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Are you still ordering the house salad, thinking that you’re being healthy? You’d be better off chewing on some air, pal. As kids we were all conditioned to associate iceberg lettuce with salad, but the reality is that iceberg is practically nutrient-less and other types of lettuce aren’t much better (read Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson).

Let's see... a couple shreds of carrot, 1/8 of a tomato, some iceberg lettuce.  I'm sure that totals to about - 0.75 servings of vegetables.

Let’s see… a couple shreds of carrot, 1/8 of a tomato, some iceberg lettuce.
I’m sure that totals to about negative 0.75 servings of vegetables.

Find something better and more exciting to masticate to…I mean…on.

Best to switch over to kale today.

Did you know that it’s the most nutrient dense food in the world? (Tied with collard greens on the ANDI scale)

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Now time to enjoy this infographic. Go!

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Health Benefits

  • Low in calories
  • High in fiber
  • High in Vitamin A, C, K
  • Contains over 45 flavonoids including kaempferol and quercetin. These flavonoids offer antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Helps detox the body. The sulfur and fiber in kale help detox the body and keep the liver healthy.
  • Helps lower cholesterol
  • Helps fight cancer Read the rest of this entry »
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BodyBannerWhile doing research on Chia seeds last year, I came across a study that showed how increasing the daily intake to 8 TBSP for 12 weeks helped people with Type-2 diabetes lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and improve blood sugar regulation.

I decided to experiment on myself. Would consuming the same amount also have a noticeable effect on a perfectly healthy 29-year-old?

I splurged and bought this massive 10 lb bag of Chia seeds. It was bigger than a baby, and it was awesome.

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It’s a boy! 10 lbs 0 oz.

It took 40 straight days of eating 8 TBSP to kill that bag. Man, that was a lot of seeds.

The Results

In the original University of Toronto study, participants continued to eat their usual unhealthy diet and simply added chia seeds to it. This allowed researchers to better isolate the health effects of the chia seed variable.

I on the other hand, added chia seeds to an already healthy diet and low-stress lifestyle. My results are subjective, but I can say that I did notice a tangible difference in the following areas:

Overall Energy

It’s not surprising that the word “Chia” comes from the Mayan language meaning strength, as Chia seeds have linked to increased stamina and energy levels. From my experience, I also found this to true.

While eating 8 TBSP didn’t give me consistent Energizer Bunny-like endurance, I did notice a significant reduction in the rest needed between activities. For example, it became easier for me to workout immediately after returning home from running errands all day. Once I made the decision to run or work out, my body often felt instantly on board, almost completely drowning out that complaining, lazy voice of resistance in my head.

I’ve found that the best way to maximize energy throughout the day is to eat the majority of the 8 TBSP in the morning with breakfast. Since it takes up to four hours for Chia seeds to digest, consuming it in morning will help strategically release the energy needed to combat that dreaded afternoon food coma.

I began to notice this beneficial change in energy at about the 3 week mark.

I loved my Bag O' Chia just like Kumar and his bag...

I loved my Bag O’ Chia just like Kumar and his bag…

Muscle Mass

At 29, I have better muscle definition than when I was 20. Back then I worked out three times as often, ate an average of 1.5 chicken breasts a day, drank a gallon of milk a week, and had a protein shake after each workout.

Since then I have completely cut out protein powders, milk, and toned down my meat and cheese consumption, while fine-tuning my diet to be vegetable dominant.

I now get my protein from only natural sources (chia seeds, kale, nuts, fish, eggs, tofu, quinoa, beans etc.) and it keeps my muscles firm and lean. I may not as huge as I used to be, but my diet upgrade is clearly responsible for the stronger, leaner, more muscular body that I have now.

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There are 24 grams of protein in 8 TBSP of Chia seeds. That’s the same as eating a chicken breast.

For me, increasing my protein consumption didn’t have a noticeable effect (I wasn’t trying to bulk up), but I’m sure it helped with muscle growth and maintenance.

Why I Think I Have More Muscle Mass at 29.

I have never counted my protein (or calories, or fat) intake because I believe that obsessing about numbers does way more harm than good, but clearly, my change in diet has resulted in a reduction in protein consumption. This begs the question, why am I in better shape now, being a decade older, working out embarrassingly less than I used to, and eating fewer grams of protein?

My theory for this illogical result is that

  1. My vegetable-dominant diet helped trim my body down to a lower body fat percentage, and keep me slim.
  2. Having a leaner body allowed for muscle to be more visible and easier to sculpt (tacking on muscle rather than converting excess fat into muscle).
  3. I’m also convinced there is a huge mental component, aside from stress management, to physical health and aging. I’ll write more about my thoughts on this in a future post.

Running Endurance

Not the only runner fueled by seeds.

Not the only runner fueled by seeds.

Chia seeds are a hot item in the running community because it helps increase endurance levels as well as provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Chia seeds may also help keep the body better hydrated as they are hydrophilic and can absorb up to 12 times its weight in water.

I recently started getting into running, but for the longest time I hated it. Like a lot of people, I had an aversion to running. It was boring and I associated it with punishment, like running suicides for missing basketball practice in high school.

I still had an aversion to running while I was doing my Chia seed experiment, and as a result, I did not run enough to be able to observe consistently higher endurance levels.

However, during the few times that I did run, I surprised myself.

Usually when I run around Lake Merritt in Oakland (3 miles), I get gassed by the first mile. That’s when that negative inner voice kicks in and I contemplate quitting. Before Chia seeds, only a perfectly-timed pump up song or a pair of sexy runners just ahead of me could snap my motivation back online.

But after weeks of having Chia seeds flowing through my veins, I found myself turning on the afterburners, kicking it into high gear, and easily finishing the last 2 miles like this persistent policeman:

 

Chia seeds. Try it out and let me know what it does for you.

Find my original post on Chia Seeds HERE,

and my other post– EAT THIS EVERYDAY: 4 TBSP CHIA SEEDS.

 

Photo Sources: 1, 2, 3

 

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The daily recommended amount is 1 TBSP.

F$#% that.

You’re better than that. Let’s do 4, and if you’re really overweight, 8 TBSP a day.

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You really can’t go wrong loading up on chia seeds. Even if you don’t have the best diet right now, simply by adding chia seeds you’ll start slimming down and feeling better. Eating chia seeds is like collecting $200 for passing GO–it’s an easy freebie to get you back on track to your optimal body. So go pick some up ASAP and don’t be lazy. There are no excuses with this one.

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This is going on my future driveway.

Health Benefits:

In addition to being packed with Omega-3s, fiber, and being the highest source of protein of any seed or grain, it also has

  • anti-inflammatory properties
  • 18% daily recommended amount of calcium
  • 27% daily recommended amount of phosphorus
  • 30% daily recommended amount of manganese
  • copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, zinc

“But Matthew, how do you expect me to eat 4 TBSP a day?!” 

Easy.

  • Toss a couple spoonfuls into your oatmeal.
Mix it all up. It tastes amazing!

This is the delicious way I start my mornings. It only has the best of the best in it—every ingredient tastes great and makes me healthier. The chia seeds are buried in there somewhere…

Read the rest of this entry »

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Drinking a green juice right before praying or meditating is like taking steroids and then lifting weights.

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Hear me know, and believe me later… green juices will PUMP…YOU UP!

It will PUMP UP your spiritual connectivity by keeping your mind and body relaxed, while increasing your ability to concentrate.

This happens because the liquid jolt of veggie nutrients is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. The green boost then stimulates the brain, creating heightened mental sharpness and sensitivity, without the racing heart and hyperactivity associated with caffeine. 

Pounding a green juice prior to meditating helps me keep my mind from wandering and remain in the present moment longer, which is the only place to experience God. I am able to more easily dive into deeper states of consciousness, and sense subtle vibrations throughout my body. I’ve also noticed that I experience more intense sensations and connectivity in my 3rd eye and crown chakra regions after downing a Mean Green Juice.

Green juices, along with an alkaline diet, help decalcify the pineal gland and awaken your 3rd eye. Unleash the spiritual Stefan Urquel within you!

Read the rest of this entry »

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I’ve had a green juice almost everyday for the past two years. It is clearly the single best change that I’ve made to upgrade my diet and elevate my health.

green-juice

With green juices, we now have the opportunity to consume more vegetable nutrients than was ever humanly possible. One 0.5L juice can contain the equivalent of eating about five plates of vegetables, and that’s a lot chewing.

Studies show that plant-based nutrients are what the cells in our bodies need most, and that our current diet does not contain nearly as many vegetables as it should.

We all know that we need to eat more veggies. Juicing provides an efficient way to pack it all in and still have room to eat.

Benefits

Since I started drinking green juices daily, I noticed that I began benefitting from the following:

  • an instant energy boost. It works better than coffee for me, and is great for workouts.
  • better stamina
  • a more positive mindset
  • reduced stress and irritability
  • brighter eyes
  • greater mental clarity and focus
  • clearer, more radiant skin
  • weight loss, muscle gain Read the rest of this entry »

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Yes it looks very girly, but this DVD changed my life.

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I threw out my lower back during my senior year in high school. It was the morning of the Homecoming dance, and I had over slept. I jumped out of bed and immediately began washing my car. Being parked on a sloped driveway, I was forced to vacuum and soap the entire car hunched over. That’s my back suddenly gave out and I collapsed onto the concrete. I couldn’t move. Luckily however, my dad had just completed his acupuncture training and was able to patch me up in time to make it to the dance.

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Yah… something like this.

Over the next five years I suffered from chronic lower back pain. I couldn’t sit for longer than a few minutes without having to shift positions.

I tried physical therapy. It didn’t help.

At the gym I focused more on working out my back and abs. Still nothing.

I had just about given up on the idea of regaining a normal range of motion when I stumbled into the movie section in the Santa Barbara public library one summer and found this yoga DVD.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Find the time to squeeze one lemon into your daily routine and start drinking your way to better health.

 

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The Health Benefits:

What’s inside:

  • high in vitamin C
  • potassium
  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • rich in flavonoids and antioxidants

Lemons Promote Heart and Respiratory Health

The vitamin C and the flavonoids (naringenin, hesperitin, and quercetin) found in lemons and limes help prevent the development and progression of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. Lemons may also help in protecting against cerebrovascular diseases such as strokes, as intake of these flavonoids have been linked with lower incidences of these diseases.

For lung health, studies show that people with low levels of vitamin C in their diets are at high risk of reacting to pollutants in the air. Research also suggests a positive correlation between high intakes of these flavonoids found in lemons and a lower incidence of asthma.

Lemons are an Alkaline-Forming Food 

Lemons, although acidic going down, are actually highly alkaline when digested. Eating more alkaline-forming foods (fruits, vegetables and water) rather than acid-forming foods (meat, fried or processed food, and soda) will help detoxify the body and keep it healthy and balanced. 

Some suggestions: Read the rest of this entry »

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Everyone’s new years resolution should be to cut out sugar completely. It’s really that important.

sugar-infographic1

We all know that sugar is bad, but many of us are in the dark about the actual effects it has on the body.

Sugar, especially fructose is toxic. Consuming too much fructose will

  • Make you fat.
  • Age your cells faster.
  • Slow down your brain.
  • Can lead to leptin resistance. Leptin is the hormone that tells you when you’re full.
  • Can be as toxic to the liver as alcohol.

If you haven’t watched Sugar: The Bitter Truth by UCSF Professor Dr. Robert Lustig, please find the time to watch it this week. It just might be the most important video on health out there. 4 million views can’t be wrong.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Continued from Part 4

Step 5. Remember to continue trusting life

Life never functions in a predictable linear path. However when fear kicks in, the ego will use its logic to try to keep you permanently down with “proof” that life will always be the way it is now.

life

The ego has no real grasp of how our future will unfold. This is because what the mind knows, only comes from the data it has accumulated up until now. It can only pull from this information and is constantly creating projections of the future based on past patterns. Much like a corporation forecasting earnings for the next 10 years, the ego will also create a perfectly linear projection. But life never works in this way. Life is mysterious, and it is the unknown that allows for progress to occur exponentially. Good examples of this are the thousands of rags to riches tales such as Oprah, J.K. Rowling, Steve Jobs etc.

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The heart on the other hand communicates with all of existence, as our eternal souls are tied to the eternal God/Infinite Intelligence/All That Is. Being connected to All That Is, our intuitive guide has infinite organizing power. It has the higher view to bring forth what we desire in the timing that is necessary to facilitate the challenges and growth we must experience. The heart always knows where we must go next to progress along our path. Learning its language and then committing to always saying Yes to its call will lead to fulfillment and a magical unfolding of life. Read the rest of this entry »

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Continued from Part 3

Step 4. Self-love

When dealing with emotional pain, we tend to teeter from blaming others to self-blame. We tell ourselves things like “Why was I so dumb to let that happen?” “Why did/didn’t I do that?” “What’s wrong with me?!”

UCB-fail (1)Every experience with failure, whether from work or relationships, creates vulnerability to negative self-talk. Failures are failed expectations. Expectations arise from having a personal attachment to the outcome. So, when things don’t turn out the way that we want, it becomes easy to start crushing our self-worth and doubting ourselves.

Only self-love can shield you from a stream of self-hating thoughts. Even if you are showered with abundant love and support from others during your time of need, the strength of your self-esteem still comes down to what you belief about yourself. The greater the self-love you possess, the more you will be unfazed by the difficulties life throws at you.

Self-love is a knowingness, meaning that you know and accept the totality of who you are. Unconditional self-love leads to an oneness with yourself, allowing you to be authentically you. To have knowingness of oneself eliminates doubt. Doubt is the small hole in the protective wall of your mind that allows negativity to enter and establish permanent residence there. Read the rest of this entry »

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Continued from Part 2

Step 3. Allow yourself to fully express your emotions

We have been conditioned to believe that tears and sadness is a sign of weakness. Men are taught to not show emotions, and thus when these “weak” emotions appear, the natural instinct is to try to ignore or suppress it at all costs.

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This is a huge flaw in how we learned to treat ourselves. This is because suppressing emotion is the denial of emotion. A denial of emotion is the denial of reality, because emotions only exist in the present moment. Read the rest of this entry »

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Continued from Part 1

Step 2. Accept reality as it is.

To accept reality as it is means to be 100% tolerant of how things are, good or bad, without judgment or the desire for it to be any other way. Judgment of your current reality creates separation from it, because you are condemning it as bad and unacceptable. Judgment also creates resistance. Hating how things are and wondering why it isn’t a different way prevents you from living in the present, because you are fighting against the truth of now. Fully accepting reality, no matter how painful facing your fear may be, will give you the mental clarity and emotional strength to grow and move on.

I’ve found meditation to be a very powerful healing tool here. When you can get yourself into a deeper state of consciousness, you can begin to experience the more subtle sensations of your body and discover where the roots of your pain lie. Our minds like to exaggerate things through imagination. If we have pain, it will blow it up to be bigger than it actually is, adding mentally created pain to the initially independent physical sensations of pain. We can greatly reduce the suffering that we experience by isolating the self-created psychological pain from the physical.

The_Wandering_Mind__by_courierXangel

Read the rest of this entry »

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They say that it takes at least a year to heal from serious heartbreak.

I’ve found this to be true… but only initially.

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Recovering from my first long-term relationship was rough. Like most people suffering from heartbreak, I carelessly allowed my imagination to spiral out of control. My mind would create hurtful thoughts that were never based on facts, but on pure speculation. For example, if a picture of the ex with some new guy popped up on Facebook, my mind would instantly trigger jealous thoughts and begin to dream up scenarios of what could have been going on behind my back. Life loses its magic when your own mind starts cutting you down.

Our minds truly are double-edged swords. During happy times, it will make you believe that you’re an invincible king, but when disappointment shows up, it will backstab you with doubt, unnecessary suffering and self-hatred. Clearly, our minds are not always acting in our best interest, so it’s a good idea to not attach your identity to it. The good news is that we are not at the mercy of our minds, but rather, it is at the mercy of our will and attention. We are always free to let go of old, destructive belief systems and replace them with positive ones that will help us grow. Although most people operate on thought-autopilot, we are actually in full control because only we can choose where we place our mind’s focus. Our minds can only create painful thoughts and a negative reality when we give it the fuel and permission to do so. Read the rest of this entry »

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This is my gratitude journal.

gratitude journal

For five months, I came up with three new things to be grateful for everyday. I wrote them all down on a giant sheet of paper on my bedroom wall.

The Results

During the first few days, the gratitude journal was too easy. It didn’t feel meaningful because to start, I just rattled off the most generic things to be grateful for–“#1. A great family, #2. good health, #3. great friends etc.” It was only when I couldn’t come up with any more off the top of my head when things got interesting. Remaining committed to the challenge quickly began to positively affect how I experienced my daily life.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Time and space are only “real” in our physical experience.

We live with an illusion of linear time. However in reality, we are actually evolving within the continuously unfolding present moment, where all life and the experience of life take place.

The only aspect of time that exists is this eternal now.

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When our minds wander to the past or the future, we are fleeing the true reality of the present moment and escaping to a false one of our own misperception. We cannot find God there. God only resides in the present moment because the present is the only “place” that is real. Consciously returning to the present moment as often as possible is the first step in truly experiencing life and being able to experience God in our lives. Read the rest of this entry »

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