was just giving birth. They replied, “Gosh, she must be in a lot of pain.” I was. It was a 20-hour labor and far more grueling than I expected, given the fact that I am fit and strong and was at home in my sacred space. But never mind the pain – it was a textbook home birth that otherwise went along utterly safely and smoothly. My 5-star birthing team included my amazing husband, who was hard a work putting pressure on my lower back to counter the searing pain for hours at a time without a break; my doula, Kassie Anderson*, who coached and guided me all the way though (even when I didn’t think I could go on), and my brilliant midwife, Miriam Schwartschild.**

Weighing in at 7 pounds, 14 ounces (nearly 8 pounds), Electra was my biggest baby. Thanks to the water birth and great midwifery support, miraculously, her 26-cm head circumference and broad shoulders didn’t tear me a bit. With my smaller babies (Thandi and Tommy were both just 6.5 pounds) I required several stitches each. I delivered my other two “on land.”

Despite the intensity and duration of the labor, the baby’s heart rate remained steady the entire time and she emerged without incident (no cord issues or other fetal concerns that can be concerning at a home birth). I appreciate all the risks involved with a home birth (of course, to my mind, they are outweighed by the risks of a hospital birth–though not everyone would agree with me here), but it was a great feeling to see nature take her course in this way and deliver so smoothly. I will never forget the feeling of “catching” my own baby. My husband and I, both in the water together, reached down and brought her into the world together–the two sets of hands that conceived her received her.

We have spent the following days blissfully connected with the baby, as if we’ve been wrapped up in divine energy. It’s a love high unlike any other. I can’t help but think that if everyone could experience how hard it is to birth a new life into the world and how exquisite it feels to exchange this love energy with one’s baby, no one would ever dream of taking a life. Reverence for life would be the core purpose of our lives, and would thus usher in the fabled Golden Age of mankind, rectifying every suffering!

My Pregnancy Regimen

I promised to write about my pregnancy regimen, so I’ll share it briefly with you now. It was pretty simple, really–mostly what I do when I’m not pregnant with some additional things.

As always, I started my days with a good dose of exercise. That’s my first fuel–chi! Then, after lots of pure spring water, around noon I would drink about 32 ounces of green juice. I’d feast on fresh fruits throughout the afternoon as desired, either whole or blended into a smoothie, or both. The fresh fruits were the best part: a couple of cantaloupes followed by honeycrisp apples and bananas or loads of pineapple and pineapple-banana-berry smoothies with bee pollen and fresh orange juice. During the daytime, my intake was all water-containing sweet fruits.

In the evening, I would shift to vegetables, starting off with an antipasto of raw sweet potato slices, my favorite Castlevetrano and Ceringnola olives, and baked beets. I would follow that with anything from my favorite goat cheese salads (the hard raw goat cheeses are fine during pregnancy, but not the soft ones), baked sweet potatoes, or some of the fish I’d made for my husband. Unlike in my non-pregnant regimen, I did include some grains during pregnancy if I wanted them in the evening, in the form of Alvarado Street Bakery sprouted-grain bread (with organic butter and honey), Ak-Mak crackers (my pregnancy favorite), and the Kashi chocolate-chip cookies. I enjoyed Laloo’s goat’s milk ice cream in chocolate, vanilla, and cappuccino pretty much every night–but oddly, I lost the taste for chocolate during the pregnancy. That was a surprise!

My Colon Cleansing Routine During Pregnancy

From the day I found out I was pregnant to the day I delivered, my colon cleansing routine was as shameless as it is when I am not pregnant. But please be advised that colon cleansing in the form of colonics or enemas is ordinarily contraindicated during pregnancy. It is advised only for the few pregnant women who utilize colonics regularly for an extended time prior to becoming pregnant. Even then, colon cleansing must be done with expert care. I had had plenty of experience with colonics during my previous pregnancy, so I felt very secure continuing my routine. I did inform all my caregivers (midwives, back-up doctor, and doula) about my cleansing rituals and dietetic protocol. To my surprise, they were all perfectly comfortable with me doing everything I was doing. My back-up doctor even had a half-empty Organic Avenue green juice on his desk. The times, they are a changin’!

Avoiding Induction with a Post-term Baby

One of the biggest challenges was being post-term. While normal-term pregnancy is 38-42 weeks, in America most doctors want to induce the mother after 40 weeks and insist upon it by 41 weeks. Even if I had planned on giving birth in the birthing center as I had done with my son, they would have insisted I switch to the labor and delivery ward by 41 weeks, and even then I would still have been required to induce. I would have had no chance of a natural birth under those conditions!

By contrast, my midwife was totally relaxed about my term. She delivers many babies at 42 and 43 weeks and they are perfectly normal. Usually, the sonogram dates, conception dates, or ovulation dates are off and the “post-term” baby is actually right on time. I did my research and learned a great deal about this issue. In the end, I took every precaution and had the baby monitored once every 3 to 4 days to ensure my fluid levels were high (this is the best indicator of whether a baby is doing fine after 42 weeks, and my fluids were great) and I paid close attention to baby’s movement (she was my most active baby by far; she was doin’ the bunny hop pretty much all the time!). The doctors who evaluated these check-ups would tell me the baby looked perfectly well inside (one told me I’d made too good a home for her) but in the same breath would add if I were their patient, they would induce me that night. I made it through a few of these evaluations, and then the baby finally decided it was her moment.

On the festive Jewish holiday of Purim and during an enormous full moon, Electra made her way at 2:04 a.m. on March 8th. Did she show signs of being post-term? Not at all. She was coated in vernix, which would not have been the case if she’d been post-term. Post-term babies are also very wrinkly, which she was not at all. At just shy of 8 pounds, she wasn’t small, but neither was she a gigantic or overripe. Nor had she passed meconium–another hallmark of a post-mature baby. In the end, I know we all just want a healthy baby, but it may be that far too many mothers are being induced, resulting in babies who are not getting all the time they need in utero and taking away their right to their natural moment of birth. Even though I was getting impatient and my husband was getting concerned, I’m glad I had a patient, knowing midwife who kept reminding me my baby would come when she was ready.

My Nursing Diet

As I’ve transitioned to post partum and nursing, my diet is basically a grain-free version of my pregnancy diet. I’m not able to exercise yet, but I have been able to use the sauna again, so I’m starting my day with a great deep infrared sweat and shower to get the chi flowing. Then 32 to 48 ounces of green juice followed by juicy fruits (mostly navel oranges, Anjou pears, and Fuji apples right now, but I’ll be going for spring nectarines and peaches pretty soon!). My favorite nursing dinner is a real milk factory–it’s so simple and delicious, anyone can enjoy it: 10 ounces of baby (or regular organic) spinach, wilted in a bit of water and topped with 3 to 4 ounces of goat feta. It’s surprisingly delicious and so clean. You can add a few tablespoons of your favorite marinara sauce if you like. That’s it.

Please let me know if you have any questions I haven’t answered. I have lots more to share with you on other subjects–epiphanies and leaps of consciousness that I know you’ll find inspiring and helpful as you continue to experience your own leaps–but I wanted to send this out first.

Thank you all once again for your generous love and support. Here’s to ushering in the Golden Age together!

Love,
Natalia

*Kassie Anderson, Doula: 917-312-3110

**Miriam Schwartzchild, Midwife: 917-589-9725

ADDENDUM:

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to add a little addendum to the pregnancy/birth blog per your questions…herewith:

1. My Pre-natal Exercise Routine

I relished my exercise time from the first day to the last day of my pregnancy. It gave me a wonderful sense of strength and energy. While I was careful not to over exert myself, somedays I had to hold myself back because the chi flow was so strong and with my tunes on my playlist I could easily rock out the way I would if I wasn’t pregnant. I would drop my kids off at school and head to the gym where I’d jump on the elliptical trainer for 40 minutes.

I rode my bike all summer at the beach but once I got to a certain point (around 5 months pregnant), I realized my balance probably wasn’t ideal; add to that the dangers of biking in Manhattan and I realized, sadly, it was time to put my bike into storage until the spring. Since I couldn’t rebound either (the verdict is out as to whether rebounding is okay while pregnant but it didn’t feel intuitively right to me) and since running also felt intuitively wrong to me (thought I know some runners swear by it during pregnancy), I was left me with non-impact cardio which I would only find at the gym. I hadn’t been to a gym in over 12 years so it was awkward at first to return to that environment — all the people, noise, television screens flashing…I got into the groove and made it fun! I’m happy to report that I’m back on my rebounder now and I’ll soon hop back on my beloved bicycle!

While pre-natal yoga and pilates are popular, they didn’t appeal to me this time around. Like running and other impact sports, pilates and any exercises that focused on working the core also felt intuitively wrong to me during pregnancy.

2. What became of the placenta?

My Doula, Kassie Anderson, skillfully washed and prepared my placenta immediately following the birth. She brought me placenta and fruit smoothie in bed within a half hour of giving birth and I can affirm first hand that it transformed me — I was over exerted and pale and, while blissed out from love hormones and holding my baby, I was physically beat from the 20 hour labor. A few big mouthfuls of placenta later (Mmmm — surprisingly it tasted fine, watery and kind of fruity actually but I know you probably won’t beleive me) and bingo, my color and energy were restored!

Kassie placed a portion in the fridge for me to benefit from over the next three days (which I did) and the rest was placed in the freezer. The remainder will be turned into capsules and a tincture by my placenta expert, Lisa Fortin (contact info below) which I can take as needed. Apparently, the tincture is also great for the baby should she be fussy or unwell.

3. Regarding Vaccines

The decision over whether or not to vaccinate your children is a big one, and often brings with it conflicting beliefs among family members. I recommend listening to the interview with Holistic Pediatrician, Dr. Palevsky. You can find the full audio on Life Force Families, here.

Another great resource is the recent film, “The Greater Good.”

4. The Best of the Best of Homebirth Practitioners:

If you are considering homebirth and you live in or around New York City, I HIGHLY recommend my Doula, Midwife and placenta expert. Here are their contact details:

Doula – Kassie Anderson – 917-312-3110

Midwife – Miriam Schwartzchild – 917-589-9725

Placenta Contact – Lisa Fortin – 646-260-5595, www.placentahealingartsnyc.com

We are planning on creating a directory for doulas and midwives and other critical home birth resources. Please stay tuned on Lifeforcefamilies.com.

Once again, thank you all so much for your encouragement, kind words and loving energy. I wish you all every happiness!

Love,
Natalia

 


Something-O-Rexia This Way Comes: An Audio Interview with Macha Einbender

I hope you enjoy this radio interview I did today with Macha on orthorexia and other topics.
http://www.byoaudio.com/play/WqRrqjGs

Something-O-Rexia this Way Comes: An Audio Interview with Macha Einbender

Discussed in this Audio:
* Origins of eating disorders
* New categorization of disordered eating
* How to center yourself before emotionally eating
* Sacred daily rituals for success including:
* Ideal exercise scenarios and eating habits
* The experience of releasing stored waste matter: how our cells get clean

Quotable Quotes in audio:
* “This is not about diet; it is about consciousness. But we can’t get to a state of consciousness if we are living in a body filled with accumulated waste matter.” – Natalia
* “It is not the food that is creating the shift in life experience; it is the absence of non-life-generating substances, the removal of waste matter, and the openness in the body that that brings that creates this.” – Natalia
I’ve been dedicating my writing time to Part IV of Emotional Eating S.O.S., Practical Applications. As soon as that’s completed, I’ll blog more! There’s so much I want to share, but springtime is so irresistible (the computer, not so much)!

I hope to see some new faces and “regulars” at Detox Walks tomorrow morning. It’s meant to be a gorgeous, sunny day!

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Love to you all,
Natalia

 


Go Native, Not Neurotic!

This morning, I just took my first exercise class in probably a decade. My beloved, adorable, oldest childhood friend recommended it (bless her heart) and convinced me to go. Even in the middle of winter, I still make a point of trekking through Central Park on foot or bike almost every day, but the weather conditions have been particularly challenging this week.

On the brochure, the profile of a young, tiny, firm buttock gracing the cover promised a worthwhile time investment. The place was close by, and offered lots of attractive amenities, so I thought, why not, it could be nice to shake things up—I might even learn something new.

The class was described as a blend of Pilates, Lotte Berk, yoga, and ballet. Images of finely whittled torso leaping across the floor in grand jetés came to mind. I dropped the kids off at school and made my way through the fifteen or so blocks of headwinds to the Madison Avenue location. That walk would turn out to be the most effective part of the excursion.

But before I continue, I should mention that I generally stay out of gyms and exercise classes for a few reasons:

1. Fresh air is essential. I place a premium on fresh air, especially when it is high in negative ions; in New York, that means in the winter, fall, and spring. The indoor lifestyle requires city dwellers to take as much time outdoors as possible. Maximize your daily intake of new, clean air with long walks, jogs, ice-skating, skiing, biking, outdoor yoga, martial arts, team sports, or whatever else gets you breathing deeply outdoors. The more time you spend outdoors and the more deeply you breathe, the more you bathe your cells in freshly charged air and revitalize your body.

The fresh air factor is gravely overlooked in the exercise class and “gym rat” culture. Without a regular bath of simple, negative-ionic-charged air, the cells will get sluggish, weak, and prone to the mutations of free-radical damage from stagnation and acidity. A brisk walk for an hour outside in the fresh air will always beat an indoor exercise class. This is also why it’s so important to sleep with the windows open—to renew the blood with oxygen to maximize the benefits of sleep.

2. I have far better alternatives. I’ve got my feet and my bike. Sometimes, I can even get to a tennis court or a mountain or a beach. (Next week, I’ll be in Jackson, Wyoming, stocking up on mountain air). At home I have my rebounder, and when the mood strikes, I can move all the furniture and dance my heart out. Yes, the body has to move every day, but we need to know how to move it without someone telling us what leg to lift when and how many times! I’ve studied yoga and dance for years and strongly believe that they should be learned not as ends unto themselves, so one can take classes from here to eternity, but so one can learn how to use and move one’s own body. You have a body. Master it. These disciplines can offer guidance so you don’t make mistakes of alignment. But then take what you know and own your moves!

Learning to master your body is not something we should even have to be taught. It’s basic and intuitive, though the right guidance can certainly accelerate the learning process and help prevent injury. Owning our bodies, rather than just blindly entrusting them to exercise instructors year after year, is yet another aspect of our life education that is undervalued and overlooked.

3. Gyms and exercise classes are hotbeds for self-loathing. Gym-goers constantly compare themselves to each other and either hate or worship what they see in the mirror. Either way, their physical self-esteem is dictated by the mirror or the eyes of others. I often forget that women especially are vulnerable to this competitive reflex, because in the detox lifestyle it tends to dissolve. But the moment I step into a gym—BAM!—I’m reminded of all the bad feelings that keep everyone pounding away on the machines. In my experience, I find gyms and exercise classes to be unhealthy for the mind and self-esteem.

4. They depress me. Gyms carry a heavy air of disappointment and resignation. Women especially are chronically disappointed with the results, yet resigned to spending hours of their lives in exercise classes in hopes of eventually feeling better about their bodies—or at least maintaining the status quo. They follow regiments that will never give them the body they want, but they do it anyway because they don’t know what else to do.

5. They frustrate me.
 Gyms remind me of all the people who need help but are beyond my reach. I wish I could emancipate them from their old, useless patterns. While I already have wonderful clients who inspire me every day, I need only go to a gym to see that there are still masses of people who are still stuck in the caged mentality. Meanwhile, they look terrible—you can see it in the way they are retaining water, in the puffiness and dark circles around their eyes, in the lines and weight in their faces (not to mention elsewhere) that indicate struggling livers and kidneys. In short, their blood chemistry is way out of whack, yet they keep attending their exercise classes and slathering on expensive creams and makeup.

6. The music is bad. What more do I have to say?

But today, I went to this exercise class with an open mind. I was looking forward to lifting, reaching, and twisting my torso, moving my body in elegant, fluid movements, tuning into my core power. I enjoy engaging my body’s strength and flexibility and remembering the importance of good posture, a nimble spine, and an open center.

This class didn’t offer anything remotely like what I was hoping for. For all its popularity among Upper East Side women (think The Nanny Diaries types), there was nothing modern or evolved about it. As I said to my husband, it could have been 1983 with Olivia Newton John on the speakers and Jane Fonda calling out the moves. In fact, that would have been more fun and more effective—and the music would have been better!

I lost heart about twenty minutes into the class. The moves were not even intuitive, let alone evolved. For an hour we were asked to move in ways that made the body more tense, more in need of correction! This class was an unnecessary stress all around.

I thought back to the cover of the brochure, with its promise of a tight, tiny set of buttocks. Then I looked around the room at the women who seemed to be regulars. I don’t mean this in a catty way at all, just as an observation in light of the advertising: no one had a good figure (really, not a single one among thirty women, not even the teacher).

Here’s the thing. That image on the brochure, were it not so obviously photo-shopped, could only belong to a more evolved type of human, one who lives in harmony with the natural world like a “native”—not a Manhattan socialite or any member of the “civilized” race over age thirteen. You cannot have a set of buttocks like that unless you’re living like a native or you share a gene pool with one!

So here are all these women looking for sleek, fit bodies, trying desperately to fight the clock. They are gathered for an hour of agony with all their accumulated intestinal waste matter and corresponding gas pressure and water retention. They suck in their cores and lift their legs five dozen times in a variety of movements for sixty minutes, but they are never going to get anywhere. They’ll go for a ladies lunch over grilled hormone (I mean “chicken”) salads and decaf cappuccinos and be back again later that week, or the very next day, to suck in their stomachs and contract their muscles again. They’ll sign up for another series of classes and rush to make it on time, grabbing a protein bar on the way.

They’ll hate every second of it (this class was not remotely enjoyable) and they’ll still hate their bodies when they strip their impeccably tailored designer pants off their legs and stand in front of the mirror. What they will not get from this class or the lifestyle that goes with it is that set of buttocks advertised on the brochure, or that wonderful innocence of sometimes forgetting you have a body when you feel so good in your skin.

The way I understand it, this class is booked up on the hour, every hour, every day. This is what these women—who are supposedly in the know on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and who can afford anything—do with their resources. (Why on earth aren’t they calling Doris for food delivery, drinking veggie juice, and eliminating all that accumulation through a colonic tube? But who am I to suggest such a thing?!)

As I was pulling my things out of my locker, I overheard a couple of the women discussing the many businesses they’ve created and successfully sold. These are not a bunch of dim gals. It would be easy to pigeonhole this group as brainless ladies who lunch and shop—but no, these are highly educated, ambitious entrepreneurs and executives between the ages of 25 and 60. Yet, for all their higher learning, they know nothing about how to care for their bodies.

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Sometimes I feel like a puma pacing around in a circus cage. We live in the Big, Bad Apple, which I both love and hate. Half the time, I’m in love with this city; the rest of the time, I find myself looking out, hands clenched around the bars, praying for escape (especially around this time of year, when my kids are climbing the walls!).

So I take laps around Central Park, and I find ways to keep myself connected with my center so I don’t hurl myself against the cage and hurt myself. But it is a cage, nonetheless, and not a place for either a puma or a human.

However, on days like today I realize that my cage is not what it used to be. I sometimes forget that people still beat themselves up mentally and physically in search of a better life experience in their bodies. I used to live in a cage like that, a cage of unfulfilled promises.

Yes, I’m still in a kind of cage; I still move within a culture that is a threat and affront to the human spirit. My cage still makes the cherished untamable part of me hugely resentful at times. But my cage is not what it was ten years ago. I’m not in a supermax lockdown prison like I was during the first twenty years of my life. Today, it’s more like what in penitentiary lingo is called “pre-release.”

As I suffered through the remaining forty-five minutes of class, reluctant to put my body through some of these unnatural maneuvers, I couldn’t help thinking: It’s such a pity. Here all these women are investing all this time, energy, pain, and hope in this torture chamber with hideous music (filled with lyrics that objectify women), when all that lean vitality is right there, waiting to be freed. If they’d remove the waste and gas pressure, they’d find natural, outstanding muscle tone, skin that naturally hugs the body, and cells and tissues glowing with wellness. 

I continued along that train of thought: Give me two weeks with them, with no exercise at all, but all the right moves for removing waste, gas, and fluid imbalances, and watch them start to see what they are looking for. But I couldn’t very well stand up in the middle of the class and say this.

I waited until class was over, feigning as much participation as I could, gathered my things and headed home. I would love nothing more than to help these women. But, I’m not going to get into the commerce game and build the kind of establishment that will attract them. I had a fleeting thought of speaking to the manager about doing a lecture series there or joining forces somehow, but all the worldly logistics that go into something like that would take even more time away from my understanding children, from my own reunion with my wholeness, and from what I can offer all of you! So, I take the experience for what it’s worth—a reminder that the diet and exercise world has not changed much.

Now, allow me to return once more to the perfectly poised buttocks on the brochure. (Really, you should see them!) What makes such buttocks native to the world but alien to our culture? Such buttocks come from clean lineage, lived in the outdoors on alkaline water, air, and sunshine. They come from cells that have remained pristine by their very interconnectivity with the natural world—cells that have soaked in the rays of the sun through the skin, absorbed that powerful substance into the blood and circulated it throughout the body. Such a body is unfazed by its beauty because it is one with the world, in love with life. There’s no place for vanity or one-upmanship in such a body.

Sometimes it seems like there’s a big time and energy investment in this lifestyle — from arranging the fresh veggie juice, fresh salads, food combining and bowel cleansing to contending with the critisism of friends and famiy. Whenever I get the least bit annoyed with what it takes to keep myself in high states of health and mental clarity, I think about what life was like before I knew and implemented this knowledge. This class reminded me of what unnatural and uncomfortabe lengths other people go to to try to get some physical balance and aesthetic appeal. It was yet another reminder that I should never complain about my rituals and the time and effort they may take. I’m so fortunate to have the knowledge I have and to put that time and energy into things that work and are not only to my immediate and aesthetic benefit but to my long term vitality and ease of being.

Tomorrow, I’ll bundle up and head out into my little wilderness of Central Park. I’ll be grateful for the crisp (ok, Arctic) air and I’ll give my cells their bath in the renewing, oxygenated atmosphere and the cage won’t feel so limiting.

As a native of California, for years I wished away the months of brutal cold in the Northeast. But because of what I know now about clean Arctic air, I embrace it as the cornerstone of my winter health regime. I just make sure to have the right accessories: wooly hat, gloves, and iPod. The only healthy and sure way to get your buttocks looking more like a native’s is to do everything in your power to renew your blood chemistry.

So get outside and go native, not neurotic!

 


Do You Have to Exercise?

One of the most popular questions among my readers and clients is “Do I have to exercise?” Let’s shine a new light on exercise, once and for all.

There are three key things the body needs to be doing constantly:

1. Taking in oxygen
2. Pushing out poisons (primarily through the bowel, skin, liver, and lymph)
3. Pumping fresh Life Force Energy (aka Chi or Prana)
When any of these three functions slow down, we slow down. When they stop, we stop.

Now, here’s where exercise enters the picture. If our goal is vibrant health and ideal weight and optimal vibrations, we must maximize the above three functions. Some common exercises like jogging, walking, yoga and swimming will help us achieve this, but only in the presence of lots of fresh air—not in an enclosed gym. Further, they will not benefit us significantly if we are not also eating pure, well-combined foods; removing the internal build-up of toxins lodged in our cells; or ensuring that Life Force Energy is flowing throughout our mental and emotional bodies as well.

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We should not base exercise on calories or fat burned, which are the completely wrong measuring sticks. We should approach exercise as a way to help us achieve optimum oxygenation, remove waste, and increase the flow of Life Force Energy. (Of course, if you enjoy playing a particular sport or form of exercise, that’s also a good reason.)

In other words, physical exercise is NOT the end-all-be-all of this detox lifestyle. For example, you might enjoy a “gentleman’s workout” of a sauna, some deep breathing/mediation, and a short but oxygenating walk outdoors. Coupled with a cleansing diet of fresh, natural foods, this could keep you looking and feeling much younger, leaner, and stronger than if you were to spend hours a week on gym equipment or in a sculpting class. Exercising in a stale gym environment does very little to contribute to the functions that matter, particularly when paired with a typical gym-goers diet of dense, lifeless, mucus-forming, high-protein foods and shakes. So will you get off the bloody stair-master, already?!

You can count and burn calories till the ice cream truck comes around again, but you will make very little if any progress if your cells and tissues are still burdened with waste matter and if you’re inhabiting poorly ventilated spaces. The good news is that if you have been pounding away on the elliptical trainer with little change to your, um, “bottom line,” it’s not because you’ve failed to push yourself. Rather, your push failed you!

Now, here’s how to make your effort pay off. Instead of a regular exercise routine, what I would recommend is to look at your body on a daily basis and ask yourself the following sets of questions:

1. Is my breathing deep, connected and calm? Am I in my body today or swirling up in my head? What is the quality of the air my blood is receiving? Could I use a nature walk or some deep breathing to oxygenate my blood and bring serenity to my decisions, relationships, and work life?

2. How is my chi flowing today? Is it stagnant? What kind of movement does it require? A real shake-up? A rolling, rhythmic run? Some fluid movement like free dance? Also, why is my energy stagnant? Is it from lack of movement (too much desk work) or constipation? Have I been indoors for too long with poor ventilation? Do I need some fresh air?

3. How have my eliminations been? How does my lymphatic system feel—are the nodules around my armpits or neck tender? Do I feel in need of some extra nurturing? Am I dragging my feet, depleted of energy?

If the answer to any of these latter questions is “yes,” your elimination channels are overloaded, calling out for new concept “exercises” like deep sweating in a sauna, massage therapy, bowel cleansing, rest or meditation, and body brushing. Yes, you can go for a run or do some hardcore exercise if you feel your body is calling out for that, but consider rebalancing and renewing yourself in these other ways.

Going forward, you may find that with a good sauna, meditation routine, and walks around town to run your errands, you won’t need formal exercise for weeks at a time. But then a week or a month will come along when you may need to dance or jog or do yoga stretches every day because, for whatever reason, your body wants to pump even more chi, oxygen and sweat.

On the one hand, this explains why formal exercise is not always effective. On the other hand, it also explains why exercise is so useful—because physical exertion forces deep breathing, movement helps chi circulate, and sweating helps to eliminate waste and stimulates the other eliminative organs as you oxygenate and circulate the blood. Whatever exercise you like—be it yoga, weight training, boxing, or some other sport—take it outside into the fresh air, if possible. Or, at the very least, open all the windows in your apartment or gym so you are not just recycling stale air.

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Make no mistake: I’m not saying, “Don’t exercise.” I’m simply offering a new perspective on exercise so that you may invest your time and energy wisely in activities that will make the greatest positive impact on your beauty, vitality and longevity.

Also, take a look around and see what combination of activities best suits your location. Don’t become robotic or too firmly fixed in your routines. Tune into your inner voice, listen to what your body is telling you. As you implement the basic principles of this detox lifestyle, you’ll get more out of, say, dancing around your house for ten minutes (windows open please) than getting up early or skipping an evening with loved ones to hit the gym.

If you’re ever near the water and have access to a sauna, enjoy a short run or a longer walk on the beach, or a swim in the fresh sea, and then hit the sauna followed by a cold shower. This will oxygenate the blood and cells, give you a great Chi boost from the activity of running, walking or swimming; as well as a great purifying sweat to stimulate the lymphatic system and supercharge waste through the extreme temperatures of the sauna and cold shower. In this way, you can experience maximum pleasure in very little time. This, my friends, is the goal. Stop forcing yourself to do exercises you hate, and do what makes you peaceful, clear, and joyful!

With the biggest love energy,
Natalia