Friday, July 29, 2016

The Fourth Yama (Yoga rules to live by for Optimal Health) is Bramacharya: Non-Excess

The fourth Yama is Bramacharya and translations include "non-excess" and walking with God or the Divine; finding the sacredness in life and everything we do. In other words, Carpe Diem.

This Yama teaches us how to walk with and experience the Divine within. It shows us how to trust that you are enough. It helps us to find the middle way. Like goldilocks...not to hot and not too cold, not too soft and not too hard.  All of the Yamas and Niyamas are a path designed to eliminate personal suffering.

To help you contemplate this, here are some thought provoking questions to ask:

Do you create personal time and space to dream and manifest your own intentions? Time for you own personal spiritual growth?

Do you have a hard time prioritizing self with all your roles and responsibilities?  Do you give so much to others that you find there is little time and energy left for self?

Do you sometimes say yes when you really want to say no?  Do you find yourself overworking or overeating versus doing what you really want to do?  Do you even KNOW what you really want to do?

Or do you sometimes over indulge in self-health and self-care trying to “fix” parts of eindulgence when you are working on changing habits.

Can you develop compassion for yourself in the process? Can you delete the need to beat yourself up?

Can you have faith that your self-care will yield positive energy that will fuel yourself and others?

I recently did a two hour workshop for fellow yoga teachers titled, “Healing the Healer” emphasizing the experience of Bramacharya. I thought I would share my introductory notes with you to see if this resonates with you.

The Experience:                                                                 
  1. Experience the Divine within; Trust that you are enough. “Yoga is a way of moving into stillness in order to experience the truth of who you are… It’s a matter of listening inwardly for guidance all the time, and then daring enough and trusting enough to do as you are prompted to do...” Eric Schiffman
  2. Experience the practice of accepting, forgiving and loving all parts of us including our aches, pains, ANTs & SLBs Ask not what’s wrong with me, but what is right with me? What is my loving body trying to tell me? 
  3. Cherish yourself as sacred. Use the beginners mind to open yourself up to the wonder that you are. Seeing everything as sacred “roots us and balances us”

The Messages:
  1. Movement to music is powerfully healing
  2. Emotions are merely energy in motion, it is safe to feel them and let them go.
  3. Trust in your body’s innate ability to heal from within and become a witness to your own personal transformation

I mentioned in the last post how several years ago when I was studying integrative nutrition to become a certified health coach, my coach asked me what I did for fun.  The only thing I did for myself was get up at 5:30am to practice Bikram Yoga in a 110 degree room.  It made me cry. What started out as a healthy discipline, suddenly felt automatic and abusive.  I realized that this yoga no longer served me and that I needed something more, something that would stoke my passion.

My first love was dance. By the time I was 10, I had been on toe for 3 years and danced every dance in the nutcracker suite.  At 12, I was asked to audition for the Washington School of Ballet. When my parents said no, I quit dancing and even sold my hand-autographed photos from the beatles. I literally deprived myself of music for over 40 years!

I went on to live the life my parents thought I “should lead” I was the good girl. I rejoined my friends who had quit dance long before I did. I became a cheerleader, was the social butterfly, got married and had children.  Every time I shared a career goal, I was told why it was not a good idea. When I told my father I was going to be a writer, he said I was too undisciplined. When I told him I wanted to become a therapist he laughed and said I was too emotional, the same response when I announced I was going to be a nurse.

Even in school, my HS Math teacher said to me, “Lisa, I know that you get this and find this all too easy, but you are keeping the boys from learning, so if you don’t stop talking, I’m going to have to move you to the front of the room.”  Could she not have moved me to a more challenging math class instead? That was the last math class I ever took.

Many of us have felt disempowered by our culture and our well-meaning parents and teachers.  Not following our passions can be disempowering and energetically draining.  Not recognizing your inner light, your inner passions, can make life feel dull and automatic.

So who would like more joy? More peace? More Energy? Who would like to feel empowered? 

Today we will explore ways to find balance and self-nourishment through the wisdom of the Yama, Bramacharya: to live and walk with the divine. Finding contentment in having and being enough. I often over-function and struggle with the notion that I don’t have enough, enough food for everyone, have not accomplished enough at the end of the day, or basically not being enough.

How do we experience the divine with in us?

We practice accepting, loving and forgiving all parts of us. We look at our aches and pains, our ANTs (automatic negative thoughts) and SLBs (self limiting beliefs), and we learn to reframe them.  Instead of asking, “What’s wrong with me?” Ask, “What’s my loving body trying to tell me?”  As a health coach, I share the first step in my seven steps to optimal health, which is to take an honest personal assessment. We practice with a beginners mind.

So close your eyes, take some deep breaths and spend a few minutes in silence thinking of some part of you that you would like to accept, forgive, or let go of. Whether it’s procrastination, a bad habit, an addiction, a feeling of anxiety, or the belief that you are just “not good enough.” What no longer serves you?  What keeps you on the hamster wheel or from giving yourself the gift of time and space?

The next hour and 15 minutes, I’m going to share what I’ve got, my own struggles and vulnerability to hopefully inspire you to do the same, to recognize that we are all one, all the same with the same self-doubts, struggles and aspirations. 

We will demonstrate that we all also have the innate ability to heal from within.  My gift to you is my book, which is a love story. “It is written and given with love to those I love, in hopes all of us will learn to have the biggest, most passionate and life-affirming love affair of our lives with…ourselves (and the divine within each of us). 

I hope to demonstrate that the most important person in your life must first be you. When you are operating on all cylinders, you feel whole, balanced and happy, more joyful and at peace. My hope is this book will be your guidebook and together through love, we can change the world; one healthy, happy individual at a time..”

I’d like to share with you now part of my own sadhana, my practice to create more joy and peace, energy and empowerment in my life.  It’s my way of using movement to music to connect to the Divine within me and above.  Let’s begin the practice with a feeling of sacredness.

We then combined yoga, breathwork and meditation with joyful movement to music.

Here’s a taste of what fun we had!


Let me know if you would like to sign up for our next Carpe Diem Dance workshop and re-discover the Divine within you!

Tomorrow morning 7:30am I will be teaching yoga for the morning community class @ Beloved Yoga Studio in Reston, VA


Lisa is an author, inspirational speaker, and coach with a mission to inspire and empower others to feel their best at any age. Her book, Savvy Secrets: Eat, Think & Thrive outlines seven steps that are fun and transforming. 
Lisa is part of the New Self Health Movement, the International Health Coach Association and the Wellness Inspired Network. When she is not coaching, speaking or writing, you can find her practicing yoga and joyfully sharing Carpe Diem Dance at every opportunity.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Third Yama for Optimal Health

The third Yama (external discipline) is Asteya, translated to truthfulness or non-stealing.

When we fail to honor our true authentic self, when we ignore our passions and our bodies, we steal from ourselves.  When we fail to care for ourselves, we steal opportunities for ourselves as well as being fully present and available to our loved ones. We steal from our self when we keep ourselves so busy that we cannot enjoy the present moment.

Here is a picture from my book and quote from the Dalai Lama:

I am a born Washingtonian, a place where we wear stress on our shoulders as a badge of honor. We identify ourselves with our accomplishments and our "to do lists".  We confuse how important we are with how busy we are.

In doing so, there is no time for integration of our experiences and we end up robbing ourselves of our own experiences. Do you ever wake up and forget where you are? Do you suffer from short-term memory loss? This busyness may be the culprit.

In my last business, we participated and spoke at 12 trade shows in 12 months and built the world’s first railroad, state and county bridges out of recycled plastics.

World's First RR Bridge from Recycled Plastic-Ft. Eustis, VA
I loved the sense of accomplishment; I loved meeting new people and bringing green solutions to the marketplace. I traveled around the country giving presentations to the military and to Department of Transportation offices. It was great fun, and it fed my ego. I was so busy that some mornings it was hard to remember what city I was in. What kept me going on this fast track?  You guessed it…YOGA! I would find a studio in each city that I visited and prioritize getting to a class either early morning or evening. If there wasn’t a class, I always packed a portable mat and would practice in my hotel room.

I admit, I get addicted to stress. I love to be busy, but when my anxiety increases, I know I’ve crossed the line (see the next post). When my blood pressure goes up, it's time to refocus on what I am eating, thinking and doing.

When the foundation of our business began to crumble, I found myself once again on unsteady ground. My self-esteem tumbled. What did I really want? I signed up with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition where my coach asked me what did I do for fun?  This question made me cry. I’d lost that part of me. All work and no play makes a very dull girl. The only thing I did for me routinely was hot yoga, 90 minutes of sweating in a 110-degree room. Although, in the beginning it offered me great discipline and detoxification, it suddenly felt abusive. It no longer served me.

I needed time for reflection, time to stop doing and time to just be.

I learned meditation and gave myself 20 minutes a day to practice and then I did what I needed to make my heart sing. I returned to movement to music that was fun, joyful and good for my heart, my brain and my soul.

This enabled me to focus on what I really wanted to leave behind for future generations. I asked myself what mark did I want to make on this world?

This is where the gift of Asteya hits me hard emotionally. In our quest to make a living (Artha) what were we leaving behind?  I began to see how our lifestyles were stealing from future generations. Our processed fast food steals nutrients with each bite and creates offspring with unprecedented chronic disease. Our practice and mentality to throw everything away with each meal creates unprecedented waste.

This waste creates so much trash that we now have three islands of plastic floating in our oceans (each larger than the state of Texas!), killing our much needed fish and wildlife.

The insatiable desire for, and addiction to fast food, chemical and GMO laden food has created an epidemic of obesity and chronic illness that will completely bankrupt our country.

How do we truly make America great again?

We remember the native American wisdom to consider the next seven generations in every decision we make.

Is what we are eating three times a day life affirming? Are we cultivating love, laughter and life? Or are our decisions leading to diet, disease and death?

When we fail to care for our ourselves, animals and our environment we steal from our children, grandchildren and future generations.

How will you practice Non Stealing Today?

Here’s a few tips from me:
  • Buy a glass or stainless steel water bottle and refuse to support plastic bottle industry.
  • Purchase bamboo silverware and pack in your purse or backpack to save plastics.
  • Prioritize 20 minutes of meditation and 20 minutes of movement @ least once a day; optimally twice a day.
  • Eat only real, whole, unprocessed food.
Carpe Diem,



Lisa is an author, inspirational speaker and coach with a mission to inspire and empower others to feel their best at any age. She is also the Executive Director of the Integrative Wellness Program at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Bethesda, MD.

Her book, Savvy Secrets: Eat, Think & Thrive outlines seven steps to optimal health that are fun and transformational. Lisa is founder of Carpe Diem Wellness
and the Wellness Inspired Network and part of the New Self Health Movement. When she is not coaching, speaking or writing, you can find her joyfully practicing yoga and sharing Carpe Diem Dance.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The 2nd External Discipline, or...Rules to Live By

I just completed my 500 hr yoga certification with Beloved Yoga Studio, which is kinda a big deal. It was a big commitment which forced me to really practice what I preach and allowed me to further study the depth of yogic philosophy. It begins with the Yamas and the Niyamas which are external and internal disciplines. I believe these are good rules to live by if you want optimal health and wellness.

Last month I wrote about the first Rule to Live By. Here's # 2. The second Yama is called Satya and it's translation is truthfulness.

As a coach, a teacher and a guide, I will provide a mirror for your self-discovery and, with your permission; pledge to gently remind you when you are exhibiting self-sabotage.

The first step of my Seven Steps to Optimal Health from my book Savvy Secrets: Eat, Think and Thrive, is to take an honest personal assessment. Working with a coach and practicing the therapeutic tools of yoga, give you the opportunity to leave your masks at the door to discover the truth of who you really are. Here are some questions to explore:

Do you always speak your truth, in a way that does no harm?
Do you sometimes say yes when you want to scream no?

What is your biggest obstacle or challenge? How have you tried to overcome this challenge and what has and has not worked? How will you feel when you’ve overcome this challenge or obstacle?

When self-limiting behaviors and automatic negative thoughts rear their ugly head, I will offer the question, “Is this really true? Are you sure? Are you 100% true?" If the answer is no,  then ask, Is there another, more loving option to view this situation?" (Thank you Byron Katie)

Being true to yourself takes courage. To practice Satya or truthfulness means taking full responsibility for your life and actions.

How will you practice Satya or truthfulness? If you are not 100% satisfied with your life as it right now, consider working with a coach or a mentor and engaging some of these timeless rules to live by.  Feel free to call me for a 20 minute get acquainted call to see if we are a good fit for each other for coaching or private yoga sessions.

Carpe Diem,


Next Saturday morning 7:30am I will be teaching yoga dance for the morning community class in Reston, VA


Lisa is an author, inspirational speaker, and coach with a mission to inspire and empower others to feel their best at any age. Her book, Savvy Secrets: Eat, Think & Thrive outlines seven steps that are fun and transforming. 
Lisa is part of the New Self Health Movement, the International Health Coach Association and the Wellness Inspired Network. When she is not coaching, speaking or writing, you can find her practicing yoga and joyfully sharing Carpe Diem Dance at every opportunity.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Our Politicians are Selling out our Health. Please take Action!

I woke up at 4am this morning, compelled to write this blogpost. While we are enjoying our barbecue and the beach this weekend, our elected officials, on both sides, are selling us out. Our basic right to know what is in our food is about to be denied to American citizens.

How free are we really, when the government, paid for by our biggest herbicide and pesticide companies, creates laws that interfere with what 98% of the population have asked for...the right to label GMO's in our food. It's bad enough, that we are the only country in the world that allowed GMO's in our food chain in the first place, and that we lead the world in creating chronic illness, but now to put in a law that will continue to keep us ignorant is impossible to imagine in a society based on freedom of speech. What are they hiding? What is it they do not want us to know?

What exactly is a GMO? It stands for Genetically Modified Organism; scientists have crossed a bacteria with a plant or an animal in their DNA. This is something that you would never find in nature. This is not what we've done for thousands of years, this is not selective breeding, this is an unnatural act that has only benefited the chemical, pesticide and pharmaceutical companies of the United States of America, to the peril of our health. This threat goes beyond the US and threatens world wide populations of fish and wildlife as well as human health.

Since my daughter's cancer diagnosis, I have spent thousands of dollars and the last 5 years educating myself on the root causes of cancer, chronic illness and autoimmune disease. I asked myself, how could this be, that I have witnessed such a rise and pandemic of chronic dis-ease in my lifetime? In just 35 years since graduating from nursing school. Why are we seeing such a rise in both autoimmune disease and food sensitivities? Let me explain.

Our immune system, our protective police force, (think about the border patrol), lines our gastrointestinal tract. It is designed to protect us from foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses and toxic chemicals like mercury, lead and arsenic. As I wrote in my book, Savvy Secrets: Eat, Think & Thrive, a healthy gastrointestinal tract will safely eliminate even the most toxic elements from the human body.

What happens when we inject bacteria into the DNA of the plant and animal that we consume? You don't have to be a rocket scientist to guess that our immune system identifies this as a foreign body or an invader and starts to react. This creates an inflammatory response and antibodies that can turn into an autoimmune disease when these antibodies start attacking our own tissues. Our internal police force over reacts and starts shooting innocent bystanders...ourselves. But have no fear, the pharmaceutical companies are standing by with plenty of drugs that quiet our police system, without really addressing the root cause of the problem (Our food!). In my opinion, these drugs have a purpose, they calm the immune system, but without addressing the root cause, we continue our abuse until we have multiple autoimmune issues, requiring more drugs and a vicious cycle ensues. It keeps us chronically ill and in the dark.

Much like the Dark Act that is about to be passed by Congress unless you act NOW.. I implore you to please pass this blogpost to everyone you love (and everyone you know who has been diagnosed with a chronic illness, which BTW is more than 50% of the American population!) CALL your representative today and tomorrow and tell them you are against this bipartisan effort to keep us sick and ignorant.  Call and ask NOT to support Senator Pat Roberts (R) & Debbie Stabenow (D) bill  888-897-0174, it's easy and only takes a minute, they will connect you to your representative.

How do we keep America great again? Only healthy individuals can create healthy companies and communities. Please make a commitment to bring light into the darkness today and let freedom ring!

If you doubt what I am saying; watch this entertaining and well done documentary exploring the safety of GMO's; click HERE for GMO OMG Documentary Movie or at least spend 5 minutes and  see this link for Myths & Truths. Why is it that the European Union and other developed countries have banned GMO's but not America? Why is it my clients can eat whatever they want in Europe but get sick on the SAD, Standard American Diet? Why is it that nutrition is still not taught in medical or nursing schools? Could this be the missing link to our dis-ease? We spend more money than the next 15 countries combined for healthcare yet lead the world for obesity and chronic disease. This is not sustainable. Having the right to know what is in our food is a basic freedom that must not be denied in a free nation.

Please take action, Carpe Diem, seize the day, call your Congressman and pass along this post.

With Love & Gratitude,


Friday, July 1, 2016

Strategies for a Safe & Sumptuous Holiday Weekend

I'd like to do a little myth busting and empower you towards optimal fun and health this weekend.

First of all enjoy the summer sun! Vitamin D is so essential for optimal health, it is the "conductor of your genetic orchestra", so says Victoria Wood, RD, CNS who specializes in oncology. She teaches that vitamin D can turn on and off the expression of your genes at the stem cell, not even chemo or radiation does this!

If you live in the Washington DC area then you do not get enough vitamin D from the sun between October and May. We were meant to go south for the winter, like the birds. Most of us are deficient in vitamin D and need to supplement. Contact me if you'd like more information on this.

Now for the myth busting, most sunscreens interfere with your body's ability to make its own vitamin D and it doesn't protect you from burning below the surface, and it has carcinogens and nanoparticles in it!

But have no fear. Nature has provided us with our very own special fire alarm to tell us when we've had enough sun...yep, it's called a sunburn.  My advice? Work your way up to at least 30 minutes a day in the sun and when you start to turn pink or feel like you've had enough, get under cover, or put on long sleeves and a hat. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants, like summer greens and fresh berries, will offer sun protection from the inside out and is decadently delicious too!

Second, many things we like to do upregulates phase one of a healthy liver detox, things like eating charbroiled meats, caffeine and alcohol. Where we run into serious trouble is when we lack the nutrients the body needs for phase two liver detox and then these toxins get recirculated into the bloodstream and can cause oxidative stress and free radical damage leading to DNA damage and cellular mutation.  Here's a picture of the process for you cellular biologists out there:
You can see that you need lots of different antioxidants and nutrients from nature's cornucopia to eliminate the toxins we create and consume. Some of us, like me have some genetic snps where we may need a little extra boost like methylated b vitamins. This is why I recommend micronutrient testing for all of my clients.

The good news is we can find these vital nutrients in abundance from our summer gardens or from the local farmers market.

Bottom line is, if you are going to eat summer barbecue, be sure to have coleslaw and berries with it to protect yourself. (This is a lot of what I do as a coach, help you protect yourself from yourself!)

Here's what I'm bringing to our 4th of July barbecue at my daughter's house:

Asian Slaw Adapted from Immune System Recovery Plan, Susan Blum, MD


4 cups shredded cabbage
1 carrot, cut or shredded
1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
1/2 red onion thinly sliced 

4 T sesame oil
2 tsp lime juice
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp grated ginger

2 T sesame seeds
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions; three simple steps:
Using the grater on food processor, grate vegetables or thinly slice vegetables.  
In a small bowl whisk together sauce. Pour over vegetables and toss with cilantro and sesame seeds.  Full of antioxidants, anticarcinogens and essential phytonutrients. 

Last but not least, how do you protect yourselves from the mosquitos without eating or absorbing more toxic ingredients? Try rubbing hands, arms and legs on a citronella plant or Terra Shield essential oil by Doterra. You can find it here through my daughters website affiliation in either an essential oil to blend yourself, or already mixed:

Have a Safe and Sumptuous Holiday Weekend!



Lisa is an author, inspirational speaker, and coach with a mission to inspire and empower others to feel their best at any age. She is also Executive Director of the Integrative Wellness Program for the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.  

Her book, Savvy Secrets: Eat, Think & Thrive outlines seven steps that are fun and transforming. Lisa is part of the New Self Health Movement, the International Health Coach Association and the Wellness Inspired Network. When she is not coaching, speaking or writing, you can find her practicing yoga and joyfully sharing Carpe Diem Dance at every opportunity.