Thursday, January 28, 2010

Alicia Silverstone rocks!

I watched Oprah yesterday, which was all about food – where it comes from, what we are eating, and why our food is the way it is. Oprah talked about Food, Inc., a documentary on food in the US, and showed clips from the movie.

Her first guest was Michael Pollan, who wrote the Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food. Both fantastic books. Pollan was also featured on Food, Inc. He gave tips like "eat all the junk food you want as long as you make it yourself" and "don't eat anything that your grandma wouldn't recognize as food." Such simple suggestions but super-helpful for making healthy choices at the grocery store.

Alicia Silverstone was the next guest. She talked about why she became vegan (she loves animals) and about her new book, The Kind Diet. She was so excited to be on the show and talked all about how before she became vegan, she thought giving up animal products meant being subjected to a life of tasteless food. But now she has come to realize that there are so many ways of preparing a wide variety of healthy (and tasty!) dishes. Her book is about a vegetarian lifestyle and includes recipes.

So I think Alicia Silverstone is the best because she is a spokesperson for healthy eating and for taking care of yourself. But even more so, she is living an inspired life. Her excitement about this way of eating beams through everything she writes and talks about. She has a genuine passion that she is encouraging others to explore by using a positive message. Could there be a better way to inspire other people? Not using fear or anger, but through excitement and enthusiasm. Such an inspiration! If you are interested in reading more, she has a blog called The Kind Life.

I was so excited that Oprah did this show about food because it's something that I've been talking about with anyone who will listen for a while now. (Including you!) It seems like people across the country are becoming more conscious of what they are eating and how that affects their bodies and our planet. Such a fantastic development!

On the food note, our macrobiotic eating plan is going well and getting better every day. Honestly I feel great. I haven't been doing the plan perfectly - by any means- but generally I have been eating tons of whole grains and lots of veggies. Last night we ate radicchio pizza with truffle oil, which was AMAZING, and we have been trying so many new foods. Even when I eat a lot (like last night), my stomach doesn't hurt.

I do still crave sweets and cheese. But I read yesterday that cheese actually triggers something in your brain that gives you a mini-high, just like sugar! I didn't know that, but it sure explains my cheese obsession. So besides my occasional cravings, I feel good physically, and it's so nice to eat as much as I want without worrying about fat and calories.

Overall, after 11 days, I am feeling great about our macrobiotic experiment.

Jessica O.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Doughnuts for Breakfast

Don't let this photo of Matt at our first macrobiotic meal deceive you, I ate a doughnut this morning! My office has bagels, doughnuts, and fruit on Fridays, and I caved!

It started this morning when I woke up and told Matt I was sad I wouldn't get to eat a bagel at work. He pointed out that macrobiotics was about freedom, and that I could have a bagel if I wanted - just as long as I enjoyed it while I was eating. Well that bagel turned into a doughnut once I got to work. It made me feel pretty bad after (physically), but I'll admit, I enjoyed every bite while I was eating it.

I guess after all of my talking about macrobiotics I felt the need to disclose my slip, but I'm ok with it. And I'm back on track! In fact, we are getting together with friends this weekend, and we asked them to come over so we could cook for them instead of going out.

The other two photos are of the graffiti we saw near Annie and Cortney's house in San Diego. I thought it was lovely.

Enjoy your weekend!

Jessica O.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Everything New

This weekend we went to San Diego to see Annie perform in the annual Cabaret dances. On the way down, we stopped in Carlsbad to meet Mieke, Nate, and Natalie for lunch at the Pizza Port. It was such a nice afternoon – we at outside, had fantastic pizza, good conversation and beer made there at the restaurant. (I also ate cheese sticks, which I couldn’t resist seeing that we were starting the macrobiotic diet on Monday!)

From there, we drove to Annie and Cortney’s and hung out for the afternoon until we went to see Annie dance at the 8:30 show. She was amazing as always! After we went back to their house and talked and laughed for hours. It was one of my favorite visits with them yet. On Sunday morning, I was up at the crack of dawn. So I took Odin out to the beach and let him run around. He had the best of times rolling in the seaweed, running up to the water but not quite going in, growling at other dogs, and just running around. So cute! Matt met us there and we walked over and took some pictures of the coolest graffiti art, which is right around the corner from Annie and Cortney’s apartment. We visited some more and then made it from San Diego to LA in record time – exactly 2 hours!

On Monday, we spent hours shopping for new ingredients for macrobiotic recipes. We went to Trader Joe’s and Erewhon, a natural foods store, both of which were like new experiences. Erewhon actually has a macrobiotics aisle if you can believe it. The whole day was slightly overwhelming because we had a huge list for many recipes and because we were buying so many things that were new – many that we had never even heard of before. Even for things we had bought before, it was like a whole new experience looking at ingredients to make sure they were all actually foods. We finally made it home and started on two recipes. Luckily, we bought a prepared packet of brown rice and a bag of beans from Trader Joe’s that you can heat up on the stove (still macrob. with nothing but the rice and beans in the packets). So we had that with a veggie for dinner. We ran out of time for a homemade meal since beans have to soak overnight and rice has to soak for a few hours before cooking. This involves lots of preparation, people! But we did make two dishes that we have been eating for the last few days. We also had a homemade bean soup in the freezer that we are eating as well. So as of day 3 we’re doing well!

Yesterday was the first day of 60 days of yoga that I almost didn’t do it. I had a terrible day and by the time I came home, I was depressed and not at all in the mood. Luckily, I was able to pull it together enough to do 25 minutes of a DVD. So I’m still on track for yoga. This morning in class I also realized that today is day 20 of 60! One-third through! We also started at a new yoga studio on Monday called Golden Bridge Yoga Center. Most of their classes are kundalini yoga, which seems to be more meditation and moving poses. It’s really interesting and very different from the studio we were going to in Larchmont.

The only other news is that it has been pouring rain in LA. We have so little rain that when it does rain, it makes you feel like curling up in front of the fire. Actually, that sounds pretty good. I think I may do just that tonight.

Jessica O.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Our Apartment

Here are some photos of our new apartment. I woke up at 5am for some reason last week and saw the loveliest sunrise. So, the photo above is the sunrise from our balcony, and the one below is of our building. (You can see my tiny plants on the balcony.)

Jessica O.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Macrobiotics Is Not What You Think

The cooking class this weekend was so interesting! It lasted five hours, and I was exhausted when it was over. But there was tons of information, so it was well worth it. The first part of the class was about cooking and preparing several macrobiotic dishes with protein (mostly beans). We watched while Warren Kramer and several others cooked and discussed food preparation, different recipe options, the art of cooking (and the creativity involved), and macrobiotic principals. Then we had lunch, which was great because I got to talk to several people who are macrobiotic and several others who are thinking about trying macrobiotics (more on that below). After lunch, Warren gave a speech called “10 Steps to Strengthening Health,” which I think was basically the principals of macrobiotics. The beginning was about macrobiotics generally –that it is a way of finding balance through the food you eat and the structure in your life. Here are the principals and what macrobiotics is all about.

1. Meals. Sit down to eat and eat at regular mealtimes.

2. Eat slowly, chew well. Chewing stimulates the brain and gets digestion going.

3. Don’t eat for 3 hours before you go to bed.

4. Try to have soup at least one time per day. It relaxes the body.

5. Have variety in what you eat. It helps to keep the body relaxed and ensures that it gets enough nutrients.

6. Have a whole grain and vegetable at every meal.

7. Body rub. Fill the sink with warm water and use a cotton cloth to lightly scrub your body. Especially in the areas where skin cells and toxins collect like the elbows, knees, between your fingers, etc. Over time, this is supposed to release toxins that your skin holds.

8. Take a walk every day (apart from your exercise).

9. Wear cotton whenever possible.

10. Put a green plant in your bedroom, which provides extra oxygen as you sleep.

I think the most interesting part of the whole thing was talking to people who are macrobiotic. The thing that I noticed instantly is that everyone looked so healthy and much younger than they actually were. Since I used to be a make-up artist, I always notice people’s skin. Each one of these people (ages 25-55) look amazing. Gorgeous, bright, clear skin. Each person also talked about how they have energy (both physical and mental) like they’ve never had it before. The energy part sounded like something that is almost indescribable to someone who is not macrobiotic. People have been cured from terminal cancer by eating a macrobiotic diet.

Anyway, I was so inspired by this, that I decided to try this way of eating (and the lifestyle) for 90 days. Another macrobiotic nutritionist who was there said that if I ate this way for 90 days, I wouldn’t want to go back to how I eat now. I just have to try this out.

For anyone who thinks this sounds like craziness, I have a few things to say. It sounds slightly strange to me too! But, think of it as trying to eat and live more naturally. There are also some other things. First, I can still go out to eat. This way of eating isn’t so rigid that you have to go to a vegan restaurant or not eat out at all. (Some macrobiotics do eat fish and there aren’t things that you have to eat, besides a grain and a veggie, at every meal.) Second, and sort of going with the last point, the idea with the diet is not eating processed foods or sugar and of course, having a whole grain and vegetable at every meal. Finally, it’s only for 90 days! If it’s the worst, I’ll go back to how I eat now in 3 months.

I’ll admit, I get a little nervous when I think about it. The idea of giving up my occasional treats (cookies, cupcakes, whatever my sweet tooth calls for at the moment) makes me a little sad. I’m also nervous about finding a variety of dishes that I like and that don’t take hours to cook. I often eat Trader Joe’s premade meals for dinner…so, I’m sure I’ll write about it all here. New year, new me! I’m going to think about this as an adventure, as something that could really make a positive change in my life.

Here is an interesting account of a woman who decided to become macrobiotic (click on these words): Macrobiotic Diary

Also, my friend Erika has a fantastic blog and wrote a post about food, eating, and her experiences with healthy eating and losing weight. If you’d like to read, here it is: Erika's Blog

Jessica O.

Friday, January 8, 2010


It’s Friday! I am so excited for the weekend. Tonight Matt and I have a business meeting to talk about goals, planning, 2010, etc. We are on a roll with this! Tomorrow I am going to a macrobiotic cooking class (again with Warren Kramer) and of course, to a yoga class.

I watched a DVD yesterday with a presentation by Wayne Dyer. He is a self-development author and speaker who is really fascinating. At the end of the presentation, he actually had the audience sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and went on to describe it as an analogy to life. His points were that we all need to be rowing our own boats and not trying to row anyone else’s, and that we should be moving forward with the current of life and not against it. (Singing this nursery rhyme sounds a little nuts as I write this, but just know that it was really effective after everything that he had been talking about.) Anyway, it really struck me that I haven’t been very good at rowing my own boat. Matt and I talk endlessly about our goals, his work, etc., but I have not really figured out with myself where I want my life to go. What direction I, as an individual, am heading. And then I realized that it’s a lot easier to try to row someone else’s boat (that is ultimately an impossible task but uses up so much energy) than it is to figure out what direction I want mine to go in…and to take it there.

Enjoy your weekend!

Jessica O.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What is Macrobiotics?

Last night Matt and I went to hear Warren Kramer speak about macrobiotics. It was so interesting! I thought macrobiotics was some scientific way of eating where you had to be vegan and eat mostly raw foods. Not true at all. Macrobiotics means “great life” and is a structured approach to life, health, and living well in the environment in which you live. It is a way of eating and overall healthy living that gives you the freedom to do what you want in life. The study of macrobiotics also includes health care, cooking, health problems diagnosis (using external cues from the body), and body work (shiatsu, acupressure, etc.).

The other thing that I couldn’t believe was how healthy each of the people’s skin was who practiced macrobiotics. It was like their skin was dewy and glowing. So, Warren is hosting a cooking class on Saturday, and I decided to go. I'll write more this week.

Jessica O.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"We understand how dangerous a mask can be. We all become what we pretend to be.”

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

I finished this book last week and was struck by this quote. We all become what we pretend to be. If I pretend to be someone I don’t necessarily want to be (i.e. to impress a boss or a friend or to get ahead at my job or to get my way), this idea suggests that enough pretending may turn me into the very person I don’t want to be. On the other hand, if I pretend to be someone I do want to be (i.e. successful even if I’m not actually there yet or vegetarian even if I like meat), presumably I will eventually become just that. The concept also struck me because I know plenty of people who don’t like what they do for a living. They feel like it’s a way to collect a paycheck, but beyond that, they are really unhappy with their profession. Does this mean that they become unhappy? That the profession becomes a part of them no matter how they try to avoid it? What about success or happiness? Does wearing a mask of happiness over time cause you to be happy? Either way, I think it’s a great point on how important it is to be true to yourself and to always, with others or alone, work towards being the person you want to be.

Today is day 6 of 60 days of yoga – 10% down! The classes don’t seem like vigorous exercise, but I have been sleeping like I’m in a coma. Seriously. After 8 or 9 hours of sleep I can hardly get myself out of bed. I really like doing this project. It’s strange having this activity that I have to do every single day, but it also feels good to challenge myself to keep up with it and to challenge my body in such new ways. I have definitely done yoga before – DVDs, at the gym, at a studio. But I’ve never done it regularly. Another benefit I’ve noticed is that I’m thinking more clearly. Maybe I should say I’m able to focus more. The yoga combined with the new year has made me think about what’s important in my life. It’s starting to put a lot in perspective. I like it.

I began with a quote, and I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite renaissance men:

“The greater danger is not that our hopes are too high and we fail to reach them, it’s that our hopes are too low and we do.”


Jessica O.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's Eve 2009

We had so much fun on New Year's Eve! Our friends Jen, Steve, Jen, and Peter joined us to celebrate.

Everyone brought something and we had a great dinner, lots of champagne, interesting conversation, and confetti at midnight. Lots of confetti at midnight...I was in heaven!

I actually couldn't have enjoyed myself more.

Yesterday Matt and I started off the day by going to our first yoga class at Liberation Yoga. The instructor spent most of the class talking about new beginnings and reflecting on the challenges of 2009. It was so uplifting - a perfect way to start off the new year. My favorite thing that she said was that 2010 is a blank book. We have 365 empty pages - how do you want to fill them? I loved hearing that. The year is ours to make whatever we want out of it.

After class, Matt and I walked to the Grove to eat lunch at the Farmer's Market and talk about our goals for 2010. We also talked about what we have learned in the past year. Then we spent an hour in Barnes and Noble picking out magazines for our visualization boards. I will post a photo of mine when it's finished. Overall, I have such a hopeful feeling for this new year. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have a chance to start over, even if it really is just a mental reset. The year is already off to a great start.

I hope you had a wonderful new year's celebration. Off to yoga.

Jessica O.