Sunday
Jun162019

What about Bob?

Have you ever met a Bob you didn’t like? Personally, I love me a “Bob”.  My late Grandfather was a Bob, my older brother is a Bob and my Mom’s brother, you guessed it--Bob. According to David Rensin and Bill Zehme, Authors of “The Bob Book”, there really is something about Bob... in a detailed survey they document that men named Bob “are decent, dependable types who instinctively make the most of a bad situation. Bobs are sensible, approachable, likable and reliable.”  So as I sat down to interview Dr. Robert Hamilton, founder of Pacific Ocean Pediatrics in Santa Monica, creator of the “Hamilton Hold”, Author of the “7 Secrets of the Newborn” and co-developer of “Hamilton Babies” skin and hair care products, I had to ask him, “What do you like to be called?” You can imagine my delight, when his answer was, “Bob”.

 

READ THE FULL MAGAZINE ONLINE


Saturday
Jun012019

Meditation...it's not what you think

There is a lot of "buzz" around meditation these days, like it's "hip" to meditate--but what does it actually mean to meditate? One thing is for sure, it's not what you think.  Meditation does not mean sitting in lotus in front of an altar of candles with Buddha statues and crystals.  It can simply be setting aside time in your morning and/or night to not to think!  Personally when I meditate, I sleep better at night and function better througout the day.

According to Wikipedia, Meditation is a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself.  

For some, meditation (or prayer) takes on a more spiritual connection with God or “source” as an “effort to realize and express that pure consciousness which is the reflection, or image, of God within you.” ~Parmahansa Yogananda

While for others, meditation is just plain impossible.  It is for the “others” that I write this piece.  If visualizing a light flowing around your body, using the power of positive thought, repeating a mantra or even prayer all seem a bit out of reach for you, then read on.  I'm here to suggest meditation is not what you think, it's how you breathe!


Mindfulness, Yoga Meditation (any type), Vipassana, Mantra, Taoist, Qigong, if you’ve ever tried these or any form of meditation you know, it ain’t easy.  Like anything worth doing, meditation takes practice and consistency and unless you know how to do it, meditation also takes guidance.  Guidance can come in many forms.  There are audio recordings with people like Deepak Chopra and Jack Canfield and Apps like Headspace and websites like Relax Like A Boss to talk you through it.  There are places you can go like Unplug and Self Realization Fellowship for classes and workshops.  For some people sitting still to meditate is really hard. For these folks cardio exercise such as running, biking, swimming and/or practicing yoga asanas serve as their “moving meditation”.  The physical practice of yoga evolved over the years to exercise every muscle, nerve and gland in the body.  But the real importance lies in the way the asanas train and discipline the mind.  If it weren't for the physical practice of yoga most of us Westerners would never even begin to realize the possibilites of meditation.

There is no one right or wrong way to meditate, but one thing I have noticed is, no matter what form you practice, breathwork is key.  From a scientific stand point it makes sense.  When we breathe deeply and consciously our bodies receive more oxygen (inhale) and release more carbon dioxide (exhale).  Oxygen is loaded onto the red blood cells while carbon dioxide is unloaded from them into the air. The oxygenated blood then flows through our veins to the heart where it pumps all the oxygen goodness in the blood throughout the body.  The more oxygenated our body and brain are, the less they have to work, and as a result our restless bodies and minds get to sloooow down.

I began doing breathwork at a young age when my drama teacher, also a Yogi, started and ended the class with breath exercises.  It wasn’t until years later that I realized the immense benefits of these exercises.  Now I practice breathwork or pranayama (prana=breath, life, energy) both in my practice of yoga as well in my every day.  While sitting in traffic, soothing my daughter, calming myself (while sitting in traffic with my daughter) and while drifting off to sleep, breathing consciously helps me feel peaceful and relaxed.  As with meditation, there are several different breath techniques to choose from.  With so many available, I thought I’d highlight three of my favorites.

To watch a video on the three techniques discussed, click here!

20/20/20

(Or as I like to say, 5/5/5)

The idea is that the inhalation and exhalation are equal parts including holding the breath at the top for the same count.  With the goal being 20 seconds for each equal part, a more realistic count is 5 seconds.  Depending on when you use this breath, the exhale can be with an open mouth to release carbon dioxide or with a closed mouth (as in Ujjayi Breathing) for control and a front lobe cleansing.  With each round of breathing watch the breath flow in, hold and out.  With every inhale fill the belly with air, expand the rib cage to the top of the lungs, hold and with every exhale release the breath from the chest down to the belly pressing all the air out.  Repeat several times until you begin to feel a calm wash over the body.

Double Inhalation/ Exhalation

The idea behind this practice is tension and release.  When our bodies are tense it is nearly impossible to sit quietly.  Take two deep breathes through the nose filling the belly with air, expand the chest and tense every muscle in your body.  Hold the breathe at the top and feel the vibration the body makes as it holds the breath and muscles tight.  Then, on a double exhalation, release the breath through the mouth with an audible, “hah, haaah” and relax all the muscles in the body.  Notice as you inhale any areas of tension you may be holding unecessarily in your body, and pay close attention when you exhale to release them.  Repeat several rounds and on your final round hold the breath at the bottom of the exhale for as long as you can and notice the stillness come over you.

Ujjayi breathing is a breath technique employed in a variety of Taoist and Yoga practices. In relation to Yoga, it is sometimes called "the ocean breath" because of the sound it makes as the breath rushes across the back of the throat. Unlike some other forms of pranayama the inhalation and exhalation are both done through the nose.  The ujjayi breath is typically done in association with asana practice which helps to guide smooth transitions and steady the poses.  Similar to the other pranayama, the inhale fills the lower belly (activating the first and second chakras), rises to the lower rib cage (the third and fourth chakras), and finally moves into the upper chest and throat. The length and speed of the breath is controlled by the diaphragm, which as a result each breath strengthens the core making it a mini ab exercise!

If you are still not convinced that there is a place for meditation consider this. A meditation practice can be very simple. It could be something like, every night before bed, do a body scan, relax each muscle in the body while taking a few breaths. Every morning, get out of bed, set a timer for 20 minutes (even 5 minutes to start), sit quietly, breathe and just do nothing. Believe it or not, but some of my clearest, best thoughts emerge from this time in my day when I commit to do nothing. If you are at all stressed, lacking sleep, feeling overworked, living with aches and pains or seeking peace in your life, what do you have to lose? Meditation, it's not what you think...  

 

Alison Burmeister

For

Balanced Beauty 

Sunday
May262019

SUMMER YOGA CAMP...FOR ADULTS

What ever happened to the days of Summer

where your Mom handed you a bike (no helmet)

and said "I'll see your for dinner"?


Now it's all about the Camps! Sports camp, beach camp, sew camp,

art camp, tech camp, gymnastics camp, chef camp,

entrepreneur camp, tennis camp, surf camp...did I miss one!?

I got to thinking there needs to be a camp...for adults! 

Why should kids get to have all the fun? 

Introducing Adult Yoga Camp!

Adult Yoga Camp

What it is: 8 weeks of Yoga Tuesday and Friday's @ The Pacific Palisades Woman's Club

Starting the week of June 10th-August 2, 2019

Tuesdays: 9-10 AM Vinyasa Yoga Flow

Fridays:  9:45-10:30 AM Chair Yoga Movement

PLUS

Thursdays: 2 Yoga Hikes!! (June 27 & July 11, 9-11 AM)

Thursday: 9-11 AM @ Temescal Canyon Gateway Park

 

If you are thinking...wait a second, this sounds a lot like the regular yoga schedule with a couple yoga hikes added in...you'd be totally right!  Here is the "Camp Deal"! 

Camps are all about the "Package Deals", so I've created the "Self Care Package Deal"! 

Reserve your space by paying for classes ahead of time and receive a savings on each class! (Plus it helps me to know who is coming!)

Summer gets busy, why not pencil in time for yourself today and make a commitment to create a habit that will serve you not only this Summer, but all year long!

 

Here's the Deal!

8 days (Tues or Fri Class/Or Mix it Up!) of Yoga for $80

-or-

8 days of Yoga (T/F/Mix) + One (1) Yoga Hike for $108

 

Session start:

June 10-August 2, 2019  

Yoga Hike:

June 27, 2019 & July 11, 2019

(additional hike dates available upon request)

 

"Self Care Packages"

Monday
Mar252019

Staying in the "flow" of things...

Life is a little bit like floating down a river...sometimes life flows fast, sometimes slow.  Sometimes it even gets "stuck" like a twig between two rocks, but inevitably a current will push forward, ready or not. 

On this "flow of life", we take on many responsibilities and roles.  Some of us are not only responsible for ourselves, but our family and children as well. It is often times difficult to "stay afloat" on the river of life (I promise I'll cut the metaphors out soon!) which is why when life is in "flow" it is important to celebrate and acknowledge how we got there!

Recently I found myself "In the flow" of life.  The story begins 8 1/2 years ago when I was working as a makeup artist on the Dr. Drew show "Lifechangers".   A cross somewhere between Oprah and Jerry Springer, the show was a real pot luck of pop culture and useful information! Dr. Drew addressed a wide variety of topics which made for an equally diverse guest line-up, including Honey Boo Boo, Octomom and Bunny Ranch owner, Dennis Hof. It wasn't rare to have a circus performer seated next to some amazing scientist or specialist who would unknowingly make an impact on your life for many years to come. Most days, the makeup room was as exciting as the show itself!   

As a new working Mom, the makeup gig on the Dr. Drew show was perfect for me. We shot in Burbank 2 times a week, 9-5.  I had the perfect balance of work and motherhood.  My daughter was just over a year old. I found a sweet little daycare not far from my home in Pacific Palisades for her to "socialize" with other kids while I headed cross town. At pick up one day the woman who ran the daycare informed me that my daughter wasn't napping like the other kids and that a shift in her sleep schedule was inevitable.  As a mom who took pride in the success I had "sleep training" in my daughter's infant months, I was less prepared for the willfulness that would come with being an active toddler.

So when I heard one of the guests appearing on "Lifechangers" was a children's sleep expert, I made darn sure she was in my chair!  Turns out she was not only a sleep expert...but also from Pacific Palisades where I lived!  Her name, Jill Spivack was a wealth of information.  She shared the idea of a "sleep chart" where you and the child create a bedtime routine schedule together. I took her advice and created a sleep schedule with my daughter that night. Building on the routine that we had started when she was an infant, of books and baby (her little giraffe lovey that she cuddled with every night) I gave my daughter the opportunity to come up with a few ideas of her own. Every night after washing face, brushing teeth, reading books, saying good night to the "magic tree" (a plant decorated with lights and butterflies in the corner of her room) we'd pick a color from the "Fancy Nancy Spa Day" manicure page and "paint our nails". (The apple doesn't fall far from the tree)  Not only was it fun and creative, it was also cathartic.  It worked!  Each night following this routine, my daughter went to sleep with no problem and slept through the night well rested for the next day.

Doing Jill's makeup probably took less than an hour, but her advice served me for years! When the season ended, in addition to continuting to do makeup, I moved on to pursue other opportunities like teaching yoga and writing. Which brings me to where I am today.  On a recent writing assignment for "The Palisades Magazine" I was asked to interview the women of "Sleepy Planet".  Thinking nothing of it, I agreed willingly to write the piece explaining I had a passion for sleep myself and would enjoy the research! As I sat across from the two women for the interview, I felt an odd familiarity...like they were already my friends.  Or maybe they just reminded me of two characters on the show "Friends", but alas I digress. The more we talked, the more I was sure that Jill, who had changed her hair since I saw her last, was the woman who helped me so many years ago! My heart sang and my skin tickled with happiness.  I was in my "flow".

On this river of life (you knew it had to come back in at some point!) I've learned that when I am in the "flow" good things happen.  Good things like getting to tell Jill and Jennifer how much I appreciated the advice of the sleep chart and now, sharing with you, the great world of "Sleepy Planet".

 

So with no further adieu, 

 

"Sleepy Planet", Jill Spivack and Jennifer Waldburger.

 

To read the article and more, follow this link to the complete PDF of the Magazine:

https://issuu.com/longvalleymedia/docs/palisades_spring_2019_-_issuu


Sunday
Feb242019

Ready, Set, Fast!

I’ve never been much of a dieter, more of a food “omitter”. Like when I was in high school and after one too many of the greasy cafeteria chocolate chip cookies, I decided the best way to cut back on my grease and sweet intake, specifically these ooey gooey delicious chocolate chip cookies whose aroma wafted up my pubescent nose each day, was to give up chocolate. I was convinced  “by cutting out chocolate, I’d eat less sweets and be healthier for it.” For seven years I gave up chocolate, opting instead for granola bars, fruit and Pay Day candy bars (the only candy bar without chocolate--they were my jam!). It sort of worked! On my 21st birthday my best friend asked the question…”Why don’t you eat chocolate?” and proceeded to order me a delicious chocolate cake for dessert.  A few drinks later--just like my 21st birthday--the cake was a distant memory. I do remember however that I discovered all over again, I really loved chocolate--what was I thinking!? 

Well I was thinking about controlling my sugar intake, which is sort of a “thing” today.  But back then it wasn’t, and we definitely didn't have influencers telling us it was. As a dancer, I was a witness to some more serious diet/health concerns around food like anorexia and bulimia, and I still feel for those who battled these eating disorders. But back then I just knew those cookies weren’t good for me. Cut to me as an adult and I have a fairly balanced and healthy relationship with food. That said, as of late, I've been feeling a little more achey in my joints and less clear in the mind. It's like my mind and body needed a little dusting off, a “re-boot”. 


It didn’t take long for my thoughts to manifest into reality.  The offer came to me ironically over breakfast.  I was in a meeting with 3 gentlemen in the healthcare and wellness industy discussing their companies and what they offer, when one of them brought up the ProLon Meal Program.  “It’s a Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD) designed to exploit the bodies ability during periods of low calorie intake to enter a protected mode, remove damaged cells and tissues, and undergo self-repair.” He said. “Evidence suggests that this process may result in increased longevity and improved health and wellness.  You three should try it!”  One look around the table and we were all in.

 

A week or so later a big white box showed up at my door with 5 numbered boxes inside, instructional manual, the ProLon meal card, ingredient lists and a clear water bottle with the green letters ProLon written across.  The top of the lid read, “REJUVENATION FROM WITHIN”.  Inside each box is all the food provided for the day.  Which at first glance did not seem like a lot, but I’ll get to that.  I set it aside for the time being, as it was mid week and just before Valentines Day. Collectively we all decided one more glass of wine and bite of chocolate would be necessary before diving in.  We decided to start on Monday and make a clean start of it.

 

Day 1.  Monday: We settle into our new meal plan. Now realizing that this was the day I would receive the most “food”, I had to “check” myself. Despite getting to eat on this fast, I was already missing my food and it brought to light how much I snacked throughout the day.  I wasn’t alone, keeping a text thread with my two fasting companions, one of the guys reported.

  

Day 2. Tuesday:  The headaches came.  For many the hardest part of any diet, cleanse or fast is the removal of certain chemicals in our body that drive our physical machine each day, like caffeine.  ProLon recommends you stay off of caffeine, but does say you can have one cup a day. We all opted to cut caffeine.  Starting day 2, the program included the L-Drink, a glycerin additive to put in our handy ProLon water bottles.  There was a lot of water consumption on this and it made me realize, I definitely didn't drink enough water. When I drank more water, the headaches went away. Another thing happened.  I was bored.  With all my meals planned for me, and very minimal at that.  It was all very easy. The soups required the most preparation which was basically boiling water and stirring occassionally…food was becoming a very “non-issue” in my day.  I had to find things to fill the time and space with.

 

Day 3.  Wednesday:  Hump day. The food scene is bleak.  I start to ration kale chips from my allotted lunch time to save for a snack later.  I made comments like, "I'll never take a single olive for granted ever again." By now the body is consuming 800 calories a day. 1200 is the minimum daily recommend amount.  Thus the body is tricked into thinking it is not eating and the calories you do receive are used to repair and remove damaged cells.  Pretty cool right?

 

Day 4.  Thursday:  We start to observe the ingredients, nutritional facts and benefits of this fast--because, again we are bored and trying to make our food interesting…no I kid!  I should mention of the three of us on this fast, for two of us, this is our first time.  The other gentleman has fasted before and with a medical background he earned the title “pro faster” throughout the week.  In all the discussions of nutrients and lack there of, his comment was this. 

 

 

The whole concept is fascinating actually.  Fasting or Intermittent fasting has many benefits backed by scientific research:

Some of the benefits of a fast are:  

1. Promotes Blood Sugar Control by Reducing Insulin Resistance

2. Promotes Better Health by Fighting Inflammation

3. May Enhance Heart Health by Improving Blood Pressure, Triglycerides and Cholesterol Levels

4. May Boost Brain Function and Prevent Neurodegenerative Disorders

5. Aids Weight Loss by Limiting Calorie Intake and Boosting Metabolism

6. Increases Growth Hormone Secretion, Which Is Vital for Growth, Metabolism, Weight Loss and Muscle Strength

7. Could Delay Aging and Extend Longevity

8. May Aid in Cancer Prevention and Increase the Effectiveness of Chemotherapy

 

 

Day 5.  Friday:  Last day! We turn the corner.  My comment to the group was:

 

            “Feeling energetic today despite no sleep last night. Down 4 lbs as of Monday.  Body feels good-hungry but I haven’t had my tea and bar yet. My mind is clear, not spacey.” 

 

We all agree we feel better today than any other day so far.  Maybe because it was the last day and we knew more food was in our future? Going to the gym to work out was also fine.  ProLon recommends you don’t work out or work out with caution in case your body weakens during the fast.  I lightened my weights and lessened the intensity (because I get pretty intense, let me tell you) just to be on the safe side.  We all discuss the possibility of doing this the 3 times throughout the year.  I suggest the possibility of a retreat on a warm sandy beach somewhere and no one seems to object!

 

In the end the ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet was a success.  We all carried on in our regular routines.  Despite my earlier comment about wanting to go to a sandy warm beach, the program is very manageable to incorporate into any lifestyle.  We all still worked, we all still took care of our kids and we all maintained our regular schedule, with the exception of going to bed a little earlier.  Our “pro faster” found it very easy to follow and with his medical background also agreed it was a viable program.  For my other counter part, the bit that impressed me the most with his experience was that he travelled and attended business lunch meetings while on the fast. He even brought the soup to a lunch meeting and asked the chef to cook the soup for him!  

 

My greatest take away was this:

 

 

The sixth day we were recommended a transition diet of liquids, light meals of rice or pasta and small amounts of fish, meat and legumes.  By day 7 you could resume a normal diet.  

The one thing I did not realize before this program was how much eating was a total habit-a time killer, a space-filler and a major distraction. If you are looking for a life or diet "Re Boot" a fast or Fasting Mimicking Diet might be just the thing for you. That said, it is not for everyone, if you have any concerns please contact a medical professional first!

Maybe you too will decide to make a clean sweep, not just for your body but for your mind. 

For more information on the ProLon, please visit their website: prolonfmd.com

 

My caffeinated green tea has never tasted so good!

 

Alison Burmeister

For

Balanced Beauty