The Watermelon Feta Salad you always wanted to make and never dared to try...

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You know how restaurants feature fancy watermelon salads with mint and feta. They are a fresh summer side dish, delicious and quick. You love all the ingredients, but somehow you never see yourself making it at home... So a few weeks ago, we started gardening on our little deck. One of the key ingredients I wanted were a few herb plants. I'm not great at landscaping and I've already forgotten which flowers go by which name. Ahem...

BUT: I got mint. And it is alive and kicking. So yesterday I made watermelon feta salad with mint. And it turned out delicious.

You need: 1/4 watermelon, cut into bite size pieces, 2oz feta cheese (or more if you like), black pepper, 3-4 tbs EVOO, 2 limes and 1/4 medium onion chopped very fine, one handful of mint chopped.

Toss the watermelon with the mint, juice of 2 limes and onion and let it sit. Add the EVOO, feta, pepper. Take a photo for Instagram and voila!

ENJOY!

Healing and a New Moon

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2014 is charging ahead. It is supposed to be ripe with opportunity and to favour the quick thinkers and decision makers. It is also full of new moons already! In less than three days, we will have a new moon again, the third one this year. This new moon will be in Pisces. I won't attempt to give you an astrological or mystical breakdown of what awaits, but I have come to appreciate new moons as mini new beginnings so I will do the same with this one. Also, the topic of healing came up (my husband compared me to Chiron... I'll write a separate post on that, ha!). As you may know, I suffered from sciatica for three years. It was excruciatingly painful and had absolutely no physical source (at least initially). I talked to a few new mothers this week and some of them told me about their experiences with lower back issues and also sciatica. Sciatica just like many other ailments and pains, usually stems from imbalance, emotional or physical. We can treat the symptoms but until we attack the root cause, the problem will keep returning. It took me another 2 years to get to the root and work on eliminating it and therefore reducing the pain and it took some pretty big changes in attitude and behavioural patterns. I was able to heal with a lot of support from others but mainly because I sought and went after more balance in my life.

Now this new moon on March 1st is in Pisces and asking for a closer look at some of our patterns, it is supposed to set a tone for pause and reflection while we consider where our energy has become totally out of balance.

There it is again: balance. The word pops up a lot. We talk about work-life balance, mind-body balance, balancing acts, balanced meals, the balance of power, standing balances and being well-balanced mentally.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed

Balance is such an integrative part of our vocabulary but still, we rarely achieve it in our life. This upcoming new moon wants to remind us how to do it. It asks us to tune inward and listen. To pay attention to our dreams. To flow and be connected. To merge and take a break from mundane activities. My interpretation and what I'm intending to do (especially since it's coming on the weekend) is the following:

  • Seeing people that I don't often see and miss (!). I started today with a lovely lunch and it made me happy.
  • Engaging in activities that I love and that allow me to reflect. I will probably go for a run.
  • Taking some me time.
  • Trying to refrain from being impatient for x amount of hours per day. With others AND myself.
  • Preparing and savouring nourishing food. And ideally sharing it in lovely company.
  • Resting and taking a moment in the morning to reflect on my dreams.
  • Beginning or ending the day reminding myself of what I'm grateful for (and writing it down).
  • Writing down my dreams for the future as a way of manifesting them / announcing them to the Universe.

I can't believe we are almost in March. Three weeks and change until Spring. Could it be true?

Let me know what you will be doing for the new moon or what you have done to heal after a difficult emotional or physical setback.

I would love to hear from you!

xxR

Tasty Tuesday: Kale & Coconut/ Grünkohl & Kokosnuss

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A simple yet yummy recipe as a side dish or a main course. I like to buy the kale pre-washed and bagged and make a big batch of this. Spread the kale out on an oven tray after massaging it in some sesame oil. Set the oven to 300-350 F and bake for about 15 minutes. Make sure to check on it and maybe toss some more in between. Towards the end add some coconut flakes. I use Trader Joe's Roasted Coconut Flakes. Take the mixture out of the oven and toss in about 3 tablespoons of soy sauce or more if you like it. Enjoy!For an extra kick and some grains you can add some cooked barley and have a delicious vegetarian dish. Ein sehr einfaches und extrem leckeres Rezept das man als Vorspeise oder Hauptspeise geniessen kann. Ich kaufe den Grünkohl gerne vorgewaschen in der Tüte und verarbeite die ganze Tüte auf einmal. Verwende Sesamöl und massiere es in den Grünkohl. Richte die Blätter auf einem Ofenblech an und backe sie bei ca. 180 Grad für etwa 15 Minuten. Achte darauf dass die Blätter nicht anbrennen. Gegen Ende kannst du die Kokosnussraspeln hinzufügen. Ich verwende hier in den USA Trader Joe's Roasted Coconut Flakes. Nimm die Mischung aus dem Ofen und mische sie in einer Schüssel mit ca. 3 Esslöffeln Soja Sauce oder ein wenig mehr falls du das magst. Lecker! Für einen extra Kick und ein ganzheitliches vegetarisches Mahl, kannst du noch gekochte Gerste hinzufügen.

Words on Wednesday: Less is More

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I just stumbled across an old friend from Uni online, who commented on a Facebook post saying that "we have lost the awareness to be excited by the little things"... Ever since I left my office job, I realized that while I'm doing what I really love, time slows down. I have an awesome session with a client and the hour seems much longer (I think for them too, depending on what we're doing). No but in a positive sense I cherish moments much more.  Before, I obviously also had really great days at the office, but the simple setting which was an office that forced me to be at my desk at certain times of the day and dictated that I was to have lunch around 12-2pm made me really look forward to 6pm and the freedom that came with it.

I tried to bring food to the office to not have to rely on food chains because ultimately in a 5 day week I would have at least one, twice. I'm not good at leaving things on my plate, so the places dictated how much I was eating... Now I take my time to prepare breakfast and some of the results you see on here. I enjoy eating it, I go workout, by the time I come back I really look forward to preparing a nice lunch. And I cook most evenings. There was never really time for that before.

Even though I work physically and mentally harder getting Chitta off the ground, I run around, I work out with my clients and I try to keep up with my own exercise routine, I feel less tired than I often felt after a whole day at the desk. My anxiety levels are lower even though every new client feels like going on a first date, my hair and skin are healthier and my digestion... well, you know :)

My friend's comment was on an article about how we consume a lot these days and I must admit as a budding entrepreneur I consume much less these days. And interestingly I'm happier.

This NY Times article also weighs in on how we have become a society of consumers and how the author scaled back which - you guessed it - made him happy.

How does all this relate to what I'm doing?

I once met a client who told me she was working out six times a week, she had changed trainers a few times, she did her own cardio but still she said "I don't run faster than some New Yorkers walk".

In my trainings, I try to bring as much versatility to each session as I can. Often I switch up exercises after only a few sets or combine them and I try to squeeze the maximum result out of each proposed exercise. And I am seeing peoples' results. My pregnant ladies felt energized after sessions albeit challenged, other people have lost weight and others were able to increase their strength, flexibility, coordination, etc. All of them - if I had them do their very first session again today - would do it without breaking a sweat and hardly being out of breath.

These results make me incredibly happy! And they show that by tickling my clients with these 1-3 hours per week, which is easily incorporated into their busy schedules, we are making amazing progress in a relatively short time. Think of their muscles being excited too by the diverse, rapidly changing movement and because they are happy, they interact better, within (intramuscular coordination) and between each other (intermuscular coordination). It all creates a well oiled machine. Moreover, because the results stick, this new regimen becomes sustainable: it's fun to see yourself transform.

I strongly believe in breaking the loop of living to work, rewarding ourselves by consuming more, buying more, eating more and ultimately feeling obliged to exercise more.

I dare you to work to LIVE, then the work itself becomes rewarding, consuming becomes a luxury and eating is a part of a delicious routine that creates balance in our body... a strong body that loves to be tickled regularly.

xxR

PS: Every now and then, stop and smell the flowers...

Tasty Tuesday: Fried Green Tomatoes & Summer Salad/ Grüne Tomaten & Sommer Salat

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I love tomatoes! And right now in NY, there is an abundance of fantastic heirloom tomatoes in different colours ranging from pink to green to yellow and orange. They are big ripe and they just ask to be used for all kinds of dishes. So I decided to make an appetizer of 'fried green tomatoes' and follow it up with a very fresh summery salad. Very simple and super refreshing: Cut 3 large green tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices and salt them. Let them stand for a few minutes while you lightly beat one egg with a tbsp of water. Soak the tomato slices in the egg before tossing them in breadcrumbs. Fry in olive oil, add a dollop of garlic aioli. ENJOY!

While you fry the tomatoes, chop cucumber into small cubes and the same with the other tomatoes (mine were yellow!), open a can of chickpeas and drain them. I like to rinse the chickpeas to get rid of that slimy film that coats them. Toss in a salad bowl with LOTS of coriander (from the spice rack - NOT cilantro). And for extra fun take two large ripe peaches, peel them, slice them and roast them in the oven for approximately 15 min at 350 degrees. Throw them into the mix. Squeeze out a whole lemon over the salad and ENJOY!

Ich liebe Tomaten! Und moment gibt es sie in NY in wahnsinnig vielen verschiedenen Farben, von pink über grün und gelb und orange. Sie sind riesengross, reif, saftig und koennen für eine menge toller Rezepte verwendet werden. Also habe ich mich für eine Vorspeise von frittierten grünen Tomaten entschieden gefolgt von einem bunten Sommer Salat. Sehr einfach und wahnsinnig erfrischend:

Schneide 3 grosse grüne Tomaten in 1cm dicke Scheiben und salze sie leicht. Lass sie für ein paar Minuten stehen während du ein Ei mit etwas Wasser leicht aufschlägst. Lege die Tomatenscheiben in die Eimischung und wende sie danach in Paniermehl. Frittiere sie in Olivenöl, ein Klecks Knoblauch Aioli. Und: LECKER!

Während du die Tomaten frittierst, schneide die Gurke und die Tomaten (ich habe gelbe verwendet) in Würfel, öffne eine Dose Kichererbsen und lass sie abtropfen. Ich wasche sie zusätzlich ab, weil ich den schleimigen Film an den Kicherbsen nicht mag. Vermische alles in einer Salatschüssel und füge eine MENGE Koriander hinzu. Und um dem ganzen noch einen extra Kick zu geben, wasche, schäle und schneide zwei grosse reife Pfirsiche und röste sie im Ofen bei ca. 150 Grad. Gib sie hinzu. Presse eine ganze Zitrone aus und: LECKER!

Moving with ease and accepting impermanence

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This post falls under the same category as 'how our puppy taught us to stay sane' except this time she is the culprit among other things. I have been known to do things fast, to do many things at the same time and somehow that results in me, always having a deadline...

So for 2013 that meant getting above mentioned brand new puppy in January and training her, concluding a yoga teacher training in March, opening a business in April, planning an international wedding in May, bidding the in-laws and family farewell closer to June (they all decided NYC was only worth a trip if it was at least two weeks) and then marching full steam ahead with promoting my business while working with clients. It is only August but I feel like I've filled the first half of this year with enough tasks for a full 365 days.

And now... we're moving apartments. To be exact by the end of this month. Boxes, movers, bills, organizing, while maintaining our jobs as two entrepreneurs who work from home. And right on cue, Zola our pup came down with a UTI (urinary tract infection). I am sure all of my female readers can commiserate and believe me, the symptoms are just the same. I wonder if it's stress related.

The term 'moving with ease' is used a lot in the wellness field. Usually to describe economical physical movement. Ultimately it means that we move using little strength while getting to where we want gracefully without breaking a sweat.

I am not good at that.

As an athlete I was taught how to do things economically, in an agile way and simply trained so many hours, that very little could make me tired. International competitions involved the following: travel, short nervous first nights, a semi-final on the first day, one recovery day of light training to get rid of as much lactic acid as possible, the biggest event: the final on day three, another day of recovery at which point that lactic acid had stubbornly set up camp in our muscles, and the team event. 5 days, 3 full pentathlons, one last night of partying and connecting with everyone and a flight home. The next day I was focused on the next competition and back on (the) track.

My current events are slightly different but I was thinking of ways to make them easier. This is not a five step plan on how to do things. For that you could check my article on how to lead a balanced lifestyle. But rather I would like to describe a feeling to retreat to when things get overwhelming, that has helped me and that I have to fight for to create in my daily life.

I usually get into that feeling in random places. In NYC most often on the subway. It is one of the few places where there is no cell phone service and if I am not reading or drafting emails a place to reflect. It is there that I remember that I constantly am planning the outcome of different things and even the ones that can not be planned. On a side note I recently saw the kaleidoscopic art work by Suzan Drummen where she lays pieces on the floor to create mandala like structures. And people can walk right up to them to admire them. It made me very nervous to think that someone would bump into one of the pieces or step on them and destroy Ms. Drummen's thousands of hours of work.

But then (after laughing out loud at myself) I thought of the Buddhist concept of impermanence and how important it is to remind ourselves that it is not a bad thing. And that's exactly where I found some peace. Things around us are in flow. We, mere mortals, can't stop it. Things happen, sometimes amazing things. Sometimes things that initially are disappointing but ultimately lead to something different. And most of the time that next situation is not half bad.

Of course there are very trying times when there seems to be a succession of only yucky things and right now I feel like there are a lot of chores awaiting me while I would much rather enjoy the lull of August and kick back instead of leaning in.

I am working hard and somewhat successfully to take each day as it comes, to wake up and not rush to mid-afternoon or evening in my head. To acknowledge that if I allow the hours to unfold, they pass slower than if I'm already at 5pm and stressing out over how short the day is. To really enjoy downtime, be it a meal, a quick coffee with a friend, a workout session I particularly enjoy or walking the dog. And to stay present without escaping into the crazy future place in my brain.

There you have it: presence and impermanence. The two states that help save my day. Today.

I dare you to try it. Have a calm rest of your week.

xxR

Healing - A lifelong process

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In my first blog post on this site I talked about the benefits of physical activity to overcome grief. But overcoming grief for me hasn't necessarily been the same as healing myself. The more I listen to people and read about this topic, the more I see how grief is an incredibly individual thing whereas there are broader approaches to healing that can benefit more than one person. For example meditation or any of the other four ways that can help lead a balanced lifestyle (exercise, eat everything in moderation, keep good company and switch off your tech!) can be good for healing too. In general calming the senses and tuning back inside is important to realize that something is off. That can be just temporary and our body's cry for rest, or issues that have gone on for a long time where we need to change our habits to turn the ship around.

But what does healing actually mean and what do we need healing from? Healing literally means to make whole, to restore the health of an unbalanced, unhealthy body. I believe that as babies we come into this world whole. Then life chips away at us and usually our immune system (both physical and emotional) can cope pretty well but there are life events or patterns that hurt us on a deeper level and have the ability to derail us and make us sick.

For a long time I didn't really notice that I needed healing. My life was always busy - with my sport at first - then with moving and living in New York. Relationships seemed fine while they lasted and hurt for the appropriate amount of time when they broke up. Until several years ago when a particularly long relationship ended and the change of moving from a home that I had co-created back to a share with strangers, threw me off. It coincided with a difficult workplace situation and all the talking with my friends still left me clueless as to how to turn around my situation and go back to being fearless and carefree. However, once I realized I needed healing all the things that had caused my 'imbalance' became painfully apparent. I had finally unlocked this area.

What followed were many discussion and a lot of reading and a lot of trying to remedy what was going on. But as I quickly discovered most of my approaches were merely band-aids. As I had done it before, I went running. Running for me had always been 'moving meditation', my way of disconnecting from the outside world and connecting to my body and mind. This time running didn't help. It was an escape - I was running away from changing habits and staring my fears and unresolved issues in the eye.

Thus began my journey. I sat down and started writing down things that I wanted to do in my life and how I wanted to be treated. Call it manifesting or becoming clear. I cultivated (more) patience and gave myself permission to not achieve things so quickly. I went easy on myself mentally and most important physically. I went into my most painful experiences and looked at them from my place now rather than as a younger version of myself who was in the midst of things and overwhelmed. I practiced gratitude for where I was in my life at any given day. I let myself cry for each time I had held it back to be strong.

Some of the effects I could see and feel relatively soon. Restoring balance in my body led to less aches and pains and restoring balance in my mind made me happier, overall.

I dare you to try it. Heal yourself and accept that it is an ongoing process. It's a good goal to have to ultimately be free of things that we have accumulated over the years, that weigh us down. Forgive yourself for new issues that arise along the way. Take them in stride and cherish them as life experiences. We were not made to be perfect. We were born to be real.