Can you believe we’re already through the first week of the new year?! With the first seven days behind us, this is a great opportunity to check in on your goals for 2018.
How are they going? Is there anything you’ve needed to change or adjust? Maybe you’ve fallen off track a bit? If so, that’s okay! It’s never too late to jump back in. Take a moment to revisit what you initially wrote down. Are your goals actionable? Are you able to answer the “why” behind each goal? It’s one thing for us to say “I want to lose weight” or “I want to eat better” but if we don’t have the “why” behind our goals, there’s a pretty good chance we won’t find success in them.
How about something like: “I want to lose weight so that I feel more confident in my favorite outfit” or “I want to eat better to help lower my blood pressure or cholesterol.” Having the “why” makes our goals personalized to us and gives us the motivation to keep pushing toward accomplishing them!
It’s day 10 of our #PlantPoweredProtein series and that means we’ve come to the end! I hope you’ve found this series to be as interesting as I have! We’re concluding today with an oldie but goodie: Spinach.
Growing up, I hated spinach. Ha-ted. My grandma used to make homemade ravioli and I would practically throw a fit if I saw that she used spinach in the ricotta. Today, I love it. In fact, I love it so much that I think back to the times when I despised it and wonder how that even happened! Spinach is obviously included in this series because with just 1 cup of spinach, you’ll benefit from over 6 grams of protein.
Spinach is also known to improve the health of our skin and hair, aid in digestion, maintain bone health as well as…
Improving our eye sight: As a rich source of beta-carotene, spinach can prevent vitamin A deficiencies, dry eyes and itchy eyes.
Strengthens our muscles: C0-Q10 is an antioxidant that plays an important role in strengthening muscles, especially heart muscles. C0-Q10 can be used to prevent and treat many cardiovascular diseases and spinach just happens to be an awesome source of C0-Q10.
Vitamin K: Spinach is a good source of Vitamin K, which helps us retain calcium. With other minerals like manganese, copper, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus also helping to build strong bones / preventing the development of osteoporosis, we also benefit from healthy teeth and nails.
Metabolism boost: The protein found in spinach is easily broken down by enzymes into amino acids that are essential to the health of humans, which help our muscles grow, our bodies heal wounds and even give our metabolism a boost.
Spinach is one of those foods that, like many others in this series, you can use in so many different ways. Today, we’re making a twice baked sweet potato with spinach, corn and black bean filling. I had one of my best friends over for lunch today and we had these – they were delicious! I served mine alongside some carrot and broccoli quinoa cakes and a cashew cream parfait with blackberries, raspberries and granola. Yum!
1 large organic sweet potato
2 TBS olive oil
1/2 cup of salsa
1 can organic black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can organic corn, rinsed and drained
1 cup (packed) organic baby spinach
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Wash and scrub your sweet potato under cold running water.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place sweet potato onto sheet. Using a fork, poke several holes over the surface of the potato.
Place baking sheet with potato in oven and bake until tender, about 1 hour.
While potato is baking, in a large skillet, add olive oil, black beans, corn and salsa over medium heat. Cook until beans and corn are soft, about 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add spinach and continue to cook until spinach reduces in size and softens, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat, cover and set aside.
Remove potato from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.
Once cooled, cut potato in half and scoop out the flesh using a large spoon, leaving enough on the base so the skin holds its shape.
Add flesh to skillet with beans, corn and spinach, stirring to combine all ingredients.
Scoop mixture back into potato halves, put back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
Top with salsa or any other desired toppings (cilantro, guacamole, etc.) and serve immediately.
I love Sunday mornings, especially ones that don’t require a to-do list or having to change out of my pj’s before noon. My husband and I got a new puppy last weekend (Cooper, the corgi), and we’ve been loving every second with him. He seriously is the sweetest little fur babe and we’re obsessed!
We’ve had a slow Sunday morning of playing, napping, running around outside and having a late brunch: the usual dog food + a few extra treats for Coop, pancakes for the hubs and sweet potato toast for me! I’m all about that #AvocadoToastLife, but this is an awesome change of pace….plus, they’re SO easy to make.
For this recipe, all that you’ll need is one medium sweet potato and whatever toppings are of interest to you!
To make your SPT, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Wash your potato and slice it into 1/4 inch thick slices (I left the skin on for some added fiber and potassium). I used my mandolin to make the slices, but if you don’t have one, a sharp knife will work just fine. Arrange your slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes. Once your 20 minutes are up, lay the slices on a wire wrack to cool. As soon as they’re cooled, pop your slices into the toaster and toast. Mine were in the toaster for about eight minutes and I flipped them halfway through. Once they’re toasted, it’s okay if they have a few burnt spots. Top with your desired toppings and you’re good to go!
Have you made SPT before? Definitely let me know what your favorite way to make it is! : )
Last day of the challenge and I can’t believe it’s over! So now that the challenge is coming to an end, how do we keep our practice going?
A few things to keep in mind as you embark on your own meditation journey:
“No two meditations will be the same.”
There may be some days where you experience a very deep session and others you’ll notice that your mind may be a little busier.
“The less you expect in a meditation, the better your experience will be.”
“Meditate every day, twice a day.”
Obviously not every day is the same and sometimes having a session in the morning and a session in the evening isn’t feasible. While it’s easy to beat ourselves up over having to miss a session, don’t – just strive to do better the next day. As you continue to develop your meditation practice, meditation will become in the same category as all of the other activities that you look forward to doing.
“Schedule your sessions.”
Try to schedule your meditations around the same time every day. Doing so will help your body to start prepping for meditation on it’s own every day around those same times. Also, if you’re meditating consistently, you’ll be more likely to make other lifestyle decisions that support your meditation practice and enhance other areas of your life that also contribute to your overall well-being (regular exercise, a healthy diet, surrounding yourself with good-for-you people, etc).
I absolutely loved this challenge and I hope my sharing this challenge has inspired you to begin a meditation practice of your own!
“The way that we gauge success in meditation is not the same that we engage progress. The basic difference is that success is based on what happens inside of the meditation and progress is based on what happens outside of the meditation. In other words, you’re going to look at your life to see how well the meditation is going. Some of the known benefits of meditation include: getting better sleep, feeling less stressed, having more clarity, having more energy and being more adaptable.”
Your body is a magical and beautiful thing. One of the things that we hear time and again at IIN is that your body knows itself better than anyone else ever could and given half the chance, your body will heal itself, by itself. The exact same notion is true within meditation: meditation does not have “magical powers”, but rather meditation helps to wake up the body’s intelligence which already knows how to help you achieve things like better sleep and so much more.
While our lives will definitely be brighter when we experience the many benefits of meditation, not-so-wonderful things will still happen in our lives, regardless of our dedicated meditation practice. We’ll still get stuck in traffic jams, we’ll still encounter people who don’t like us for things that are beyond what we can control, our hot water furnace will die without warning and leave us with cold water and an unexpected expense…but what meditation does do in these situations is helps us be adaptable how we react to these situations now that we meditate vs. how we would react without meditation in our lives. Being adaptable to change is one of the major signifier of progress in meditation.
Having been on this challenge for almost two weeks now, I have noticed that I’m sleeping a lot better, I have a lot more energy throughout my day and I find myself being really present in the situations that I’m in. I’m on my phone less because I have found that having conversations with those around me is so much more intellectually stimulating and rewarding than going down the rabbit hole of in my Instagram feed. I just feel a greater sense of peace and calmness overall and I love that feeling!
In our session today, we’re looking at how to measure success in our meditation practice and here is how Light Watkins explains that we gauge success:
Getting Lost in our Thoughts
What’s the best kind of thought to get lost in while you’re meditating? Any kind of thought. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you’re thinking about as long as you’re allowing your mind to get lost.
Frequency of Loss of Awareness of Breathing / Mantra
If, during the majority of your mediation, you’re noticing your breath or your mantra, it’s likely that you’re working too hard…which you don’t have to do. If, on the other hand, you’re noticing your mantra or breath for a couple of minutes and then your mind shifts to a completely unrelated thought, that’s a great indication that you’re practicing your meditation correctly. Why? Your mantra and / or breath are what cause your mind to get lost. The mantra or breath should be treated like a start button to get lost in our thoughts, not a destination or end goal.
Time Goes Quickly
When the time seems to go by faster than you can account for, that’s another good indication that you’re practicing correctly.
Your Body Becomes Rested
Increased rest = your head starting to nod forward, shoulders start to round, or, you may even fall asleep. Surprised that falling asleep is a sign of success? “Your body is paying off the sleep debt” when you fall asleep in meditation.
Today’s meditation was 10 minutes (!) and it was the most relaxing 10 minutes of my day. I think I’m getting the hang of this meditation thing! Already looking forward to my second session later this afternoon.
“Meditation has the ability to release stress in the form of memory, emotions, sensations or feelings. This means that in the meditation, you may feel as though you are re-experiencing past trauma, which is why it’s very important to treat all of the thoughts, sensations and feelings in an indifferent manner; ‘I don’t know and I don’t care.'”
Stress release during meditation is a lot like releasing a kidney stone (ouch) – when the body releases stress (which has accumulated over time) and begins releasing it (much like that of a kidney stone in a human being), we may notice it through our mind, thoughts or sensations during our meditation. As such, our attitudes should be the same as someone passing a kidney stone: “Although I’d rather not be having this experience because it doesn’t feel particularly good, I know that it’s something that’s leaving me and it’s better out than it is inside.”
Don’t be surprised if you discover that some of your meditation sessions have “themes” to them – one session could be filled with very stressful thoughts or emotions while another could have very positive and happy thoughts and ideas. The happy session is not better than the negative session or vice versa because both are working together to help you reach your maximum potential.
During our nine minute session today, I found small thoughts of self-doubt and insecurities start to seep into my mind but what I love about this challenge is that I was able to quickly notice them and then notice my breathing. I recognized and acknowledged those thoughts, but did not let them overrule my session. I’ll be interested in seeing if they come back up during my second session later this afternoon.
How do you deal with anxiety or stress in your meditation practice?