Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

For my annual post on SAD, I wanted to share a passion project I’m working on in my new business, Eat to Love. I hope you enjoy:


For many years I had the same experience:

I woke up some morning in mid-November and felt like my limbs had turned to wood. I looked at the clock and calculated how many hours there were until I could go back to bed. I moved about my day as if an invisible wet woolen blanket was draped over me, weighing me down, making everything I did feel more difficult.

This experience always seemed to catch me by surprise. After a week or so, I’d remember that the same thing had happened the year before, and the year before that.

Then one autumn a couple of years ago, I learned to anticipate feeling this way. I learned about Seasonal Affective Disorder, its symptoms, and how to work with it. Somehow this made all the difference.

Knowing what to expect didn’t keep SAD at bay, but it did help in 3 specific ways:

  1. It helped me feel less confused: I learned the biological basis for SAD, which actually makes a lot of sense. Changes in the seasons and in the light we are exposed to changes the ways our brains and bodies work.
  2. It helped me feel empowered: By anticipating SAD, I could relate to it differently. I recognized that it was a real condition that comes at a predictable time. That the symptoms I experienced weren’t permanent or wrong, and that there were steps I could take to change them.
  3. It helped me to get ahead of it: By knowing that the biological changes associated with SAD start happening as early as September, I learned what steps to take and when to prevent and manage it as best as possible.

Knowing what to expect was a powerful change that happened for me. And it is one of the main reasons why my colleague Dr. Peter Bongiorno and I are offering a class on October 20th at the 92nd Street Y. We are squeezing a lot into this class, including the causes and symptoms of SAD and:

  • Sleep hygiene
  • Environmental toxins
  • Light and light box therapy
  • The role of exercise
  • Specific foods and eating patterns to help you feel better
  • Dealing with cravings
  • Support, stress management, and spirituality
  • Complementary medicine
  • Dietary supplements

Don’t wait until you feel the full weight of SAD. Take steps now to prevent and manage this condition so you can enjoy the beauty of winter without the burden of the blues. Hope to see you there!



Date: Mon, Oct 20, 2014, 6:30 pm

Location: Lexington Avenue at 92nd St

Venue: Classroom

Price: from $24.00




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“To Be or Not To Be”

At some point, perhaps years before the night of my book party, alcohol and drinking began to occupy an increasing amount of my mental real estate. During the workday I eagerly anticipated cocktail hour. Or I perseverated over where to purchase a bottle of wine on my way home from work. Among my shopping criteria were selection, price range, and distance from my condo. But most importantly, how frequently or recently I had purchased from a certain place. I feared becoming recognized as a “regular” so I rotated my patronage accordingly.

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The following is what is becoming my annual post about seasonal affective disorder, written from my new platform at Eat to Love. Previous posts on the topic can be found here, here, and here. I’ll be following up with a recipe for my favorite anti-depressant stew and some more thoughts on nutrition for depression.


Feeling S.A.D.? You’re Not Alone. Here Are 6 Things You Can Start Doing Today to Feel Better

The holidays are upon us, there’s an invigorating chill in the air, celebrations to enjoy, but you’re feeling anything but festive? Does your body feel heavy and leaden, your mind sluggish and unclear? When you wake up in the morning, do you look forward to the moment you can get back into bed? I know I do.

If this sounds familiar, you might have seasonal affective disorder. S.A.D. is a type of depression that hits about the same time each year. The exact cause of S.A.D. is not 100% clear but it is likely a combination of seasonal changes in your circadian rhythm and your body’s levels of melatonin and serotonin. Women, people who suffer from depression, and those who have a family history of S.A.D. and/or depression are at the greatest risk for S.A.D.

I have struggled with S.A.D. since I was a child, yet every November I’m surprised by it. I feel like the tin man on my yoga mat, my eyes sit at half-mast, and if I open an email from the Humane Society, I am reduced to a sobbing puddle for 20 minutes. After the initial shock and indignation wears off (it usually takes me about 3 days to say “It’s happening again…”), I put on my big girl panties and deal with it. The following is a list of the things I have found most helpful in managing S.A.D. [Continue reading]

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One night, about a month before I moved from Boston to NYC, I was walking home from Cambridge after dinner with one of my best friends. The weather was pleasant, not too hot and not too cold. There was a lovely breeze and a sort of electricity in the air. As I walked across the Longfellow (or salt and pepper shaker) bridge, I stopped to gaze at the Charles river, glittering with the lights of Back Bay, while the T rumbled into Charles Street station behind me. Standing there, I felt a sense of magic, specialness, something almost sacred.

I think about this moment from time to time. What made it different from the millions of other moments I experience from day to day? Why does it stick out in my memory? My explanation is simply that I was fully present: not thinking about packing boxes or perseverating on my fears about moving. Just experiencing the beauty of the moment and gratitude for my ability to notice.

In meditation, we practice synchronizing the body and the mind. By placing the mind’s awareness on the breath, we remain in the present moment. And each time the mind escapes to the past – replaying events, solidifying stories – or races ahead – planning the day, fantasizing about something in the future – we practice bringing it back, to the breath, the present, NOW. And it is always NOW.

Particularly during this time of year I find it difficult to remain aware of the present moment. I am constantly going somewhere, getting something done, performing some task in order to move on to the next. As I check off my Christmas shopping list, meet friends, and prepare for the festivities, this holiday season, I’m experimenting with being fully present during the moments I usually view as means to an end. While walking to meet a friend, I enjoy the trip, instead of seeing it as standing between me and meeting my friend. While shopping for gifts, I take care in thoughtfully selecting something that shows my understanding and love for the recipient, instead of just focusing on the moment when he or she will open it up.

Even as I write this, I’m practicing awareness of my fingers typing, the feeling that this concept is important enough to want to share it, and how fortunate I am to be able to do so.


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After a certain age, you get to know yourself. For example, I know the following:

  • If I open a box of peanut butter Puffins cereal, it will be empty within 24 hours
  • From daylight savings time to the Winter Solstice, my ursine hibernation instinct prevails and I need a crane to get my ass out of bed
  • I will punctuate any and every emotionally charged statement that I make with “you know what I mean?”

I can’t really claim be surprised by these events after they happen for the 10th, 20th, or 1000th time, right? And yet, every Christmastime I find myself filling up a mental sac as big as Santa’s with expectations: My family will get along perfectly! I’ll stick to my diet! I’ll finally recapture the feeling I got at the age of 8 while watching my Dad put together our fake Christmas tree without having one of his legendary Christmas light-induced meltdowns (picture Alex Trebek turning beet red and throwing the fully decorated and lit tree out on the sidewalk).

And every Christmastime, I feel disappointed. Of course my family didn’t get along perfectly; we’re not the Waltons after all (and God only knows what happened after everyone said goodnight in that family!). I managed to eat one of each of the 37 cookie varieties my mom baked…for breakfast. Dad still freaked out when the lights started blinking. And that feeling, that sense of wonder and warmth and potential I remember from so long ago, seems to have eluded me once again.

Maybe next year. Or maybe not.

Maybe the disappointment doesn’t come from unmet expectations? Maybe it comes from having expectations at all. Expectations, after all, don’t really exist. They are fabrications made up from external sources, the word “should,” and possibly too many romantic comedies. How can we therefore experience a sense of loss when our expectations do not materialize? And what might we be missing by distracting ourselves with such imaginings?

These are tough times. The holidays are upon us. Kids are writing letters to Santa Claus to ask not for toys but jobs for their parents and a few necessities like socks. And we have a Speaker-elect who can’t stop crying.

My goal for this holiday season is to just be where I am, with the people I’m with, without trying to retrofit the situation to some imagined ideal that has utterly no relevance to my reality.

Before practicing yoga, we often set an intention. Today mine was “no expectations.” And I meant it. Whether I can stick to it remains to be seen. Perhaps this is where “one day at a time” comes in.

Happy Holidays everyone!

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