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I’ve had my moment in the sun.
The air is cooling, the wind is rising,
And I find I’ve begun to dry.
Soon I’ll leave you, dear friend,
Falling with grace to meet the earth, finally.
I know how high you are on the earth,
Such a good friend, you’ve whispered.
In time, maybe the earth and I will become
Close friends too, and the earth will tell you
How I’m doing in my new home. But, until then,
Let us have one more meal together.
“Leaf” by Sel Baskurt
“The most important thing is this: to be able, at any moment,
to sacrifice what you are, for what you will become…” – Eric Thomas
I was never much of a runner growing up. Running just a few blocks made me feel like my lungs were on fire, leaving me gasping for air! After joining a gym, I focused primarily on weights, group classes and spinning. Flash forward to the summer of 2004. My dad mentioned that there is a lottery for the NYC Marathon next year and said that I should apply. I told him no way, thinking how am I going to run 26.2 miles when I can barely run a mile! On a side note, my dad had done the marathon twice and said that it was something that everyone should experience once in their lifetime and encouraged me to enter my name. I did, thinking there was no way that I would get picked. Sure enough, in April of 2005 I got a letter saying that I was selected for the NYC Marathon! Shocked at what I was reading, I was thinking how am I going to do this! My dad said that he walked most of it, and even though it took him over 7 hours, it was a great feeling of accomplishment to cross the finish line.
Not fully comprehending what it meant to prepare to run 26.2 miles, I jogged around Central Park twice and said I am ready. Boy was I wrong. That November, full of excitement, nervousness, uncertainty if I will even finish, I crossed the start line to complete 26.2 miles. The energy that I encountered from cheering fans as I crossed the Verrazano Bridge from Staten Island into Brooklyn gave me the momentum to keep going. However, as 5 miles turned to 8, 16, 22, I could feel that my body and mind was not prepared for all this. I completed it in 7 hours and 30 minutes but it took all my energy, will power, not to give up. I was determined to finish even as my feet swelled under me and the countless blisters on my feet ached. Crossing the finish line was like my dad said- I was overwhelmed with this feeling of accomplishment. Putting my hands up I smiled to the camera thinking I did it! A medal was put around my neck and all I could think about was how I pushed myself not to give up, regardless of the pains, the aches, to look inside myself and repeat “One more step, one more step”.
I was so happy to have completed the NYC marathon that I decided that I wanted to do it again, but the right way! I joined the NYRR (New York Road Runners) the following year and trained for three years before I signed up for the marathon. Running various races, from 3 miles to half marathons, gave me a new appreciation of running, the freedom I felt when I was one with my music, the road. I learned how to pace myself when running long distances, proper shoe and clothing attire, as well as how to run in all types of weather. In November of 2009, I completed my second marathon in a little over 5 hours. Though it still took a lot of will power to cross the 26.2 miles, I felt so free and fulfilled having accomplished such a feat. Unfortunately, the aches and pains of running caught up with me and resulted in me canceling what would have been my third NYC Marathon in 2011. I still hope to one day complete another marathon. My appreciation and love of running is now always with me and has become a big part of who I am.
If you would like to get more information about joining the NYRR, please click here.
It is the start of 2013-2014 flu season. Any person who has ever felt the effects of having the flu knows just how debilitating it can be. Flu viruses circulate in the population. An annual seasonal flu vaccine (either the flu shot or the nasal-spray flu vaccine) best reduces the chances that you will get seasonal flu and spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu viruses spread through that community. However, for those that are more in tune with natural preventative ways to beat the flu, please read on…
How does the flu spread?
Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze, or talk. Flu viruses also may spread when people touch something with
flu virus on it and then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose. Many other viruses spread these ways too.
1. Wash your hands
One of the most effective and easiest methods of flu prevention is washing your hands. Wash your hands after you use the restroom, after you’ve shaken someone’s hand, been on public transportation, attended a party, gone to the gym, and many other situations.
Exercise has immune-boosting effects. Exercise boosts circulation, reduces stress, and eliminates toxins and through perspiration. Of course, consult a medical healthcare professional before engaging in any physical activities.
3. Organic, plant-based diet
Eat organic fruits and vegetables in your diet, particularly those high in vitamin C like papaya, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli and kale. To be safe, consult a medical healthcare professional to see if you can add a vitamin C supplement to your daily regimen.
4. Drink Water
Staying hydrated is important every season, particularly in the winter. Drink six to eight glasses of water a day. Drinking water can boost your immune system, keeping your body strong and ready to fight off illnesses all year.
5. Vitamin D supplement
Consider having your vitamin D levels checked with a simple blood test from your physician. If they’re low, consider and discuss taking a vitamin D supplement to help prevent not only the flu, but also a host of other health conditions– like cancer and cardiovascular disease – that have been linked to vitamin D deficiency.
For more information click here
Photo courtesy of: Flickr Creative Common Michael OCampo
Though I lack the courage and determination of those wild mushroom foragers, I am quite certifiably maniacal for such fortuitous fungi. What other boggy backyard happenstance boasts a multitude of minerals and vitamins packed into one deliciously convenient little orb? I avoid the temptation of tasting potentially hazardous (or fatal) garden specimens and instead, I opt for the offerings at my local farm stand. Wherever you find your favorite fungi, you should consider hitting the STOP button on that ubiquitous white button variety and instead, broaden your horizons by trying varieties you may have overlooked.
Consider this sage advice from nutritionist and health guru, Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D. ~“Mushrooms are big favorites of mine, but if you’re just starting to learn about their medicinal properties, I don’t blame you for being confused about which ones are, or aren’t, good for you. In general, I advise against eating a lot of the cultivated white or “button” mushrooms found on supermarket shelves throughout the United States (portobello and crimini mushrooms are the same species). They are among a number of foods (including celery, peanuts, peanut products, and salted, pickled, or smoked foods) that contain natural carcinogens. Just how dangerous these natural toxins are is unknown, but we do know that they are not present in other kinds of mushrooms that offer great health benefits. If you do eat these varieties, never eat them raw and cook them thoroughly over high heat; that will break down some of the toxins.
Instead of button mushrooms, I recommend seeking out the more exotic varieties, which are becoming increasingly available in the United States. Some are edible and can make a delicious addition to your diet, but some are strictly medicinal mushrooms available in dried, liquid extract or in capsule form.
Here’s a brief guide to my favorites:
- Shiitake: These meaty and flavorful mushrooms contain a substance called eritadenine, which encourages body tissues to absorb cholesterol and lower the amount circulating in the blood. Shiitakes also have antiviral and anticancer effects. Dried shiitakes, available at Asian grocery stores, are also effective. Fresh ones are readily available thanks to domestic cultivation. (To prepare, remove stems or slice fresh ones thinly; they are often tough.)
- Cordyceps: A Chinese mushroom used as a tonic and restorative. It is also known for improving athletic performance. You can buy whole, dried cordyceps in health food stores and add them to soups and stews, or drink tea made from powdered cordyceps. You can also get cordyceps in liquid or capsule form. To treat general weakness, take cordyceps once or twice a day, following the dosage advice on the product. For health maintenance, take it once or twice a week.
- Enoki: Slender white mushrooms that need only brief cooking and have a very mild taste. They are good in soups and salads. Enoki mushrooms have significant anticancer and immune-enhancing effects.
- Maitake: This delicious Japanese mushroom is also called “hen of the woods” because it grows in big clusters that resemble the fluffed tail feathers of a nesting hen. You should be able to find it dried or fresh in Japanese markets, gourmet foods stores, or upscale supermarkets. Maitake has anticancer, antiviral, and immune-system enhancing effects and may also help control both high blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
- Reishi: Strictly a medicinal mushroom, not a culinary one, reishi is woody, hard, and bitter. Like maitake and other related mushrooms species, reishi can improve immune function and inhibit the growth of some malignant tumors. It also shows significant anti-inflammatory effects, reduces allergic responsiveness, and protects the liver. You can buy dried, ground mushrooms and use them to make tea if you don’t mind the bitterness. Otherwise, buy reishi tablets, liquid extracts or capsules, which are available in health food stores and follow the recommended dosage. Take reishi every day for at least two months to see what it can do for you.
Allergies to mushrooms are rare, but some people do find them hard to digest. To learn more about the health-promoting effects of mushrooms, check out www.fungi.com, the web site of Fungi Perfecti, an excellent source for information about medicinal and gourmet edible mushrooms, as well as dried mushrooms and extracts.
Andrew Weil, M.D.
Fall is the perfect time to fill up that soup pot with good-for-you ingredients that boost both your immune system and your mood. Fall into fall with a hearty crock of Wild Mushroom Soup. Settle in with a good book*, a cozy blanket, and let the healing begin! *For a wildly amusing read, consider perusing David Arora’s All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms, it’s a fun read by a fun guy who knows his fungi!
Here’s an easy recipe from Food Network Kitchens to add to your fall repertoire of favorites:
Wild Mushroom Soup with Sherry*
c.1997, M.S. Milliken & S. Feniger, all rights reserved
1 ounce dried Porcini mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6 ounces fresh Shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps sliced
1/2 cup dry Sherry, plus additional for garnish
4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
4 ounces Enoki mushrooms, trimmed
Chopped epazote, oregano or chives
Place Porcini in medium bowl. Pour boiling water over. Let stand until softened, about 30 minutes. Drain, reserving soaking liquid. Strain soaking liquid through cheesecloth to remove any dirt. Coarsely chop Porcini.
Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, Shiitake and Porcini and saute until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Add Sherry and boil until almost all liquid evaporates. Add reserved soaking liquid and stock. Simmer soup 15 minutes to blend flavors. Add Enoki mushrooms and stir until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with additional Sherry and garnish with epazote, oregano or chives.
Author’s note: *If you wish to omit sherry, substitute with additional stock or water.
Written By: Michelle Frati, SJC Staff Member
Recognizing when change is needed
And when it isn’t
Recognizing when change is possible
And when it isn’t
Recognizing all that is surrounding
And in all that is
I am still still
Still still (redux)
See when change is needed
And when it isn’t
See when change is possible
And when it isn’t
See all that is surrounding
And in all that is
See I am still still
An original poem by Sel Baskurt
It may take less muscles than a frown, but sometimes a smile requires much more energy. Have you ever been walking down the street or the hallway and saw someone coming from the other direction and while passing they flash a quick smile? Think of a time where it was just a courtesy gesture and you smiled a split second in return but dropped it immediately after the pass. Now think of a time where it was oddly more than a courtesy and the passerby was genuinely smiling; you may have been confused why, but it was deffinately genuine.
Acting as a mirror, others reflect our perceptions and internal reality. When another smiles, we recognize an existing happiness or contentment, some relative homeostasis of being, in our shared reality. The internal conversation runs like so: “They’re happy – Am I happy? – Son of a gun I’m smiling now.” The smile, a biomechanical statement of happiness and by extension love, usually holds the greatest energy in most interactions and thus takes precedence.
But enough of my jibber-jabber and watch the video below. Annnnddd keep on smiling, ’cause it’s worth it.
September is National Cholesterol Education Awareness Month. It may surprise you to know that cholesterol itself isn’t bad. In fact, cholesterol is just one of the substances created and used by our bodies to keep us healthy. Some of the cholesterol we need is produced naturally (and can be affected by your family health history), while some of it comes from the food we eat.There are two types of cholesterol: “good” and “bad.” It’s important to understand the difference, and to know the levels of “good and bad cholesterol in your blood.” Too much of one type or not enough of another can put you at risk for coronary heart disease,heart attack or stroke.
Cholesterol derives from two sources: your body and food. Your liver and other cells in your body make about 75 percent of blood cholesterol. The other 25 percent comes from foods consumed in your diet. Cholesterol is only found in animal products.
Your diet, weight, physical activity and exposure to tobacco smoke all affect your cholesterol level — and these factors may be controlled by:
•eating a heart-healthy diet,
•enjoying a weekly moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, and 2-3 days per week muscle strengthening activities,and
•avoiding tobacco smoke.
Know Your Fats
Knowing which fats raise LDL cholesterol and which ones don’t is the first step in lowering your risk of heart disease.
Cook for Lowering Cholesterol
It’s not hard to whip up recipes that fit with the low-saturated-fat, low-cholesterol eating plan recommended by your physician, nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, physician assistant, holistic care practitioner, nutritionist, dietician, or scientists to help you manage your blood cholesterol level and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Drug Therapy may be Prescribed
For some people, lifestyle changes alone may not be enough to reach healthy cholesterol levels. Your doctor may prescribe a medication regimen. Educate yourself about:
•the different types of cholesterol-lowering drugs
•tips for taking medications as ordered by health care provider
Work in collaboration with your health care team
It takes a health care team to develop and maintain a successful health program. You and your health care providers each play an important role in maintaining and improving your heart health. Know how to talk with your doctor about your cholesterol levels and be sure you understand all instructions. Follow your plan carefully, especially when it comes to medication regimens — it won’t work if you don’t take it as directed by your healthcare provider. Learn how to make healthy eating and healthy lifestyle changes.
For more information click here:
Interested in deepening your yoga/meditation knowledge and practice even more?
Check out the following schedule by two of the most trusted practitioners the SJC Wellness Team recommends…
MBSR – Long Island Fall Schedule