Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Charlie Brown Effect

Good morning KMIVers!
Below, enjoy a guest post from Jonathan Wolf, EdM. Along with having a passion for working with fellow human beings on their ability to be resilient and thrive, Jon happens to be my brother. And he's the kind of brother I call on a fairly regular basis. Mostly because I love him, but a little bit because he is a brother whose sage advice and wisdom from his experience as a Vitality and Performance Coach has literally changed my life for the better. I just couldn't keep this amazing secret to myself anymore - I had to share him with all of you!

Jonathan has worked in a myriad of settings:  as a Health and Wellness Coordinator at a Psychiatric Residential Facility in Boston, a Therapeutic Mentor for Vive! Inc., and finally, Jon is a Vitality and Performance Coach with YouTime Coaching, which he founded and has been running for the past few years, along with his blog, Letting Your Crazy Out! Guidance for the Field of Life. Jonathan also has experience working with a range of individuals of all ages (ranging from 14-70), those suffering from mental illness, elite and professional athletes, and individuals in the performing arts. He obtained his master's degree in Sport Psychology and Counseling at Boston University, and he earned his bachelors degree in Kinesiology and Psychology from the University of Rhode Island.

So basically, you should get yourself to his website right now, and schedule a free consultation. If I wasn't family, I'd be doing it in a heartbeat!

As you've been noticing, I've been branching out and allowing for more and more guest posts. Jon's post below will be the first of many, and I hope you will happily welcome him into the KMIV family. 

Kisses, 
Lindsay

      The Charlie Brown Effect by Jonathan Wolf, EdM

Did you ever think that someday you could blame Charlie Brown for why your diets never worked? No matter if you eat meat, are vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, pescatarian, or any other "arian", you have probably tried some type of "diet" before. 

By diet, I mean, "a particular type or amount of food prescribed for a person for a special reason." According to the Boston Medical Center, 45 million individuals each year try dieting, while $33 million dollars are spent on weight-loss products.

Within this context, a key component is the word "prescribed." A vast majority of the time, it is not a Doctor, Nutritionist, or Certified Health Coach prescribing these diets, IT IS OUR OWN PRESCRIPTION. Which means, we design the reason for going on a diet, which diet to choose, and why this is the healthiest thing for us.

And boy do we rationalize. 

Now let's return to a major culprit in this situation, Charlie Brown.

If you have watched Charlie Brown before you are probably familiar with this scene.









Let's break this down.

Charlie Brown's Goal: Kick the football.

Factors in play: Charlie Brown, Lucy, Football.

Do you think Charlie Brown completed his goal?











Charlie Brown failed his goal of kicking the football, because Lucy pulled it out from under him.

So knowing what doesn't work, Charlie Brown goes for attempt #2.












 
And the same result…


A relentless Charlie Brown returns over and over again in hopes to kick the football, knowing what doesn't work, but still approaching the goal the same way. The "Charlie Brown Effect" is also known as the "False Hope Effect", which for Charlie means, the shear hope that someday he may actually get to kick the football, and this event will be so glorious it will wipe away all the failed attempts in the past keeps him coming back for more.

Have you ever heard of a Yo-yo Diet? Yeah, exactly the same thing. 

When it comes to our health, the food we put in our body, and the activity we'll allow our bodies to engage in, it is incredibly important to keep in mind three things while engaging in "dieting" behaviors. 

1) Identify all the "Lucy's" in the situation.

What road blocks and blockades could potentially keep me from achieving this healthier lifestyle? 

2) Design individual plans to navigate AROUND multiple "Lucy's" instead of acting like Charlie Brown and trying to go through her. 

3) Watch Forks Over Knives (www.ForksOverKnives.com).

If you want to lose weight, be active, and eat the right foods, do this as a lifestyle, not for three month increments. You want to be feeling good all the time, right?

The reassuring thing to realize is that there are lots of people out there falling underneath the "Charlie Brown Effect," and there are also many individuals that specialize in developing road maps, back-up plans, and creative solutions to these particularly challenging changes in lifestyle. 

A wonderful resource to help break you out of the "Charlie Brown Effect" and into a more permanent feeling of health and happiness is Steven Smith, a Certified Holistic Health Coach and creator of Ahimsa Life Coaching. Contact Steve through his website to free yourself from your inner Charlie Brown.  




To learn more about Jon and his fabulous work as a Vitality and Performance Coach, visit www.youtimecoach.com.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Have a KISSable Weekend!

Your KMIV Mom & Dad sharing a KISSable moment with Peanut

There always something to celebrate!  This weekend, find your own event, activity, person, meal, whatever!, to celebrate.  

- Spring just started, so you can celebrate the new season, as we head into warmer days, more sunlight, greener surroundings, delicious colorful fresh foods.  Ahimsa Life Coaching has a Springboard newsletter for you, to jump start your season of Green - with food, fun, meditation, and more!

- Tonight marks the beginning of National Unplugging Day, a chance to disconnect from all the technology that steals our undivided focus and attention and reconnect with ourSelves, those we love around us, nature, silence, stillness, and some good ol' R&R - for 24 undivided hours.  Try it tomorrow or find a day in your near future to reboot yourSelf and shut down your electronics.  If you can't go the full 100% due to an absolute necessity with communications or work, try to go as far as you can.  Can you cleanse yourSelf 50% from technology, 75%?  If you know you can but just don't want to, that's when you know you must do it!  So go for it.  We're right there with you :-)

What else?  SO much else!  Everything else!  We'd love for you to post how you are planning on celebrating your weekend, your Spring, your reconnection & refresh time with yourself.  

Have a KISSable weekend!

Kisses,
Lindsay & Steve




Friday, March 16, 2012

You Are Never Alone.

Below is another fabulous guest post, one of many to come, from my insanely talented and generous hubby Steven Todd Smith. In fact, you just may find that Steve will be popping by on a regular basis at Kiss Me, I'm Vegan. And that's a very good thing!

Steve is a Life Nutrition and Vegan Transition Coach, certified in Plant-Based Nutrition and as a Holistic Health Coach.  With Ahimsa Life Coaching, Steve offers various programs to make the transition into eating plant-based and living a compassionate vegan lifestyle easy, fun, and delicious.  If you're looking to reduce your stress, manage time more effectively, or find better ways to achieve balance and other goals, you can explore your Inner Ahimsa with Steve.

It's a tough world out there, huh?  Especially living a vegan lifestyle.  So much conflicting information being haphazardly thrown from all directions, plenty of naysayers to rain on your parade... what's a boy or girl to do?  How do you compassionately move forward when there seems like there are so many obstacles that stand in the way... when there seems like there's always a more convenient choice, which may not fulfill you but will appease all others around you?  It's too easy to feel like an island in so many areas of your life.  What I want to say and what you need to know is: You are not alone.  You are never alone.

With Tulip the hen at The Gentle Barn.
The past two and a half years of living vegan and beyond has been one of the greatest journeys of my life, as I've made leaps and bounds beyond the person who I used to be.  Mind you, I'm still the same Steve, just... grown up (in age, wisdom, maturity) and grown out (in mindset, consciousness, knowledge).  Wiser, happier, more worldly, more aware.  And definitely more connected... interconnected even, directly to people of a like mind and through the ether, the universe, to others who share the same responsible, compassionate, and fulfilling approach to life that I do now.

No matter what stage of life we're in, I've learned there's always going to be a part of us that clashes with the "mainstream," with the "majority," with the standard.  And that's the part we most often repress - we take a look at everyone else around us and say "If I want to fit in, then I'm going to have to change."  And while change can definitely be for the better at times, I'm talking about a forced change away from our actual Self in this sense - "It's going to be too difficult to be mySelf, so I'll try to be someone else."  This may be done to avoid ridicule, to avoid being ostracized or criticized, to please others with unfair requests.  In any case, if it goes against the heart of who you are, of what you believe and value in life, then it becomes a choice that will only cause more pain and grief within; you are, in essence, creating a rift between you and yourSelf.  And spending your life living at odds with yourSelf is not right, not fun, and no good.

The amazing audience at Rock It Out:
A Night to Benefit NY's Farmed Animal Sanctuaries


There is good news though - you know, the silver lining.  It's what I said above, and I still mean it: You are not alone.  You are never alone.  No matter how isolated or separated you feel, there's a different reality in motion.  You are never alone.

I've had the opportunity to experience the highs and lows of feeling so alone at times and being completely supported, welcomed, and surrounded at others.  One of the lows was early 2010 - new to Los Angeles, working 5 hours a week, not making nearly enough money to get by. I would feel comfortable saying that I was dejected, depressed, and lost, not sure what direction to take my life in - or in what direction it was being taken.  I've also been surrounded by communal love and support, environments fueled by momentum and positivity, true connectedness saying "We are of the same mind.  We can do this together."  There have been three conventions I've had the privilege of attending within the past six months: two conferences for my health coaching school, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and one for Tony Robbins' Unleash the Power Within.  Let me tell you: you get 4000-5000 people in one area, pulsing with energy, excitement, the drive to learn, to excel, to thrive, you become automatically supported and connected to each and every person. Whether you know them yet or not, you can immediately discover the best actions for yourSelf from this mass congregation.  I know I've left each of these events feeling more sure about what I want to do with my life, feeling more sure about my values and choices, feeling so connected to a community of people who are choosing to be their own Self.

In my improv classes that I take at iO West in Hollywood, there's the concept of "group mind."  Listening, tuning in to each other so greatly that ideas are born, connected, and weaved together spontaneously, with the promotion and support of each and every person.  Surrounding yourself with other players who want to connect with you and each other provides a place where you cannot fail - no matter what happens, someone always has your back.  Someone is always ready to continue and add on to your initiations and ideas, even if they are beyond ridiculous.  With a team behind you, beside you, and in front of you (surrounding you), you can only be confident and comfortable in each move you make, every word you say, every action you do.

While the numbers are out there, and they do say "there's strength in numbers," there is even great strength in the powerful connectedness of just a few.  To continue the growth and reach of my coaching business, Ahimsa Life Coaching, I hold weekly accountability calls with my brother-in-law, Jon (Lindsay's brother, whose posts you've read before!), fellow wellness coach and founder of YouTime Coaching.  I hold him up to the progress he wants to make, and he holds me up to mine.  With a simple support system of two, we can feel like an army of good, storming through to help anyone out there in need of health/life/performance coaching.

Farm Sanctuary's Santa Monica
Walk For Farm Animals
So yeah, being vegan in a world of non-vegans can be tough.  But I'll tell ya, you're not the only vegan - or only person who wants to be vegan - out there.  Besides the many vegans who are reading this article at the same time as you (how's that for connection?!), there's a whole world beyond that!  Just in the past two years, the amount of people who consume a completely vegan, plant-based diet in the US has doubled to 2.5% of the population, according to a recent study by the Vegetarian Resource Group. Although there's margin for error, the main point is that there has been amazing growth in this health & compassion movement, which means less vegans that are/can be alone and more vegans that are/can come together.

So what can you do if you're feeling like you're alone on your own vegan island?  You have an abundance of options:

- Join a Meetup group!

- Join a Facebook open group - I'm in several, such as Power to the Veg!, Positive Vegan Activism & Support, The Vegan Food Enthusiast

- Get close and local - find those friends/acquaintances-to-be-friends nearby with whom you can travel to veg restaurants, host potlucks/parties, and vent (when needed... and yes, it's needed sometimes).

- Empower yourSelf with education - there are so many amazing resources out there (Lindsay has a whole page on 'em).  For now, how about Forks Over Knives and Vegucated for a watch and Diet For a New America, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows, and Skinny Bitch/Bastard for a read (too many from which to choose!).

- Find an expert/mentor/coach! There are so many vegans, plant-based gurus out there who would be more than happy to answer questions, guide you in the right direction.  Look around and reach out!  You can't get any closer than right here, as I would be honored to join you on your life journey with Ahimsa Life Coaching.

- Visit animal sanctuaries!  Most likely, you see less of a disconnect between humans and non-human animals than many others.  So go hang out with your fellow brothers and sisters!  Spend some time with other living creatures who appreciate and yearn for life and freedom as much as you do.  Check out FAS directories here and here for an animal sanctuary near you.

- Contact us at KMIV! We do our best to get back to everyone in a timely manner, but you'll definitely hear from us.  Email us at kissmyvegan@gmail.com.

Being alone is a choice.  It's difficult to imagine with all of the feelings that often weigh you down, and it can usually feel like the world is forcing you out. But being alone is a choice you make, and one that you do not need to make anymore. As you can see from above, there's a wealth of others out there ready to connect, ready to support, ready to thrive right alongside you.  Whether it's regarding living vegan, relationships, finances or other life issues, make the choice - look around you and surround your Self with other like-minded Selves for positivity and support. And remember - with your choosing - you can never really be alone.

For more information about Steven Todd Smith and Ahimsa Life Coaching, visit www.ahimsalifecoaching.com and make sure to "like" him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ahimsalifecoaching.

***Would you be interested in a monthly vegan community call?  A group conference call led by Lindsay and myself, where we could share stories, experiences, concerns, goals, celebrations, offer advice and information, and hold you accountable toward taking those invaluable steps toward living the most compassionate, healthy, and fun life possible?  Let us know by commenting in the comments section below!  I see Spring/Summer 2012 as a excellent time to launch into bringing KMIVers together in an even greater, more connected way!***

Monday, March 12, 2012

No Matter What.

Photo © Joanna Wilson Photography.
A day off - finally! - has afforded me time to write an adequately sized post on my beloved blog. Oh, how I have missed you all! Yes, I've been posting bits and pieces over the past month, but the hustle and bustle of living as an actress/activist/wife/etc in Los Angeles has left me little opportunity to nurture my blogging.

It's been an interesting, growth-filled year and a half out here. I remember living most of 2009 and half of 2010 dividing my time between blogging and babysitting, with acting on the back burner. I was churning out a post every other day and was so happy to be sharing a compassionate message to a growing audience. An opportunity to meet Alicia Silverstone came along, my readership continued to get larger and stronger, and I was at the precipice of a grand life decision - do I continue on solely as an animal activist, or do I divide my time between my original love of acting and this new passion of mine? Ultimately, I've found that living as 75% actress/25% animal activist is my sweet spot. A great life choice for Lindsay - not so great for my amazing KMIV readers who were used to checking out new posts every week.

Photo © Michael Bartelle.
For those of you who have remained loyal through the years and are reading this very post - I thank you. You are the very reason I keep this blog going. And for the vegan (or nonvegan) newbies - welcome! I appreciate and love each and every one of you for taking the leap and learning more about a vegan lifestyle. Basically, you are all kiss-worthy in my book, because you give me wings to soar in this journey. As a thank-you to you, the animals, and the world, I promise to live vegan for the rest of my days. Joyfully. Gratefully. And with so much delicious and - you guessed it! - vegan food at my table.

Today, Steve and I visited The Gentle Barn in Santa Clarita, CA. I learned about Gentle Barn through Ellen DeGeneres about a year ago and have wanted to visit ever since. Highlights of my day included listening to a poignant speech by Gentle Barn founder Ellie Laks, getting to know an adorable pig named Linus, and petting an Emu named Yoda (my first Emu!). But nothing compared to the nap I experienced. Let me explain - today, in my lap, for a good twenty minutes or so, laid Ellen, a rescued turkey at The Gentle Barn. Named after THE Ellen herself, this lovely lady was originally slated to be someone's turkey dinner a couple of years back, but thankfully she was rescued in the nick of time by activist and Thanking the Monkey author Karen Dawn and immediately placed into Gentle Barn's care. Thriving and beautiful now, Ellen's favorite pastime is getting close enough to people so that she can sleep on them. The way to get her to sit with you? Sit down on the ground near her and slowly give her a big, big hug.

 Ellen and me sharing a really good snuggle.
For a lot of the people visiting Gentle Barn today, seeing my arms curled around a resting turkey completely surprised them, mostly because they just didn't know turkeys could be cuddly and sweet. See, we've been taught as human beings to ignore the very things about "food" animals that make them so like us - the love, the joy, the anger, the unique personalities, the immense pain, and the bonds formed with others. This was actually discussed quite eloquently in an article I found recently at Psychology Today - totally worth a read.

Today, Ellie said in her opening speech, 

A sleeping Ellen.
"Here at The Gentle Barn, we believe that we are all the same - we just look different."

That one simple sentence tugged at my heart in a way that left me breathless upon hearing it. We are different, yet we are the same. No matter what our skin color, what our gender, whether we have feathers or fur - inside, we are the same.

I couldn't agree more.

Ellie's words and my time with Ellen the turkey are still sitting with me hours later as I write this, because they have renewed within me the strength and resolve to continue sharing the profound benefits of living vegan in this day and age. As most to all of us no longer need a single animal product to survive, purchasing and/or eating them (and their milk, eggs, fur, feathers... you get the idea ) is now a luxury, and one that is selfish at best. I know this is a bold statement, and I say it with full respect for anyone reading my words who has not yet transitioned to vegan living. Why? Because I used to stand where you are standing. I used to call myself an animal lover and then happily go eat a quarter pounder from McDonald's. I used to look at vegan pamphlets in the subway and laugh at the absurdity of giving up my chicken fried steak. I - Lindsay the happy vegan blogger - used to think vegans were weird, extreme people.  But life has a funny way of showing you who you truly are if you let it. And all along, the animal lover within me was begging to be fully realized. All along, I was a deep down vegan. I just needed the jump start to get me going.

Steve and Tulip the hen at Gentle Barn.
I want to touch on one other subject since I'm riding the activist train today - as I drove alongside Steve back home from our Gentle Barn trip, I got to thinking about all of the conversations I've had with vegetarians who just don't think they could ever go vegan. The thing is, if you eat chicken's eggs and cow's milk but don't consume their bodies, you are still contributing to - even paying for -  their deaths. Because that chicken who spent her life churning out eggs at an unnatural rate ends up in the same place as all of the other chickens destined for our plates - the slaughterhouse. If you are vegetarian and reading this, I implore you today - drop the omelettes and mozzarella and take a 30-Day Vegan Pledge with me. Your health, the animals, and this world will be better for it. And I mean it when I say that as a vegan, I have so many delicious foods in my life that I just plain DON'T miss dairy and egg products. I don't. And you won't if you give it a try.

(And on the off chance you happen to, email me and we can chat about it.) 

AND - to the vegans in the room, I know I haven't focused entirely on you, so I say this: YOU give me so much joy. YOU inspire me, excite me, revitalize me, and remind me of what's important. YOU are the solution. Keep up the outstanding work!

To to sum up this post, I say:

Today, if you are reading this blog and have not done so yet, why not pledge to live vegan? Start small - a day, a week, a month. Remain open, remain flexible, and celebrate every single moment of the experience. And continue it. A little more. And now - let's jump in with both feet! Let's boldly and joyfully commit to living in a way that does the least amount of harm to every living thing, including ourselves. Let's allow the magic and miracle of living vegan permeate the rest of our lives, until we are living our best lives possible. Let's remember and honor the animals and each other every single chance we get. Let's wake up each day with compassionate intention and a big, big heart. No matter what.

Congratulations!
Today is your day!
You're off to great places,
You're off and away!
You have brains in your head. 
You have feet in your shoes 
You can steer yourself 
any direction you choose. 
You’re on your own. 
And you know what you know. 
And YOU are the one 
who’ll decide where to go.
- Dr. Seuss

Need your own jump start? Check out my "Three Steps for Going Vegan" page for resources, read old posts on this blog, and finally, feel free to email me at kissmyvegan@gmail.com. While I'm a super busy gal, I will do my very best to reach back out to each and every one of you.

Friday, March 2, 2012

CALL TO ACTION!

I am so blessed to know a few of the amazing human beings over at Mercy For Animals. Their recent protest in Iowa makes me love them even more. Why is this animal protection organization protesting? Well, Iowa is outlawing the use of videos inside of slaughterhouses. My question is, what do they have to hide?  
Please take a moment to call Iowa's governor Terry Branstad today at (515) 281-5211 and urge him to veto the Ag-Gag bill. I just did it - it literally takes a minute, and make sure to say your name too before you get off the phone! 
Read below to learn more about how harmful the Ag-Gag Bill will be for millions of animals.
http://www.mfablog.org/2012/03/blindfolded-mfa-advocates-protest-iowas-ag-gag-bill-call-for-veto.html
THANK YOU FOR BEING SUPERHEROES FOR THE ANIMALS TODAY!