Posted by Sima Cohen
Last week I hammered home a concept that may seem foreign to most: losing weight is not about eating less and exercising more. (Quite a concept, I know.) Losing weight actually begins in the depths of our minds, and since my coaching is a process of a few months or more, I thought I should let you in on my second biggest secret: Meditation.
Meditation is a very powerful tool that can help you to open up your mind, clear your thoughts, and free you from unwanted stress and anxiety. It can help you to avoid costly mistakes and find peace within. It’s kind of like having a meeting with God where he reveals to you his freshest ideas and perspectives on your life. If there is anything plaguing you, the answers are there… in the quiet space, waiting on you to find them.
Meditation will also rest your mind the same way that sleep rests your body. Some Tibetan monks meditate for hours at a time while sleeping for less than 4 hours a night! You don’t need to go that far. Even five minutes in the morning is better than nothing. (Ten would be even better, but, you have to start somewhere.)
Think meditating is too zen or stupid? You just turned down a meeting with God, and a very important opportunity to free yourself from whatever demons are plaguing you. (Yes, abusing food and gaining weight, included.) Expect the anxiety, stress, mistakes, and chaos to continue. The best part of meditating is that it’s FREE! (Hey, I’m a Jew - I love free stuff!)
Meditating is also extremely easy. Start by finding a quiet place with no distractions. Sit your booty down, close your eyes, and breathe. Breathe in and out, and every time a distracting or negative thought comes in, power through and let it go. It may take some time to master “letting go”, but it’s really that simple! With time, you’ll be in charge of your thoughts, not the other way around! Your mind won’t play those silly games with you. Meditation will help you to take control; to be the master of your mind, the administrator of awareness. Real change starts “upstairs”, in YOU!
Peace and Om,
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January 2, 2012 | 2:42 pm
Posted by Sima Cohen
I know it isn’t exactly our traditional new year, but as a Jew living in America, one can’t quite help but sync in with the spirit and the newness of it. As a trainer, coach, nutritionist, and author, every year on the 1st my phone rings off the hook and my schedule is flooded with new clients that are ready to make this year the best year of their lives. They profess that they are ready to finally lose the last 10 pounds; to have the fabulous body they have always dreamed of, and the stellar health they crave.
Now, if you’re like most people the resolution doesn’t really change much from year to year. “I’m gonna make it to yoga more!” “I’m gonna make more money!” “I’m going to be a better person.” 30 days in, we’ve long forgotten what we planned, and the next year, the list stays virtually the same. So I think it’s time to break the cycle of insanity! It’s time to change the list, so you can have a different outcome.
As someone who has been witness to this every single year for the last 20 years, I know better than to simply put these people to work. No, I do something even better! Something that, to their surprise, has nothing to do with dumbbells or crazy calorie-cutting diets: I take them through soul-searching exercises to find out what they’re really hungry for. And it’s way harder than you think. Why? Because this type of soul-searching forces you to look deep inside yourself. Really, really deep. It forces you to stand completely naked before yourself and look as hard as you can at all the bruises, dents, bumps, cuts, stretch marks, scars, and to remember how and why they got there. Ouch!
Yes, it hurts for a few minutes to relive all of those ouchies. After you learn to deal with the pain and make a few changes, though, you can be rest assured those aches and pains, big or small, will disappear, never to be seen again! There really is no point in trying to heal the pain with external things like grueling workouts and yummy treats without doing the soul-searching first anyway. And once you handle the insides, the outside - in this case your new sexy body and stellar health - will be a piece of cake!
So how do I do that, you ask? Well, when things around us are crazy, our need is not to join in the chaos, but to find some peace within. The only way to rise above it and finally gain power in a world that’s moving 100 miles an hour is to learn how to slow down and be still; to hear our inner voice and get guidance from our higher self. We won’t achieve the life we crave so much for ourselves and our children from our iPhones, iPads or other mobile devices. It won’t come from updating our Facebook status or tweeting. For us to become who we were truly meant to be, we must begin by looking inside ourselves, at who we are now… even if it doesn’t look so pretty. The world we see reflects the people we have become and will continue to become and vice versa, so if we don’t like what we see, we must face what we don’t like within ourselves. With every change we make, the world will change with us.
So go… have yourself an amazing life-changing and miraculous year!
Peace and Resolutions,
P.S. Stay tuned next week for some practices that will help you achieve everything you desire and stick to your resolutions!
December 9, 2011 | 5:43 pm
Posted by Sima Cohen
Everywhere I look this season, I see people either asking for donations or giving them. It’s a remarkable time of year! Even with my tight budget, I feel compelled to give to those in need, and was thankful I could give to poor kids in Guatemala this year as part of the holiday giving at my daughter’s school. It truly felt amazing! And when my daughter sees me giving, it passes on a legacy of compassion and charity.
I believe that when we give to others, particularly those who have needs far greater than our own, the gift that we receive in return can be even more powerful and rewarding than what we are sacrificing by giving it away. The best part is that we don’t need to be millionaires to give. Even the poorest of us has something to offer. And… it’s contagious!
This week I read an article about a woman in Michigan who walked up to the layaway department of a local K-Mart store and anonymously paid off three people’s holiday layaway bills to the tune of $500. One of the lucky recipients had been holding toys for her 12-year-son, who suffers from autism. After hearing this story on the local news, another person (who also wished to remain anonymous) went to the same store and paid off 13 additional layaway bills to the tune of $2000. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?
So this season, instead of spreading germs, (although I’m sure some of us will anyhow) why not spread a little charity? The impact you could have on someone’s life might be more extraordinary than you know.
Peace and Giving,
November 25, 2011 | 5:40 pm
Posted by Sima Cohen
Now that the stores are all sold out of pumpkin pie, our food comas have set in, and Black Friday is coming to a close, I think it’s fair to remind everyone that as a Jewish community we get to have Thanksgiving every Friday night when we celebrate Shabbat, and to keep it as a heartfelt tradition because it is a HUGE blessing to us. It is an opportunity to come together as friends and families and celebrate one another; celebrate our relationships with one another and our relationships with our God. And although stuffing ourselves like Turkeys isn’t often the goal (although it is sometimes the outcome) we can enjoy the fruits of our labor and the people we love as often as we’d like.
The holiday season is far from over, and with Hanukkah just around the corner, most of us like to enjoy some hot tea or cocoa when the temperatures drop. For those of you with a sweet tooth, I have some good news: a cup of hot cocoa contains 2 times more antioxidants than a serving of red wine, 2-3 times more antioxidants than green tea, and up to 5 times more antioxidants than black tea! Although we should be getting most of our healthy antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, a cup or two of hot cocoa every now and then can be a warm and delicious way to keep cancer, heart disease and aging at bay. So warm up with a low-cal cup of hot chocolate and a sweetener of your choice, and have yourself a guilt-free holiday!
Peace and Thanksgiving,
October 29, 2011 | 2:28 pm
Posted by Sima Cohen
It’s that time of year again! Halloween is just 2 days away and no child is absent of the temptations of candy and treats on this holiday. While candy in moderation is usually fine, particularly on very special occasions, and we should never deprive our children completely, keeping your kids healthy year-round should always be a priority. When you’re a busy single mom like me, it can be difficult and time consuming to keep a handle on the snacks and treats your kids are eating.
If you need quick, healthy, and satisfying pre-packaged snacks for your kids to enjoy between meals, here are a few guide lines to follow:
1) If you can’t pronounce it, do not allow them to eat it! READ the ingredients on the package before giving it to your kids. Some ingredients to stay away from: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Corn Sugar, Natural Flavor, Partially Hydrogenated Oils, and Corn Starch.
2) The best and most healthful snack bars have at least 6 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and less than 15 grams of sugar. I always recommend Kind, Lara and . They’re perfect on-the-go snacks for adults AND kids!
3) Any packaged snack that is over 150 calories is too much. Stick to around 150 calories or less.
4) Don’t be fooled by the cute little 100 calorie packs such as Oreo’s, packaged peanut butter crackers,Teddy grams, or cheese nips. They are loaded with enriched flour, salt, sugar, high fructose corn syrup and other artificial ingredients. Don’t compromise their health… your kids deserve
better than that!
5) Stay away from prepackaged fruit cups that feature “flavored fruit chunks in 100% juice”. That is just tricky terminology for MORE SUGAR! Fresh cut fruits and vegetables are always your best option, and they only require a few minutes to prepare.
7) Give them Bananas! This sweet, yummy, and versatile fruit has so many benefits. Bananas are super inexpensive (about 35-40 cents a pound) and are loaded with Potassium, which is a mineral that helps maintain normal blood pressure and heart function. 1 medium banana contains a whopping 467 mg of Potassium!
8) Serve water in place of sugary juices. Juicy juice has 26 grams of sugar in an 8oz glass, which equals about 6 1/2 teaspoons in one serving! Water will help your kids avoid a sugar rush, unnecessary weight gain, and most importantly: drinking water will help them POOP!
9) Apples are an excellent quick snack and are full of fiber. Try to buy organic though, since non-organic apples contain about 111 pesticides.
10) Always add the most important ingredient to any food you provide your children: L-O-V-E. When I prepare my daughter’s food, I do it with smile on my face. And at the end, right before I wrap it, I say: now I’m adding love and more love and more love. I’ve been doing this with her since she was 3 years old. One day, I was rushing and forgot to do it. Well, she looked at me with her arms crossed and her big blue eyes and said, “Mommy, did you forget to add something?” It really makes my whole day to know that SHE KNOWS how much I LOVE her and your kids will know it too!
August 10, 2011 | 3:51 pm
Posted by Sima Cohen
You’re depressed, you’re overweight, you have acne, you’re getting old, and you can’t poop. Instead of making an appointment with your physician, would you believe that the prescription for your every ailment can be found in the aisles of your local market?
More than one in 20 Americans over the age of 12 are considered depressed. Maybe they should take a cue from the Middle East and start eating Hummus! A diet high in Tryptophan is shown to raise serotonin levels in the brain. The key ingredient in Hummus is chickpeas, and this and other legumes contain large doses of Tryptophan, which is an important building block of serotonin. Chickpeas also contain fiber and iron, two other ingredients that can help you to relax. The best part is that in addition to Hummus, chickpeas are versatile and can be used in salads, soups or as a snack alone.
Getting old is inevitable. Looking old is not. Especially when your diet is high in Vitamin C. This essential vitamin is shown to play a part in the production of collagen. But before you reach for a glass of OJ, consider this: 4 strawberries contain more Vitamin C than a medium sized orange!
Everyone knows that garlic is good for your heart, but did you know that garlic also contains powerful enzymes that help increase the release of serotonin? Kiss anxiety goodbye! (After chewing a mint.) Fresh garlic in particular has been shown to lift mood, increase feelings of well-being, and decrease fatigue, sensitivity, agitation and irritability.
Nothing wrecks a vacation like a sunburn. You’ll be soaking up rays again in no time if you have this versatile food on hand: Plain Whole Milk Yogurt! Rub it on the affected area and leave it until it’s dry, then rinse with cool water. Relief is just a few minutes away…. Just don’t forget to use sunscreen to avoid a repeat.
Every woman knows, PMS sucks. But how many pills can you take? Pop open a can of tuna and pop those pain pills into the nearest trash can instead. Tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which will help you soothe cramps and it’s also a low-fat, high protein food that will boost your energy.
As if we need to give you another reason to reach for chocolate, but studies show that it can actually help cure your headaches. When you have a headache, blood vessels in the head and neck are dilated. Chocolate contains small amounts of caffeine, which has been shown to constrict blood vessels. Despite the fact that some still believe chocolate causes headaches, I beg to differ. If you are experiencing a headache after eating chocolate, consider how much you ate. Chances are your headache is caused the by the massive amount of sugar you just consumed and not the cocoa itself.
Need to poop? The solution is tasty and doesn’t come in pill form. The high fiber and water content of Papaya are associated with a healthy colon, and this wonder fruit contains antioxidant properties that support digestive health. Papaya also contains Papain, a natural digestive enzyme that helps the body to digest proteins. Make sure to get it while it’s ripe!
I don’t have enough time or room on the page to tell you about all of the health benefits of turmeric. It can cure almost anything including gum disease, sore throat, flu, sinusitis, boils, allergies, joint pain, runny nose and wheezing cough, acne rosacea, stomach pain, and wounds. It is a natural liver detoxifier that has also been linked with the prevention of prostate cancer and melanoma, and a reduced risk of childhood leukemia. And for all you “dieters” out there, turmeric may aid in metabolism and weight loss. Turmeric is also one of the most versatile spices. You can add it to vegetables, meats, pastas, stews and dips. Get cooking!
Peace and Hershey’s
August 2, 2011 | 3:51 pm
Posted by Sima Cohen
Depression. Insomnia. Cellulite. Muscle Loss. Back Pain. Arthritis. High Blood Pressure. High Cholesterol. Osteoporosis. Heart Disease.
If all 10 of these common female problems sound about as fun as an enema, you should weight train. The benefits of strength training, at any age, are way more than just a tight tuches. Increased strength, reduced body fat, improved athletic performance, and decreased health risks like the ones listed above. Looking good is just a bonus. You’ll also have more energy and sleep better, too.
The belief that weight training will make a woman look like Lou Ferrigno is B.S. Men produce 10 to 30 times more testosterone than women. It just isn’t possible. It also isn’t possible for you to get the body you really want with cardio alone. Cardio only burns calories while you’re doing the workout. After a few weeks of the same old workout, your body will begin burning less calories and you’ll quickly plateau.
Your muscle determines your metabolism. The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn throughout the day and even while you sleep. For each pound of muscle you gain, you can burn up to 50 calories more every day. Keep it up for 10 weeks and you can kiss another pound goodbye! Here’s more: strengthening lower back muscles can eliminate lower back pain and adding muscle helps support your bones, which means less breaks, better bone density, and stronger joints. That sounds sweeter than a Godiva bar!
Weight training doesn’t have to mean an expensive gym membership and overdosing on protein. You can do it at home and save the egg whites for breakfast.
Here is a 30-minute workout to get you going. If you are a beginner, you can do this set once, and if you are a little more advanced you can repeat it twice. Do this 3 times a week at home with a couple of dumbbells, a chair and a yoga mat:
Start by stretching your soon-to-be buff muscles. Raise your arms above your head and across your chest to stretch them out. Get into lunge position and switch to stretch both legs. Bend over and touch your toes to stretch your Hamstrings. Then, run in place or jump rope for 3 minutes. Now you’re limber!
25 Wide-Leg Squats
25 Squat and Kick (alternate legs)
25 Bent Over Reverse Flys
25 Overhead Tricep Extension
25 Side Leg Extensions (alternate legs)*
25 Reverse Lunges (alternate legs)
25 Tricep Dips on chair
25 Bicep Curls sitting on chair
Stand up, raise your arms above your head then bend your knees slightly and place your hands on the back of your ankles or calves.
Return to standing position and spread your legs wide. Raise your arm above your head and lean to one side. Switch.
Put your hands behind your back and link your fingers. Bend forward and pull your arms up as far as you can.
*Here you can hold on to the chair for balance.
For more workout tips and information go to our website at http://www.meetsima.com
Peace and Muscles,
July 11, 2011 | 1:58 pm
Posted by Sima Cohen
Acai berries (pronounced “ah-sigh-ee”) are hotter than Robert Pattinson half-naked washing your dishes. If you get your health advice from mainstream media, you think the only way to be thin is to overdose on protein, avoid carbs, inhale acai, and do yoga all day. Manufacturers claim that acai will help you shed pounds, flatten your tummy, cleanse your colon, enhance sexual drive and desire, prevent wrinkles, and that it can cure obesity, cancer and even baldness. The berry has only been available to Americans since the 1990s, but Amazon natives have been consuming it for hundreds of years, and if you were to eat the fruit, you’d reap multiple health and anti-aging benefits. But guess what? Unless you’re flying every morning to the Amazon basin for breakfast, you’re not eating the fruit.
It’s easy to be duped and distracted by companies selling fake acai products that contain fillers that give you NONE of the benefits of the authentic berry itself. Acai berry that has been spray dried has gone through a process which kills off much of the nutrients of the fruit and uses a carrier agent such as maltodextrin to dry the berry, so that in the end, 40% of the product is carrier agent and not authentic acai. P.S. Bitches: maltodextrin, when consumed in high amounts, leads to weight gain. It’s also added in the manufacturing process and, due to a loophole in the labeling laws, isn’t required by the FDA to be listed on the label!
For your information, the health value of acai berry comes from the entire fruit, so an extract isn’t worth a damn either. The process of “extracting” to create a supplement involves isolating one element of the fruit. And get this: almost all extracts of acai are made from spray dried acai! In the rainforest, the natives consume the skin and the pulp of the berry and discard the seed, so a product with acai seed is junk too. The only way to retain all of the nutrients of the fruit and steer clear of carry agents is to freeze dry the berry. Earthfruits Freeze Dried Acai is the purest I can find.
The 80’s weren’t just about new wave music and spandex. Between 1985 and 1989 the frozen yogurt business erupted, and the American public became convinced that it was a healthier choice for dessert than ice cream. Soon, chains began popping up on every corner, marketing all-natural, probiotic packed, healthy nonfat frozen treats as if they were the best thing that ever happened to dessert. Brilliant! They got us good.
First of all, human beings have managed without these live cultures for centuries, but since the 80’s a large number of us have been screwed by the food industry into believing that we need them for the sake of our health. In fact, a clinical trial aimed at reducing childhood allergies was published in 2008. In the trial, 178 infants were given either a probiotic or a placebo for the first six months of their life. The children who were given the probiotic were found to be more likely to develop a sensitivity to allergens. So the jury is still out on the specific health effects of probiotics and how many of them are needed to provide a beneficial effect.
Every single flavor of TCBY’s soft serve and hand scooped frozen yogurts contains a chemical called carrageenan. Consuming carrageenan is linked to bloating, farting, and inflammatory bowel disease. Kinda neutralizes the work all those probiotics are supposed to be doing, huh? Second, TCBY (which stands for “The Country’s Best Yogurt”) doesn’t put any actual yogurt in their frozen yogurt. It should just be called frozen sugarmilk. They’re made with whole milk, and while the nutrition facts might show 0g of total fat in a few of the flavors, they all contain twice the amount or more of daily recommended sugar. If you’ve learned only one thing from us it should be that sugar = fat.
Pinkberry claims to have reinvented the US frozen yogurt category, starting with California. Here we go again. “The company initially touted its product as healthy, nonfat and all-natural, but did not say what was in it.” (Julia Moskin, New York Times) Any company or corporation that only reveals the ingredients in their product after a grueling lawsuit, can’t be trusted. The original flavor contains 23 ingredients, the first two of which are skim milk and nonfat yogurt, followed by three types of sugar, at least five additives, acidifiers, a preservative, a starch and maltodextrin. The two latter ingredients are both lab-produced and extracted from corn syrup. Your love affair with chilly bliss just got FATTER! They still call their toppings “all natural”, but a lot of them contain chemicals. After the lawsuit Pinkberry stopped calling itself “frozen yogurt”. Maybe because it never was.
I know you get off on having a frozen treat every now and again, and I’m not the ice cream police. (Although I do have handcuffs and I know how to use them!) Haagen Dazs makes a one-serving size cup, which is built-in portion control, in 10 euphoric flavors. Our favorite flavor is Mint. The best part is, they abide by my ingredient philosophy that if you can pronounce it, you can eat it.
By now you probably get that diets don’t work. I believe the opposite is true - dieting actually leads to weight gain! The only way to effectively lose weight and keep it off forever is to eat REAL food with ingredients you can pronounce every three to four hours, and don’t be scared of things like fat and carbs. (They’re actually good for you.) For more information visit http://www.meetsima.com
Peace and Dessert,