My blog has moved to http://www.alishapiro.com/blog or you can visit it here.

I will be blogging regularly again starting the end of December. I launched my new website and any creative energy was spent there.

Please take a look and hopefully, subcribe to my blog posts for 2010. They promise to be relevant, fresh and short!

Seasons greetings!

With Thanksgiving already behind us and tons of sales, holiday songs, lights and health traps, the holiday season is upon us. I just got back from Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh. It was so nourishing to be with my family, eat the most amazing meals, including gluten-free stuffing my Mom made and slowing down from the lightning pace of what has become my everyday life. One of the highlights was also participating in Story Corps “National Listening Day”. I’ll tell you more about how you can use this for an invaluable (yet free) and precious holiday gift, but first here are some other updates:

1. My new website is launched! There are still some tweaks to be made, but my motto is “ progress not perfection”. So hop over to alishapiro.com and check it out. I’ll be making a few more changes to make it more user friendly, so bear with me as it progresses. I’ll be sending out an email next week that you’ll need to take action on if you still want to continue to receive my newsletter. If you don’t sign-up from the email I send you, you will not receive any more of my newsletters. This will keep me in compliance with the legality of email distribution. I hope you’ll continue to subscribe, as in 2010 my newsletters are going to be filled with new, rich, relevant and easy to implement ideas and information. As we will be more and more responsible for our health choices, it’s vital to stay informed. You can also sign-up directly on my new website, alishapiro.com.

2. My book  The Roots of Going Green, Your Fork, You Power is officially available for sale! I’m happy to announce it will be part of the University of Pennsylvania’s new sustainability curriculum. How cool is that? Currently, you can get the e-copy here at my website and printed copies will be available in the New Year.

3. I am starting a new group program in the spring of 2010. It will fill up fast due to the rich focus, the content, and the fun we will have as you learn to take control of your eating and relationship with food:

Making Food Your Ally
A 10-week program on Tuesday nights from February 2 – April 16
From 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. at Eviama Spa in Rittenhouse Square
Get ready for spring! The first 3 people to sign up will receive $100 off!
For more details and to sign-up, click here.

Onto simplifying the holidays.

Half the battle, and yes it can be a battle, to enjoying the holidays is keeping focused on what’s important. Even for those of us who enjoy keeping it simple, there’s still that collective pull to spend, stress and eat way too much. I think this year, though, people everywhere are ready for some good, wholesome and old-fashion love. One way to do this in an amazingly powerful way is to ask someone you love to share something in his or her life and then listen to the answers. Really listen and hear the story being told.

I participated in National Listening Day, the Friday following Thanksgiving. Story Corps, who sponsors the day, is a non-profit dedicated to preserving the oral history of Americans. I chose to interview my Mom. I selected about 15 questions from their website and recorded her answers. It was one of the best hours of my life. We’ve shared some amazing times together, and we both agree this was one of the best.

We laughed, we cried and we really connected. I’m going to burn this recording on a CD to inspire me and to give to my future children a reminder of what lessons the stories of my Mom’s incredibly resilient and beautiful life help teach. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about the experience now.

After the interview, my Mom said she could not believe what an emotional experience it was to have her daughter ask and really listen as she relived, through the questions, some important moments of her life. “Ali, she exclaimed, “what a spiritual, bonding feeling this evoked in us. I cannot believe the power of that wonderful hour with you.”

This holiday, I strongly recommend doing an hour interview as a gift for a family member or friend. The interviewee gets the gift of someone really listening to them (how often does this happen?) and the recipient and those listening to the recording, receive the lessons and experience of a lifetime. In our session, the questions my Mom felt were most poignant were when I asked her “Who has been the biggest influence in your life?, What was the most profound spiritual moment of your life?, When did you first fall in love?, How would you describe yourself as a child?”

Questions can be tailored to your individual preferences. You can probably think of a few questions of your own, but to get more questions, ideas, guidelines, and recording tips, visit the website, www.storycorps.org. It’s completely free, so much fun and a chance to connect.

Feeling a bond with someone, or something is one of the most important things for your good health. It’s what spirituality is all about – feeling like you aren’t all alone out here in this chaotic world .Whether it’s family, friends, nature, yoga, a social cause or church, get connected in a meaningful way.

My second tip is to stay healthy! Who has time to get sick? We already need 36 hours in a day and being sick takes days off your holiday plan while decreasing the quality of the season. You have an incredible amount of control in whether or not you get side-lined with a cold, flu or whatever else is going around. For six simple immune-boosting ideas, see my latest NBC clip here.

These are a few ideas to get you started. I have five more healthy ways to simplify the holidays with various gift and recipe ideas I’ll be sharing in mid-December. Remember to re-subscribe to my newsletter next week when you receive the opt-in email or by signing up on my website at alishapiro.com. You’ll be sure not to miss them! They include several yummy dishes and some of the tips I used to eat well and healthy over Thanksgiving. My health routine didn’t miss a beat and either should yours.

I’ll be back soon with more holiday ideas.

Stay warm!

Ali

A Personal Note from Me

It’s turkey time. I am already dreaming about the wonderful Thanksgiving getaway I’ll be sharing with my family at the “The Shapiro Local and Organic B&B”. It’s a Pittsburgh gem to where I often retreat. When the going gets tough, I go to Mom and Dad’s.

Being a health counselor, business owner, grad student, girlfriend, sister, daughter, and friend, I get busy. Throw in the holiday season and staying healthy can seem like another stress, even though I know my lifestyle habits keep me enthused and sane enough to see my life as rich with opportunity versus fraught with work.

There are a few great tips I’ve discovered that I want to share to help you during this extremely busy season. These will give you more time now, and when the holiday dust settles, make healthy habits an effortless part of your life. Before I get these tried-and-true tips, a couple of updates:

Upcoming Events with Me

For current and past clients, I am offering a “Staying Sane and Slim During the Holiday Season” teleclass. It’s a complimentary private class for current and past clients only and will be held Tuesday, November 24th at 7:30 p.m. I will send call-in details the second week of November, but mark your calendars now. If you don’t receive the information, please check your SPAM folder or email me.

In February, I will be starting a group program for those who want to learn the basics of healthy living as a moderate lifestyle rather than a time-consuming obsession. It will be a ten-week program meeting from February 2 till mid-April (a week spring break the first week of March) on Tuesday nights from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at Eviama Spa at S.17th Street in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square neighborhood. It’s a healing and comforting space where you’ll join a community of people wanting to reboot from these crazy times by getting back to basics. The investment on your part is only $599, and if you bring a friend, you both will save $50. It’s an incredible value for all you’ll learn and accomplish. More details to come but email me now if you are interested. There is limited space and it will fill up fast. It will change your life!

Lastly, I have some exciting news. Many of you know I went to Sweden this summer to study sustainability. For my final course paper, I wrote an e-book about how our food choices affect global warming. In America, it’s the number one contributor to greenhouse gases, much more than cars. My professor, Dr. Alan Barstow, has asked me to present the book at a kick-off event for the Sustainability concentration in my Master’s program at Penn. In addition, I received an A+ (I’ve always been a sucker for good grades). My book, The Roots of Going Green: Your Power, Your Fork, will be available online on my website for purchase after the event on November 14. It would make a great holiday gift for someone interested in a quick, funny read that empowers readers to save themselves and the planet.

Creating Time for Your Health

Ok, enough shameless self promotion. I’ve been debunking popular health myths in my previous emails (all which can be found here) and this month, I thought it would be appropriate to visit the “Being healthy is hard work. I don’t have time.” If ever there was a time excuse, it’s during the two crazy months from Halloween thru New Year’s. Here are seven ways (four of them being attitude adjustments) to get yourself out of the “time crunch” trap:

1. Being healthy is not hard work. Like anything you start, there is a learning curve. But eventually, it becomes as automatic and addicting as stopping at Starbucks for a grande Pumpkin Spice latte. Feeling fabulous is something you’ll want more and more of, especially if like most Americans, you don’t realize how crappy you actually feel (many clients I work with never realized their lagging energy, stomach problems, and anxiousness weren’t normal). To make healthy habits easy and sustainable, select one thing a week you can do to improve your health. One thing. Maybe eat breakfast at home. Maybe start to eat breakfast. Maybe read a book on wellness. Maybe start exercising once a week. In week two, add something else. In three months, you’ll be brand spanking new. The self-confidence that comes from following through on your commitment will have you dreaming bigger.

2. Know what healthy living means. It’s not beans and sprouts, going hungry and slogging hours at the gym while doing exercise you hate. Being healthy is the exact opposite of being a martyr! It’s indulging in delicious food, working out smart not hard, doing less, living more and having the energy to do the things that make you thrive, not just survive. It’s quite freeing in that feeling great liberates you to accomplish more! Here are some fun and healthy ways to incorporate the flavors of fall I shared with Lori Wilson on NBC.

3. View time management in terms of energy management or time production. We all get 24 hours in the day. This is the only thing that makes us all equal. How we spend that time is what differentiates our lives. Taking time to cook or fit in a work-out usually means less hours exhausted in front of the couch or at the doctor’s office or waiting in line for prescriptions…or even complaining and worrying about your aliments and weight (this is no longer restricted to nursing homes across America!). You accomplish more when you take care of yourself. I think of my friend, Nicole, otherwise known as Dr. Lipkin. She is a maniac in the best way possible. The quantity and quality of her output makes me look like a lazy ass. Nicole does cross-fit five days a week, eats as healthy as anyone I know, makes time for all her friends and just got certified to drive a Vespa, all the while doing national PR for her first book launch, Generation Y in the Workplace. Her time production is through the roof. As Nicole says about making her work-outs, and diet a priority, “It’s not an option for me. Without quality workouts and an ample, satisfying and healthy diet, I don’t function adequately in mind, body or spirit. There are no good excuses for not making quality exercise and good food a priority–there are only bad excuses for not living the lives we want to live.”

4. Think self-preservation versus being selfish. Taking time for yourself and saying “no” to your endless “to-do” is healthy in and of itself. Stop trying to please everyone because you can’t. No one will miss you that much at the 99th holiday party and you’ll stop missing valuable sleep and a chance to recharge. In effect, you’ll also miss out on the sugar binge that keeps you going in the moment yet feels like a hang-over the next day.  This goes for all year. Prioritize what nourishes your spirit or what’s the point of all this madness?

5. Cook on weekends. I am not a huge cooking fan, and I hate dishes. I love cooking as long as I’m doing it once or twice a week (which also means one set of dishes!) My fascination with food is how it fuels me to live the life I want to live, not in complicated cooking techniques. So on Sundays, I hit the farmers market, put the Steelers game on and do the two-step: cook for two hours to make two soups, two side dishes and two main dishes. I learned quick and easy ways to cook and add vegetables to all of these meals. Bam! Done for the week! If I get inspired, maybe I’ll cook another night. While I enjoy those couple of hours cooking, I find an added benefit is that cooking this way is faster than take-out or going out to eat (even living in a city where I can walk to a restaurant in two minutes!). I’m always five minutes of re-heating away from a delicious, fuel-powering meal.

6. Invest in a crock-pot. These machines make me know the Universe wants people to cook. You throw in a bunch of ingredients, walk away and come home to a warm, aromatic dinner you can eat for the rest of the week if you wanted. Soups and stews work especially well here.

7. Work-out smart not hard. Long hours at the gym are unnecessary and can sabotage your health goals, particularly weight-loss. Learn about interval and weight training. Find a trainer who understands this; google it; invest in my “Supercharging Your Metabolism” teleclass here where I provide the knowledge and examples of these work-outs; do whatever it takes. You’ll reduce your gym time, waistline and your risk for disease. Less is more.

If there’s a will, there’s a very easy way to being healthy. For those of you who feel it’s more the emotional side of the equation that’s getting in your way, I strongly recommend purchasing the recording of my teleclass, “Divine Secrets of the Unemotional Eating Sisterhood”, which got rave reviews last month. I had several people email me about “aha” moments they had and new perspectives on why they overeat. The holiday season is a huge source of overeating for many of us. If you want to be able to indulge in just one or two peanut butter blossoms or Christmas cookie cut-outs and not arrive January 1 with another five pounds to lose, I highly recommend this call. It’s available for purchase here. And you can download it to your iPod, so there’s no excuse about not having the time! All of the other calls I’ve hosted are also available for purchase here. It could be your one thing this week you do for you and your health.

As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, remember the gratitude piece of this season. It sometimes gets lost in the turkey, stuffing and too much pumpkin pie, yet it’s especially important during these turbulent times. Life usually cracks us open so the light can shine in. Make this time count. When we know better, we do better and in effect, feel better.

Gobble gobble,

Ali

Managing Your Subscription

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This Newsletter is written by Ali Shapiro and http://www.alishapiro.com. If you have any questions or comments, please send them to: ali@alishapiro.com

Social responsibility is hot. Companies have done their homework and they know consumers are willing to shell out as much as 20% more on the purchase price if they perceive the company as socially responsible. How about that, we really do care about each other.

But what’s burning a whole in your wallet, health and belief in humankind are empty promises by companies exploiting your good intentions and lack of time to investigate every single product claim. Huh?

Believe it or not, those claiming to be “green” and now this month “pink” for breast cancer awareness aren’t always committed to the environment or erradicating cancer.

As a cancer survivor myself, I tend to avoid much of the cancer causes. That’s an entirely different blog post but I can’t support causes that many times, are perpetuating their existence. Buying M&Ms and plastic products that support breast cancer awareness is like giving an alcoholic alcohol. For those who don’t know, sugar and plastic both contribute to cancer. While there is a mystery why some people develop cancer and others don’t, there is no doubt about what contributes to it and anyone who tells you differently, is robbing you of your best chance at beating cancer: preventing it all together.

So now it seems even some benign cancer-causing products aren’t as rosy pink as we’ve been lead to believe. From fine print limiting donations to making you jump through hoops to get your donation where it belongs, find out if your money for breast cancer awareness is going where you think it’s going. Check out “Think Before You Pink” here.

And use that noggen to not only find out where your money is going but if it would be better spent on a pro-health cause like organic food or environmental clean-up. Then maybe we could eliminate this loop hole and breast cancer altogether.

Welcome fall! The seasons are changing and so are the times in which we find ourselves. I know I’m wondering how I got to be 31 (birthday is today!) and why are the Steelers 1-2, losing to the Bears and Bengals. Really, is this happening?

It seems a 31st birthday has hit me more than my 30th. All of a sudden I’m like, “Woo, I’m really not getting any younger” (even though I feel it), and life is what you put into it. Hallmark wasn’t lying. Two years ago I left my corporate job and would have never imagined life would be this rich, spectacular and challenging (I have some really exciting news to share with you next month so stay tuned!). I see so many people like myself, reconfiguring their lives to match these crazy times, bucking the status quo and going for it, whatever “it” may be.

As someone who is not a huge fan of authority or of old-fashioned institutions, I find this all very exciting. People are finally starting to question and wonder, “Why” and “How”, and they are searching for new meaning. A little dose of skepticism (or intellectual curiosity for those Pollyannas) is healthy!

I see my clients understanding how much more powerful food is than pills. I see them getting savvier about what food even is! They are educating their doctors about food and healing themselves from diagnoses that were slapped on them by outdated medical information. For example, there is Dan, a former client, who had various diagnoses and struggled with digestive problems for most of his life. In four short months, his health was completely restored. Hear from Dan here with what life looks like now.

It’s empowering when you know you can heal and control your body. If you can do that, what else is there to master?

Before we get back to debunking myths, a few housekeeping items:

1.    Many have written that you’ve missed some of the Lounge & Learn classes but are interested in the various calls. All class recordings are available on my website. The $30 is an introductory price and will be going up along with my new website in two weeks. So get them here now. From “Gluten-Free” to “Supercharging Your Metabolism”, each one is designed around radical changes through rational strategies.

2.    The next Lounge & Learn will be Monday, October 19 @ 7:30 p.m. We’ll be discussing “The Divine Secrets of the Unemotional Eating Sisterhood”.  Sign up here (space is limited and these calls are growing immensely in popularity because of all the juicy information discussed).

3.    My new website (www.alishapiro.com) will be up very soon. If you want to continue to receive my newsletters, you will have to sign up from the new website. There will be a complimentary Lounge & Learn for signing up. I’ll send out an email giving you instructions but be alert!

As you have followed me the past couple of newsletters, I’ve been debunking popular health myths.  We are now onto myth number 4: I just can’t lose weight. I’ve struggled with my weight all my life and probably will forever. No matter how much I count calories or exercise, I can’t seem to get my weight under control.

Sound familiar? It has to, because 95% of people aren’t losing weight and keeping it off. And it’s for three main reasons:

1.    Weight^loss is not about calories in, calories out
2.    Conventional cardio makes you fat
3.    Most of weight^loss isn’t about weight

Remember what I said about times are changing – keep that open-mindedness even with what may seem obvious!

There’s a new emerging equation and by now, some of the mainstream media is picking up bits and pieces of it (my “Supercharging Your Metabolism” call ties all this information together in a nice and neat 7-step equation). And well, food companies have been aware of this information for years which is why they meticulously design their foods to exploit your genetic weaknesses and raise their profits.

While calories are important, equally important are caloric quality and balancing your hormones. When eating poor quality, processed foods, signals that keep your metabolism running smoothly don’t get delivered and the memo that you are full never arrives. On the hormonal side, which is affected by food, environmental toxins and lifestyle habits, hormones control satiety, appetite and the thyroid, (which is the gas pedal to the metabolism). When they are out of whack, so is the scale (here’s an article on plastics role in weight gain).

Our food quality and lifestyles have gotten so out of sync with our ancestral heritage that our bodies are on the fritz. Yes, evolution is real.   Because there is so much added stress on our bodies, from poor diet to lack of sleep to environmental toxins, doing long bouts of cardio can actually  stress the body even more. The excessive adrenaline and cortisol production that results from this exercise further aggravates the hormonal dance.

$%!*$%(*) It really isn’t that complicated though, I promise.  If you try to make it complicated and dramatic, then you are probably using your weight as an excuse not to address some other issue that is more painful to your soul than your pant size. Furthermore, if you get annoyed just reading that, then I’m probably speaking directly to you.

So enough with the problems, give me some answers! Here are five tips to get started on melting the weight off, permanently:

1.    Get on the “Cook It Yourself” diet. If you want to eat it, cook it. To understand how processed and restaurant food messes with your appetite for DAYS (yes, not just one meal), read this .

2.    For meals and foods you can’t cook, focus on nutritional value, not caloric value. Real food is packed with nutrition making you feel full and your hormones balanced. See here how I surprised Bill Henley on NBC about what real food is!

3.    Upgrade your grocery cart with these metabolism-boosting choices

4.    Integrate interval and weight training into your work-outs. This is crucial! You can work out less and get better results.

5.  Sit somewhere quiet. Be with yourself or a trusted friend who will be supportive yet candid. Ask the questions, “What would I have to deal with if I weren’t trying to lose weight?” Once you figure that out, get moving on solving that. Weight loss will be much more effortless when you have a life void of emotional landmines.

If you are really serious about weight^loss (and don’t want to wait years till doctors and the mainstream media catch on), I’m going to plug my “Supercharging Your Metabolism” call again, because it’s that good – and accurate. It will save you months of frustration and lay out the entire seven pieces of the real weight^loss equation (it includes great interval and mental exercises for weight^loss). And it’s only a $30 investment. Remember, prices are going up when I launch my new website.

And if you know it’s more an emotional-eating problem versus a logical one, join us on “The Divine Secrets of the Unemotional Eating Sisterhood” call on Monday, October 19 at 7:30 p.m. We’ll peel back the onion and explore what is making you eat emotionally and then provide a plan to end this de-habilitating cycle. It will be liberating and packed with great insights and mental exercises to have you stop eating and start living.

As I close, I want to give a special thanks to all my clients who have worked with me over the past two and a half years. Thank you for trusting in me to co-pilot your health and for being a rebel rouser. Many of my clients would never think of themselves as rebellious but they are, in the most quiet and influential of ways. They have bucked a social milieu and an economy that can only exist when we feel inadequate – in our bodies, our health, in our knowledge and in effect, our power. They are living and breathing inspiration to their families, friends, communities and doctors, of the power of whole foods and whole living.

You see, when you adopt this lifestyle, you aren’t just changing how you eat; you are changing the world. The times are definitely changing and for those people like my clients, it’s definitely for the better!

Here’s to some fabulous fall foliage,

Ali

Ali’s program was amazing.  Hands down the best investment I’ve ever made in myself.  And I’m someone who invests a lot in myself.  The program was full of fun, discovery and friendship, and by the end, I found myself feeling the happiest I’ve felt in tens years and the most in control of my emotions and energy ever.

I lost more than 10 lbs and got back down to my high school weight as an unintended (but much appreciated!) side effect of our focus on getting my digestive, energy and mood issues under control.

Ali also helped me see how nutrition and health fit together with my long term goals and with the things I value in day to day life. Now I’m rocketing forward towards my goals while also enjoying the simple pleasures of each day more than I ever have. ~ Dan S., Washington, D.C.

Believe it or not, weight loss is not about calories in versus calories out. I know it sounds like I’m saying the world isn’t flat circa 2000 years ago. (Yes, the Earth as a round object was known way before Magellan and Columbus. Many scientists knew the earth wasn’t round before the Church finally came to that public conclusion…do I see a pattern here?)

I recently did a teleclass on “Supercharging Your Metabolism”, (and yes, it’s available for download for only $30. This is an introductory price, which will go up October 1) which summarizes the real equation to weight loss. Calories are a factor, but so are many other things which I got into great detail on this call. But just like much other nutrition and health information, lots of industries benefit from you being in the dark.

Pharma companies can continue to sell Alli or other prescription weight loss pills. The dieting industry gets reoccuring revenue from all your failed attempts. Food companies can peddle their  junk and make ridiculous profit margins because they are disguised as diet and health foods. Restaurants continue to sell more food because what they do to their food, makes you eat more.

Let me explain. In a nutshell, losing weight is about metabolism and metabolism is about all the chemical reactions in your body, including hormones. And a lot of processed foods interfere with this dance and as a result, the body doesn’t get the chemical message that it’s full.

Recently, a scientific study out of Texas (yes, there is some good there) showed how high amounts of saturated fat cause the body to ignore the appetite-suppressing signals from leptin and insulin, hormones involved in weight regulation. This can sabotage your dieting efforts not just for a meal but for days. What does this mean for those uninterested in the science but obsessed with scale – you will eat like a pig because the body knows no better.

So for all those who think losing weight is all about will power, think again. Self responsibility is key but it’s a will to cook your own food that is important. If there’s any diet I recommend, it’s the “Cook it Yourself” diet. This is the biggest piece of the REAL weight loss equation. I discuss the other steps in balancing your bodies metabolism and a simple action plan to maximize your metabolism in my teleclass which is available for a nominal investment in your health of $30.

If you are serious about weight loss, get it here now  because it’s going up in price to $43 this Thursday, October 1. It’s worth it’s weight in gold, frustration and self-confidence. And if you aren’t trying to lose weight, try not to be so judgemental of those who are. It’s a jungle out there.