Redefining Holistic

When I describe what I do to people, I often use the word “holistic”. As in, I help people realize their health goals from a holistic standpoint. Integrating mind/body/spirit, looking for the more natural path, and overall – listening to your body. Therefore when people ask me what my definition of holistic is I tell them it’s whatever you think it is.

Of course, if people need more clarification we can have a more in depth conversation, and I certainly do not give this response to be snarky. Rather, I am so over the one-upping and judgement that seems to surround people who are trying to live a more natural lifestyle. I am so inspired by the global movement I see bringing attention to disease prevention vs. treatment, using food as medicine, finding remedies to common ailments in nature. This is how I live my life, but it is one decision at a time. I cannot always buy everything organic, or wait out a headache with tea and peppermint oil, or cloth diaper my baby (read: I never did!). When you choose to describe yourself as “holistic” or “natural”, this can invite a lot of eyebrow raising and scrutinizing. Often, this can be internal as well. When I balk at $9 strawberries and put the regular ones in my cart, a voice in my head starts saying “aren’t you a health coach?”. I am slowly learning to retrain that voice, and to find peace from external forces of judgement.

In life, and with our health, the best any of us can do is to make the best decisions we can in the moment, and to really honor what our bodies need. That, to me, is living holistically. Honoring what is up for us, and acting on it. For example – when I was pregnant, I tried to avoid taking medications that I felt were unnecessary. In my third trimester I came down with an outright debilitating case of bronchitis – as in, could not get out of bed. I went to the doctor who felt that the case was bacterial and prescribed antibiotics. I deliberated, did my research, and ultimately listened to my inner voice which was practically screaming “take the freakin’ antibiotics!”. So I did. I felt better within less than 24 hours. To me, that was validation that I made the right decision. Although antibiotics are hardly a traditional holistic remedy in and of themselves, in that circumstance, they were for me. I honored what my body needed, and my body healed. I hope this story brings you peace from voices of judgement – others or your own!

IIN Graduation!

On November 8, I officially graduated from IIN! (A few other things happened that day too, if I recall). It was a surreal feeling to be done with school and officially a health coach. I wanted to enroll at IIN for a long time before I actually did it, and now to have graduated – it’s just so special.

Healthcare has been a huge part of my life since I started nursing school many years ago. However, this was a shift in my perspective. After seeing so many sick patients, I began to wonder what could be done to prevent people from getting to that point. To me, it all starts with what’s on our plate. As IIN teaches, what’s on our plate has everything to do with what is going on in our world around us. Are you stressed at work? That may explain sugar binges at night. Look, no one is perfect and least of all me. I certainly don’t eat fresh, local greens for every meal and I have no intention of giving up my beloved coffee. However, big picture I have made significant changes, and I know how to get myself back on track after some not-so-good choices. I have no interest in counting calories, but I feel amazing when I make good whole food choices. I don’t really care about strict portion sizes when I’m eating fresh foods that energize and sustain me. I’m excited to have the answers for friends who want to know what they can do to fight a cold, or what they can eat on the run during a busy day. This is about the big picture, and it’s super exciting to me.

If you want to make a lifestyle change, learn more about healthy living and health promotion, or have a specific health concern, I would love to work with you. Email me at jessfeifer@gmail.com and let’s get started!

Stop, drop, and meditate

When I was in my very early 20s, my mom took me to a meditation class at her yoga studio. She loves yoga and meditation, and thought I could benefit from taking the class with her.

I HATED it.

Hated it. I remember opening my eyes what felt like every 2 minutes trying to find a clock to see if this freaking thing was over yet. What was the point of this? My mind was racing, my back hurt, I was uncomfortable and annoyed and OHMYGOSH is it time to go yet?!

I had no idea what would possess people to sit in silence for upwards of a half hour. I certainly did not feel calm, relaxed, zen, peaceful of any of the other benefits I was promised.

This brief foray into meditation scarred me and I did not attempt it again until I started practicing yoga regularly. We would have brief moments of meditation before and after class, and I found that now I was able to enjoy it. I was different –  yoga had opened me to new possibilities for myself. (Have I mentioned in this blog how much I love yoga?😀)

I started going to meditation circles, and practicing on my own. A few key things I learned:

-You do not have to sit stick straight while meditating. Certainly you want to have decent posture, but sitting your bony butt on the floor with your spine perfectly straight might not be the most relaxing position for everyone. Find what works for you! Get a meditation cushion or a back jack, even lie down if that’s what you need (you’ll probably fall asleep).

-You don’t actually even need to SIT. Walking meditations are possible and they are fantastic. I did walking meditations at the labyrinth at the Kripalu yoga center, but I’ve also done them on the streets of Hoboken.

-You do not need to carve out an hour. Go with what works for you, find what you need. Meditations can be a minute, five or ten, or an hour. It’s a personalized practice and NOT a competition.

If you’re looking to get started at home, find a meditation video on YouTube! Gabrielle Bernstein has some great ones. You can even search for specific meditations such as a one minute meditation or a meditation for sleep. There are a plethora of meditation apps- I like Insight Timer. Look for a meditation circle in your area -check yoga studios or Meetup groups – or start you own!

Meditation is a great way to calm our monkey minds. It reduces our stress levels, decreases anxiety, and allows us to become more self aware. It increases your focus, can even help lower blood pressure. It’s so worth a try – and it’s great to have a peaceful retreat into yourself.

Fall favorites

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There is nothing like the cool, crisp air in the fall. The heat lets up, the leaves change color, it’s time for scarves and boots, and of course everything PUMPKIN. While a Starbucks PSL is not exactly a health food, REAL pumpkin is amazing for you. There is a decent amount of fiber, vitamin A (helps with your vision), beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Also – it’s delicious. I love adding pumpkin just about everything in the fall. Now, you can totally buy and use raw pumpkin – but I definitely do NOT. I let someone else do the work and buy canned organic pumpkin from Trader Joe’s for about $1.99. I add a little bit to warm oatmeal, or into a smoothie with vanilla protein powder, a small amount of greek yogurt, cinnamon, and coconut milk.

For a quick and easy pumpkin soup: 1 can of pumpkin, 1 cup of coconut milk (canned), 2 cups veggie broth, minced garlic, and to taste- salt, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon – throw it all in the slow cooker and use an immersion blender to get a nice consistency.

My all time favorite is pumpkin bread. I use the following recipe

1/2 cup coconut oil

Maple syrup (I don’t measure- annoying I know! probably approx 1/2 cup I don’t like too sweet)

2 eggs or flax eggs if vegan

1 can organic pumpkin

2 cups flour – I use Bobs Red Mill Gluten Free

1 tsp Baking soda

1-2 tsp Pumpkin Pie spice

Dashes of – Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cardamom (I like a little spice in my life)

Preheat your over to 325 and grease a loaf pan or line with parchment paper. Mix wet ingredients and dry ingredients in separate bowls. Add the wet ingredient to the dry slowly and stir until evenly combined. Pour into the pan and bake 60-90 minutes. Voila!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite EOs

Anyone who knows me knows I am super into essential oils. I’ll throw a disclaimer right out there that A) I am partial to Young Living and B) There is controversy about what/if any EOs can be ingested so always do your own research! Do what works for you and what you feel comfortable with.

First of all, this site provides a nice into to what essential oils actually are.

EOs can be used for so many things! I’m talking mind/body/spirit here. Most EO companies have a basic starter pack that can be a great intro into this world. After that, you’ll learn what you like or figure out what you need and can delve more deeply into different varieties. Here are some of my personal favorites:

Peppermint – Smells so strong, but SO good. I love a drop (seriously a single drop- it’s that strong) in my tea, or to massage into my temples for a headache remedy. The smell is great for alertness so I love to put it in the diffuser as a jumpstart for the day!

Lemon – Another great one for tea! I loooooove the smell of lemon!! I use a few drops of this in DIY cleaning products, also has antibacterial and anti fungal properties.

Purification – This blend by YL is amazing. My favorite use for it is to dissipate kitchen smells. I diffuse it in the kitchen after cooking and like magic the room smells clean and fresh again! I also add a drop or two to the laundry for the amazing smell.

Thieves – In spray or oil form, this is your best defense against germs. This is also a blend. The smell is intense but I happen to live it. I use one spray on my throat when I’m feeling sick, use it as a disinfectant for surfaces, and of course… Diffuse! A few years ago after I got over the flu, I diffused it for days in our bedroom.

Lavendar – Well who doesn’t love the smell of Lavendar? I mix a few drops with coconut oil and use it as a relaxing moisturizer at night, smell directly from the bottle for relaxation, place a drop or two behind my ears, and mix in a few drops in an Epsom salt bath.

DiGize – Another blend, this one is pure magic! It truly helps with almost any digestive ailment. I mix it with coconut oil and rub on my belly.

I could probably go on forever, so feel free to reach out to me with questions about essential oils! Make sure to look into the quality of the specific brand you are using! Enjoy!!! Essential oils are really fun to experiment with!

 

IIN Update – finding balance

Since becoming a mom, the word balance has not been in my vocabulary. The first few weeks have been spent finding our groove as a family of 3, surrounded by feedings, diaper changes, and running for a quick shower when the baby finally goes down for a nap. Certain wellness practices – oil pulling, long meditations, yoga classes in a studio- have gone by the wayside for now. However I am proud of my ability to continue to prioritize my IIN work.

Recently, we began doing weekly “coaching circle” group phone calls. It’s been exciting and inspiring to hear other students goals and ambitions. It is motivating to me to set my own goals and follow through.

We had a module that focused on children’s health and specifically school food. This topic is especially interesting to me now that I have a daughter. I remember school food consisting of chicken nuggets, potato chips, and other processed food with little to no nutritional value. I am so happy to see the push for change. I hope to be able to instill the same values that I have about healthy food into my child.

If you are interested in doing a free health history consultation with me, drop me an email at jessfeifer@gmail.com. This is a great way to introduce health coaching, and to get on the road to healthier habits.

HWH Hiatus/Mindful Meditation

I’m back!

I have taken a break from blogging because I was working on another project – giving birth to my daughter Emma!

Pregnancy and the birth process was an opportunity to really test my spiritual practice. i have already learned a huge lesson – nothing goes according to plan! This is not always easy to accept, and my type-A personality when it comes to planning and organizing has been thrown for a loop!

I am so glad that I have spent the past several years building and strengthening a meditation practice. Everyone’s practice is unique, and mine depends on what I need. Some days it is a full 20-30 minutes, sometimes it’s just savasana after yoga, others it’s a guided audio meditation. During my pregnancy, I used a wonderful website called Expectful which is guided meditations specifically for pregnant women.

Right now, life is a whirlwind of diapers, middle of the night feedings, and multiple onesie changes. It is not always possible to sit for 20 minutes in silence. When given the opportunity to have 20 minutes to myself, coffee or sleep usually takes priority! However, I have figured out little ways to create moments of mindfulness when I need them. I can close my eyes in meditation while feeding Emma. I say affirmations in the morning or in the shower. Even looking at peaceful images on my phone can be a few moments of restorative meditation. What I have learned in meditation translates perfectly to being a new mommy – let go of expectations and find what works!