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Plant Yourself - Embracing a Plant-based Lifestyle
30 minutes | 6 days ago
How to Be a Contented Vegan: Peggy Brusseau on PYP 458
Peggy Brusseau has cast a spell of peacefulness, calmness, joy, connection, and well, contentedness in her cookbook The Contented Vegan.A Minnesotan transplant to London, Brusseau radiates acceptance, curiosity, integrity, and clear-headedness.She's a vegan without anger.A climate activist who doesn't shame.And she spreads the gospel of reconnecting with our food, our plant allies, and own tastes and discernments.After moving to the UK, Brusseau accidentally rescued a pregnant cow when she was running a small farm in the UK. After that experience, Brusseau decided that her agricultural career couldn't include animal husbandry, and she stopped eating all animal products.Now a more than 30-year vegan, Brusseau shares her philosophies, tactics, and recipes with the world. From broccoli, almond flakes, and allspice; to cooked fennel and pepper salad: the dishes are exquisite, the photos are mouthwatering, and the overall vibe is one of love and kindness.Enjoy our conversation, and check out The Contented Vegan wherever you get your books. Also, follow Brusseau on Instagram for a regular stream of luscious food photos.LinksPeggyBrusseau.comThe Contented Vegan
57 minutes | 13 days ago
Meat Analogues, High-tech Protein, and Balancing Life, Work, and Art: Nava Atlas on PYP 457
Nava Atlas' first cookbook, Vegetariana, has introduced perhaps hundreds of thousands of people to the creative possibilities of the meatless life since its publication in 1984.Now, more than three decades later, Atlas is still combining plants, words, and art in her ongoing sacred dance of service and self-expression.In this episode, Atlas and I talk about her most recent book, Plant-Powered Protein. Essentially, it's a produce-heavy Joy of Cooking featuring meat alternatives. Her goal was to help people transition not just from beef to Beyond Beef, but from a packaged and uninspired cuisine to one replete with fresh flavors and home cooked care and love.We discussed her feelings about the high-tech meat analogues, and the whole gamut of plant-based options from tofu and tempeh to lab-grown and fermented meats. We compared notes about our relationship to real and fake meat from our suburban Northeastern Jewish childhoods, and how we think about including highly processed foods in our current diets.We spoke about Atlas' art, and I got to see sneak peaks of some of her drawings of famous revolutionaries (Che Guevara, Karl Marx) that will adorn her new edition of Vegetariana. And we talked about classic women's literature, and how descriptions of non-vegan meals in those books really don't bother her. And we spoke about the accelerating pace of plant-based change in the world, from the plummeting price and increasing availability of plant-based meat analogues, to the fact that you can easily eat vegan in places like Iceland and Brazil.Enjoy the conversation, check out Plant Powered Protein (if you don't mind lying to omnivorous loved ones, this book will come in very handy - just make sure you hide it well), and while you're at it, take a gander at Atlas' online universe at TheVeganAtlas.com.
68 minutes | 20 days ago
From Diversity to Belonging: How to Create Workplaces that Work for Everyone: Jennifer McCollum of Linkage, Inc. on PYP 456
Women and people of color are systematically underrepresented in business.That's a problem for woman and people of color. But, it turns out, it's a problem for businesses as well. According to research from Linkage, Inc., organizations with leaders who practice inclusion skillfully are far more successful and profitable than their less enlightened counterparts. More moneyBetter employee productivityBetter morale and less turnoverYet of the over $8 billion spent annually by US companies on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity initiatives, almost none of it has moved the needle.Today's guest, Jennifer McCollum, is the CEO of Linkage Inc., a 33-year-old leadership development organization. For most of those years, Linkage has focused on preparing women for leadership, and transforming organizations to make them more amenable to female leadership. Over the last few years, and especially since the social justice protests that arose in the wake of the George Floyd killing, Linkage has addressed diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging in terms of race, ethnicity, and other factors. Let's define our terms. Diversity is about numbers. Are different groups represented adequately at all levels of the organization.Inclusion is about whether those people are treated as integral members of that organization. In the words of inclusion and diversity trainer Verna Myers, "diversity is being invited to the party, and inclusion is being asked to dance."Equity is about whether everyone is treated fairly in terms of compensation, responsibilities, mentoring, and opportunities for advancement.And belonging refers to whether all people feel like they can bring their full selves into the workplace, and that their "superpowers" are acknowledged, valued, utilized, and celebrated.McCollum and I talked about three organizational practices that foster an of an inclusive organization: Executives lead by exampleLeaders understand everyone's unique strengthsEmployees practice inclusive meetingsWe spoke at length about these practices - how to implement them, and the challenges to doing so. How difficult it can be for top executives - and everyone else - to practice empathy. To be willing to be corrected for expressing an unconscious bias that is received as a micro-aggression ("Jennifer, why don't you take notes?") To get comfortable with the discomfort of working with "others." McCollum shared many powerful stories, about being on both sides of the privilege dynamic. On being underrepresented and marginalized as a woman, and speaking up - and not speaking up. On finding the grace and generosity to spotlight Black colleagues when approached by a journalist from a major business publication. I offered some reminiscences of my own experiences of discovering and facing my own biases, and the discomfort that I feel when corrected. We discussed the unfairness of placing the burden of change on those who are excluded and exploited and marginalized. And as McCollum reminded me, each of us is responsible for our own contributions. So while systemic racism is a White problem, and sexism a male problem - we can't just wait for White men to fix it. Throughout the conversation, I kept thinking about how simple an issue this is - treat people fairly and with respect - and how incredibly complicated it is at the same time. I'm so glad that thoughtful, committed, and energetic people like McCollum are leading the charge, and opening doors for other women, people of color, and other marginalized group to have a voice and a hand on the rudder.At the end of the conversation, I expressed my doubts that capitalism can solve humanity's political, social, economic, and environmental crises, regardless of who's at the helm. Her answer was thought-provoking: business has a lot of power. Political power, and funding power. If we want to tackle global poverty, climate change, racism, we'll need business to participate and perhaps lead. And that's not going to happen until and unless all voices are represented at the highest levels. Enjoy our conversation, and please share your thoughts and experiences on this crucial topic, either in the comments on this page, or on the Plant Yourself Facebook page. Here's some background on McCollum, shamelessly copied and pasted from Linkage's website:About Jennifer:Jennifer McCollum is CEO of Linkage, Inc., where she oversees the strategic direction and global operations of the Boston, MA-based leadership development company. With a mission to “Change the Face of Leadership,” Linkage has dedicated 30 years to improving leadership effectiveness and equity in hundreds of organizations globally. Linkage provides assessments, training, coaching, consulting and conferences, with Solutions designed to Accelerate Purposeful Leaders; Advance Women Leaders; and Redesign Inclusive Organizations through Superpowers & Symphony.Jennifer is a highly sought-after consultant and speaker, with a deep expertise in Inclusive Leadership and Advancing Women Leaders. She has delivered workshops, keynotes, webinars and podcasts to thousands of leaders globally on live and virtual stages, including 100 Leaders Live (Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches conference), Chief Learning Officer Exchange, Chester Elton’s “Leading with Gratitude” LinkedIn Live, John Baldoni’s “Grace under Pressure” LinkedIn Live, Candy O’Terry’s “The Story Behind Her Success” podcast, and VoiceAmerica radio broadcast. She is a contributing author to Leadership in a Time of Crisis and has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Chief Talent Development Officer, CEO Refresher, and Real Leaders. She is a member of the Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches.LinksLinkage, Inc.Jennifer McCollum's professional pageRedesigning Inclusion: Superpowers & Symphony: Jennifer McCollum and Oshoke AbaluVerna Myers consultancyWall Street Journal article featuring McCollum, Eddie Turner, and others: "What Does Being an Ally Look Like? Companies Offer Training in Support of Black Colleagues"Harvard Business Review article: "Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome"Oshoke Abalu's TEDx talk: "Symphony: A New Language for Diversity & Inclusion"
71 minutes | a month ago
How to Connect with Your Soul and Find Your True Purpose: Bill Plotkin on PYP 455
Most human beings in industrialized cultures are developmentally stunted, according to today's guest, the writer, teacher, and "psychologist gone wild" Bill Plotkin. It's not just that we have few elders to guide us. Most of us never make it out of egocentric adolescence.It's not our fault; through millennia of decay, our cultures have lost the map of human development. We don't realize what we're missing, except through the pervasive longing we feel to belong; to matter; to contribute. We're told to be authentic individuals, but never given the tools or the space or the guidance to discover our true essence: our "soul." So we create "styles" and "lifestyles" that advertise our individualism while obscuring and blocking our individuation.By "soul," Plotkin doesn't mean some etheric substance or spiritual or psychological concept. Rather, soul is a concrete thing: our place and purpose within our ecosystem. Our unique niche in the family of all things.When we measure our lives only in relation to the human world, we miss out on many of the key elements of a healthy and meaningful existence. And yet modern psychology is completely unaware of the costs of this "nature deficit disorder," and how we might remedy it.In today's conversation, Plotkin and I talked about his new book, The Journey of Soul Initiation. We spoke about the crisis in human civilization, and how we may not survive our own damage to the earth. And how our growth gets stunted in early childhood, keeping us from entering the "cocoon" that would allow us space and curiosity and humility and connection and healing; all the elements that are required for authentic human development.Imagine living a life of purpose, meaning, joy, beauty, and full expression of your unique gifts. And being part of a culture in which that was the norm, rather than the rare purview of a tiny, lucky, privileged group of psychonauts and countercultural seekers. That's the path that Plotkin offers us. And the survival of our species, and perhaps our planet, hangs in the balance. Let's do this!
67 minutes | a month ago
Can You Change Other People? Howard Jacobson on Chef AJ Live
Chef AJ and I chatted about life, my experience in lockdown in South Africa last spring (well, fall in South Africa), and what I'm up to. And we talked about my forthcoming book, You Can Change Other People. A viewer wrote about her siblings, who are all sick and overweight, and eating poorly, and how she struggles trying to convince them to adopt a healthy, plant-based diet. Why won't they listen to her, when she's healthy and slim and happy and full of energy? She's obviously got some things figured out? I shared some insights and techniques, as we brainstormed an approach that could potentially be more effective than constantly lecturing, prodding, nagging, and evangelizing. Enjoy!
62 minutes | a month ago
How to Change Other People Without Being an A-hole: Glenn Murphy and Howie Jacobson on PYP 453
Do ever have the urge to tell other people what they're doing wrong? To give them advice that will make them happier, healthier, and more successful? To let them know how they're upsetting/annoying/bumming you out?It's only human to want to help the people around us when they're struggling. It's perfectly understandable to tell people how they're screwing up when they're making us miserable.But be honest - how effective are you at getting them to change?If you're like most people, your efforts to change others backfires big time.First, instead of changing, they resist even more. "Have a salad instead of this donut? No way. In fact, I think I'll have TWO donuts now."Second, your criticism and advice damages the relationship. So now they're still struggling, you're still pissed, and now they're mad at you for butting in.So is the answer found in that old truism: "You can't change other people. You can only change yourself"?Nope.It is not only possible to change other people, it's often one of the kindest and most generous things you can do. And sometimes - if you're a parent or manager - it's even your job.But how to do it without being an a-hole, without generating resistance - that's the tricky part. You need not just good intentions, but a process.In this conversation, Glenn Murphy of NC Systema and Howie discuss the process featured in Howie (and Peter Bregman's) upcoming book, You CAN Change Other People.Enjoy!
63 minutes | 2 months ago
Sparking an Anti-Litter Revolution Through Data: Jeff Kirschner on PYP 452
Jeff Kirschner was on a walk with his kids when his young daughter pointed to a cat litter container littering a stream bed. "Daddy," she told him, "That doesn't belong there."As sparks go, that one could easily have been extinguished before it lit anything else. But that's not what happened. Instead, Jeff began thinking about that container. How it got there. Where it might be going next. And what kind of world were his kids going to inherit, filling up ever more quickly with things that "don't belong there."Jeff began cataloguing litter on his Instagram account, taking photos of trash on streets, sidewalks, and fields, and hashtagging them by type and material and brand. When other people followed his lead, he realized that he had the beginning of a movement.Soon, the amount and quality of the data started sparking bigger ideas. The fact that each bit of litter was geotagged, time-stamped, and categorized meant that a computer could begin to spot trends, and create data sets that could inform policy initiatives to combat this form of pollution.And so Litterati.org was born.Now, Litterati is in 185 countries, provides an open data set, and is helping municipalities and large corporations design and implement programs to reduce litter and its heavy costs.Why do we care about plastic containers, fast food clamshells, and cigarette butts on the ground, other than esthetics?Let's start with the Benjamins. Philadelphia spends almost $50 million a year on street cleanup - all of it remedial, none of it preventive. Multiply that by cities all across the world and pretty soon it begins to add up to real money.Next, the environmental costs on other species are staggering. Birds, fish, and turtles are suffocating on plastic rings, dying from straws in their windpipes, and suffering birth defects due to their ingestion of endocrine-disrupting microplastics.Then there's the killing of our ocean life, with garbage-laden dead zones growing to the size of small countries.That, of course, messes with human health, since plastics accumulate as they move up the food chain. If you eat animal flesh, you're consuming about a teaspoon of plastic a week. Even vegans are not exempt, since the microplastics can move through soil into plant tissue. A recent study of produce from an Italian supermarket reported microplastics in carrots, lettuce, broccoli, potatoes, apples, and pears. The tree fruits were especially high in the stuff, possibly because of they're perennials and have more time to absorb it.And not inconsequentially, litter makes us feel bad about where we live. It's hard to feel pride of place, or kinship with a living planet, if your street or neighborhood or city is awash in ugly, useless crap.Jeff and I talked about how Litterati works. Why large data sets can change minds and set policy. The function of transparency in rationalizing systems to eliminate inefficiencies and externalities.And why Litterati is about solutions rather than finger pointing, when finger pointing would be so easy (and to me, at least, really damn satisfying).Give a listen, download the app, check out their data, and join Jeff and his citizen army of Litterati in becoming part of the solution.
90 minutes | 2 months ago
Rediscovering Movement That Brings You Joy: Rafe Kelley on PYP 451
Rafe Kelley wants to teach you how to "move like a human."Wait, what? Don't humans naturally move like humans?Well, no. Just as you can use a knife as a flat head screwdriver, you can stick a human body at a desk, have it stare at a screen, push buttons on a keyboard, and interact with algorithms - but the knife will break, and the human will go a bit (or a lot) crazy.In short, there's a profound mismatch between what we've evolved to do and be, and what we're actually rewarded for doing and being in our civilization.And it's making us miserable, and sick, and weak. It allows us to destroy our planet. It creates the ground for convincing "alternative facts" and fake news and dangerous conspiracy theories.The mismatch makes us unable to deal with real-world problems like climate destabilization, pandemics, and pollution.Kelley isn't talking about exercise, or gym workouts. Instead, he wants to get back to natural human movement in relation to nature, embedded in the natural world, seeking joy and meaning rather than comfort and ease.The first half of our conversation took an unexpected turn for me. We explored learning theory at a very deep level, looking at the work of academics like John Vervaeke, philosophers like Nietzsche, and motor learning practitioners like Nikolai Bernstein, as well as the 4E Cognition movement.Kelley echoes the work of Barbara Tversky (listen to her episode here) by explaining that all cognition is based on metaphors of movement and location. In other words, if we aren't moving, and challenging ourselves through movement, we're really not learning in some quite profound ways.Then we looked at health - individual, communal, and planetary - and the role that returning to forms of movement based on play and joy can have on our ability to thrive in the world.What's wrong with our current culture of physical exercise: gyms, treadmills, weight machines, and so on? Kelley points out that they're based on highly toxic, highly ineffective motivators: shame at our out-of-shape bodies, and abstract ideas of health.Even if those forms of movement were good for us - which they aren't - the emphasis on looking sexy and fit and/or avoiding disease is doing a terrible job of getting us to move at all. The key, according to Kelley, is to reconnect with joyful movement, the kind that all babies engage in automatically, and that our society punishes us for ("Sit still and pay attention, Howie!").All of us can take steps to reclaim our natural heritage of play - testing our edges and our limits, seeking frustration and discomfort in the service of growth and joy and deep belonging to our ecosystem and our planet.Start simply and modestly, Kelley recommends, with a walk in nature. Listen to bird song. Feel your body feeling connected, and good. And take it from there.
68 minutes | 2 months ago
Getting Fit in the "Church Basement" of a Facebook Group: Dan Carraciolo on Plant Yourself 450
Honestly, I thought I had done my last "before and after" transformation podcast. I mean, it's hard to top Josh LaJaunie, Tim Kaufman, Anthony Masiello, Heather Goodwin, and so many others.Then I saw Dan Carraciolo's pre-post photos on my Facebook feed, and I was like, "Bullshit! This isn't even the same guy." It looked like the episode of "Nathan For You" where the author of a fake fitness book hires an overweight guy to be his "before" photo. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkNxvUrWQ_QBut as I dove into Dan's feed, and saw the slow and steady progression from overweight and sick to fit - and not just fit, but happy, and not just happy, but like way younger-looking and more vibrant and more, I don't know, present, maybe - I became a believer. And so Dan and I jumped on a Zoom call to talk about his transformation from unhappy, overweight diabetic to ebullient athlete. And yes, that's the first time since high school English class that I've ever used the word ebullient. We spoke over his favorite exercise, rowing, and he gave me a bunch of tips. (I can row for like an hour, and not move an inch on that machine - it's really frustrating.)We chatted about food, and the mindset required to completely shift his dietary patterns. We talked about mental health, and how important it is to destigmatize mental health challenges, so we can address them individually and as communities. We also spoke about Dan's commitment to social justice, including supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, and offering a lifeline of safety to non-gender-conforming youth (which is why Dan's Facebook name is Dan Caracciolo He). A note of warning: the audio isn't the best, for reasons best known by Zoom and sound engineers everywhere. Dan's still audible, thought you might have to turn down the heavy machinery to really get the most out of the conversation.Enjoy, and let us know what you think in comments!
86 minutes | 2 months ago
The Science and Practice of Forgiveness: Nathaniel Wade, PhD, on PYP 449
Nathaniel Wade was studying forgiveness as a grad student at Virginia Commonwealth University when, at the age of 26, he discovered his wife was having an affair from a folded note in the laundry basket.All of a sudden, the topic no longer seemed theoretical. It was now deeply personal, deeply painful, and deeply present during pretty much every waking moment.And it leant urgency and passion to Wade's inquiries, and perhaps has turned him into the wise and compassionate person he is today.Wade is a professor in psychology at Iowa State University. He studies the psychology of forgiveness from a clinical as well as spiritual perspective.I first discovered Wade's work in an essay in one of my favorite online journals, Aeon magazine. The title was tantalizing: "Forgive and Be Free." Wade suggested that forgiving another person isn't strictly (or even mostly) for their benefit, but rather for the benefit of the forgiver.That's all well and good, but for me, forgiveness still had the feel of letting someone off the hook. It's as if by forgiving, I was saying, "Well, I guess it wasn't that bad."And maybe I could say that, since honestly the harms that have been inflicted on me in my life have been pretty mild.But when I think about those abused as children, or assaulted as adults, or falsely accused of crimes, or imprisoned - forgiveness seems like an unreasonably high price to pay for the alleged freedom promised by the article.But here's what got me hooked, and eager to have a conversation with Wade: the first step of his process involves acknowledging the harm done. Citing a study on forgiveness therapy for survivors of childhood incest, Wade wrote: "For true forgiveness to occur in this context, they argued, the women needed to first acknowledge that a true hurt had been done to them as children."And bingo, the penny dropped.What I had thought of as forgiveness was actually closer to "forgetness," a minimization of harm. But that whitewashing of the past was the opposite of forgiveness, since it wasn't addressing what actually happened. As Wade said during our conversation, I can forgive only when I admit that what they did was wrong.In our conversation, we talked about the research as well as the theory and philosophy of forgiveness. We spoke of Wade's own research, the work of others, and directions for future enquiry. (I made some suggestions, which Wade was extremely generous and complimentary about, but he might just be a really nice guy!)We explored the barriers to forgiveness, whether some people have a predisposition to forgive, and what effective forgiveness therapy interventions look like. We also chatted about self-forgiveness, which is a huge barrier to the changes that many of my coaching clients desire to make.
67 minutes | 3 months ago
Get Fit Quick: Ed Coyle on PYP 448
How much exercise should you get every week? The recommendations vary, but they all circle around 150-300 minutes a week of non-vigorous exercise, or 75-150 minutes of vigorous exercise.And do you know how many Americans hit those numbers? Fewer than 20 percent.It makes sense, really. Exercise takes a lot of time, including preparing, warming up, showering, and so on. And you can't exactly grab 30 minutes at lunchtime if you're going to sweat like a gladiator in your next Zoom meeting.Plus, most people don't like feeling out of breath, or tired, or achy.But as today's guest points out, the science of exercise hasn't really moved on from its original assumption that long, slow, low-intensity workouts are the gold standard, and are what most of the population should be going for.Enter the renegade world of HIIT research.HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and it's pretty much the opposite of mainstream exercise science over the past 50 years.In HIIT, you work really hard - maybe even as hard as you can - for a short amount of time, and then rest until your next set. The advantage is a shorter, more efficient workout that achieves the same health and fitness outcomes as the longer, traditional workouts.Six years ago, I interviewed one of the research pioneers behind HIIT, McMaster University's Martin Gibala. His workout, radical at the time, involved 20-second periods of high intensity repeated three times in a short span of time, for a total of one minute a day, three days a week.The popular press got their hands on the idea and pushed it as a "minimum workout" for busy and lazy people. But 20 seconds is still a long time, and many folks found the workouts to be highly unpleasant, even if they were unpleasant for just half a minute at a time.So today's guest, Ed Coyle, a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology & Health Education at the University of Texas at Austin, wondered what the shortest useful interval would be. And he discovered that four seconds does the trick.Not only that, 4-second intervals allow for higher efficiency, less fatigue and soreness, and significant improvements in measures of fitness and health.NOTE: This is not a "4-second workout," as the popular press likes to label it. Instead, it's a workout of 20 or so sets of 4-second "go as hard as you can" sprints, taking about 15 minutes total.As Coyle explains during our conversation, when we work out long and slow, we recruit only half of our muscle fibers - the slow-twitch ones. Four-second HIIT intervals fire up the fast-twitch fibers, which are the ones most susceptible to hypertrophy (wasting) as we age. Plus, those fibers also use glucose and can contribute to fat metabolism, which means onboarding them can combat high blood glucose and hyperlipidemia.In studies with athletes and aging ordinary people, the gains over 8 weeks of fun and short workouts were remarkable.In our conversation, we talk about the data, the experience of running the studies, and the exercise bike that's at the center of the work, the Power Cycle. Since the bike isn't yet commercially available and will cost about $2500 when it is, I pressed for free or cheap alternatives that anyone can do to approximate the benefits of the Power Cycle.We also discussed Coyle's personal workout regimen, and how he combines HIIT with other activities to stay fit as he gets on in years.
87 minutes | 3 months ago
Transforming Transportation for a Greener and More Just World
Pam Frank is the CEO of ChargEVC, a non-profit promoting carbon reduction and clean energy through electric vehicles. I wanted to talk with her about the political, social, economic, and technological challenges to shifting to all all-electric transportation grid. We covered those topics, but ended up swapping visions of a fully transformed world.We talked about how humans see ourselves as separate from the rest of the world, a perspective encoded in the way we talk about "the environment" like it's some thing apart from and outside of ourselves. (Frank prefers "ecosystem," which points to our embeddedness.)And how greening up our transportation system, while a technological approach, is actually a potential "gateway drug" for millions of people to embrace an ethos of care and stewardship for the planet. We also covered the possible reimagining of cities, and how to heal their relationships with exurbs, suburbs, and rural communities. And how that might begin to repair some of the "red/blue" distrust and damage that plays out politically. And how perhaps we can learn from the failed cities of the past (basically, all of them imploded after a few thousand years, for predictable reasons), to create urban centers that are not only exciting and diverse and creative but also deeply connected to the earth and the land bases that support their life.We also looked at solar power and offshore wind power as ways to cut down on the climate damage done by fossil fuels.Drawing on Systems Theory, Frank pointed out that flows are much more generous and reliable and efficient than fuels. And that the transportation sector, the largest contributor to carbon emissions in her home state of New Jersey, is not just the problem, but the potential solution. Not just to global climate destabilization, but also to the problems of inequality and cultural Balkanization and social injustice.Imagine a transportation system that truly connected humans, and allowed for the efficient and equitable sharing of the resources necessary for our survival and thriving.We ended by musing on how nature does transportation, through chemical messengers in the air, through mycelial networks in the earth, through flows of energy from sun to plants to animals to fungi and decomposers, and back to plants in a beautiful dance of sharing. And whether we humans can become humble enough to let nature be our teacher in this crucial realm of our existence. LinksChargEVC.orgIron Bound Farm - Asbury NJDonut Economics, by Kate RaworthGreenFaithRethinking Humanity (Tony Seba)NY Times article from January 15, 2021: Electric Cars Are Better for the Planet – and Often Your Budget, Too
83 minutes | 3 months ago
Should Vegans Own Guns?: Rabbi Hillel Norry on Plant Yourself 446
Given the shocking violence we've seen this week, with more predicted around the country, I found myself in a very strange place: feeling like my home and family are under potential threat.Granted, I have a hypersensitive sense of danger, given my cultural and familiar heritage as a Jew and the child of a holocaust survivor. My ancestors survived long enough to pass down their genes to me because they erred on the side of "get out of town" rather than "things will settle down."And because my threat assessment now includes the possibility of civil unrest led by racist, antisemitic militia who believe that the Jews and Democratic establishment and Hollywood are perpetrating an evil conspiracy to kidnap and abuse children, I started wondering about how it might all end.And one of the elements that fed into my modeling was the uneven nature of gun ownership. Very few liberals I know own guns. Most conservatives do. And in a recent poll, about one-third of those who voted for Trump expressed at least partial support for the Capitol Hill insurrectionists. I'm very anti-gun by nature and philosophy. I've never owned one. I wish they had never been invented. And this week I found myself thinking, "Should I buy a gun to defend my family if the nation descends into violent anarchy?"So I reached out to one of the most unusual thinkers I know. Hillel Norry is a rabbi, a staunch liberal, an LGBTQ+ ally, a vegan, and a firearms instructor. He's a licensed private eye, and consults with houses of worship on security matters. I asked him to talk to me about guns - philosophically and ethically, and also practically. I didn't want to get into a debate about gun rights. Partly because I have strong opinions but I'm not an expert on facts and statistics. And partly because the debate didn't really interest me.I mean, I offered some of the arguments that I believe, but honestly I didn't do any kind of job in terms of countering Rabbi Norry's enthusiastic view toward guns. He didn't convince me that guns are good, or even neutral. But I now see them as perhaps a necessary evil - and a real problem if the only people who own and operate them are those who view me as an implacable enemy.Just as he feels that veganism - which he defines as a lifestyle that avoids unnecessary violence - is the most ethical human stance, Rabbi Norry embraces gun proficiency in the same way. Fighting back against those who would harm you, in his worldview, is a moral imperative. We also spoke about practical issues. If someone were to get a gun, what kind? What are the differences and similarities between different classes: rifles and handguns, revolvers and semiautomatics, Glocks and 357 Magnums. He offered suggestions on one's first "starter gun," and how to connect with a gun-owning community that shares liberal values.I never thought I'd do an episode of Plant Yourself on guns, but here I am. And here we are. Am I making too much of the current situation? Am I seeing the world only through the lens of fear and threat? Does this conversation empower you, or enrage you, or bewilder you? Do you own a gun? If so, what would compel you to use it?If you don't own a gun, did this conversation move you to consider getting one?Let's keep the conversation respectful, kind, and useful - and let's have it. LinksRabbi Hillel Norry - websiteRabbi Hillel's vegan cooking YouTube channelRabbi Hillel on FacebookPodcast: A Swift Kick in the Soul
58 minutes | 3 months ago
After the First Marriage: Learning and Growing in Relationship: Dr Susan Orenstein on PYP 445
Susan Orenstein, PhD, started a new podcast last year with an intriguing title: "After the First Marriage."Which is to say, the first marriage is over, and you're starting over.In her clinical practice as a couples therapist, Dr Orenstein sees people who are struggling to learn the lessons from a marriage that ended. Typically, there's pain and loss, which often gets filtered through guilt and blame and rage and disappointment.All of which gets in the way of learning.And that's the whole point of her work, and podcast: that no matter what happened, what went wrong, or how it ended, it's worth it to perform a "post-mortem" on the first marriage so you don't repeat the same mistakes going forward.I wanted to talk about divorce and moving on as it relates to our health goals and health behaviors. Many of my health coaching clients' issues around food and lifestyle are entangled in a messy relationship. Eating salad instead of steak isn't just a food choice, but an act laden with layers of unspoken meaning between spouses.You're eating healthy now? Does that mean you think you're better than me? I've gained 30 pounds since the kids were born. And we haven't had sex for six months. You must be grossed out by my body. Look at me suffering with this salad.You don't expect me to give up my favorite foods and eat rabbit chow with you, do you?And so on...The core of Dr Orenstein's work revolves around Attachment Theory, which posits that it's our primary relationships in childhood that form the template for all our subsequent relationships. If we were tended to with care and presence when we were babies, we can form secure adult bonds.But if we were ignored, or abused, or betrayed, or felt insecure in the attachment with primary caregivers, we'll carry those wounds into our present relationships. And the first marriage - or any serious relationship, past or ongoing - can give us clues to those wounds, and help us heal them by practicing new attachment styles.Oh, and by the way, you could still be married to the person from your "first marriage," if you decide to grow together and create a mission statement for an upgraded "Marriage 2.0."In our conversation, I asked Dr Orenstein about typical relationship scenarios that impact the work I do around health behaviors, and we brainstormed therapeutic approaches to some of the thornier problems.LinksDr Orenstein's first Plant Yourself visit: Creating a Safe "Couple Bubble"OrensteinSolutions.comAfterTheFirstMarriage.comDiane Poole Heller's work on Dynamic Attachment Re-patterningAttached, by Amir Levine and Rachel HellerWired for Love, by Stan Tatkin
69 minutes | 3 months ago
Liberation Through Improvisation and Imperfection: Stephen Nachmanovitch on PYP 444
Stephen Nachmanovitch is an improvisational musician, and long-time teacher of improvisational arts. His 2019 book, The Art of Is, explores how we can use principles and practices of improv in our everyday lives. As a long-time student (and occasional performer) of improv, I have first-hand knowledge of how these principles can enrich our experience and create opportunities for exploration, growth, and fun. What I didn't realize until reading The Art of Is is that improv can help us weave community, fight injustice, stay the course in the face of great odds, and heal ourselves and our planet.In this episode, Stephen and I improvise a conversation (that's the only way to do it!) that explores some fundamental understandings of human potential. I come at it with an interest in how we can apply improv to be healthier in our everyday lives.For example, many of my clients resist meal planning because they insist on spontaneity; the outcome, too often, of that spontaneity is unfortunate food choices made in the heat of the moment. Stephen highlights the Japanese tea ceremony as a delicate and robust balance of the intricately planned (the ritual) and the spontaneous (attention to the unique present circumstances).We talk about how in improv, as in life, mistakes are opportunities for learning, and for new possibilities for action and connection. And since the mantra of improvisational theater is "Yes, and...", we explore how you can maintain an improvisational mindset when you refuse an offer - whether a piece of cheesecake, or as in the story of Shotaku and the Paper Sword of the Heart, a physical assault. Stephen helps us understand "how to refuse while remembering who you are."We cover the subtle art and science of cybernetics - essentially, course correcting through the interplay of a goal and attention to feedback. This is crucial in musical improvisation, especially on analog instruments like the violin, where there are infinite notes between the notes, and the fingers are always sliding, searching for accuracy. This relates to the challenge of self-regulation that all of us face as we navigate a world rife with unhealthy temptations. Stephen uses the metaphor of driving a car, constantly adjusting our steering, and not beating ourselves up for the myriad "mistakes" that we continually correct.We explore the lessons of some of the heroes of The Art of Is, including Herbert Zipper, a holocaust survivor who wrote music for and conducted a clandestine orchestra at Buchenwald concentration camp, and John Cage, who composed a musical piece with a duration of 639 years. We end the conversation with some concrete suggestions for bringing the benefits of improv to life, including practicing breathing in the supermarket, performing 1-minute pieces, and drawing a picture and then throwing it away in an artistic fashion. LinksThe Art of Is, by Stephen NachmanovitchFree Play, by Stephen NachmanovitchStephen's latest album: A Hermitage of Thrushes (improvisations with birds)Searching for Sugarman - documentaryCsardas performance (not by me - the note that I could never hit comes it at 1:01)Never Give Up - documentary about Herbert ZipperJohn Cage, "As Slow As Possible" performance - 4 minutes worth, anywayThe Long Now FoundationHun Huur Tu Concert
64 minutes | 4 months ago
Discover YOUR Optimal Diet and Lifestyle Through Data: Dr Casey Means on PYP 443
Dr Casey Means is the co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of Levels Health, a med tech company that provides closed-loop continuous glucose monitoring to help people optimize their diets and so much more. As Dr Means points out, eating the right food isn't sufficient. Whether a particular whole, plant food - say, a banana, a sweet potato, or bunch of grapes - will spike your glucose to a dangerously high level depends also on the time of day, what you're paring it with, your level of stress at that moment, how active you are physically, any environmental toxins that might be disrupting your metabolism, and the state of your microbiome. Levels Health's monitor is the size of a stack of two quarters, attaches to the back of your upper arm, and tells your smartphone about your glucose level and heart rate every 15 minutes.With this information, you can literally see how different foods and activities affect your blood sugar levels.And blood sugar levels are highly predictive of long-term metabolic and overall health. Spikes and wide swings are not good for us, and lead in the short term to fatigue and mood swings, and inflammation, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune conditions, and dementia in the long term. As a behaviorist, I love how that kind of hard, objective, instantaneous data can help us change behavior. Sure, sugar may make me fat in a month and sick in a year, but when it spikes my blood glucose in 10 minutes, that's when I'm motivated to do something about it. In our conversation, I pitched all the hardball questions I could think of:What about carnivores who avoid all carbohydrates and could interpret their results as positive even if they're killing themselves?Isn't the root problem that humans are disconnected from nature? So how will more technology move us in the direction of natural health?What if the optimal diet for an individual isn't the best thing for animals, or the planet?Dr Means not only handled them, but converted me to a believer. Her vision for instantaneous, closed-loop data actually holds the promise of moving us back in the direction of natural human movement, reduced pollutants and pesticides, less animal consumption (especially from factory farms pumping out antibiotic- and hormone- and pesticide-laden meat and dairy), and healthier soil and more regenerative agricultural practices.Because health is holographic. You can't have a healthy skin cell on the pinky of your right hand if you have a systemic disease in your entire body. And we can't be healthy individuals within a diseased ecosystem, on an overburdened planet.Given that according to a recent UNC study, fully 88% of the US adult population suffers from at least one metabolic dysfunction, there's a huge existing market for the device, which is currently available only via prescription. (Although they are running a public beta, which allows regular old consumers to sign up for the service directly from Levels Health website. Here's a link that allows you, as a loyal Plant Yourself listener, to cut to the front of the line.)But the real potential game changer here is for the monitor to become as ubiquitous as FitBit - showing millions of people that the moment-to-moment choices they make immediately and significantly determine their metabolic health. As the Levels Health blog reminds us, "Metabolism is Life."LinksLevels HealthGet your own Levels Health Continuous Glucose Monitor (and skip the 60,000 person waiting list) - NOT an affiliate linkUNC Study on American metabolic health statusWhole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
65 minutes | 4 months ago
Plant Care is Self-Care: Yuvika Iyer on PYP 442
Yuvika Iyer discovered the benefits of indoor plants when her young daughter began suffering from rhinitis and other allergies. After removing as many environmental toxins as she could, Iyer began looking for ways to improve the air quality, and not just not make it worse.And that's when she found the treasure trove of data about the health benefits of house plants. Some of the best information comes from NASA, as part of their mission to create environments that could support human life and health outside of the earth's atmosphere. And there's also a lot of plant guidance and wisdom to be found in the Ayurvedic practices and philosophies that Iyer grew up with.Iyer decided to turn her passion and her discoveries into a website, FreshOAir.com, which shares all manner of information on how to live healthier and greener within the walls of your home.We spoke about the easiest plants to grow, and how to learn how to take care of plants if you lack a green thumb.We also talked about how nurturing plants is a way of nurturing ourselves, and what it looks like to be in real relationship with a plant.Iyer generously offered a special gift to podcast listeners: "My First Houseplant Starter Kit." I got confused in the conversation, and mistakenly thought that no email optin was required, which was incorrect. So you will have to share your email in order to get the starter kit.LinksFreshOAir.comMy First Houseplant Starter KitThe Nature Fix, by Florence WilliamsEbook: The Organic Home Guide, by Yuvika Iyer
64 minutes | 4 months ago
How to Become Intuitive: Christin Bummer on PYP 441
I originally interviewed today's guest, Christin Bummer, for the Health Coaches Podcast. But she dropped so many useful nuggets for "civilians," I couldn't just keep this for coaches. Enjoy!Christin Bummer used to lavish care on dogs via her Canine Kingdom business. Now she coaches humans to give similar consideration to themselves. She went plant-based in 2011, just before Forks Over Knives was released. In fact, she turned vegan overnight, which made me wonder how she relates to clients who don’t keep their promises to themselves as she has been able to.But then Christin revealed her own secret behavior during pregnancy, adding Starbucks lattes, then non-vegan scones, then Panera chocolate chip cookies, even while she was an ethical vegan activist. She snapped out of it – again, overnight – after naming it a processed food addiction (under the guidance of Chef AJ and John Pierre) and committing to abstinence of sugar, flour, and alcohol.Coach ApproachAs a coach, Christin’s philosophy is to meet people where they are, rather than impose a model of addiction on them. She’s a big fan of the power of group coaching, and values the dynamics that a community of support can bring to the individual. She credits her own self-development work for her ability to stay focused, curious, intuitive, and helpful to her clients. At the end of the day, the details of the food plan or workout plan are trivialities compared to the mindset and the deep internal dialogs that determine our actions. For example, many women in caretaker roles abandon their own needs due to a belief that “I don’t matter.” Eventually, as those around them demand more and more of their time and attention, they become resentful. Operating from a different belief becomes far more important than blocking off 30 minutes of yoga in their calendar.We spent some time unpacking the practice of Intuitive Coaching, which involves trusting oneself and the client, and engaging in deep, curiosity-driven listening. Coaches will find this section particularly useful. LinksChristin's website: TheForeverDiet.org.Christin's book: Baby Got Back in Her Pants, which you can purchase from her website or on Amazon (currently the #1 Bestseller for “Vegetarian Diets”!)Free Facebook group: Facebook.com/groups/ForeverDietChef AJ and John Pierre's Ultimate Weight Loss ChallengeThe Health Coaches Podcast (if you want to join me and wonderful guests in nerding out about how to help people change their entrenched behaviors for better health and a more joyful and liberated life)
67 minutes | 4 months ago
Mind Hacks for Getting Through a Pandemic: Josh LaJaunie on PYP 440
Josh LaJaunie returns to talk about his strategies for staying sane, strong, and fit during the pandemic. What 2020 has been like for him - the good, the bad, and the unexpected. And how he's navigated. Where he's fallen down, and where he developed new resilience and antifragility. He shared his strategies to resist junk food and dismiss "junk information." And how to talk to ourselves for the long haul, especially when we're overwhelmed and feeling sorry for ourselves.And why misinformation and conspiracy theories find fertile soil in rural communities.LinksJoshLaJaunie.comKorin Sutton's nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle program
93 minutes | 5 months ago
The Queen's Gambit, The Hero's Journey, Veganism, and Exercise: Tyson Yunkaporta on PYP 439
Author, academic, and artist Tyson Yunkaporta offers an Indigenous perspective on some of the core beliefs that have guided my life. Some, like veganism, survive. Others, like the Hero's Journey, lie in tatters. In our far-ranging yarn (I believe the conversation met that bar), we examined the myths of Western Civilization to see how they serve us. The Hero's Journey, which requires us to see ourselves as cosmic orphans and posits a degraded world in need of saving, leads to isolation and self-destruction. The whole idea of technological progress without regard for unforeseen consequences creates a dynamic in which each solution turns into a more intractable problem: "curing" sickle cell with CRISPR leads to installing terminator genes in African mosquitoes, which leads to environmental destabilization and the extinction of birds and big mammals. Tyson is highly suspicious of veganism, seeing it as another form of rigid control requiring tight human manipulation in order to get the nutrients needed to thrive. Rather than turn the yarn into a debate, we looked for ways to understand my impulse to minimize harm with the Indigenous principles of custodianship and covenantal relationship. Our treatment of tofu and edamame reflects this attempt. We also spoke about The Queen's Gambit, as a story about a Human who refused to be Domesticated (Tyson hadn't finished the series, so there were plot elements I couldn't go into), and how difficult that proposition can be, and why it usually requires psychoactive drugs to maintain.And we concluded by looking at "exercise" and its connection to mechanical Western "progress" culture and its possible transformation into a covenantal prayer of belonging and mutuality.
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