Beautiful Friendships: A Letter to my Best Friend

15 Nov

airbnbpicnew

Dear Tara,

I would be wrong to say that for as many years as humans have been on this earth, they’ve figured out nothing.

They have proven through research that their kind lives in its own self-interest, that it is afraid to uncover its true self and share the results with the other fellow creatures; that the probability of getting hurt in the end will cross out any motivation for humans to venture into that territory because it might lead to failure, and heaven forbid they fail.

They have proven through research that people tend to fall ill more dramatically from psychological stress rather than the physical, and can become manipulated to follow the crowd in order to feel a sense of belonging. People crave an invisible safety cocoon of approval from others to survive this tough, cold world.

Let us not get disappointed with the human race for being so afraid of the truth or the unknown. It is encoded in their DNA, it is a balancing act and a survival instinct to protect the self.

What I am more interested in understanding is what exactly makes people take the chance to challenge those instincts; to go in the tunnel, knowing that one might not get out alive? What is the force that gives humans enough ammunition against fear? What elements make up the courage to learn and face the truth about themselves and their environment and eventually, hopefully, to accept it, or make amends?

What I will say next is open to interpretation and criticism for sounding idealistic. And whatever that may entail, I choose not to fight that argument. Because if seeing beauty is deemed idealistic, then let me take the trophy for that experience; our world is a spectrum of extremes and those experiences are all small dots on the range.

I cannot find a word to describe the cause or pinpoint the answers for questions I stated above because sometimes the best moments in life cannot be explained by words; those moments can be complex yet subtle, last for a nano-second and never resurface, like Atlantis. Sometimes they aren’t even felt; they just happen.

One of the by-products of such moments, in my eyes, is vaguely referred to as “beautiful friendship” in the dry, crisp psychoanalysis books that collect dust on library shelves. It is a term, an act with blurred lines and a couple hundred covenants attached to it, such as “must build each other and pass it on,” “must act for two if the other’s energy has been compromised,” “must uphold unconditional trust for each other without any public announcement of,” etc, etc. But those are the covenants that we wrote, with four hands and one pen, often times without comparables, without a legal system or a public opinion.

I don’t think it was rooted in love, Buddhist philosophies or our parents’ teenage dreams. I think it was more profound and interesting than anything earthly.

Most of us can agree that our time is precious, and the best investment one can make is in a worthy person. How one uncovers that person, I think, is by going against our human limitations and fears to establish a meaningful connection and trust. Thank you for doing that for me (stock), (you) Warren Buffett.

Congratulations, you have just been nominated for a “not normal human” award. I’m not sure if one can feel 100% flattered by that, but in this particular context I think it is appropriate and even encouraged. Dividends to be announced.

With Gratitude,

Tetyana

Let the Food Dye…DIE!

23 Oct

Tai Pan Bakery

It was a normal day in the neighborhood. Streets are busy… Air is autumn chilly… I am on my way to get an afternoon dessert fix.

Recently I got seriously addicted to these Chinese pastries with taro root (kind of like the sweet potato, or yam). Sometimes I take the cute and petite lotus seed dessert, and others – red bean bun.

Well, thankfully, I stumbled upon what I thought was the only bakery that labeled their ingredients. And I died.

So I took a snapshot of a couple pastries that were labeled. Moon cake was one of them. For the readers who are new to these kinds of sweets, Moon Cake is a special dessert for the annual Chinese Moon Cake festival. BUT DON’T THINK YOU’RE EXEMPT IF YOU DON’T EAT THESE! Mac&Cheese, colorful sports drinks, cereals, pudding, and other stuff can include this trash! 

Check out my findings below!

photo (10)

BUSTED!! 

Using YELLOW #5 DYE AND RED #40! Artificial colorings, that are ILLEGAL IN EUROPE.

photo (11)

I literally took a snapshot of these with my iPhone. As you can see, the lotus seed pie has basically the same ingredients.

If you are skeptical about this, and think that I am talking out of thin air, check out this research about the dangers of food dyes:

“Six of the 11 studies on Yellow Number 5 showed that it caused genotoxicity, a deterioration of the cell’s genetic material with the potential to mutate healthy DNA,” say Jayson and Mira Calton, authors of “Rich Food, Poor Food.” These effects can have serious complications, such as causing growth abnormalities. In research published in Food and Chemical Toxicology in 2010, tartrazine was administered to organ tissue in male rats. The researchers found that the artificial dye negatively affects markers of disease in vital organs, such as kidneys and livers — at low and high doses. Common sources include cheese-flavored crackers and chips, colorful cereals, butterscotch pudding, yellow sports drinks macaroni and cheese mixes.

Read more

Dear friends, PLEASE keep yourselves healthy!! Choose foods that have listed ingredients, and those are the ones you feel comfortable putting in your body!

What’s in YOUR Water?

15 Oct

Water“Tetyana, you lost your mind!” –  you might be thinking. Seriously, there’s a problem with faucet water now? Well, how can I put it? Yes.

Why you should care:

Instead of me going on rants about the dangers or fluoride – (which we are all made to believe by advertising is there to keep the teeth cavity-free), here is a very interesting and non-boring video of a dentist, Dr. Osmunson who clarifies the issue.

 

Not convinced?

 

World Health Organization conducted an experiment trying to see whether there is a difference in tooth decay in 12 year old children in various countries that fluoridate and do NOT fluoridate their water. Turns out – there is no difference!!

tooth_decay_trends_400

 

FLUORIDE is NOT necessary in our waters! It DOES NOT affect the health of our teeth. Most European countries strictly oppose fluoride in their water. Additionally, you can read here – http://www.fluoridealert.org that about 40% of fluoride accumulates in our bones over time, as healthy kidneys can only filter out so much of it.

What can you do?

  1. “Brita” water filters can be an option, although they DO leave some fluoride behind.
  2. At least, what you can do is stay away from fluoridated toothpaste! There are plenty non-fluoridated options on the market.

Cavities are caused by all that sugary junk that we eat. Have an apple per day to keep the teeth healthy.

Be aware of the false advertisements!

Supplements:

If you are interested in getting more insight on the issue, here is a research piece that talks about the dangerous affect of fluoride on our brain: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9518651 (from Binghamton University)

Here is a science piece with Dr. Mullenix (who was fired by the government for standing up against fluoride) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/089203629400070T

Here CNN alerts about extremely high fluoride levels: http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/01/07/fluoride.recommendations/index.html

Sugar: the Sweet Poison

6 Oct

photo (7)Research shows that a sugar addiction equals that of heroin. Is your sugar intake out of control?

I’ve loved sweets since early childhood, and have built up my tolerance to consume sometimes up to 100 grams of sugar per day (whole pint of ice cream, chocolate milk, sweet cereal, etc). For an average person, only about 30-35 grams per day is recommended by nutritionists. There were times, when I went to the store specifically to buy sweets, and I felt that I was not myself – that something was pushing me to do it. Pretty scary.

Why you should care:

- Sugar tricks your brain about how full your stomach is, and makes you want to eat more. Test it out on yourself. Eat a 500 calorie milk chocolate bar versus 500 calorie chicken and vegetable meal. Which one makes you fuller? Metabolic differences are vast, and after eating sweets, you continue to intake more calories to satisfy hunger

- It breaks down your collagen (skin protein), helping cellulite form on your skin. Collagen is what makes your skin look plump and youthful. When collagen cells join with sugar to break it down, they basically get destroyed. ELLE magazine explains in detail about the phenomenon. Once your tissue is weaker, cellulite dimples appear. Yuck!

- It damages your liver, and eventually causes acne. Sugar is a toxin, and as with all toxins, our liver helps cleanse them out of the body. Liver is responsible for processing fructose (think of it as raw sugar), and in a high quantity and speed (think of it as drinking soda or eating a sugary cookie), the liver will turn all into fat. Va-la!

- It ruins teeth enamel, causing cavities. Sugar is severely acidic, and acid kills the teeth. This goes hand in hand with artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda or Sweet & Low. They are all more acidic than coffee.

- It has no nutritional value/vitamins/minerals to be beneficial for your body.

- Sugar causes roller-coaster energy levels. We have all heard about “bouncing off the walls,” and then “crashing.”

- There is a high correlation between obesity and the consumption of sugar, as well as, obviously, diabetes.

104

The list goes on and on.

You’re maybe thinking: “Ok, it’s great to see all this information, but how do you kick a habit like this?” Here’s my personal rehab advice.

For different people, it’s different ways. Some can gradually come down, consuming less and less of sugar every day. Some, (like me), need to just throw it out the window.

In order to stop a body shock, it would be helpful to:

-          Substitute the processed sweet snacks with apples or a favorite fruit of your choice, so that energy can be preserved. Our bodies need some sugar for energy, obviously. The good thing about fruit is that its fiber content slows down the breakdown of its sugar content, making the stomach spend energy for digestion. Fiber is also helpful in excretion. Additionally, fruits have vitamins!

-          Use Stevia as a substitute. Stevia is a plant-derived sweetener that has zero calories and a low glycemic index (it won’t make your blood sugar sky-rocket). Never, ever substitute with artificial sweeteners! They are worse than white refined sugar itself.

062

-          Train your mind to think that those pretty donuts and cupcakes, cookies, and ice cream are all made of the poorest and most processed materials (junk) and  = POISON. Now, every time I walk past a donut stand, I just think of dangerous, poisonous, and addictive stuff! And it makes me look away. If I associated the sweet junk food with pleasure, I would naturally want to buy it! What do YOU associate sweet junk with? Cure from depression? Quick energy fix?

-          Imagine your happy stomach. Picture it being delighted, and squirming (like a cartoon character), when consuming nutritious foods. Anthony Robbins, author of Awaken the Giant Within, says that a human brain cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality. As long as there is a mental picture (and you can make it up anytime, anyplace), your brain will believe it! When I thought of my body being very happy when I ate healthy stuff, I created positive associations.

-          It takes about 2 weeks to get used to new habits. The key is consistency! In 2 weeks, you can become a different person! My approach was to challenge myself. So I literally went on a “sugar-free diet.” For a few days, I consumed as little sugar as possible. Once I did a few days, I was able to extend my challenge for longer. After a while, the body normalizes and adjusts to the new lifestyle, and no longer sends craving requests!

What are your strategies to stop sugar cravings? Do YOU have a success story?

Supplemental reading and information sources:

New York Times 

ELLE

CNN

Colgate

Sorry Bread, but…We’re Breaking Up

2 Oct

photo (4)Jiggly thighs? Bye. Tired eyes? Bye. Food label lies? BYE!

Why you should end your relationship with PROCESSED bread/snacks/sweets:

1. It makes you EXHAUSTED (your digestive system is working extra hard to digest the processed, unnatural ingredients, putting extra pressure on your heart).

2. It causes ACNE (the toxins need to come out somehow….so your liver pushes them out onto the skin).

3. It creates inner jiggly thighs and belly pouch (once food is not digested properly, the body just shoves it wherever it can to get rid of it. So, no matter how much you run, you will still not have a concave belly and super lean thighs.)

4. Essentially leads to serious health problems, in some cases obesity and heart disease. Need proof? Compare US diet to similarly developed “first” world countries. According to Howard Friedman, a health economist, the United States has the lowest life span of an average citizen out of all developed countries.

So, let’s examine further…

Beware of labels with 100% Wheat on them! Usually, they are made with about 50 different ingredients mixed together! And your body has a hard time breaking them down!

Look at this lovely bag of what it claims to be 100% Wheat:

photo (2)

And this is the food label on the back:

photo (3)

Hey…. WHAT’S MONOGLYCERIDES?? WHY IS THERE HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP IN MY BREAD – isn’t that the ingredient in Coca-Cola???? Is the SOYBEAN oil Genetically Modified (fake)?

Disgusting.

—WHAT BREAD SHOULD BE LIKE:—

1. High on fiber (20%+ of daily value)

2. Low to none sugar

3. Relatively low calorie

So, here are some substitutes!

1. Scandinavian Bran Crispbread (order online HERE)

crispbread

2. Whole wheat Fusilli pasta from Whole Foods 365 brand (just one ingredient!!)photo (5) pasta365

Remember: take baby steps!! If it’s hard to make a change, start small!

Live a long and healthy life!

Stop companies from using cheap, processed, unnatural ingredients by refusing to buy their products!

Create HEALTHY habits!!!

Read your labels!! If there are things you can’t pronounce, don’t know what they are, skeptical – AVOID BUYING THE PRODUCT!!

Happy eating!

This Week’s Obsession

29 Sep

012

I may just be convinced that there is NOTHING better on market than Chokay!

NO ADDED SUGAR DARK CHOCOLATE! Sweetened with the natural Stevia leaf. Plus…25% less calories than other chocolates. Really can’t compete.

http://www.chokay.nl/

A Normal Life is Boring, but Superstardom…

27 Sep

604

There are some astounding figures for the projected world population in the next 7 years. According to research, there will be almost 8 billion people on this earth by 2020. Hey, remember when there used to be 5 billion not that long ago?

As the globe becomes more populated, more transparent, noisier, busier, and probably dirtier, (ALL in my lifetime), I can’t help but think of how humans will “fight to survive.” Since I study Economics, there is always this talk about competition for resources. And since I also reside in the United States, I am technically, simultaneously, competing for a better life for myself and my family.

Well, at some point, there’s just no end to the definition for a “better life.” And competition takes a funny position in all of this – there’s no definition for it either! Simply because, there will always be someone better than me. And there will always be someone better than that person as well. Knowing this, is it really worth climbing out of my own skin to compete with people who are just simply better than me at something? What a waste!

This is why I strongly believe that understanding and developing strengths and talent is so important! We already have the advantage to many people standing in line behind us. Why do we always force a square to fit into a circle? We can only do that if we diminish its size.

And conversely, we diminish so much of our potential by spending years and energy on careers that do not nurture us.

So, if you share my sentiments, think about what will happen to you when the world and competition both grow exponentially. How many years of your short life will you spend chasing and trying to be better than the next person? What will you have to sacrifice in order to do that? Will it be worth it?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.