Eating Right

Eat something but not just anything. More »


You have gotta have heart- literally (physically) and metaphorically (spiritually). More »


Everyone loves an underdog. Learn to love yourself on the road to winning big time. More »

Balancing Act

It is all about balance: mind + body= a healthy and happy spirit More »


Be Kind. Give yourself a break and get some much needed and deserved REST. More »


NUTrition: You are what you eat or are you? More »


Category Archives: Kind Rest

Alyssa Phillips (pt 2)

Alyssa phillips’ reasons for being (Pt. 2 of 4)


Kamala:          You just shared two really good tips. You said support your body and remember that your body is meant to move. Do you have one or two other really good tips that are easy for people to do that the everyday person can incorporate in their life and just be healthier?

Alyssa:            Sure, absolutely. You actually touched on a point earlier that is something kind of near and dear to my heart and kind of speaks to the shift that I went through. So often, we can see in others somebody being hard on themselves and what you would very easily do for a loved one or your child or your, you know, whatever that relationship is, your husband, you know, whatever, and yet we don’t do it for ourselves. And I think when I shifted into that more loving, compassionate, you can still exercise, you can still stretch yourself and stuff but really being compassionate about it. Not starving, pushing, you know, doesn’t matter, but listening to your body instead and what you need and giving it to yourself as a gift. It’s really a difference maker and, I think, combining your efforts as kind of a general rule. You know, we’re all busy and certainly something like this stops you in your tracks but, at the same time, it’s better to do something than nothing. And I think a lot of times that we can combine our efforts. Like for instance, I have a walking/working station at home. So I’m all for turning technology off and going out for a walk in the woods but, on an everyday basis, sometimes checking your email or listening to a podcast or something while you walk or you’re on your elliptical is a great way to fit it in.

Kamala:          You know, that is really good advice. I think, with people, the biggest excuse is often “I don’t have time.” I mean, how many times do you hear people say that? “I don’t have time to eat healthy. I don’t have time to exercise. I don’t have time to sit quietly and kind of catch my breath for 30 seconds.” I mean, I know I’ve fallen victim to thinking, “Well …” And then I’m like, “No, Kamala. You have time. You can make time.” And it is little things like, again talking about my dog, I conditioned my dog to run six miles. I didn’t know he’d be able to do it but I started with “Let’s see what he can do.” Now he can do short runs with me (four to six miles). I started him with one minute, one minute of running. And now, I don’t have to spend an hour and a half walking him and an hour and a half working out. We can do it together and it’s really fun. He feels like, you know, he’s part of the pack and he’s doing important work. And it makes me feel good that I’ve made him feel good. Same with eating. I have definitely been one of those people who have said, “I don’t have time to cook fresh food or do this or that.” And then I said, “You know what? I’m just gonna start with two days, two days a week when I cook things from scratch.” You know, lots of vegetables, cook them all at once. Reinvent it for a few nights. And then cook another three days later. Like for example, taking leftovers from Thanksgiving, ‘cause I cooked, and creating like a bread pudding and soup and sandwiches and other things that you’ve done based on a big meal that you did cook from scratch. And even if it doesn’t have all nutritious things, it’s gonna be more nutritious than if you go out and binge on fast food or something.

Alyssa:            That’s right. Well, and you’re touching on a great and universal point that everybody, including myself, we forget. You know, it’s so easy to think that other people have it figured out but we forget to just break things down. We get so bombarded and so overwhelmed by “it’s got to be perfect” and “it’s got to be this” and “I’m gonna lose this amount of weight” or “I’m gonna eat healthy every night” with the fresh food example and stuff, and that seems so big when you’re starting out. We hear it but it’s so true when you break it down and you just take it one day at a time, you take it one jog at a time, you take it one day in the bone marrow unit at a time, you get through it. You get through it.

Mikaya Heart (pt 2)

mikaya heart’s reasons for being (Pt. 2 of 4)

Kamala Appel:           So what have you learned about health and fitness that surprised you?


Mikaya Heart:            I think really the real key thing that I’ve never even thought about how it is just being me in a place of joy.  It’s because I looked at what my priorities were in life, my priorities and my priorities in life were to spread joy and to make people happy.  And what surprised me is when I realized, I mean furtively realized that the best way of doing that for me personally is to be enjoyed, be healthy and happy; and because it’s infectious, because people get from each other…


Kamala Appel:           Was that a surprise to you?


Mikaya Heart:            Yes, I didn’t realized that that.  I thought it was things you did that made the difference; and it’s not, it’s the way you are that makes the difference in the world.


Kamala Appel:           So more the way you feel?


Mikaya Heart:            Yes, people…when people are around somebody who’s healthy and happy and in a place of peace then they realize that it’s possible for them to do that too.


Kamala Appel:           So apparently it contagious just like a smile; like they say it’s like a smile’s contagious, laughter’s contagious.


Mikaya Heart:            Yes, like a smile yes.  And one of the things that I do now to keep myself in this place is; as soon as I get stressed out I start being bitchy and irritable.  I just know that I don’t want to be that way in the world; so that’s always my motivation.  Whenever I start seeing myself behave like that I just stop, and I just sit for a while and I look at what is it I’m doing that’s making this happen, and what do I need to do to change it.


And because I sold my place I don’t have the same list of things to do all the time; so I can choose what I do much more.  And one of the other things I do that actually has been very profound for me is I took up kite surfing.  Do you know what kite surfing is?


Kamala Appel:           Yes I do. Actually people do it down here; I’m in the Bay area so I’ve definitely seen people do it in the East Bay.


Mikaya Heart:            You’ve probably seen me do it there.


Kamala Appel:           Oh okay, because it sounds like you’re more up in Napa/Sonoma.


Mikaya Heart:            No, but I don’t live here full time, I still travel all the time.  So in the summer I spent quite a bit of time in the Bay area kite surfing.  Anyway it brings me…when I’m out in the water there’s this incredible dance with the water and the wind.  And it always brings me to this place of just absolute knowing what…knowing what really matters.  Everything looks so pulled away.


Kamala Appel:           I can understand I do triathlons.

Mikaya Heart:            If there is one thing that keeps me healthy I would say it is kite surfing.

Rest: Alyssa Phillips


Kamala Appel: Hello everyone! This is Kamala Appel. I’m here today with Alyssa Phillips. We are continuing along the journey of exploration of living a healthy life and a mindset of people who have made a commitment to living a healthy life. Alyssa, please introduce yourself to everyone and tell us a little bit about your background.

Alyssa Phillips: Sure. Hey, everybody. My name is Alyssa Phillips and I am a physician assistant and I also have an undergraduate degree in nutrition. I’ve been a long time runner. I fell in love with running about 20 years ago. But, ironically, we had a crash course in the other side of medicine and had to leverage what I had been training for unbeknownst to me my whole life both personally and professionally when I was given a less than 5% survival just six weeks after running my best time in a half-marathon. I was diagnosed with a really rare type of cancer and, among other things, had two back-to-back bone marrow transplants, and I was only 31 at the time.

Kamala: Wow! So was that an “A-ha!” moment for you? Was that a moment that made you … It sounds like you were already a pretty healthy person. Did the bone marrow cancer scare make you really commit to overcoming every health challenge you have or were you kind of already on the path?

Alyssa: You know, it’s a bit of both. I was definitely on the path. I think one of the reasons, you know, among other things, I was young, healthy and people would tease me that I was the healthiest person they knew, that sort of stuff. But something like this, you know, you never think it’s gonna be you and I had already lost my younger sister when we were in college. And it just seemed absolutely impossible and yet I couldn’t argue with the fact that I had all of these resources that even though I was facing this seemingly impossible challenge … I mean, nobody expected me to make it … the stuff that I was doing became the anchor to hold on to. And, you know, it really shifted my whole perspective of everything. Even though I had been taking care of myself in really great ways and stuff, it just shifted my whole perspective from pushing, doing, running, all of this stuff to nurturing, balance and really giving my body what it needed. I was asking it to do this huge thing and to go through these really significant treatments. But I was in a position where, you know, it was really catastrophic. By the time it was found, the primary lesion had quadrupled in size in like six days. So I had to go through these treatments just in order to have a chance. And my whole intention was supporting my body the best I could in doing that.

Kamala: That’s such good advice, you know, support your body. And that’s something that, you know, you do kind of learn as you get older how important it is. It’s good to challenge your body but it’s also good to take care of it and nurture it just like you would someone else. I mean, you know, sometimes I think I might be more strict with my dog’s regimen sometimes than my own at a certain point but then I also challenge him. So I think sometimes treating your body as you would someone else’s body.

Alyssa: Right. Well, it’s interesting because when I was going through these things, you know, I had just run my best time in a half-marathon. That’s not a short race. I was kind of pushing the envelope and it’s one of these things that helped save my life because I had to kind of run a race on different levels. It was an endurance race. It wasn’t a sprint. And I really leveraged that, I guess, discipline and endurance that I had again, unbeknownst to me, been training myself all this time for, and yet on the physical level, I really had to take a step back and it was very clear that this was not the time to tear down and things like that that I was able to do before. You know, I could go for a sprint workout and then recover for a day. But even at that, the body is meant to move and I would power walk for an hour every day on the bone marrow unit.

Kamala: Good. I think that’s good. I think that might have increased your ability to heal faster.
Alyssa: It does. And you know, mentally and physically, it’s good. You don’t have to beat your body up doing it. But the body is meant to move, and walking is one of the best forms of exercise, just getting the endorphins up. I couldn’t go outside. I couldn’t go in the general public for over a year. So exercising was a way to, you know on some days, it was a way just to stay sane.

Kamala: And why couldn’t you … because of your immune system? Is that why you couldn’t go out?
Alyssa: Yeah. So they wipe out your immune system with the bone marrow transplant, and they did that twice. So I was on, I jokingly called it, house arrest. When I wasn’t at the hospital, I was to be at home because it really was dangerous for me to be out.

Get Some Rest

Be Kind: Gimme A Break. Give Yourself A Break.

Even though I like reading health and fitness books and magazines and talking to those who have made that industry their profession, there are a few things about health and fitness that came as a surprise to me. For example, I didn’t realize how important rest days were to training, especially endurance training. I even questioned my coach when I was training for my first marathon. Fortunately, despite the fact that I have an analytical mind, I do believe that there comes a time when you have to “shut up and put up”. In other words, humor the experts and give their advice a try before you dismiss them. I’m glad I did and as a result, I was able to go from run-walking (alternating) because of a knee issue to running the full 26.2 mile distance.

I also didn’t realize how important salt intake was in addition to water. I always thought drinks like Gatorade were unhealthy because of all the sugar, but I have now found healthier alternatives to stay hydrated and maintain a good salt to water balance. I discovered that I had hyponatremia without even knowing it or even knowing what it was, (water intoxication, basically having too much water in your system and not enough salt).  I found this out when my marathon coach warned me of the dangers of not ingesting salt with water. I had the symptoms: frequent clear urination and ditziness. And in case you didn’t know, it is one of the leading causes of death at many endurance races.

The other thing that surprised me is what a difference dark leafy greens make with my asthma. Now that I’ve learned how to cook them properly to remove the bitter taste, I love eating them even kale and collard greens (without the bacon). In case you’re curious, one of my dog park buddies shared a tip: boil them briefly with a pinch of salt and then rinse them well.

To be honest, I guess I am at a point when I realize that I am always learning something new and that I enjoy being in situations that allow me to learn and be inspired. I think that’s one of the great things about being a documentary filmmaker (oh, that’s really what I am not just a health advocate).  So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I have come to a point where I don’t feel as nervous about swimming in open water, even though at first the freezing, murky water was my nemesis. You see even though I passed lifesaving in high school (and I think all high schools should require it for graduation); I am so NOT a competitive swimmer that it is funny.

The open water swims that I have done during my triathlon trainings have led me to find religion.  I’m not a religious person, but I swear to you that on more than one occasion I found myself praying and saying, “Oh God, please help me!”

I’m not afraid of the water, even open and know how to swim for survival, but efficiency has been major challenge for me. There have been tri training seasons when I have congregated with other asthmatics at the midway point as we treaded water in efforts to catch our breath. Cold is a trigger for my asthma and apparently, I was not alone. It got to the point that we would just look for each other because we felt challenged around the same time.

I have also found it challenging to swim straight and get used to the murky water. Swimming in water that is so murky that you can’t see your hand in front of you is quite a trip and sometimes that journey involves ending up swimming in the opposite direction from the rest of the pack. I have joked and said that I was doing Escape to Alcatraz because my “sighting” once took me about 100 yards away from everyone else.

The murk once led me to whack into a harbor seal. Now, I’ve worked with marine mammals and LOVE animals, but I was startled and so was he:

“Have no fear Mr. Seal,” I thought jokingly. “It’s not like I can catch you. I can’t even catch my own shadow at the rate I’m going. Ha!”

I’ve made a concerted effort to improve the swim leg without sacrificing the other two and I have improved quite a bit in just a couple of years. What that means to you, if you’re dialed into WIFM: what’s in it for me, is that if I can, you can. I believe that if someone can do it, then anyone can do it. I hope that you will try to have that faith too.

And lastly, I know I have to remind myself of this, BE NICE TO YOURSELF. My goodness, we’re all learning. None of us are Olympians or even close to it. (One of my tri coaches was and power to her, but the average person you see at the health food store or on the trails or at the gym is NOT). Frustration can be a way to motivate you, but don’t let it make you beat yourself up. You wouldn’t yell at a toddler for stumbling, so if you’re letting your inner-critic get the better of you- shut that b—- up! Ha!

The next interview that I’d like to share with you is with someone who really understands how to meet a challenge head on and as a result, she learned how to be kind to herself.

Rest- coming soon

Alyssa Phillips