Tetyana Live

Happy Healthy Manual

No Job Report: One Month Later

IMG_0527Lately every time I check in with my friends and family, I hear the same questions regarding my new job-free life: it’s been a month, what is your next move? You’ve had some time to think about it, where are you going next? What will happen when you run out of savings?

The answer to the above is stable: I am extremely happy to live my life freely and creatively.

I believe that:

  • as long as I create and share with love and passion, goodness will continue to follow,
  • the more positive energy I facilitate through myself, the same amount of it I will receive back. What I put in, is what I will be given. In any case, I choose to put in only the best.

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I think it is a good time for a progress update. Below are some concrete and strategic steps I took to improve my life in the beginning of the month, and their results 30 days later.

As I mentioned before, I was extremely busy and worked long hours. Many important things took a backseat. One of them, was space in my home. Yes, I live in a tiny home (called “shoebox” in NYC tongue, but I think it’s a negative connotation, so I say tiny home). Space is a luxury here, so any wrongdoing and spacial abuse/neglect will lead to consequences. Any inch of clutter, unnecessary stuff, old clothes, canned food for the next Hurricane Sandy drains energy.

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I technically missed my spring cleaning deadline, so I had to do a major overhaul in the summertime. Best thing I’ve ever done. Granted, I had the time, but I really took the time. I was thorough and heartless. I threw out things that I pitied last year (of course, without even using them for that whole year). So, my rule of thumb is: if you haven’t used it in 6 months, toss it, or better yet – donate it, if it fits the bill. Cleaning includes: cleaning your email inbox, computer files, browsing history, etc :)

Bottom line is: cleaning clutter and maintaining clean space is extremely important. As a matter of fact, it is the first thing that I did after I quit. Clean and orderly home = positive and abundant energy. It’s also an invitation for new and better things to occupy the extra space.

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Status update on exercise: I still exercise 5-6 days per week. I absolutely love it and think I am addicted to something good. I lost 5 pounds, gained more muscle, and most importantly – I feel energized. My mood has become more stable and any small annoyances are felt and dealt with immediately. I also learned a very good lesson when I double sprained my wrist. And that is: rest or you will pay for it by missing your favorite exercise.

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Nevertheless, I still went to the gym and focused on my legs and abs. 10 days after the painful sprain, I went back to yoga and felt as strong as ever. Such an indescribable feeling!

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Being away from the office also gave me more control over whom and what I occupy my time with. I developed a very low tolerance for negativity. First, reading news was one of my favorite morning activities. But over the last month I became extremely choosy with what I read.

Media thrives off of negative and scary news. But this type of news also cultivates thoughts charged with fear, anger, insecurities, and sometimes even hatred. My question was: WHAT IF….we surround ourselves with positivity, grow and develop this instead? Our thoughts hold a lot of energy and tend to materialize – they are like seeds that implant themselves inside us and grow. Flowers or weeds? Our choice.

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I have discovered a website, called SunnySkyz.com for a daily dosage of positive news, feel-good pictures and awesome mood-boosters. Such amazing therapy.

Also, JBR blog compiled some great quotes:

  • Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world. – Lucille Ball
  • You have to believe in yourself before anybody else believes in you. – Ray LaMontagne
  • Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. – William Arthur Ward
  • Wealth is the ability to fully experience life. – Henry David Thoreau

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How to Always Feel Motivated

IMG_0479Have you ever set up a New Year’s resolution? If not, let’s see which ones others have set for themselves!

USA.gov reveals that the most popular and re-occurring resolution is “to lose weight.” With no sarcasm intended, I love going to the gym during the month of January. This is when I stand in line to use fitness equipment and machines. I’m quite excited to see so many people taking initiative to improve their well-being (even though it means I have to wait).

But fast-forward a few months, the gyms become less and less occupied and the faces – more and more familiar. According to Forbes, 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions and out of those, 8% (!!!) actually maintain them. 

“More often than not, people who fail to keep their resolutions blame their own lack of willpower.” – Dan Diamond, health columnist

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Why do we lose our willpower and motivation so quickly? Before we could discover the answer, let’s see: what was the reason we created our goal in the first place? And…

If “losing weight” was so important to most people who set up New Year’s resolutions, if it was a true need, either for belonging, acceptance, or self-esteem, then why is it that so few people actually followed through with their goal? 

One answer is that people who set up such goals did it for the wrong reasons: to impress others, to get their crush to notice them, to prove to someone else that he/she can do it… The list can go on. But the list shares a common theme: the goal was made to please someone else.

People who are consistent with their goals do it for themselves and their own happiness. Yes, I said it. This is the only sustainable reason. Motivation to be happy, every day, in every moment, is the hardest and most underrated concept I have ever (personally) stumbled upon.

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How do I know? Well, I’ve been there. I have dieted and exercised to please my partner. To cut to the chase: two years later, I was at the same weight as I started. I would make short-term, huge goals, strain and pressure my body, get sick of it, eat more, get more stressed, eat more, crash diet, repeat. Waste of time. Don’t try it.

Yet, a few years later, when I decided to prioritize Happiness and make it an actual DAILY GOAL, I could not stop pursuing health, positive relationships/friendships, dream career goals… In other words, if losing weight and going to the gym make me happy, why would I ever drop out? When I realized that without utmost health I cannot enjoy anything else in life, how could I possibly be careless towards health? If positive relationships nurture my happiness, why would I stop building and improving them?

Why would I want to stop doing anything that makes me happy? Why would I even need to be motivated to be happy?

Throughout our lives, often without thinking, we pursue things that make us happy and deviate from those that make us unhappy. And so, we are totally able to  ACTIVELY attract positive things. We can pursue careers of passion, healthy marriages, perfect bodies. We are the ones in charge of all choices that we make. We are motivated to make those choices every day, effortlessly.

Does it make sense that choices made for us by other people ..or..

choices that we make to please other people hold much less meaning to us

if they do not align with what we ultimately want?

If there is less meaning, there is less motivation.

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Happiness is a need. It is just as important of a need as love, self-esteem, self-realization. Without happiness there will be none of the above. Happy people live for their own happiness first, because it is the only kind of happiness that is sustainable. And when they are happy, they make other people feel the same way. Happy people do not wait for other things/events/people to make them happy or to motivate them to go and do something.

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Their motivation is to live life and enjoy it, year round. Do things that make you happy and you will never need to be motivated again.

And with that said, the second Miss Universe runner-up, Diana Garkusha from Ukraine shared with the world on Instagram her secret (read caption below the photo):

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The Most Attractive Woman

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What Men Want” run the headlines on magazines and titles of beauty websites, alluring women to flock to them for advice on how to seduce their significant others.

So, how much have we learned?

Women graduated from all this knowledge, perfected facial contouring with a pound of makeup and walked down the runway in couture fashion. But at end the of the night, the makeup and Spanx came off – welcome back dark under-eye circles, dull skin, fat belly, cellulite, clumps of hair falling out…

Forgive me for bringing this back, but what was Drake thinking when he said we look prettiest while chilling in sweatpants with NO makeup? Is he crazy? All this unappreciated effort…

At this point, men are just screaming it at us, but we aren’t listening. We are too busy reading posts written by women who tell us what men want. Maybe, can we give Drake a chance?

Maybe, the most attractive woman is a natural, happy woman. One who learned to be in tune with her body, mind, unique characteristics. One who consistently takes care of these qualities, along with her surroundings, the little details.

You may wonder what “unique characteristics” I am talking about. Yes, I do mean, men and women are programmed differently, not just on the outside. The slightest variation in their brain make-up makes an enormous difference in how women perceive the world, feel and act in it. (Information source: The Female Brain written by Dr. Louann Brizendine – a book I strongly suggest for all to read)

And here goes my little story on how I personally verified this. As a child and young girl, I despised femininity. Granted, many girls until puberty (before hormones kick in) feel relatively equal to boys and that is very normal. But I was also very resistant to training from my grandmother, who attempted to teach me embroidery and cooking (she made it clear that I was irresponsible when it came to the house stuff). She tried to forbid me from playing in the dirt and climbing trees. I responded with serious rebellion. I hated anything that reminded me of typical activities performed by women (I grew up in Ukraine, and the cooking/cleaning was done by women, for the most part).

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But as life would have it, in a few years I moved to the United States and faced another challenge with my stepmother. She was knowledgeable in style, picked my clothes, forced me to keep my room clean, and taught me maternal skills by holding me responsible for the home and helping her raise my baby brother.

This new training that I despised so much, opened up a channel and opportunity for me to connect with my femininity. Each person in this world has both masculine and feminine qualities for different purposes in life, in very different dosages. Each quality can be developed and suppressed. And so, the more I developed my feminine qualities, the more comfortable I became in my skin.

This all shifted tremendously again, when I moved to New York City at seventeen years old and chose a hyper-independent lifestyle, which lasted for good 7 years. My professional choices, the need to survive and thrive in a tough city required me to tap into my masculinity and develop assertiveness, aggression, unfeelingness (this is all controlled by testosterone).

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Not long into this process and I began experiencing health issues, small and large ones – stress, anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks, dark circles under eyes, brow wrinkles, skin breakouts, problematic relationships, suppressed creativity, among many other private ones. The health impact on me was more significant compared to childhood. Things became much more serious. I felt out of tune with myself.

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Luckily, my state was not completely hopeless. Life gave me a lot of help by strategically placing people and information (books, interactions) to teach me how to fix my issues.

“Issues” or “unresolved questions”, as I learned, are tools that body+mind use to communicate with us. This communication forces us to acknowledge, to become aware, to find a way to resolve the issues at hand. Often times we resort to taking medicine, drinking alcohol or doing drugs, clearly understanding that this is just a band-aid. The body and mind WILL find a way to speak to the individual by manifesting themselves into more difficult health problems. If not now, then later.

And so, I listened. I tuned into my body and thoughts. I took the little steps, put a little extra effort each day. And as a rule, it continues to be a process of perfecting the little details, working on myself, which is really the hardest part of living. Yes, it is making my bed, cleaning my space, taking care of my body, learning how to be a better person and more specifically, developing femininity.

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An ancient proverb goes: “Don’t want to be wise? Then suffer.”

To love and to be happy… To create, to learn to develop self…

The energy women create, the glow of their skin and hair, fresh smell of their bodies, their natural, clean features, their gentle touch, their soft voice, their manners, their profound wisdom, their internal strength, their patience, love and care – those are some of the qualities that make women so attractive, sultry, seductive, magnetic. These features are not just attained. They require deep effort and time. They become a career.

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The development of these feminine pieces, tapping into the deep feminine energy is what made me, personally, happy, calm and firm in my life’s purpose. I am fully aware of how “unconventional” this is, and probably goes against everything feminists ever fought for. So, I will accept the criticism with a grain of salt and peaceful satisfaction, because at some point, I used to think the same thing.

 

Basic Steps to Happy Weight Loss

FullSizeRender-3No doubt that we are a few weeks into the summer, but looking slightly better than yesterday never hurt anybody :)

After I cleared up my schedule, I have been committed to fitness 6 days per week. This includes either calisthenics (working out with own body: push ups, pull ups, abs…), yoga, and mild cardio. I’m also a fan of walking and normally do a few miles per day around the city in addition to my chosen gym schedule. (Photo of me was taken after 2 weeks of fitness and clean eating prior to which I had no definition at all).

There’s nothing wrong with experimenting what works best for you – actually this is strongly encouraged. I’ve tried ballet/barre classes, weight training, swimming, belly-dancing, running, yoga. The time of the day during which you work out is also important. Clearly, so is diet (I would say 80% of physical appearance is what/how much you eat).

** Before we start, let’s remember two nutrition facts that go hand-in-hand with time of exercise: (1) fat sticks to fat, (2) muscle eats up fat **

How is this important?

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With that in mind, if you haven’t figured out your best time, working out in the evening is better for weight loss because muscles work even when the body rests. So while you sleep, your fat will be gradually converting itself into muscle.

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There’s a myth that you need to fill up with protein post-workout. Yes, this is an option for someone who wants to bulk up (picture above). If you want to lose weight (muscle eats fat), avoid eating anything heavy. I personally prefer a feminine dancer/ballerina body to a ripped fitspo model. But that’s just me!

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The less food you put into your belly after workouts, the more fat will be burned off your body. The body usually allocates energy by using fuel that’s already in the stomach, and if there is not enough there, it turns to eating up excess fat on the body.

*** If your workouts are strenuous, then eat as you see fit. Listen to your body! ***

Breakfast

Never skip breakfast – I hope I didn’t surprise you. As a matter of fact, this is your moment to have a well-sized meal or biggest one of the day. Carbs are better at this time, as your body is crazy for fuel after a nice fat burn all-nighter. Lunch should gradually convert into protein or something slightly heavier than breakfast.

I never understood the idea of working out on an empty OR full stomach. I head over to the gym or studio when my meal is digested.

My favorite time to eat breakfast is 8:00am and it will comprise of homemade oatmeal/barley groats/grits/rice/cous-cous with unsweetened almond milk (as you see, there are so many wonderful options). Sometimes, upon desire I will add raisins or cranberries. I am obsessed with ground cinnamon, so I usually sprinkle that for some added taste. Cinnamon also helps regulate the feeling of hunger, so it’s a double win for me.

As a rule, I need to have a coffee in the morning. I am not addicted and can easily function without it, but one cup does me no harm. I drink my coffee plain black (yes, that took some getting used to, but now I actually learned to appreciate different roasts and elements) :)

At 10:00am I go to yoga class. If I skip yoga that day to work and research, I make up the workout in the gym in the late afternoon. I am an early riser, so late morning is a more preferable time to work out for me. Around 11:30am I have a probiotic drink. My favorite ones include Kevita brand with strawberry, mango and mojito flavors. They are only 20 calories per bottle and taste amazing. Sometimes I drink Gingerade GT Kombucha or make my own with: 1 cup of water, 2 table spoons of Bragg (the best brand!) apple cider vinegar and 1/2 squeezed fresh lemon.

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The legend goes that queen Cleopatra drank a cup of water infused with apple cider vinegar every morning to stay healthy and beautiful.

Do not drink while you eat. I am actually surprised by how many people don’t follow this rule. Drinking during food dilutes digestive juices, slowing down the process and encouraging food fermentation in the belly. Drink 20 minutes prior to eating and not earlier than 40 minutes post-meal.

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Back to the schedule…

My routine keeps me satisfied until 12:30 – 1:30pm and then I break for lunch. This is a much more flexible time of the day for me diet-wise, but I would usually eat fruit and drink vegetable juices at this point. I’ve also discovered new love for sweet potato, yams, and taro root with coconut milk and tapioca. Sometimes, I crave soup or something salty. Again, options are vast and I love what I eat!

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Dinner menu for me mostly consists of light food: salads or more fruit, based on preference. For foodies, my biggest suggestion is to try and separate carbs and proteins. There is an entire science behind this, but the best way to explain why is: think back to your last Chipotle visit. Many people complain that while the food is so delicious, it makes them feel bloated and heavy. The reason for this is because all food combination rules have been broken at Chipotle – proteins, carbs, dairy and veggies have been mixed at once, confusing digestive agents in the stomach. Different agents are sent to the belly to break down carbs and different ones to break down proteins. When they meet, they stall each other, slow down digestion, and the body ends up releasing toxins from poorly-digested food remains.

Quick rules:

Protein can be paired with veggies. So can carbs. Avoid carbs and protein together. Eat fruit on its own. Protein is digested in 3-4 hours, carbs in 2-3, fruit – 45 minutes, veggies – about 1 hour. Once these times have lapsed, you can eat other combinations without mounting pressure on your body.

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An important thing to remember here is: you should eat what your body likes. Of course, we can eat all the french fries and ice cream, but my post wasn’t written to support addictive junk food (sorry) and unfortunately, I have no magic formulas on how to look hot while eating crap.

Any approach to life change, body change, health change has to start in the mind first. If there is no order in the mind, there will be no order anywhere else in your life. That said, the results will happen with consistency. Give it two weeks, the results will show and diet/exercise will become an indisputable part of your day. I actually have no idea, at this point how is it that I chose NOT to exercise in the past. It is one of the best feelings in the world. How?

Simple. Choose exercise activities that you truly enjoy. Some of my friends like boxing, some Insanity, some running or lifting weights. To each is own! Do you like group exercises? How is the trainer? Would you like to have his/her body? How do you feel when you walk out of class or your chosen activity?

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I began to appreciate yoga because like many New Yorkers, I felt stressed and anxious on a daily basis. I did not know how to relax. Yoga helps me manage stress, builds muscles where I want them, improves my strength capabilities, and still challenges me to “reach higher and sit lower.” :) In just two weeks I began to do at least 10 real pushups per set, hold my planks for much longer, feel more flexible, sleep better, and burn inner/outer thigh fat.

Surely, my schedule and diet plan won’t work for everyone. And they are not supposed to. The real success will be a product of different experiences and preferences for different bodies. But some of the above rules are a good way to start thinking about exercise differently. One more gem for the road. Ask yourself: what kind of a body would I like to achieve? Visualize it in your mind, print it on paper, look at in on Instagram, whatever works for you. And then conquer!

 

How I Went from Muffins to Salad

I’ve never been into fitness or sports. When I was little, my father suggested that I take dancing classes, which I rudely rejected and opted for tree-climbing and roaming around with friends. No one in my family made a big deal about body or health consciousness because that was a part of our everyday living. My grandmother and mother cooked food at home and I had little pocket money to spend on junk food.

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It all changed when I moved to America. I was introduced to concepts such as cheap, low-quality school cafeteria food (and I was on free lunch), chocolate milk as a beverage that is somehow compatible with any menu, snack machines, and best one of all – emotional eating. I guess I felt a lot of pressure in a new environment – having to learn English, making new friends, getting good grades, helping at home, and of course, missing my family, friends and activities in Ukraine – school trips, singing ensemble, poetry writing.

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Only now I understand that this was a crucial time to set up life’s foundations (I was entering my teenage years) and my preliminary habits were formed on a basis of pressure and unhappiness.  It got worse when I turned 16. My breakfast usually included packaged chocolate chip mini muffins and bottled Starbucks mocha, three cookies and chocolate milk for lunch, and Subway sandwiches for dinner, not counting occasional large snack binges such as pints of ice cream or pizza. Luckily, at this time I began driving my car and joined a belly-dancing group which gave me some sort of outlet.

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Even when I moved to New York City from upstate New York, it took me a few years to observe the environment and conclude that body and health are everything. In the fashion capital of the world, I was surrounded by some of the most beautiful people who inspired me to re-think my lifestyle. The other part of it was experiencing health problems which forced me to change the way I ate and exercised. And finally, it was a realization that I want to have a healthy family, live long enough to spend time with my great-grandchildren, feel and look good as a woman that I am! Aren’t these thoughts convincing enough to start living better??

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I started educating myself on labels and deciphering between chemical and real ingredients in food. I began to flirt with yoga and gym memberships. And yes, I jumped on the bandwagon of cold-pressed green juices (they’re good!!)

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The first step was the mind. The goal is to everyday (!) understand what is making me happy or unhappy; get inspired: use social media/articles/blogs, make friends who share same interests; take action: make lists or things that need attention and change; execute: for the first two weeks I forced myself to employ positive habits, go to yoga class and gym; keep track: consistently record daily meals and workouts.

Solgar-Chromium-Picolinate-033984008724Regarding my sugar cravings on a more practical note: I began taking Solgar’s Chromium Picolinate vitamin supplement ($8 per bottle) which balances blood sugar. The results are truly remarkable, to my surprise.

Big, difficult changes happen with small, consistent steps and I will stand by this!

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The Controversy of Female Viagra

kissing_coupleLet’s start off with a general update: Sprout Pharmaceuticals is in process of clearing an approval with the Food and Drug Administration to be able to sell “flibanserin” – a drug which is supposed to treat female sexual dysfunction (link to Wall Street Journal article below).

In the past, the drug was rejected twice by the FDA because it did not perform its duties in helping women feel the desire for sex. Sprout appealed those rejections by citing discrimination – “why is there men’s viagra but not women’s”? Basically, enough to spur the emotions of the public (public will probably forget the actual reasons for the drug’s past rejection). And at this point, the FDA is concerned about flibanserin’s interaction with other medicines and alcohol which gives Sprout a step closer to hitting the pharmacy shelves once the company “figures it out”…or gets a good lawyer that can argue well enough?

Before I express my thoughts on this, I would like to share a disclaimer. I am fully aware of the fact that no one pressures me to take whatever drugs. All decisions are ultimately my own and I take total responsibility for my choices. Any opinion I post here is liable for a debate and “but you don’t know my life story” comments.

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One thing I cannot release is concern and care for the society in which I live. Not only is it my eco-system for existence (hopefully a happy and fulfilled one), but also a foundation for my children. I take this as reason and responsibility to create goodness.

So, when things become confusing and science-mixed-with-political-bureaucracies-turned-public-opinion blindfolds me and tells me that all decisions are ultimately my own…I go back to the basics.

So here is what I think. There is a larger problem which is heavily overlooked and the root cause is simply unidentified, shoved aside. I have spoken about this before in my previous article about taking care of one-self, which is ultimately the highest form of love (first step to love is love for one-self, without which no love can be given to anyone/anything else). If there is significant need for a drug to spur an emotion, maybe it’s because there has been a mass-scale negligence of certain emotions and physical body needs all along. Desire for sex is a sign of health – would you agree that a desire to procreate is normal? The body is usually smart enough to communicate its limitations and needs. All that is required is attention and awareness for it (again, self-love simply put).

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Some of my deepest questions and concerns are the following: are women taking care of themselves? And if not, where is their attention and time going? What societal kool-aid are people drinking? Are we just forced to believe concepts that our simple and busy mind cannot encompass, backed up by funded and lobbied science? Who are we waiting for to make key decisions: politicians, corporations, other people? What will happen when harm is caused?

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I have seen these trends in other parts of our society. Pollution and thinning ozone layer, chemical treatment of crops and its effects on human bodies and environment…the list can go on. Anything we put out into the world is indeed an impact. And if we are not doing good here, then what ARE we doing here?

Link: http://www.wsj.com/articles/fda-panel-recommends-approval-of-drug-to-help-womens-sex-drive-1433452544

My Power Move: Quitting the Job

IMG_0067I have been receiving many interesting questions and comments from friends and family regarding the decision to leave my career on Wall Street as an investment banking analyst, a career that I’ve worked so hard for. My favorite ones always started with: “weren’t you afraid that…?” Although it is normal to be motivated or demotivated by fears, I wanted to write this article to explain why fear had nothing to do with my decision. As a matter of fact, it was confidence that propelled me to leave. So, how did I do it and what are my future plans?

Self-reflection was my first go-to while I was still working. The most obvious questions pertained to the physical: how does my body feel? Is it performing its functions well? What are its limitations and what needs more attention? Am I fit? As a woman, I want to feel beautiful inside and out. Any shortcomings in my health make me unhappy – the extra pounds that I feel when I sit in a chair or cellulite I see in photos; dull, unclear and uneven areas on my skin; hair that has lost its shine and life; dark circles under eyes that begin to beg for an intensive concealer usage… Our bodies communicate internal issues via various channels and all of those messages are important.

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The second part to self-reflection was mental. I thought about my life priorities and re-assessed my values. Do I have enough energy to exercise and sleep well? Am I developing spiritually? Do I spend enough time with my friends and loved ones? Am I practicing creativity? How healthy are my relationships? All those things that make me a wholesome, happy and healthy individual have been shoved aside because of lack of time in my day. Of course, not everyone works Wall Street hours as I did. But neglecting values and overlooking petty annoyances yield exhaustion and energy drains even more than working at a physically-demanding job.

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The next question I asked myself was: can I feel comfortable financially after I leave my job, without having a back-up plan? Maxing out my credit card was not an option – I’ve learned better lessons from my past. Financial freedom comes in many forms and there are different outlets for different people: savings, parental help, back-up job, etc. I wrote out my monthly budget – one that is flexible, such as food, clothing, entertainment and one that is fixed: rent payments and bills. Based on this framework, I carefully analyzed which areas I can minimize if need be.

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Many people inquired about my planned activities after I actually leave. Will I spend a few weeks relaxing, sleeping, or traveling? Do I have a new job lined up? I made it clear that I left to focus on myself: my health and well-being. It is a large spectrum to cover but not a vague one. I knew exactly what my shortcomings were (thanks to self-reflection described above), and the answers on how to fix them aligned symmetrically. Once the first goal has been reached, I will put in place another one.

The goal to improve my well-being also prompted me to write a list of things that are bothering me. This even included missing buttons on my coats and disorganized photo folders (I am not kidding.)There is a wonderful quote by one of my favorite writers, Harriet Beecher Stowe. She said:

“To be truly great in the little things, to be truly noble and heroic in the insipid details of everyday life, is a virtue so rare as to be worth of canonization.”

I don’t think I need to add anything else to that, with the exception that when I actually wrote the list, I understood that some of those items will take time and that is just fine. I understood that I will not tackle life’s issues all at once, gave myself the freedom to take it one step at a time without pressure. To me, it signified tremendous self-respect.

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Although it has only been a short period away from work, I can say that I feel absolutely wonderful. I am most productive in the morning, so I still wake up early. Sleeping-in was never my “thing.” Now I implemented 10 Daily Positive Habits, which include: saying grace, eating breakfast, reading the news, exercising, and tracking nutrition and budget.

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As you see, those habits consume a very small portion of the day, but their effects, at least to me, are so vast. I cannot wait to reap the results, start fresh, and continue to develop myself as a better and happier person. This has become my new value.

 

Beautiful Friendships: A Letter to my Best Friend

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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!

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.

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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!

Sugar: the Sweet Poison

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.

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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.

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–          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

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