MY WEEK OF LIVING ORGANIC

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With the current trend of “sustainable fashion” and “living a greener lifestyle,” I embarked on a personal “adventure” this week to live a more organic lifestyle. As a professional ballet dancer and fashion blogger, I do exercise daily, eat healthy, recycle, and choose paper rather than plastic, but I thought it would be interesting to infuse into my daily life a more organic and natural way of living. I did not take any time off from work or my normal activities, but simply researched living an organic lifestyle and figured out easy, beneficial ways to improve my way of living. Let me take you along my journey of discovery and maybe you will see how easy it is to live an organic lifestyle for a much more energetic, healthier, fashionable you.

SUNDAY NIGHT

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After a long six hour rehearsal day preparing for my company Pasadena Dance Theatre’s annual “Nutcracker,” my entire body was sore and I was exhausted. I usually just pop into a quick shower so I can relax in bed longer. This Sunday, however, I pulled out some all natural Epsom Salts, lit my favorite scented candles, turned off the lights, and sunk into a warm bath. I didn’t need any music to feel instantly rejuvenated as I felt each muscle relax and all the stress of the day release. Sometimes I will use “White Noise Lite: Relax,” a free mobile App with sounds of nature to relax and revive, but tonight the silence was a welcome relief. The world around us is noisy enough; it is highly beneficial to our well being to just take a moment of silence or quiet contemplation. I think we wouldn’t need as much medicine, caffeine, or therapists, and we would get a lot more done in our lives if we just take a little break. I was amazed at how calm and relaxed I felt after just the fifteen minutes of soaking, and I had a peaceful, rejuvenating night’s sleep as well. I could get used to organic living.

MONDAY

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Up bright and early Monday morning, I usually just have coffee to kickstart my morning. Today, however, taking the advice of dietitians, I opted for a healthy all organic fruit salad from my local market to boost my metabolism. I can’t do without a cup of coffee, but since I’m a little caffeine sensitive, I opted for Trader Joe’s Decaf coffee flavored with organic milk and organic sugar. I like Trader Joe’s because the store is less complicated than Whole Foods, the customer service is always helpful, they use all paper bags (or you can bring your own), and the company works closely with local farmers for the freshest, most organic produce and food.

photo 3Off to a great start in my organic week, I broke for a “lunch break” by taking a walk around the local park. Usually, I just eat lunch at my desk and keep working, but today, I opted to take a one hour break. The outside air was wonderful and it felt great to stretch my legs and get a little exercise. Again, I didn’t listen to anything but the sounds of nature as I walked. I even cleared my mind of all the looming work projects, rehearsals, and activities for the week, and rested my mind. Upon returning from my lunch break, I felt revived to start work again. Around 3:00pm, I noticed that I didn’t feel my usual “afternoon slump” but felt re-energized to continue work until 6:00. It really is true that healthy eating COMBINED WITH exercise work hand-in-hand to boost metabolism and endorphins for a more balanced, fit life.

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On Tuesday, I ventured out to an organic, vegan restaurant I have not been to yet, but heard great things about, “The Rabbit Hole Cafe.” In an all “Alice in Wonderland” theme, the restaurant was a pleasant surprise. The menu includes all organic and vegan fare, as well as raw items, and also includes a small store in which to buy your own organic products. I opted to try the popular “Queen of Hearts” salad, made with quinoa, chickpeas, and beets served over a bed of mixed greens, an all vegan and organic choice. The salad was delicious, even for non-vegan lovers, and the flavors were perfectly blended. I finished off my meal with the new popular “Cheshire Cat” smoothie, a blend of Dragon fruit, mango, banana, dates, purple cabbage, pineapple, and coconut milk, perfectly blended and delicious. In addition to the great lunch, the staff was helpful and friendly, and the service was quick and efficient. The “Alice in Wonderland” theme is a delight, and a great way to introduce children and diners leery of the “organic” world. Another great raw and vegan restaurant I love is “Sun Cafe” in Studio City. Their raw, vegan shakes and pizzas are so delicious that you forget you are eating an all raw meal. When in L.A., these two top-notch restaurants are a must. I encourage you to try your local organic vegan restaurant. Vegan chefs today are taking menus to a whole new level, and once you try a more natural way of eating, a Big Mac will sound so much less appealing.

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 WEDNESDAY

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Even with all the healthy organic eating this week, I felt a little mid-week slump on “Hump Day.” For lunch hour, I opted to try a Yoga class. Being a professional dancer, I take regular ballet class almost everyday so in my off times, I rarely “hit the gym” or try other classes. However, I know that many swear to Yoga and Pilates, so I gave it a try. Feeling tired and unmotivated, I tried the Hatha Yoga class at 1:30pm at Source Yoga in Santa Barbara, CA, which concentrates on deep breathing, finding your center core, and relaxation. After an hour, I was thoroughly relaxed and energized. My headache and backache had gone away, and I felt ready to take on the rest of the work day without the aid of aspirin or caffeine. I will DEFINITELY be adding Yoga to my weekly schedule after this wonderful treat. Next, I opted to take a ballet class at Elite Dance to stay in shape and boost my metabolism. By the end of the day, I felt relaxed, energized, and accomplished. After today, I realize that exercise AND contemplation go hand-in-hand to keep an organic, strong, fit, yet mentally and emotionally balanced body.

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THURSDAY

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Halloween is just around the corner! A great last minute yet festive way to decorate for the season is visiting your local farmer’s market or Pumpkin Patch. Decorate your home for the holidays organically with fresh pumpkins and gourds and support your local farmer’s produce and farms. I visited the McGrath Street Pumpkin Patch in Ventura County, serving the community for over 30 years. In addition to the thousands of pumpkin and gourds for sale, they also provide field trips for children and schools as a way of educating the next generation about farming and organic living. You can also use your fresh pumpkins to make delicious organic recipes for entertaining or just for yourself. I love the fresh pumpkin smoothie; the anti-oxidants in a pumpkin will kickstart your day. Or try roasted pumpkin seeds as a tasty mid-afternoon snack. And of course, it would not seem quite like Fall without a luscious organic pumpkin pie. After selecting my favorite orange and white pumpkins, I hurried home to decorate for Halloween, lit my favorite organic candles, and settled into a night of  “American Horror Story” for a frightfully festive evening.

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FRIDAY

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On Friday, I visited one of the most popular Farmer’s Markets, “The Original Farmer’s Market” at The Grove in Los Angeles. The Farmer’s Market was established in 1934, through the inspiration of two local entrepreneurs Fred Beck and Roger Dahlhjelm. What began as a few dozen farmers and local merchants selling their produce has now grown into a “must-see” attraction for visitors around the world. L.A.’s “Original Farmer’s Market” includes local produce, as well as fresh bakeries, fish and meat markets, cafes, restaurants, and merchandise.

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I started with the fresh produce section, and decided to buy local for my evening dinner. Grabbing fresh organic spinach, tomatoes, carrots, feta cheese, and squash, I then hurried home to a create an all organic dinner salad. I was amazed at how fresh, vibrant, and flavorful the fresh salad was, as compared to salad from a restaurant or the local grocery. I could actually taste, in full, the many wonderful flavors of each vegetable and felt completely satisfied, happy to start the weekend healthy, fresh, and organic.

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After the week’s “organic living,” I came to realize that living organically is not just a once-a-week activity, but a lifestyle. Making little changes such as buying local, shopping organic, taking Yoga, and daily exercising greatly reduced my normal weekly stress, and I found I was able to handle the daily challenges better, make conscious decisions, and sleep better at night. I also noticed that my energy level increased, and I even dropped a few pounds. Living organically is not hard, time consuming, or costly, yet the benefits to healthy organic living are priceless. After this week’s experiment, I am definitely going to make a permanent lifestyle change to eat organic, exercise daily, and enroll in a Yoga class for a healthier, happier new organic life.

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