poetry Archives - Vitanova

Changing Course – How Pepique Stout Cleaned Up His Act

Pepique Stout embodies the typical American male. He ate mostly fast food and a lot of meat, drank too much, smoked pot and cigarettes, and his life and health were spiraling out of control. Then, one day, he decided to quit drinking and smoking, and that led to a path of eliminating all “crap” and becoming a vegan. Now, he’s healthier and happier than he’s ever been, and he has the blood tests to prove it.

My story of how I changed my life began with drinking. The first major health change I made was five years ago. I quit drinking, smoking pot and cigarettes all on the same day. That was intense. I went through intense biological changes after that. It proved to be too much to handle all at once, and I fell into a depression. I went to a Western medicine doctor who put me on antidepressants, which I stayed on for about six to seven months. As I progressed through AA and really started to find myself and find my spiritual strength and become more aware of what was important to me, I realized I didn’t need the antidepressants anymore. And furthermore, they scared me. The side effects caused me to get cravings that made me want to up my dosage. And I was getting brain zaps in my eyes every time I moved my eyes. So, I stopped the drug. I wanted it out of my body. At that point, I was freaked out by anything foreign in my body, and I took a very firm stance to not do anything like that at all. When I was going through my first divorce, I went back to smoking cigarettes, which was after about six months of not smoking, and that lasted for about six months. I quit cigarettes again on the same day I quit alcohol a year earlier. So now, my alcohol quit date and cigarette quit date are exactly one year apart on the same day. I now have four years without cigarettes and five without alcohol.

I was also eating a lot of fast food back then. I was driving a truck for my job and eating badly. I was a carnivore of the highest sort. I never really anticipated making any changes in that area. I didn’t feel I needed to make any dietary changes. I just accepted all the health risks of eating that way. It was just the way I was. After pushing forward with this clean quest (no drugs, alcohol or smoking), I started watching documentaries here and there, and gaining knowledge about the health industry and started taking a little better care of myself. But really, I didn’t change a whole lot as far as diet and exercise. I had a physical job, so I just put effort into that.

Somewhere along the way, before I met my second wife, I started smoking pot again. And since I’m an addict by nature (and I accept that about myself), I can’t do these things in moderation. I eventually become self-destructive. So, I decided to be totally sober all the time after my wife and I got married. Then, we decided to have a child, but we ran into infertility issues that were rooted in endometriosis. Through surgeries and miscarriages, it ultimately led us to find that there was no cure for our problem other than a dietary cure, which led us to investigate a vegan diet—no sugar, gluten or soy. That lifestyle was going to prove to be really difficult because a lot of the known vegan products on the market are soy based.

 

We were faced with a dilemma; does my wife cook three meals, for my wife, her daughter, and me, or do we all change and adopt a vegan diet? Prior to these changes, I had already decided to quit fast food. That was probably one of the more impactful changes that I made. I didn’t really feel that sluggish when the meat was from a good source, but I did feel bad when I ate fast food. But even eating meat from a good source, I still felt like I just wanted to take a nap or sit around and not do anything. It was kind of like a food coma. Once we took meat out of our diet and went headlong into the vegan diet, we did a lot of research to motivate us because her daughter and I didn’t want to make the change at first. We were just doing it for my wife. But then, the guilt factor kicked in because she was cooking the majority of our meals. I didn’t want to ask her to cook meat for us when she couldn’t eat it, so we made the decision as a family to go vegan. As it progressed, we really started to enjoy it and we began to educate ourselves. We’d watch food movies as a family, Forks Over Knives, Food, Inc., Farmageddon, and more. There is a wealth of knowledge on how to eat vegan, and it’s easily accessible these days. The Beautiful Truth was the most impactful of all the movies we watched. It’s amazing to see how deceived we’ve been by the FDA and the cancer drug societies and the like. Everything we need is already here. We don’t need to process it. It grows in the ground. Just go and find it. It’s a basic thing that we’ve all forgotten. We’ve been so deceived by the lies of the dairy industries and the meat industries that are trying to just make money, but they’re no better than the cigarette industry. They’re lying to us and telling us these things are necessary.

The vegetarian food industry is stuck on soy as the easy way to get protein. There’s a common misconception that you need some sort of protein source like processed soy or meat product to be healthy, which is just absolutely not true. There is more absorbable protein in some vegetables than there is in some steaks. Yes, granted, the meat products contain more protein when they’re sitting on your plate than the broccoli does, but when it goes through your body and you digest it, what come into your body and what goes out as waste, you will wind up with more absorbable protein from some of the vegetables than you ever will from eating meat. That’s the thing that the meat industry doesn’t tell you. They aren’t lying; you just aren’t absorbing much of the protein. When I eat a full plate of broccoli and kale and all these other intensely deep-green vegetables, the amount of nutrient that my body absorbs is above and beyond anything else I can get from dairy or meat or processed soy.

In addition to eating a vegan diet, supplements are a big deal to me. I eat a full breakfast and then I take supplements with a vegan shake. I have to make the exception when I eat out that I won’t always find non-GMO, but I do insist on organic whenever possible and vegan. Animal rights were not what drove me to become vegan. It’s the health factor. I tried it, I put it in my body, and I feel the difference, and that’s my marker…how I feel. I’m a big advocate of spices, too. They are therapy in your food, too. Turmeric and cayenne pepper I put into just about everything. There are a ton of good spices. Most of the Indian spices are really powerful. The spices themselves are almost more healthy than the food they’re on. And that’s also really overlooked by Americans. We’re a salt and pepper society. I’ve been exploring the culinary aspect of creating something that is not only delicious but also nourishes my body, and when I’m done eating it, I feel great.

I went to the doctor recently, thinking there was something wrong with me. It turned out that it was my recent second divorce that was causing my anxiety. The doctor ran all kinds of tests: heart, blood, lung x-rays—everything—trying to figure out what was wrong with me. Turns out, I’m the epitome of health! I didn’t have any deficiencies. Again, my diet was all I need to be healthy. Vitamin B12 and iron, which are common deficiencies in under-educated vegans, were perfect. When I first went into the doctor for the antidepressant, I was anemic and the doc put me on an iron supplement. And that’s when I was eating meat almost exclusively. So, that was an aha moment for me. Now, as a vegan, I have more iron absorption and I’m not anemic. I also do a lot of probiotics and supplementing to fill in the gaps, definitely, but they are all organic, seed-based for protein, and none of it is soy based. That’s what I find works best with my body. Western medicine, and my tests, proved that it’s working for me. Hydration is also a huge factor. I carry around a water bottle at all times.

This is a full-body growth experience that has led me to feeling healthy and stable and not depressed. All of that depression and anxiety was because I had too many of the things that shouldn’t be in my body and not enough of the things that should be there. By cleansing my body of all foreign crap and poisons (as I refer to alcohol and tobacco now) and sugar, I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been before.

Tara Marlow’s Story – Life is Short. Make It Matter!

Tara Marlow is the travel blogger behind the site Travel Far Enough, where she and her husband inspire others to quit their corporate cubicles and live the lives they dream of. But her own life and dreams weren’t always aligned: until 2011, Tara worked 70-hour weeks and envied those whose lives revolved around traveling and writing about it. A road trip with her preteen daughter brought Tara’s priorities into focus, challenged her to drastically reorient her life around them, and compelled her to live her dreams. 

I grew up in Australia and took my first overseas trip as an 18-year-old. I was immediately bitten by the travel bug! At age 22, I moved to America, where my former husband and I thought we’d stay five years before moving on. The marriage didn’t stick, unlike the travel bug, but a beautiful daughter came from that marriage.

Five years turned into 20; I met my wonderful husband Rich and built a career in Texas. Before I realized it, I was drinking the Kool-Aid of corporate America and found myself working 70 hours a week. I got up each day to rush out the door, work at a frenetic pace, and come home only to work more while throwing dinner together before sitting down in front of the TV to work on my laptop. I had migraines a few times a month from the weight of it all.

Work was costing me my health and my relationships with family and friends. However, I stuck to my promise to my daughter that we would take a mother-daughter trip every year. In 2010, I knew I needed to get away from the craziness for a while and that our annual girly getaway would slip through my fingers if I didn’t make a plan. So, I asked her if she wanted to take a road trip. Without any hesitation, she said, “Let’s go to Mount Rushmore.”

I laughed because Mount Rushmore had never been on my list! But she’d learned about it in school. I thought, “Why not?” We agreed that we’d make it an epic two-week road trip and visit some other cool places along the way. We researched the stops to make, created road-trip playlists, downloaded audiobooks, found a questionnaire we could talk through, and came up with a mantra: “Try something new every day.” Little did I know that this wouldn’t just become a fun road trip; it would change my life.

My daughter and I reconnected as we traveled. Our reconnection on the road made me realize that I was missing out on her life when we were at home. I wondered what I had missed over the years of 70-hour weeks.

A year later, both my father and Rich’s father passed away. Around the same time, my daughter came to me while I was working and asked if she could talk to me for a few minutes. I replied, “Yes, but give me five minutes.” Three hours later, I finally went to her bedroom to find her sobbing on her bed. She said, “Mum, you said five minutes. It’s been three hours.” This was not a proud parental moment.

That was the absolute turning point for me. It was time to listen to what was happening in my life. I talked with my husband, and he said, “You know, yes. You are spiraling. You’re not in a good place. You should consider what else you can do.”

In mid-2011, I got my ducks in a row at work and gave notice. I rediscovered my passions for travel, writing, and photography and researched them like crazy. For the next year, I took online courses and sold my photography at local markets. Life was good. I could breathe again.

In 2012, our life changed again. My husband had his own “aha” moment after watching my transformation and decided to join my quest. After a family discussion, we decided to move to Australia. Even with the stress of an overseas move, my migraines stopped.

For our family of three, moving to Australia was the right decision. Now, I can spend three hours deliberating John Donne poetry with my daughter, take hikes with my family, and go camping or explore epic snorkeling spots in the middle of the week. And when my daughter graduates, Rich and I will be traveling full time. Life is open to us now.

We have a daily routine focused on family, health, and following our bliss. Over coffee and our daily vitamin D each morning, we plan our day. It may be writing, working on marketing, or exploring a new spot. When my daughter returns from school, we talk about her day at length. We make healthy meals together with the abundance that Australia’s farmers’ markets have to offer. Our evenings are like most families’, with a key difference: we ditched the TV when we left America. We love it. Life is healthier for us in every way.

I’ve thought about what drives me to make each day better than the last, and it’s simple. It’s what we talk about on our website: Life is short. Make your life matter.

Turning Adversity Into Inspiration -Jennifer’s Story

Jennifer Babcock Bernardo spent two years subjecting her body to medical interventions that didn’t help her psoriasis. When she chose to pursue plant-based interventions instead, her life was transformed. 

Between high school and college, I found out that I had psoriasis. It was a very irritating case, linked with arthritis, and it felt like I saw every doctor under the sun in an attempt to find the right treatment. They treated me with the best medical intervention they could come up with, cortisone injections, but it felt like they were only treating the symptoms. I would go in, get dozens of little doses of cortisone injected into my scalp and all over my body, and experience two weeks of improvement. Then my symptoms would return worse than before.

I felt like I looked like a monster. I didn’t want to leave my house, and I stopped going to school. I couldn’t deal with how they were treating me—I felt like a monkey, a test subject. And I was dealing with all of this for something that did not work for my body.

I finally reached the point of pulling away from all the doctors and Western medicine. I decided not to put my body through more until I had figured out what I truly needed. I started changing the way I approached my disease; I began eating better and looking into alternative medicines and treatments. One night, I met with a woman who knew about the healing properties of botanicals and herbs. She talked me through the function of herbs and their interactions with each other. We then put them into a big pot to stew all night. The next morning, I ended up with a little jar of a disgusting salve. I began using the salve, and it immediately improved my skin and the way I felt. And it was not with cortisone needles or chemicals. My healing was created from the goodness of the earth.

After that day, I took the wisdom shared with me and I started refining it. Over the past eight years, I’ve worked with the recipe to make jars of salve that are better with each batch and have researched the ingredients to make it as effective as possible. I started giving away my salve to people with health issues similar to mine. Like me, they saw improvements and wanted more. It even helped them with other ailments besides psoriasis.

I started making bigger batches and kept refining the recipe to where it is today. Now, I have a business license. I sell to places around the state of California, bulk customers, and people around the country. When I faced my illness and embraced a new approach to medicine, I found not only my own healing through botanicals but I also became an entrepreneur determined to help others access inner healing from that which comes from the earth.

I’m continually amazed at what herbs and botanicals can do for us. I think that much of what Western medicine has done has gotten away from the healing of plant derivatives. Of course, even Western medicine has derived some things from plants, but their cures are removed from the source. True botanical cures are all organic and in nature.

Embracing the healing power of the earth has involved not just my salve, but how I approach everything I put in and on my body. I start every day by drinking an all-organic, vegan, plant-based smoothie product with banana and almond milk. Then I take my shower, which has become very ritualized for me. It’s not about comfort so much as letting it take care of me. I sense the water, pay attention to it, and acknowledge it against my skin. Then I apply my balms to the areas of my body that are still affected, even though my condition has nearly eliminated.

Throughout the day, I’m conscious of what my family puts into their bodies, as well. I didn’t used to think that way; I didn’t realize there was such a strong connection between the foods I put into my body and what was happening on my skin. I used to put so much junk in my mouth. Now, I’m so careful to choose foods, herbs, and teas that will support my family’s wellness, including that of my two-year-old daughter.

Jennifer’s balms are only available in certain states. They can be viewed at http://www.babsbalms.com/

Taking Charge of My Life – Sandi’s Story of Rebirth

Sandi Pearce’s life had been marked by medical problems; she had been bitten by a tick and stung by a scorpion, and she was afflicted by Lyme disease, multiple allergies, and chemical sensitivities. Her life was defined by her sickness. When she was in tachycardia in 2006, the ER doctor had to stop and restart her heart. Sandi knew it was time to stop life as she knew it and start living a new, healthy life.

I met Marie on the very first day of work back in 1999. We were in the same orientation class. It was obvious from the start that we had a lot in common. I was already struggling with some sort of illness, and I didn’t know what was wrong. Marie suggested her doctor to me. I blew it off. “Yeah, yeah. I have plenty of doctors.” She just gently said, “You’ll come to me when you’re ready.” She left it at that and didn’t say another word.

Six months later, I was even sicker. It was then that I remembered what Marie had told me when we first met. I went to Marie, sort of sheepishly, and asked, “Could you please give me the name of your doctor?” She never said a word about our prior conversation. She just gave me the number and said I would love this man and he would heal me. I made an appointment to see him (a naturopath and osteopath) right away. And after he tested me and listened to my symptoms, everything Marie had said that she thought was going on with me was correct. I was allergic to sugar, dairy, soy—a long list of different foods—and they were making me extremely sick. When the doctor told me all that I was allergic to or sensitive to, I thought: 1) I need to tell Marie she was right, and 2) I would have to make some really drastic changes, quickly. I cried. I didn’t want to give up every yummy, wonderful thing I loved, which were all processed and full of gluten and a ton of carbs, and yuck. But, I quit everything the doctor wanted me to quit to calm my system down and get healthier.

I immediately lost 20 pounds in the first two months, and I’d never had that much energy. I was strictly sugar-free for two years after that. I’ve been gluten free for 17 years since—except for a few mistakes—mostly sugar free, soy free, corn free, all these different foods “free,” and I always feel better if I stick to that regimen.

The life I was living back then was basically not in concert with who I felt I was, if that makes sense. Inside, I was this really healthy person, but I wasn’t living that on the outside. Sick meant that I had no energy, no desire to do anything. Once I changed my life and started living and eating healthier, everything changed. It was remarkable. My energy level, my excitement for life—everything. It was so pivotal in my life.

After going to Marie’s doctor, I found a new path, even if I didn’t have a true diagnosis for the allergies at the time. Being on that path gave me new energy and excitement. Bringing that into the rest of my life was surprisingly easy—easier than for other people because I had no choice. It was change or die.  Other people can say, “I don’t think I should eat pizza so often, but it’s hard to change.” But I had to say, “I can’t ever eat pizza again or I’ll get really sick.” I parlayed that into getting healthy in general. I started running again. I learned kickboxing. I quit smoking and cut back on alcohol. Because I felt so good, it was much easier to stay on that course. Like anyone else, I backtracked a few times, but overall I’ve stayed the course.

I now know that my multiple allergies are from chronic Lyme disease, which wasn’t diagnosed for many years after the tick bite, and also coincided with becoming really ill. It created permanent allergies, multiple chemical sensitivities, and pain that persist to this day. The bacteria even invaded my brain, causing permanent lesions.

My morning ritual is a series of things I need to do for my dogs, but I also take supplements in the morning, too. My favorite ritual is my afternoon ritual, though. I walk my dogs for a full hour every afternoon, and that’s the cornerstone of my exercise routine. Even if I don’t have time for anything else, the dogs have to be walked, and it’s my time to just be present with the dogs. It’s amazing how easy it is to see the world around you if you watch it from a dog’s eyes. It is what keeps me going. We charge through the open space and cruise around. I have three 100-lb dogs, and I also walk my parents’ little dog.

My supplements and vitamins are also a huge ritual to me. Genetic testing showed my body doesn’t make certain key enzymes for processing B12 and folate, so supplementing active enzymes is vital for me to stay alive and healthy. Folate and B12 are key because they provide the body with much of its energy. I did some research and discovered how many things are synergistically complete if they are taken together—or also messed up if they are taken together! For example, most vitamins or supplements should not be taken with vitamin D, so I take that alone. I make sure that I take certain vitamins together to give me the best bang for my buck.

One of the things I now say is, “I affirm that this is how my life will be now.” I stick to that and believe in that. Making my vitamins part of a morning ritual is one of the best things I’ve discovered. I link everything together. When I take my vitamins, my affirmations are playing in my mind. “This is helping my body. This is making me stronger. This is giving me the energy that I need.” Making that mind-body connection is so important.

Then, on October 16, 2006, my heart became erratic when I was out to lunch with a friend. I was in tachycardia and my heart rate was above 200 bpm. When my friend and I arrived at the hospital 15 minutes later, my heart rate was still 186 bpm, and the doctor couldn’t get it back to normal with any of his usual methods, so he had to give me a drug to stop my heart and restart it. After my heart was back to a normal rhythm and my doctor was about to release me, he said, “Sandi, whatever it is you’re doing to cause this much stress in your life, you need to stop it immediately. I looked at him and thought, “Okay, this is it. My life has to change.” It was even more pivotal in my rebirth, and changed me forever. From then on, I was working out much harder—three hours a day in that first year—and even more committed to living a life filled with things that are good for me. I quit smoking that day after leaving the hospital. I knew my job was killing me slowly (or quickly), and I turned in my notice two weeks later. Everything from then on has led me to where I am now—far healthier 17 years later than I was then.

Respect – Powering Communities Around the World

Too many of us live as though our lives are already scripted for us. We don’t realize that we are the agents of our own rebirth. When Ibrahim was startled out of passively playing his role, his real, purpose-driven life began. Now, he’s changing the world. 

I remember a day in middle school when our religion teacher said that he would tell us a story of the good woman and the bad woman. He started to describe his version of a bad woman: a sovereign, independent woman with her own dreams and aspirations who doesn’t necessarily cover every inch of her body, who chooses to express herself in her own style, and who doesn’t spend every ounce of energy on her family.

As he spoke, I thought of my mother, who has the most integrity and kindness of anyone I know. The fact that he put her in this category of a bad person jolted me into the awareness that not every narrative that children inherit from adults is true or right. It was a pivotal moment, when I realized that I could apply my own filter to every conversation and decide what works for me and what doesn’t.

Before that day, I would inherit conversations and perpetuate them, conversations that had continued from one generation to the next. That was the moment when I developed the kind of critical thinking that changed the trajectory of my life. I am thankful to that teacher for his perspective; because of him, I allowed my own perspective to enter the equation and guide my decisions. I determined to use my own judgment in my decisions from that point forward.

In the early 2000s, I had built a successful career in general technology investing. I could see the great damage that humanity was doing to the environment in California and around the world. I wondered how we could sustain this path of destruction of the earth without destroying ourselves. When a gentleman pitched the idea of investing in a new subdivision outside of Los Angeles, my partner and I saw the path ahead: buying a lot of land, cutting down a lot of trees, and contributing to urban sprawl, leading to more burning of fossil fuels for people to go to and from work.

The safe financial choice was clear, and we rejected it, just as I had rejected the narrative my religion teacher prescribed for me years ago. We chose, instead, to pursue a path that will help save the earth and invested heavily into waste energy. Humanity generates a lot of garbage, and even after recycling what’s recyclable, there’s still a lot of waste left—waste that can be turned into a fuel. We don’t need to bury it in the ground or throw it into the ocean, destroying so much of our world and its ecosystems! We can turn it into clean, consistent energy that can fuel five, if not ten, percent of our energy needs.

For the last decade, we’ve successfully only invested in socially and environmentally sustainable enterprises. Watching the world begin to reject the old, dirty ways of generating energy and replace them with sustainable solutions has been rewarding from not just a financial perspective but also a humanitarian and environmental one. It feels fulfilling to be part of that.

When we are young, we think we live forever. I wake up now with just enough awareness of how short a human life is. My awareness propels me to move quickly to make a difference because I know we don’t have as much time as we think we do. That’s why I wake up every day feeling happy to be alive and able to do more of what I love. My life is purpose-driven. Living a purpose-driven life is really natural, but we don’t know that until we choose to live it and have the courage to pursue it. I consciously choose to embrace my purpose every day through my morning ritual of oral hygiene, vitamins, and exercise before I start on my work. I love the planet, I love people, and I want to contribute my gifts to creating a world that sustains everyone.

Ibrahim AlHusseini is a partner in the Full Cycle Energy Fund, created to finance and own projects that revolutionize our relationship with waste by converting a costly environmental problem into clean, valuable fuel that can be used to power communities around the world.

Why Choose an Organic Whole-Food Supplement?

As you stroll through the produce section of your local market, amidst the many choices, ask yourself, “Why am I choosing organic carrots over conventionally grown? What makes me go with the organic blueberries rather than non-organic?”

We often choose organic because we know what’s not involved in the farming methods, such as synthetic, chemical herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. But did you know that organically grown foods are loaded with all sorts of disease-preventing, vitalizing nutrition called phytonutrients? “Phyto” means “plant” in Greek, so these are literally plant nutrients.

The research is gaining acceptance. According to Medical Mews Today, an international team of experts led by Newcastle University in the UK recently undertook a 4-year study, the largest of its kind, to compare the compositional differences of organic and conventionally grown fruit and vegetables.

They found that “concentrations of antioxidants such as polyphenolics were between 18-69% higher in organically grown crops.” Study leader Carlo Leifert, Professor of Ecological Agriculture at Newcastle University, says that the evidence is “overwhelming,” and the study shows that by switching to organically grown crop foods, and foods made from them, people would consume additional antioxidants equivalent to eating between one and two extra portions of fruit and vegetables per day.”*

Phytonutrients have been in our plants since agriculture began 10,000 years ago in the fertile soils of Mesopotamia. It wasn’t until after WWII that synthetic chemicals, originally used in the war, began to be used as insecticides for farming. A chemical boom ensued in the industry, destroying the natural nutrition in our foods for decades. The recent renaissance of organic farming has unlocked the botanical secrets that plants have held for millennia.

It’s these phytonutrients that have been proven to prevent some of our generation’s most insidious and prevalent diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Now, that’s true plant wisdom.

Take a moment to imagine those phytonutrients concentrated in your daily supplement. Every day would be a regenerating, revitalizing experience. Unfortunately, many supplements are synthetically made in a laboratory to mimic naturally sourced nutrients, and these so-called “natural” vitamins are not made from phytonutrient-rich, organic, whole foods.

What if the secrets to longevity and a healthier life are contained not in a lab, but in botanical wisdom? It seems that every day we’re learning more from scientists around the world who test and retest these theories to discover just that. Every plant contains its own unique properties, many of them medicinal. Organically grown plants seem to be extra potent in their life-enhancing properties.

Companies such as Vitanova, that create supplements made from organic, whole foods and herbs rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, such as tomatoes, carrots, garlic, spinach, beets, blueberries and other plant foods are dedicated to making a difference.

* http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/279564.php

Other sources:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/phytonutrients-faq

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/are-organic-foods-more-nutritious/

http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/aboutdavidwessels.html

http://www.livescience.com/52541-phytonutrients.html

http://agrochemicals.iupac.org/index.php?option=com_sobi2&sobi2Task=sobi2Details&catid=3&sobi2Id=31

Can Vitanova’s Acai Berry Help Your Heart and Ward Off Disease?

When our medications come to us as uniform pills in childproofed bottles, it can be easy to assume that they originated in labs—but 40 percent of prescription medicines actually come from plant extracts or compounds. These plant-based medicines are more ubiquitous than we may think. Drugs from aspirin to quinine are derived from nature through natural products chemistry, as are many of the powerful ingredients in high quality multivitamins.

The vast majority of plant-based vitamins and medicines known in the West were first discovered by indigenous cultures around the world. In the Amazon jungle alone, where one third of Earth’s animal and plant species live, indigenous tribes have medicinal uses for 2,000 to 3,000 known rainforest plants. Among these is the acai berry.

Known to the west for only two decades, acai berries have been used for thousands of years by Amazonian tribes such as the Shuar to address a wide range of health concerns; they used it to increase their energy, protect their hearts, and support their sexual health. Acai makes up over one third of some tribal diets.

Western researchers learned of acai in the 1990s and were surprised by its nutritional bounty: it contains essential fatty acids, protein, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin E, iron, and minerals, and is full of natural antioxidants.. Acai is now known to help maintain cholesterol levels already within normal levels.*

Botanicals like acai and wheatgrass have had a pervasive impact on our society—and they never would have reached us without being discovered by indigenous people, who passed down knowledge of their health benefits from generation to generation. While the plants hold the healing properties, Earth’s tribes are the keepers of knowledge about those plants and their great potential to strengthen and revitalize human life. As global citizens, we must work to preserve indigenous cultures and their intimate knowledge of the world’s botanicals. It is only by partnering with tribes that we can preserve our world for our children.

Vitanova proudly supports organizations that respect and preserve tribes, tribal knowledge, and the plants yet to be discovered by Western medicine. We include acai, wheatgrass, and other botanicals in our vitamins, knowing that it is thanks to the world’s indigenous cultures that we have the knowledge to create potent whole-foods vitamins. We support Living Tongues in its preservation of indigenous languages, without which great wisdom will be lost. And The Answers Project, our partner organization, is seeking new Dalai Lamas and bringing them to the forefront so their rich historical knowledge and wisdom can be shared with the world.

How To Stay Beautiful and Healthy: Vicky Alvarez Covi

Vicky Alvarez Covi is a married mother of twin teenage boys in her 40s living in Denver, Colorado. After the birth of her children, she found herself gaining a great deal of weight. She felt unhappy and unhealthy. Through the power of a morning ritual, she reenergizes her body, mind, and spirit and supports her own daily rebirth. 

My husband’s company hosts a black tie event every year. I love it—it’s like a grown-up prom! I’ve always enjoyed shopping and dressing up for the event. Three years after my twins were born, I had a terrible time finding a dress that fit and flattered my body. When I saw a photo of us after the event, it hit me: I did not recognize myself. I had reached a pants size 18 and refused to buy a bigger size, but I hadn’t truly realized how heavy I had become until I saw that photo. I thought, “This is not me. This is not who I am!” It hit me all at once that day. I was finally honest with myself that I did not feel like the real me anymore. I didn’t feel attractive, and more importantly, I wasn’t happy. The sadness as I thought about letting myself get to this point was overwhelming.

I put that photograph up in my kitchen after the party and kept it as a reminder of how unhealthy I had allowed my body to become. I wanted to be healthy to see my children grow up and to be a good role model for them of a healthy lifestyle, eating good food and not crap, and giving a damn about myself.

To give myself the initial motivation I needed, I signed up with a company that helped me understand how to change my life and weight. I faced a hard fact: food is emotional for me. Some people drink or smoke in response to stress; I eat. I had to learn to see food as sustenance, as fuel for my body, not as a means to console myself. The program helped me learn new thought patterns and habits, but I will always have to remind myself how to see food—not as my comfort, not as my enemy, but as life—and work to overcome my greatest vice, portion control.

Staying in a healthy relationship with food requires a daily, conscious effort. I see my health transformation as a journey, not a destination, and I have to always remind myself that nothing tastes as good as healthy feels. I make my ongoing transformation journey possible by adhering to my personal morning ritual.

My ritual starts as soon as I get out of bed and put on my workout clothes. I get straight into them because it’s the only way I can be sure I’ll dedicate the time to working out. If I try to put it off, I’ll lose my steam just like everyone else because evenings are so full of distraction and exhaustion from the day. I brew my coffee as I wake up my boys, enjoy one cup with breakfast and one after dropping them off at school, and take my multivitamin and vegan protein. I work out from 8:30 to 9:30, and during that time, I think only about keeping my body as its best. I can feel the adrenaline kick in and my sweat coming down during my last rep as I tell myself, “I can do it! I can do it!” It’s my own form of meditation. My workouts lift the stress of 12-hour hockey tournaments on the weekends and of everything else related to parenting twin teenage boys in my 40s. And my workouts inspire me to become my best self.

My commitment to this journey of transformation also includes healthy eating. For me, that means not only getting plenty of fruits and vegetables, but adopting a vegetarian diet. While it was frustrating initially because I liked the taste of meat, I love it now—my body doesn’t like to digest meat anymore and I’ve enjoyed discovering new cuisines. I love Indian and Thai cooking; both are so vegetarian-friendly and rich with amazing flavors and spices. I’ve been eating healthily for eight years now and I haven’t looked back.

I see women like Raquel Welch and Sophia Loren and know that I want to look as incredible as they do as they age. They really take care of themselves, and when I’m in my 70s, I want to look and feel like I’ve taken care of my body all these years.

My daily transformation through my daily ritual, workouts, and healthy eating help me become a better person. I wish I had started before my late 30s! But I am so proud of my personal renaissance. My hope is that my sons will experience this drive to be in the best, healthiest shape possible because they look at their mom and see how healthy I am.

Rebirth in and Through Dante’s La Vita Nuova

The powerful imagery of rebirth weaves itself through our world and history, appearing in major religious traditions and the spirituality of indigenous peoples, in story and song, in the sacred and the secular. Many tales of rebirth center around a crisis that becomes a catalyst for change—change which depends on the protagonist’s self-expression as the gateway to being reborn.

In the year 1294, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, known widely as the author of the Divine Comedy, crafted a work that both described his rebirth and created it: La Vita Nuova. In this profound poem, Dante tells the tale of a woman he loved, Beatrice, who married someone else and died a few years later. His love for her abided after her death, and the crisis he faced became his catalyst for not only his spiritual rebirth, but his poetic rebirth.

Dante transformed his grief for Beatrice into a profound religious dedication. Dante lost her both in this life (to marriage) and to the next (in her death). These losses could have consumed him. Instead, his poem shows how he used them to purify himself—her memory came to represent Divine Philosophy and guide him to ultimate truth, and his love for her was transformed into his love for the truth.

The poem narrated a transformation, and it also facilitated one: in writing La Vita Nuova, a writer of love poems was reborn as a serious poet, one who would one day write his Divine Comedy. The groundbreaking La Vita Nuova, which was more personal than the work of his peers and combined prose and poetic verse in a new way, was the vessel of Dante’s artistic rebirth.

And La Vita Nuova—translated as “the new life”—continues to be reborn itself as new generations encounter it. Poet Andrew Frisardi, whose translation of La Vita Nuova was published in 2012, lists over a dozen ways it has been understood over time, from a mystical mind’s journey to God, to an allegory in opposition to a corrupt Church, to an Augustinian-esque biography, and more. Its rich imagery allows new readers to find new meanings beneath its surface.

http://poems.com/special_features/prose/essay_frisardi.php#bio

The imagery of rebirth affects us so powerfully because it expresses the human capacity for self-renewal and self-transformation, in the face of (and often because of) crises we face. Like Dante and like musician Bonnie McCoy, we can step boldly into our creative power to bring about our own spiritual and artistic rebirth—and when we use our creativity to transform ourselves, we open a space for others to begin their own process of rebirth.

Other sources: http://www.enotes.com/topics/vita-nuova#critical-essays-vita-nuova-principal-english-translations

http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Italian/TheNewLife.htm

http://vitanova.com/blogs/news/78492803-bonnie-mccoy-comes-alive-a-story-of-rebirth

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