October 30, 2012

I Stopped Procrastinating

video


I've made many changes in the past few years and especially in the past few months.

One thing I wasn't changing was my voicemail greeting.

Next week marks my 6-month "manniversary". It will be 6 months since I started taking T. My voice is much deeper. Changed forever. No going back. It was something I was really afraid of, and grieved heavily in the first few months. I wasn't ever going to sound the same, ever again. My voice was my trademark. Unique. Special. And now, it was going to change.

And I was controlling that change. Fingered hovered over the red button, so to speak.

Since it was so hard, it makes sense that it took me almost 6 months to change my voicemail greeting. It was the last recorded proof of who I was. What I sounded like. Changing that was changing...the present and the future.

Can you see why I was dragging my feet about it? Procrastinating was so much easier than doing the hard thing, but it so many ways it was actually dragging out the hard part. Procrastination is like that. We think we're fooling ourselves that we are avoiding pain but doesn't it just drag out the pain and suffering much longer? Because it isn't like we forget about the thing we're avoiding. Well, I should speak for myself. I don't forget that thing. It hangs over my head and practically every waking moment until I resolve it.

Welcome to my mindfulness practice. ;) It's a real trip, sometimes!

Today, I finally stopped procrastinating. With the press of a button, I erased the past and replaced it with the current, gorgeous present.

Scary? Yep. Hard? Not so much. I did it when I was good and ready. I didn't rush when it felt wrong. I took my sweet time, but kept it as a goal the whole time--and challenged myself on the edge of my comfort zone. And it FELT SO GOOD! WHAT A RELIEF! The agonizing around taking the leap was finally over.

Evolution feels so good and so right when it comes from within and we have the right people to support us along the way. That's for another day, but today---stop procrastinating. Stop avoiding something that needs to be addressed or resolved. Or changed.

You will feel so much better once it's done.


October 29, 2012

"Hurricane Sandy" Cocoa Oat Truffles



I've had this recipe from Whole Foods Market sitting on my counter for, oh, I don't know, maybe a month?

Nothing like a little restlessness and impending hurricane-bound cabin fever to get a guy in the kitchen!
No day like today to make something that doesn't require a fridge to keep it tasty. ;) I added a few additional ingredients but have to give credit where credit's due. Thanks, WFM. ;)

Remember: ORGANIC ingredients are always your best bet. 

COCOA OAT TRUFFLES

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup finely chopped pitted dates

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, divided (I used raw cacao by Navitas)

1/2 cup almond butter

1/4 raisins

1/4 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

pinch nutmeg

pinch cinnamon

hint:
you want to use a food processor that is bigger than the 21-ounce machine I used. When everything didn't fit, I tried to use my Vitamix and learned something: Vitamix machines don't make good food processors.

Place oats in a food processor and process until finely ground.

Add dates, cocoa, almond butter, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon and process together until finely ground and sticking together.

Roll into balls in your palms about 2 tsp each, pressing firmly so the mixture stays together.

Place remaining cocoa on a shallow plate and roll each ball into the powder. (I skipped this step because I was tired and there's a hurricane coming).

ENJOY!!

Preparing for Impact



This Hurricane Sandy thing has me doing laps around the house.

This loss of control thing makes me uncomfortable. So I notice that. And I think, what can I learn from this?

What do I do to prepare for the impact of a storm like this?

What do I do to prepare for the impact of anything in my life---is it different?

What do you do?

From everything I've learned the past few years about fear, bracing against it--steeling yourself from a place of ego, doesn't lessen the impact. It doesn't make it hurt less. It doesn't reduce the damage--in fact, in many instances, it can increase it. My favorite spiritual teacher, Pema Chodron, shares this beautiful story where she talks about our many attempts to avoid pain by putting up walls. The more walls we put up, the more frightened we feel if they don't seem to be working--or if we feel like they won't. Instead of being present with the fear, pain, vulnerability, anxiety, powerlessness--we try to construct emotional and often physical walls to protect us. Instead of bringing us closer to healing and peace, they just isolate us even more because there we are, hidden behind something that doesn't make us feel more protected and calm. In many ways, in our attempts to be safer behind these walls, (defense mechanisms, boundaries, and habits) we end up creating the exact experience we didn't want: we become the target for the arrow.

Here were some things I saw myself and/or other people doing in anticipation of this impending storm and the comparisons I made to what we do in other situations where we feel scared, threatened or out of control.

Hoarding food
Making jokes to lighten the situation
Taking things personally
Making excuses
Procrastinating
Worrying (out loud and to self)
Lashing out/reacting
Blaming
Stockpiling
Eating when not hungry
Avoiding
Running away
Hiding
Speeding up
Working faster/harder/more
Rushing
Being in constant motion

this is my short list.

Here's a perfect example:

I had some chicken in the freezer that I bought on sale. I thought, hey, I better take that chicken out and cook it before the power goes out. I tried microwaving it while I was rushing around doing a few other things. I got impatient. I said, "I don't know how long this should take, it looks fine." Threw it in the oven. Fire alarm sounds. I check the chicken. Not cooked. I put it back in and turn up the temperature. "What temperature do I bake chicken at?" I have no idea. I check the updates about Hurricane Sandy's location. Text a few friends in NY/NJ. Smoke alarm sounds again.

are you feeling anxious? If you are, you get it. That's the energy I had when I was doing this.

See how my attempt to "prepare" wasn't making me feel any more relaxed, calm and prepared?

The chicken---we won't even go there.

I don't cook meat well because I took too many years away from it when I was a vegetarian. It stresses me out to prepare it so I am sticking to cooking some vegetables. That I know how to do. It's in my comfort zone.

Boil up some sweet potatoes and onions in some water and chicken broth, add some kale, spices and call it "Hurricane Sandy Stew".

And now I'm going to go meditate. I'll prepare for the impact by not doing one more damn thing to prepare for it.








October 26, 2012

The Skin Experiment



Look at that glowing, clear skin. Not one issue. But a week later, that was not the case.

Acne. 

It's something we all know. Some more than others. Puberty messed with most of us as teens, but for some, it lingers on into adulthood and can be a real, true bummer.

What causes it? We know the basic science behind oil production, the pores of our skin, etc., etc. 
But REALLY. What causes it? What makes it worse for some and not others? Is it genetic? Something we are predisposed to? Once it's here, does it stay forever?

Is there anything we can do on a daily basis to reduce the inflammation and the emotional and physical pain that often comes with it? 

I know this from personal experience because, while my skin wasn't too bad when I was a teenager, when I was 26, my skin broke out. Not like a little. A LOT. It was really bad, and it really messed with my self-esteem and self-confidence. At the time, someone in my life was attending the Professional Training Program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She met with me a couple of times and asked me some questions about my nutrition. I balked. "Please!" I said. "I'm a vegetarian."

You know what that meant? It meant I ate no meat and a ton of sugar and starchy foods. Yup! And canned Indian food (they make that). Eating no meat meant I didn't have a ton of energy (apparently my body likes and needs animal protein) so I pulled sugary foods into my body to make up for it.

There was also that self-love thing. That also made me eat a ton of sugar. I was grieving a break-up and just generally was learning how to love myself. I felt sad and lonely a lot, and sugar releases certain chemicals in the brain when you eat it. Dopamine is a "feel-good" neurotransmitter and, for a short while, can erase feelings of sadness and loneliness. It doesn't last, but the effects of excessive weight gain, skin issues and lethargy do.

I didn't love my life. I didn't love myself. I based my feelings of joy, happiness and self-worth on the actions and opinions of others. I thought that I needed a partner to be happy. I thought I needed a certain kind of job to be happy and worth something. All this thinking and stressing took a lot of time so naturally I didn't have time to cook. I actually had no idea how important this was to having healthy, glowing skin--free of acne.

So great! I overcame all that, enjoyed healthy glowing skin for YEARS and then, in the past few weeks, it began to come back. Only this time, for a completely different reason. I'm taking testosterone injections for my transition process to male. It's super cool in many ways. My voice is changing, my muscles are getting bigger with little to no work and I'm growing hair in new and interesting places. 

It can also cause breakouts on the face and back--I am going through puberty, after all. Remember that? Imagine going through it again as an adult. Acne was something I feared prior to taking my first shot but I was pretty sure my expertise as a health coach would minimize the "damage" I would experience.  Upon seeing things get a little dicey lately as the T levels rose and stabilized in my body, I got serious and followed my own best advice that I would give to someone else. It's helping. And I feel grateful for my past experience with this issue, and everything I've learned about what causes it and how to address it from my experience as a health coach.

TIPS FOR BETTER SKIN:

1) Don't Mess: Seriously. This is the #1 thing you can do to improve the condition of your skin. Messing with it is so tempting, I know. I KNOW! I get it, really I do. When my face was covered in a mess of painful bumps, I just wanted them to go away. I am totally convinced that messing with it prolongs it. Your fingers contain millions of bacteria and when you touch your face, especially a part that's already inflamed with infection, you are making a bad problem even worse. Keep your hands away, wash it and pat it dry and just ride it out. Yes, it looks bad and it sucks but messing with it makes it looks worse for longer. Which do you prefer? Also, avoid drying soaps. Your skin gets confused and only produces more oil as a result. Wash it with a gentle, mild cleanser with no perfumes or additives and then leave it. No touchie. That makes the biggest difference more than supposed hi-tech acne washes.

2) Drink Water: Your skin in our largest organ and we are something like 70% water, right? If you're dehydrated, all the stuff moving through your system stays stuck and doesn't move through--like a clogged pipe. It makes for a mess. Drink water. Think of it like cleaning your pipes out. Saturate your skin with plenty of fresh, clean water every single day--in addition to whatever else you're drinking. 

3) Avoid Sugar: Sugar causes inflammation in the body. We know this from science. You can Google it yourself and find out. Dr. Mark Hyman writes about this a lot. It's his thing. If you are already prone to experiencing inflammation in your body, sugar is going to exacerbate it. It also makes your liver work harder to process all that junk, and your liver produces all your hormones. Hormones create oil production. Oil production on your skin can lead to acne. See the connections here? Sugar alone won't cause acne but it certainly makes mine worse if I'm not eating plenty of fresh veggies to flush it all out. Notice the ratio of sugar and bread to vegetables in your diet. See what you notice.

4) Eat Your Greens: I can't tell you enough how much this is true for me. I got really serious this past week and was like, "ok, this needs to stop". I cooked up a bunch of raw greens one night and I'm totally serious when I tell you that my skin improved over night. It was awesome. Try this for a week and tell me what you notice.

5) Herbs Might Help: So, I don't know how you feel about taking herbs but I try it from time to time. Liquid version or powdered in a capsule, there are benefits to both. I threw back some milk thistle and dandelion because those help detox the liver. Did they make things better? Who knows for sure what did it, but taking these suckers certainly didn't make it worse. You can also just EAT dandelion but it tastes really bad (to me, anyway) so taking it in herbal form worked better for me*.

6) Other Blockages: Your skin can also be a barometer to measure other places in your life that are blocked or stagnant. Sleep? Stress? Emotions? Schedule? All these areas will screw with the ways things are or aren't flowing in your life. Get in touch with these other things, aside from your nutrition, that can use un-clogging. In the past, I certainly had a lot of pent-up anger and grief. Recently, that hasn't been an issue but the pace of my life/schedule was causing me to make not-so-great food choices. 

See all these connections? That's what holistic health is all about. The whole picture. 

Good luck with this. Please feel to weigh in below with your experiences. You can help others with tips or just by sharing how it affects you and if these tips help you or resonate with you.

*UPDATE! Some good friends recommended an herbal tea/concoction and I'm giving it a try. I will share my results in a follow-up post. Stay tuned!

October 16, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie






You saw the picture. You saw the word green in the title and you were like, "Dillan?"

Yep.

There's greens in here. Spinach, actually. Can't see it? Cool! Maybe, if you're afraid of greens, it will make you want to drink it. Or it will make your kids want to drink it.

I'm not usually all about "hiding" healthy food within food but if you gotta, ya gotta.

I do this demo for college audiences and they totally love it. I use it to show them how you can add greens to pretty much anything and completely take it from a guilty pleasure to a healthy nutritional snack.

Here you go!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie

2 Tbs. raw cacao powder
1 banana broken into chunks and frozen
1 tsp freshly ground peanut butter
2 big handfuls of raw baby spinach
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup ice

you can also add a protein powder of your choice: hemp, whey, pea, etc. I don't recommend soy.



Combine ingredients and blend.

Serve in a tall glass with a straw.

You will need a high-powered blender to get this blended together. I use a Vitamix. We saved a little and bought a refurbished one for about $379. It's one of the best investments I've made. We use it almost every day and you can even use it for soups and stews--not just cold drinks.


Sweet Goodness Bacon-y Stew*






For an evening of hosting some good pals, I pulled this recipe right from the No Fuss Cookbook off www.findyourbalancehealth.com

Super simple. Super tasty. Super packed with nutrients. Look at all those gorgeous herbs and spices!

Michelle, the creator of this recipe, adds bacon as an idea for folks who aren't vegetarians. The bacon was a definite addition in my kitchen.

Enjoy!


Sweet Goodness Bacon-y Stew*

2 Tbl. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 15-oz cans adzuki beans (or other small bean), drained and rinsed
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tso. cinnamon
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. salt
3 cups butternut squash, unpeeled and chopped
3 large sweet potatoes, chopped
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 cups frozen corn
1 cup kale, chopped
Optional topping for meat eaters: 1 lb. bacon, diced and cooked until crispy

Heat oil over medium heat, add onion and cook until softened. Add garlic and cook until lightly golden. Transfer to slow cooker.

Add all other ingredients to slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.
OR
Add squash and sweet potatoes to stock and bring to a boil in a large pot. Simmer until soft.
Add spices, beans and onion/garlic mixture. Simmer for 5-8 minutes.
Add corn and kale. Simmer until all ingredients are soft.


Serve in bowls. Optional: top with bacon.


October 9, 2012

3-Month Rockstar Reset


3-Month Rockstar Reset

We worked together in the past and you felt like everything came together. Sweet!

Maybe you were grooving along on your own, but recently you got off track. It's obvious to you and you don't like how it feels. You want my help getting back into the groove.

You know what's off. You know what you need to do but you just can't get the wheels to spin. Or maybe they are spinning too much and you're stuck right there. Feeling like crap.

You're a rockstar. You just need to hit the reset button. 

You know my style, you know how I roll. We skip the consult and just get right into it.

Let's do it!

HERE'S THE DEAL

One quick payment of $749 gets you 3 months of my coaching support. Paid in full means you get:

  • unlimited email support: Email me as much as you want. Seriously. 
  • six 50-minute sessions: Every other week? Ok. Something less regular? Whatever. You choose. You got the time booked so I'll make it work for you.
  • recipes galore: I cook. I share. You cook. You feel better. BINGO!
  • personalized program: whatever you need to get back on track, that's what you'll get. Name the areas that need the most work. That's what we will focus on.

YOUR NEXT STEP

Fill out this form below. As soon as I get it, I'll contact you and we can schedule your first session. You are this close to feeling better and getting back on track. The form take about 2 minutes to complete.

Ready? Set? GO!





Walking My Talk: Why I Became a Health Coach

Today I got to return to Lesley University as a guest lecturer in a class called a Holistic Approach to Healing.

I've spoken there many times over the past year but today was special.

It was my first time speaking there, in my new body. Two months post-surgery and a huge smile on my face, I greeted two back to back classes of 30+ students and shared my life story.

Piece of cake, right?

Actually, it is.

This is my chosen career- to be a motivational speaker. And I love every second of it.

Sharing my story is one small way I can honor everyone who helped me get here, and be a visible presence for anyone who needs a little inspiration. Or a lot of it.

My story is one of hope and resiliency. I never gave up on myself, no matter what struggles I came across. I just always knew I had to keep going and now I feel on top of the world.

Thank you for watching.


Coconut Curry Soup


Once upon a time, many years ago, in a far off land...

It wasn't that far. It was New Hope, PA.

And it was 2001.

There was a restaurant there called Wildflowers cafe (it still exists) and they had the most amazing Thai curry dish. It was my first experience with Thai food and my then girlfriend and I took many a trek over there to enjoy this incredible dish in the gorgeous space. Check it out if you're in the area, if it still exists!

I was feeling in the mood for this dish the other night and while I had no idea how they made it, I remembered the ingredients. I figured I would give it my best shot and you know what? It came out pretty good!

Being fearless has its benefits.

Coconut Curry Soup

two cans coconut milk
2 large sweet potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 cups sliced snap peas or sugar snap peas
1/2 package of extra-firm organic tofu
2-3 Tbsp red curry paste (I recommend Thai Kitchen brand)
2 cups leftover brown rice-need help cooking brown rice? Click here

salt to taste



Bring 3 cups of water and the potatoes to a boil.

Put coconut milk in a medium pot over low heat and simmer. Add curry paste and stir. Add 1/2 cup water.

When the potatoes are soft but not falling apart, strain and add to coconut milk. Add snow peas and simmer over very low heat until pea pods are soft.

Slice tofu into triangles and add to pot, heat for another 2 minutes.

Serve over warmed brown rice in a small bowl with a big spoon!

October 2, 2012

My Guest Appearance on Two Fags and a Hag

A couple of weeks ago, I made my second guest appearance on the fabulous blogtalkradio show "Two Fags and a Hag".

These truly incredible folks invited me on for a second time to talk a bit about my experience as a trans guy and to shed some light on this topic of trans identity. A lot of people don't get trans stuff, even in the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, genderqueer/questioning) world, which made this invitation to talk about it to an LGBTQ audience that much cooler to accept.

AND there is the fact that the four of us have incredible chemistry and we could talk for hours.

Got questions? We cover some of the basics, but barely scratched the surface...

Click on the Two Fags and a Hag logo below
to listen to the show:



I always have such a great time on this show. If you want to have some fun, check out my first guest appearance (A HEALTHY FAG IS HAPPY FAG) on May 25th, 2012. I'm "pre-T" (before I started taking testosterone). Check out my voice!!


White Bean, Kale and Sweet Potato Soup




Protein, greens and sweetness! This soup recipe has it all.

As we head into cooler weather, the season is bringing us all the harvest-y goodness of squashes and root veggies. These go great in soups--and did you know about the food energetics theory?

Basically it works like this--foods have different energetic qualities.
  • Walnuts are good for your brains (those healthy fats in them) and they look JUST LIKE brains, too! 
  • Root veggies grow in the ground and can "ground" you when you're feeling all over the place.
  • Greens can be uplifting, since they grow closest to the sky!
Get it?

It's a pretty cool way of thinking about what you're eating and why.

So here's a great soup I just made up the other day. Rummaging through the cabinets, I tossed this together. It has beans for high quality protein, greens because I want a clean colon and good skin and sweet potatoes to help keep my sugar cravings down (they are naturally sweet). Chicken broth makes this light soup have a richer flavor, but if you're a vegetarian--veggie broth works just as well!

Enjoy!

White Bean, Kale and Sweet Potato Soup

you need:

3 15 oz cans of white beans (cannellini, white kidney, etc.), drained
3 large sweet potatoes, cubed
6-8 large kale leaves, stemmed and chopped
1 large white sweet onion
2 garlic cloves
1 container chicken (or veggie) broth
2 cups water
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp dried oregano


In a large, deep pot bring chopped sweet potatoes to a boil in 2 cups water. Keep them rolling until they are soft when poked with a fork. Add broth and simmer.

As potatoes are boiling, saute onions in butter over med-high heat in a pan until everything is soft and golden.


Add onion/garlic mixture to sweet potatoes in pot and 1 can of beans. Use an immersion blender to gently blend everything together. It will be hot so BE CAREFUL!


After blending, add the remaining cans of beans and the chopped kale and oregano. Simmer over very low heat for 5-8 mins to wilt the kale.


Add salt and pepper to taste, serve with toasted multigrain bread and tasty drink of choice!

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