Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review: Happy Belly Book

I like to think of myself as a balanced contradiction.

I'm the girl with her nails always painted who'll happily muck herself up on a camping trip if it means getting to sleep under the stars. I equal parts know all the lyrics verbatim to every James Taylor song AND every rap song that the 90s left in their wake. My love for bacon and crossfit-style squat workouts is surpassed only by my undying devotion to my home-brewed kombucha and hours spent on my yoga mat. I know. I don't get it either.

hi-lighted within an inch of its life
So I suppose it should come as no surprise that I'm not a big fan of dietary labels. While I may eat close to a certain set of guidelines, I am more of a 'learn as you go' type of girl. Something may work today, but who knows what will work tomorrow? Life is learning process, isn't it? Anyways, I have a point, promise. I was recently approached to review Happy Belly by Nadya Andreeva, a book focused on digestive health through the practical application of Ayurvedic techniques (traditional Indian medicine) in both diet and lifestyle. From the outside, one might think that Aryuveda and a real-food, omnivorous diet (cough cough paleo cough) wouldn't mesh, but I'm here to happily tell you that's not the case.

My wise yogi sister practices some aspects of Ayurveda, so I'd been familiar with it-- but frankly, it seemed a little intimidating, so I never took the plunge into learning more (cop out!). You all know I'm blatantly honest about the things I tell you about on this here blog (even if that means giving a not-favorable review), but I am happy to report that Happy Belly totally exceeded all my expectations and then some. In the last year, my health priorities have gone from more superficial goals to being focused on balance and healing-- mainly, digestive and hormonally. Happy Belly is a treasure trove of how-tos on not only healing your gut, but maintaining a balanced lifestyle that best supports health and healing overall. 

see that thumbs up? my belly is happy.
so is the rest of me, because I was headed to yoga!
hence the sloppy appearance, naturally.

While I'm not sure I'll ever fully buy into an Ayurvedic perspective (but I'll be first to admit that could change!), there are definitely things I've already implemented into my day-to-day routine that have already surprised me with their awesome results. I've been toying around with Ayurvedic recipes like this bangin' yellow lentil squash soup (adjectives are my own-- but it's really that good) or simple, easily digestible kitchari for breakfast. I've figured out my predominant dosha and have started implementing spices tailored to my own particular properties. I've been tongue-scraping (although I've technically been doing that since December-- thanks, yogi sister, for getting me hooked!) and dry-brushing regularly and as a result, have had the best oral & lymphatic health of my life. I'm scaling back a little on the dairy (sniff, sniff, I miss you cheese), particularly in combining it with anything else. Nadya's take on food combining is a fascinating and easily digestible (pun absolutely intended) approach on something that seems to me so equally foreign/complicated and vital for good gut health. If anything, this book has been an excellent primer into the next step of health and healing for me, and I can't wait to learn more. The only things I'd liked to have seen more of in the book are recipes and more concrete steps into implementing Aryuvedic practices into your life if this is your first foray into such things. Information is super awesome, but I am the type of learner who likes to hear the big-picture things and then be given the specific steps to implement those changes into my life right away. From the 'barely tip of the iceberg' that I've learned about Ayurveda thus far, I can tell it's multifaceted and likely more complicated than any one book could impart-- but I can't tell if it's a positive or a negative that reading Happy Belly has left me wanting even more! 

outtakes: yoga clothes and silly face style
If you're interested in gut health and the way it impacts overall health like I am (or are interested in taking the tenants of an anti-inflammatory diet one step further), I'd absolutely recommend checking out Happy Belly. Nadya's asked me to share that if you purchase the book before March 21st, you'll get a whole bunch of great bonuses-- a PDF toolkit, a cookbook (both of which I've gotten a chance to read and have loved! I told ya-- the specifics. I am a fan.), access to a 2-hour panel on digestive health, a self-care kit and an intro to Aryuveda e-book. Thanks again to the Happy Belly team for sharing this awesome resource with me - and I promise to report back on my little Ayurvedic experiment after a few months' time! 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Time for a little something different.

I have spent the last few days trying to start this blog post and coming up short on the right words every single time. Blogs, true to nature, tend to be a little vain-- let's face it, everything I write here is, hello, about me-- but today is much more important than that. 

A few years ago through a series of serendipitous events that sound straight out of a friendship fairytale, I met an incredible musician & now-friend named Kelsey Kufner. Fast forward oh, five years to last week, when she contacted me asking if I'd like to be a part of a movement to save lives + share the story of living a spectacularly un-ordinary life in the process, to which I obviously jumped at the chance.

Here's the long + short of it: every year, 1.2 million people die of malaria (life-threatening, but curable) simply because medicine is not readily available. And it's not a complicated fix, either-- one lifesaving pill costs only $4, but yet access is limited. Cost and supply are still barriers that require a little work to circumvent, but clearly, with the right resources, it's not an insurmountable feat. Authors Seth (of needtobreathe, only one of my favorite bands ever) & Chandler Bolt have set out to save 10,000 lives by buying 10,000 lifesaving malaria pills. How? They've written an incredible ebook (Breaking Out of a Broken System) about living a life that is anything but ordinary-- stepping outside of what seems like the stereotypically predestined path and instead choosing to live boldly, authentically, spectacularly-- even when it seems easier to follow the status quo. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at what they're written, and I absolutely inhaled it. This book is raw, it's real, it challenges expectations and dares you to do something greater. 

How do these two things connect? Working with Palmetto Medical Initiative, the Bolt brothers have crafted an incredible plan to effect real change. 100% of the profits from the sale of this book will go towards the purchase of these lifesaving malaria pills-- in fact, the sale of one book = the price of one pill. Hence, one book saves one life. Pretty sweet tradeoff, yes? And could it be more beautifully poetic that a book set out to change the world has such an impact not just figuratively, but literally as well?  One book, one life. 

This video does an incredible job of explaining just what's at the heart of this mission: 

The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking back on one of my favorite quotes from Ram Dass-- "We are all just walking each other home." It is our responsibility to take care of this world, of each other. But so often I get bogged down in the day-to-day-- yes, the world is broken, and I am approximately one half of a blip on the grand-scheme radar, so how will I ever do enough to really make a difference? This. This is how. Doing what we can with what we have, working together, this is how differences are made, this is how the world is changed. Please consider taking $10 and donating to this incredible movement. One book, one life. It's that simple. 

You can find the Bolt brothers' book for sale here. More information on the Palmetto Medical Initiative here. And lastly, more info on their awesome mission can be found here