I’ve been memeing to tell you…

Lately, I’ve been questioning the significance of my writing, both on and offline. Is it just a great deal of effort to produce something which eventually falls on blind eyes and deaf ears? People no longer possess the attention span to read a paragraph of text, let alone an entire article or a book. Does this make my original mission pointless? The uncertainty has definitely hampered it but has it halted it? Not by a long-shot. If I can break through to even the smallest audience, I’d feel as if I accomplished something. That said, if you’re already bored and would rather go watch a video of a cat dancing or some dude jumping off a roof into a pick-up truck, go ahead and do so. I’m actually surprised you made it this far. But make sure you first “like” this post anyway because you think the picture is funny. But if you’re going to try and stick it out, you’re a trooper; maybe even a warrior if you actually make it to the end of my rant.

Back to the point at hand, people simply don’t read anymore. Not only is the print medium basically dead, but online readership has greatly decreased as well, especially when a written piece requires scrolling, links out from it’s site of origin or is not written in a short, chunked and numbered format. We love catchy phrases and sexy images. If something isn’t funny, trendy or entertaining in some way it’s not worth looking at. We love to watch people get hurt doing stupid things; we love the dramas that unfold on the news. We do exactly what we’re told without even knowing it. We are driven to fear, anger, happiness and envy all in a short 10 minutes of watching. It’s no wonder we have no attention span…it’s constantly being hijacked by the most insignificant, lowest forms of marketing-driven media.
After enduring enough of this stream of pointlessness, our minds are exhausted and left with only the attention span for reading/sharing memes with one another. No real connection, no commitment. Just something to nod or laugh about. These anecdotes give zero enrichment to one’s intelligence.

In my own experience, I’ve found that my article posts go greatly ignored while a simple meme generates an onslaught of response; so much so, that I feel forced to create such shallow content simply as a tool to keep my existing followers. But seriously, what do we truly learn from these short phrases and dramatic images? Have they helped change or transform our lives? To me, they just seem like cheap, nutrient deficient, fast food for the brain; another quick fix because we don’t care enough to take the time to research, learn and apply those teachings to our way of life.

I recently read a statistic that 85% of online video is watched with the audio turned off! What? This clearly indicates, to me, that people have a severe lack of an attention span even when something may seem interesting to them. But why even bother at this point? If we aren’t absorbing the content in it’s entirety, how much are we missing? If we disconnect from the context, what do we get out of it?

Our increasing desire to have everything served to us quicker and easier is the very essence of our world problems in a nutshell. On some level, we really just don’t care about much. We just want to pass the time and let “those in control” take care of the real problems. And since we’re told that it’s the president’s job, we get caught up in the emptiness of that story as well. Control is an illusion which we are led to believe. But we ARE, in fact, the majority. We vote with our minds and wallets every single day; this is the real election. This is how we are putting that 1% on the throne (not through some fake election). We fail to realize the simple connection between our personal life choices and how they keep those in power reigning above us. Instead, we squabble about which “actor” would make a better leader for our country. We play into the distraction while the true rulers continue to laugh and make their deals and decisions behind closed doors. We buy into all of the bullshit we’re told about politics, health and other social issues because we’re simply too damned lazy to find out what is really going on.

If you’re sitting back and waiting for change to happen around you, you will waste the time away until the very day you cease to exist. It’s only when we block out the noise around us and change ourselves that the world around us begins to change as well. Imagine if the entire majority realized this? The corrupt system as we know it would collapse. Put all that on a meme.

Support my Rock to Rock Metric Century Ride

Over 2 years ago, I changed my life for the better by going green with my health, body and mind. Now I’m going to ride 60 miles (Metric Century) to celebrate these achievements while helping create a greener, healthier New Haven!

I am raising funds to support high-impact local environmental work through the Rock to Rock Earth Day Ride. I would appreciate any support that you give me for this important cause as it is very near and dear to my heart.

Here is the link to donate and support my ride:
http://rocktorock.donordrive.com/participant/swirski

You can also view the local organizations which you’re donations are helping here: http://bit.ly/1rwNomg. Please do not forget that all donations are 100% tax deductible.

Mounds of Zenergy

Recently, I was graciously offered a free box of an amazing organic superfood tea made by Buddha Teas, an independent, environmentally responsible company set in Carlsbad, California. When Buddha Teas had asked me which tea I wanted to try, I was immediately drawn into the vast product offerings on their website; from bags, loose leaf, green teas, black teas, herbal teas and specialty teas, I knew right away that I’d be ordering from them often (and I hadn’t even tried it yet!). After browsing for a good 20 minutes, I finally landed on the Zenergy Blend, mostly because I’m an athlete and could always use an extra boost of energy! And this particular blend contained a unique blend of Ginkgo Biloba, Green Tea, Ginger Root, Maca Root and Ashwagandha; a true powerhouse of adaptogenic goodness!

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I was so excited to try this out from the very second I got my hands around the beautiful packaging; a sturdy, 100% Recyclable, flip-top box with a gold-seal stamped logo on the front. Clear indications that it is certified Organic, Non GMO, 100% Kosher, contains no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives…and they even use unbleached tea bags. All of this was a plus for me since I’m a stickler for clean ingredients. You can tell that these guys really care about their tea (and take it very seriously).

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I threw a pot of boiling water on, prepped a tea bag and steeped for about 5 minutes (as instructed). As many teas do, they have their own “motivational quotes” on the tea tags; I mean, who doesn’t love a little slice of wisdom with their tea? I sat down to relax with a hot cup of this tea (nothing added) and was pleasantly pleased at it’s mild, yet, full bodied flavor. John, from Buddha Teas, had mentioned that this was a very unique tasting tea which is “Maca forward” with a slightly creamy texture. He hit the nail directly on the head! Thankfully, I love the subtle nutty flavor of Maca Root; and along with the Ginger and light Green Tea notes, it was perfectly balanced. For those who enjoy the gentle flavors of Ginger Root Tea and Green Tea, this blend is an exceptional choice. Not only is it calming to drink but it provides a subtle “pep in your step” as well as providing other nutrients not found in other teas.

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Now for the part I like best…hot tonics! I often brew and blend many of my favorite teas into a tonic which includes a variety of superfoods, adaptogens, berries, nuts and seeds. With Zenergy’s already super creamy texture, I began to daydream about Dark Chocolate…and Coconut; kind of like a Mounds bar…except healthy…and fashioned into a Chinese Herbology inspired medicinal tonic. Fast forward to 5 minutes later, I had gathered all the ingredients together and threw em’ in the blender. The rest is history.

So sweet, chocolatey and creamy! And with just the right boost of ZENERGY! Enjoy the recipe below.

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MOUNDS OF ZENERGY SMOOTHIE (Salted Chocolate Coconut Tonic)

  • 8oz freshly brewed, hot Buddha Teas Zenergy Blend Tea
  • 4 Khadrawy Dates (pitted and soaked)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Raw Cacao Powder
  • 1 tsp Reishi Mushroom Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Flakes
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil (Unrefined)
  • 1 tsp Coconut Nectar
  • pinch freshly ground Pink Himalayan Salt

Boil some water for brewing your Zenergy Tea. Once boiled, pour over 1 tea bag into a cup or brewing pot; 8 oz of liquid to 1 tea bag is a good serving ratio. While the tea is steeping, place the pitted dates into a small bowl and pour some of the boiled water over them for soaking. By the time you prepare/measure out all other ingredients and add them to your blender jar, the dates will be nice and soft for blending. Discard the soaking water and put the dates in with the rest of the mixture. Once the tea has steeped for at least 5 minutes, pour into the blender. Cover the jar with the lid tightly. Begin to blend on the low setting, gradually working up to high speed. Blend until perfectly smooth. Pour into your favorite mug and sprinkle some Ground Cinnamon on top if desired. Enjoy!

Win a free copy of Thrive Fitness!

Vega and I are giving away one free copy of Brendan Brazier’s new book, Thrive Fitness! Hop on my Instagram page, follow the 3 quick, simple steps and you’re entered! 

https://instagram.com/p/BBlKsrYl0xA/

10 Tips to a Successful Juice Fast

Juicing holds a special place in my heart; it changed my life 2 years ago when I fasted on it for a total of 45 days (20/10/10/5). I shed 70 pounds, went full on vegan, reversed my high cholesterol and high blood pressure, curbed many bad habits including (food addiction, alcohol and caffeine) and completely overhauled my eating habits from the ground up. This all happened over 6 months. Crazy, right? Nope. Not crazy at all. It’s science really. 

To me, it will always be known as the most powerful weapon in my arsenal; a weapon that fought (and won) against my most destructive habits. It changed both my physical and mental health forever. Some see it as a trendy, hipster fad; conventional doctors don’t recommend it; the mainstream media pokes fun at it any chance they get. But you’ve gotta let all that brain chatter go. It’s the real deal, if you do it right.

That said, I’d like to share with you some tips that were not only vital in making my juice fasts a success; but were the very things that helped keep me on the right path for good!

1) Drink warm Lemon Water when you wake up to jumpstart digestive system; this may even eventually replace your morning coffee habit.

2) Drink 5 or 6 (12-16oz) Juices every day. There is no limit, drink even more if you want.

3) Drink tons of water in between juices; it’s extremely important to stay hydrated throughout your fast.

4) Enjoy detoxifying Herbal Teas throughout the day. Not only does herbal tea continue to nourish and help with digestion; a hot cup of tea in your hands will be a welcome change to all the juice. It is calming and you will begin looking forward to it.

5) Drink 16 oz of Pure Coconut Water each day to replenish lost electrolytes. Very important.

6) Move your body! After the initial days of rest and detox symptoms begin to fade, go for a walk, a light jog or some yoga. This will keep you fit AND keep your mind off hunger as well.

7) TRUST! Stay the course…you will most likely feel crappy for the first 3-5 days; this is normal. It’s called withdrawal 😉 Once you get over that hump, it’s smooth sailing from there. Your body will tell you when it’s time to transition back to eating again.

8) Relax! Try to get into a meditative state throughout your fast. Deeply feel the good it is doing for you. I see people fail all the time because they get inside their head too much. They worry that they aren’t getting enough of “this or that”. Keep in mind that this is only temporary and you will eat again!

9) Make it fun! Mix it up and make different recipes. Use different types of glasses and straws. Chew the juice! Serve it to yourself in a different way each time. This will help avoid the monotony and lighten the mental load

10) KEEP IT UP!!

The 10 Excuses to Skip my Morning Run and How I Overcame Them

Over two years ago I would have gawked at the idea of going for even a short walk outside, let alone an exhausting run. Obese, tired and suffering from poor health; I was at the wheel but I wasn’t driving the car. My mind was my nemesis during some of the toughest points in my life and it really had it’s hold over me. But after many years of practicing grounding therapies such as meditation, aikido and yoga, I finally gained enough mental clarity to take control of my body. It only took about 6 months to overhaul my eating habits, shed 70+ pounds and realize that my addictions, depression and fatigue were a product of self-manufactured

The ego provides us with excuses as to why we should not change; even if our higher self knows it would be good thing. We have to become ninjas at fending excuses off as they approach. For instance, “I can’t find time” is one of the most common excuses. But instead of agreeing, we can ponder the excuse for just a short moment…and realize that by getting more rest at night and rising earlier, we can easily find this time. See how easy that was? Diffused. But that’s only one excuse! When you awake for your morning run, be prepared for a “song and dance” with your brain.

#1. “I’m too tired”!
No, you’re not! You’ve had plenty of rest because you planned ahead! According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults 18+ need 7-9 hours in order to function at their peak capability.

#2. It’s too cold/hot outside!
Dress appropriately. Always check the temperature before setting off on your journey and dress for the occasion. If you’re unsure, try out this nifty What to Wear Calculator.

#3. I’m too sore!
Hmmm…is it just because you slept in crazy positions all night? The body wants to stretch, move and expand; it keeps everything in tip top shape. Always make sure your post-workout recovery and rest is strong enough before getting back out there. If your excuse is always that you are too sore, you’ll eventually be worse off by living a stagnant life; I know, I’ve been there 😉

#4. The road/ground is wet!
It’s not rocket science. Wear an extra pair of socks and watch where you’re running. Avoid slippery situations; wet leaves, puddles, mud, etc.

#5. It’s too windy out!
It’s only wind, wear an extra layer if needed. Avoid exposure, especially if it is cold and windy. Use the direction of the wind to your advantage whenever possible. Breathe deeply and oxygenate your lungs. Invigorating!

#6. I don’t have time!
Here we go again; didn’t we figure this one out earlier? Plan for the time you’ll need the night before. Get enough sleep so you are able to rise earlier than usual.

#7. Oh boy…those steep hills! I don’t think I’ll make it.
Hills make us stronger and build our endurance. And nobody said you couldn’t ever take walk breaks on your run. In fact, according to ex-Olympian and running coach, Jeff Galloway, you can not only improve your time using the run-walk-run method but it will keep you more in control of your running and create less possibility for injury as well.

#8. What about food, won’t I run out of energy?
Nutrition is an integral component to any exercise plan. You should provide yourself with clean fuel to prepare, sustain and recover. This will ensure you are well hydrated, have the energy to burn and the nutrients to repair strained muscles. Loading up on complex carbohydrates will help you keep a nice reserve of glycogen to burn. In addition, Vega Sport has some great plant-based products specifically geared for the on-the-go athlete. Personally, I have used the Pre-Workout Energizer beforehand; the Electrolyte Hydrator, Endurance Gels and Energy Bars during; and the Performance Protein after. I gotta say, the workouts that I didn’t include these items were the hardest; both during and after.

#9: I just don’t care, I’m going back to sleep!
If you truly “don’t care”, have a wonderful time trying to navigate life by this terrible philosophy. Instead, try doing the opposite. Extend your caring to everything around you; doors will open up for you and paths will become cleared for you.

#10. Don’t go! Just go back to sleep, you can make it up tomorrow.
You are not your brain. The ego does not want you to change; it wants you to stay in that zone of comfort. The most clever of obstacles in life is the mind itself. Each day it lays more bricks upon a wall built from our stresses, anxieties and fears. It is this very wall which causes us to recoil from opportunity and closes us off from the openness of the world around us. If you can tap into your “witnessing you” and learn how to quiet your mind; you will begin to see the blank space as a window of opportunity.

Now throw off those blankets, get out there and run!

Power Up Your Recovery Routine with new Vega Sport Performance Protein (+ 2 mind-blowing smoothie recipes!)

We’ve all been there before; leading our hectic lives and just barely finding the time to fit in a workout. And whether we’re running, riding, stretching, swimming or lifting, we may train that extra bit harder to make it worth our while. And boy do we ever feel it the next morning! That achy soreness all over…it hurts so good, doesn’t it? Well, sure, for a little while but at some point we’re going to want to feel good enough to do it all over again. For some of us, it can take up to 3 days to fully recover depending on the effort of exertion. One of the reasons is because many of us focus so much on powering up our pre-workout fuel, that we completely forget about our recovery nutrition.

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To energize beforehand, we usually plan on getting a decent amount of complex carbohydrates in order to build a glycogen reserve (the muscle energy we burn during a workout). And when we finally “hit the wall”, we just guzzle down some water or a sports drink and call it a day until lunch or dinner. Thats the mistake which our muscles can pay dearly for. To curb this bad habit, let’s shift our thinking a bit. First off, we want to replenish the glycogen we lost during the workout; so yes, more carbs (leafy greens, low fructose fruits, starchy root veggies, etc.). But we also want to take this a step further with a combo of Carbs, Protein and Amino Acids. This “trifecta” is the key to restoring, repairing and rebuilding our depleted muscles. Further, research tells us there is an 45 minute window after working out, when many of the body’s metabolic systems are activated. This is when we should be refueling for a quicker, more optimal recovery.

“But how am I going to get all of this stuff, prepare it and eat it within 45 minutes when I’m already tired, have to pick up the kids and get groceries”? Wow, that does sound tricky…maybe even impossible. But not if you have a tub of the new Vega Sport Performance Protein handy! You can simply blend one serving of this with a Banana and some Almond Milk and you’ll not only be on the road to recovery but on the actual road as well (just in time to pick the kids up from soccer practice). Vega has taken the guess work out of post-workout nutrition and passed the convenience on to you. They always take things to a whole other level and I truly think they’ve outdone themselves this time!

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Heres what’s in store from this upgraded Vega Sport Performance Protein:

  • Complete Protein w/ Amino Acids to Build and Repair Strong Muscles: 30 grams of GMO-project certified, complete-plant based protein per serving and 6 grams each BCAAs and glutamine
  • For Managing Inflammation: turmeric, tart cherry, black pepper, probiotics (1 billion CFUs), and bromelain
  • New Non-GMO Project certified Protein Blend: from pea, pumpkin seed, organic sunflower seed and alfalfa protein

Taste: I have found the taste of all 4 flavors (Vanilla, Chocolate, Mocha and Berry) to be a well rounded compliment to any veggies, fruits and seeds that I add in. I’m partial to Vanilla because it is the most versatile; and I love that the flavor is smooth and mellow with no lingering aftertaste (as some of the other brand’s protein powders have).

Texture: The powder itself seems finer than the last version, it doesn’t clump at all and blends for a nice smooth, silky texture. Just be careful when scooping not to toss it in the blender too fast; since it is so light and fine, you’ll be breathing in an airborne cloud of it.

Cost: The price has also come down $10 from it’s predecessor, which is also great news. More bang for your buck!

Overall: Vega never disappoints when they announce an upgrade. The Vega One reformulation was epic, as is this Vega Sport one. Not only did they increase the Protein, BCAA’s and Glutamine but then topped it off by adding extras like Turmeric, Tart Cherry and Probiotics (known for their anti-inflammatory properties). I love Vega because their products are well conceived and each ingredient serves a purpose; they leave no room for chemicals, fillers and other garbage that some other brands use. It’s a win for me!

Enjoy these 2 delicious, post-work out smoothie recipes using the newly formulated Vega Sport Performance Protein!

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Vega Sport Hemp Nog

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Hemp has long been known for being one of the most complete plant-based sources of protein containing all of the essential amino acids. And Lucuma is packed with B vitamins, iron and helps with inflammation. These are great compliments to your post-workout shake. Those tired muscles will be up and running again in no time. Also, if you’ve been looking for a healthy replacement for egg nog; this is it. I could drink this stuff all day!

8 oz Hemp Milk
1 Banana
2 Tbsp Lucuma Powder
1 Serving Vega Sport Performance Protein (Vanilla)
2 Tbsp Hemp Seed
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Clove
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg

Blend all ingredients on high speed until smooth. Add ice cubes for a frostier texture. Garnish with Hemp Seed and Ground Spices (if desired).

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Vega Sport Mocha Cappuccino Smoothie (w/ Peanut Butter Swirl)

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I’m not a huge advocate of Coffee, especially since I had an addiction to it a couple years back. But it does have it’s benefits; there is definitely a time and place for it (just not everyday).  There has been some debate over the years about consuming caffeine post-workout. Although, an Australian study done in 2008 by trainer Monique Ryan, author of “Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes”, showed that endurance athletes who combined caffeine along with carbohydrates after their workouts actually increased their glycogen levels 60% more than those who had no caffeine. Isn’t that something? Convinced me anyway. Drink it down 45 minutes after your workout. It can also be consumed “pre-workout” as well; the caffeine will give you a stimulating boost while giving it your all.

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For the smoothie:
11oz carton So Delicious Cococcino (Coconut Milk Iced Coffee)
1 Banana (or Avocado if you’re feeling a little crazy)
1 serving Vega Sport Performance Protein (Mocha)
1 Tbsp Chia Seed

Blend all on high setting until smooth. Pour into a glass.

For the swirl:
2 Tbsp Natural Peanut Butter
1/2 tsp Filtered Water

In a small bowl, whisk water and peanut butter together until liquidy but still thick. Adjust with more water or Peanut Butter if needed. Pour mixture into smoothie and swirl in with a straw. Garnish with Shredded Coconut and Cinnamon (if desired).

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