If you struggle with weight loss, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an astonishing 70 percent of Americans are overweight, while only 25 percent of adult Americans are at their proper weight (about 5 percent are underweight). Although most people who are overweight have tried at least one diet, a restrictive diet is the least effective way to lose weight, and may even make you fatter.

A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that on average, the more people diet, the more it leads to increased weight gain. Researchers evaluated 2,000 sets of twins, aged 16 to 25 years old.  They found those who embarked on just one intentional weight loss episode were two to three times more likely to become overweight, compared to their non-dieting twin counterpart. Furthermore, the risk of becoming overweight increased with each dieting episode.1


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Optimism can be defined as the non-empirical belief that positive circumstances will result from uncertain or even negative circumstances—in other words, it is the expectation that good things rather than bad things will generally happen. On the surface, that sounds like a positive way to live. But there’s a significant flaw in viewing the world optimistically. What happens when reality doesn’t live up to our optimistic expectations? Optimism claims, “Everything will be all right!” But what if everything isn’t “alright”?


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With cold and flu season upon us, now is the perfect time to consider herbal remedies for supporting respiratory health. During the fall and winter it is important to focus on strengthening the lungs with warming foods and drinks such as soups and hot teas, as well as specific tonic herbs. In my practice, I rely on botanical formulations of herbs that have a long history of traditional use for respiratory well-being to help us better adapt as we move into the colder months.


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In my blog post last week, I explored the connection between Vital Spirit and health. In my professional work as an herbalist and in my personal life, I believe that a strong and resilient Vital Spirit is the foundation for a healthy and happy life. But how do we strengthen the intangible quality of Vital Spirit? The answer lies in practices that encourage peace, expansiveness, and self-reflection—prayer, meditation, spiritual reading, time in nature, and even creative pursuits where the superficial falls away, and we find our deeper selves. Through these practices, we can be certain that we are living in accordance with our deepest truth.


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In my work, I connect daily with people who have received a diagnosis of cancer or other significant illness. For many, the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness brings life into crystalline focus, making clear what is most important. I believe that a chronic illness, such as cancer, is an invitation to attend to our true nature and to bring our focus into the present moment. This is the essence of the great spiritual teachings of the world, which encourage us to live not in the past or the future, but in the now.


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Most of you know that I enjoy cooking—my intention is to create food that is not only delicious, but deeply nourishing. As an herbalist, I’m especially interested in the health benefits of common herbs and spices used in culinary traditions around the world. My Italian heritage means that basil, oregano, and rosemary play a prominent role in our kitchen, but our shelves are filled with a wide variety of spices and herbs. One of my favorites is turmeric, a deep golden yellow powder that is best known as an ingredient in East Indian curries. Throughout history, turmeric has been valued as a spice, food preservative, dye (giving Buddhist robes their familiar golden color), and most importantly, as a powerful plant medicine. A close relative of ginger, turmeric grows in southern India, China, and Indonesia.


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