OneIngredientLogo

I’m so excited to announce a new project I have been developing– but before I explain what I’m doing, let me explain why I’m doing it…

You see, “In the United States and most Western countries, diet-related chronic diseases represent the single largest cause of morbidity and mortality.” –Origins and Evolution of the Western Diet

Translation: more people are dying as a result of the food they eat than through all other causes. Every day, nine 747s full of passengers crash into the mountainside of Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes, and Strokes – all diseases directly related to a poor diet. Nine 747s crashing with no survivors. Every day.

The worst part? So many of these crashes can be prevented simply by making smarter choices about food.

Something has got to change. As individuals and a society, we can’t afford to continue at this pace. This is such a catastrophic problem with such a simple, scientifically-proven solution (eat unprocessed, plant-based foods!). My hope is that the new project I’m announcing, One Ingredient Chef, can be a part of the solution.

It all started last year when I developed something called The One Ingredient Diet – a simple, unprocessed response to a world of overly-manufactured foods. The “diet” basically says that everything you eat should start out as one whole ingredient. It’s so simple, but so powerful.

But… are we just talking about munching on celery for the rest of our lives? No way! As I started to experiment with this way of eating, I was shocked to discover that the ‘real’ food I began cooking was some of the most delicious I had ever eaten. I fell in love with cooking and food like never before. Healthy food tasting bland? It’s a myth. Whole-food, plant-based cooking can be insanely satisfying and delicious.

Now, I just want to share what I’ve learned about cooking in a way that can contribute to this dismal food crisis we face…

My goal is to show people how to cook the best food they’ve ever eaten while also becoming healthier than ever before.

I’m taking that mission to OneIngredientChef.com, a cooking blog built around a healthy-eating movement. The recipes I teach you how to cook are simple, plant-based, “one ingredient” (unprocessed), and incredibly delicious.

The One Ingredient Diet is my message. Delicious food is my medium.

I’ve never been so excited to bring a much-needed service into the world and I’m grateful to have found something I enjoy so much. This is going to be epic and I hope to have you right there with me.

How you can help…

Obviously, this is a completely different path than BlogAndrew, but helping people live healthier and more satisfying lives is something I care so deeply about and I would love to have your support. If you’re interested in delicious food and healthy eating, here are a few things that might interest you:

  • Download my manifesto. It’s a free 16-page guide that explains how the way we eat is making so many of us sick, and how a whole-food, unprocessed diet can change this.
  • Cook something! My goal isn’t for you to just follow the message, I want to help you actually cook better food! Try making a recipe with just whole, fresh ingredients and see what happens.
  • Connect. Social media is a big part of One Ingredient Chef. You can Like the Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google+.
  • Share. If your friends/followers might like to hear about this project, let them know! A Tweet or Facebook Share of One Ingredient Chef would mean a lot.

I appreciate any help in getting this project off the ground and I look forward to seeing you there!

My life has taught me a strange lesson: I am really bad at creating my future. For reasons that go beyond skill or effort, I suck at choosing a destination and then arriving there. Somewhere along the journey, “life” always seems to happen and I’m left scratching my head.

This can be depressing if you look at it in that way, as most people do. But we’re missing something– you don’t lose anything when you imagine a future that never becomes a reality. A lot of times when we “fail” at a goal, we feel like a family member died even though nothing changed. Why?

The answer is that I (and you!) put a lot of energy into our goals. Sometimes we think we “own” our future and build attachment to it. How silly. Goals, in reality, have no value – if they crumble, nothing was lost because it never existed to begin with.

I became aware of this long ago, but I continued to ignore it. Now there are so many complicated future plans in my life that I can never attempt to sort them all out. The only option is to give up completely: I have declared “future bankruptcy” in the sense that I am forfeiting all my rights to my future and absolving myself of all debts to that future.

I left the keys to my imaginary mansion on the imaginary counter for the imaginary debt collectors – I’m done making imaginary payments on it.

So, I have forfeited whatever future I may have been wanting. But of course, if you read above, you’ll know that I’m not really forfeiting anything except an irrational attachment to an illusion.

This is quite a relief, actually, because much of my past was spent in the future (that sounds really complicated). I would work all day towards a goal and spend all night dreaming about it. I continually moved towards a horizon that dissolved before I arrived. In that process, I missed out on the only thing that was real: THIS.

With that baggage gone, I feel a lot better. I have no future (haha), but I have a pretty decent present.

paleBlueDot

“We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.” – Carl Sagan

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Small has no inside, big has no outside.

This ancient Chinese proverb proves itself every day. Science keeps looking for the smallest particle, and astrophysics keeps looking for the edge of the universe. With this approach, the particles will keep getting smaller and the universe will keep getting bigger.

In reality, big and small are both relative. So, how could we ever define biggest or smallest? In comparison to what? What infinitely large/small ruler are we using to measure everything and come to these assumptions? And, how do we know that this ruler is staying the same size since there is nothing else to measure it against? It all seems a bit strange, doesnʼt it?

This isnʼt just theoretical though, this proverb has real-life application. Have you ever found yourself in a state where you think you have just had the biggest problem ever, and then, a new one immediately showed up that dwarfed all the others? Big has no outside. If you are looking for the absolute biggest problem, it wonʼt be long before you find one even bigger, causing more anxiety in your life.

As another example, have you ever tried to break a theory/idea down into bite-sized chunks? Did you reach the ultimate simplicity? Or, did each piece of the puzzle turn into itʼs own (smaller) puzzle? Small has no inside. Inside each piece you will find 10 more pieces, and 10 more inside each of those.

What is the lesson here? Relax. Stop thinking. Stop trying to measure or judge your world. When you apply this proverb, you can stop looking for the extreme. You understand that it is a foolʼs errand to look for the best, worse, easiest, or hardest because they simply do not exist. You can stop making comparisons. Perhaps most importantly, you can accept the fluidity of life – that there are no limits or edges (neither inward nor outward).

Image Credit: NASA

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Everything that arises passes away

I spent last weekend in the Redwoods of Northern California. Nowhere is impermanence so obvious as in the forest. Dead branches line the pathways and new seedlings sprout up to take their place. Hillsides and paths are constantly changing. Nothing is ever the same.

I was sitting along the creek in the picture above, writing in the sand. It only took a minute for the wet sand to fill itself in and my words to dissolve. I created them. I watched them pass away. But because I knew my creation was impermanent, it didn’t bother me when I kicked in the sand and they disappeared.

The problem with impermanence is not impermanence itself, but our clinging to the idea that things should be permanent when they aren’t. If you start out with the understanding that your creations (your life, your relationship, your world) will dissolve eventually, you can enjoy them more in the moment.

Don’t look at impermanence as a negative reality which we must all accept through gritted teeth. No. Impermanence is what makes life possible. If everything stayed the same, nothing could survive. If the tide only came in, we would all drown.

In the process of ebbing and flowing, arising and passing away, is where we find the beautiful experience called life.

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If there is one thing I have learned from life (and it has been a difficult lesson), it is that you will always be unhappy until you surrender to who you really are and what you really want.

I believe that the larger part of you always has an arial view of your life’s unique journey and it is guiding you along the right path. So anything you do that conflicts with this path will send up distress signals of uneasiness, despair, depression, etc. You’ll feel these emotions the moment you act in ways that go against your truest self’s grain. This is your feedback mechanism and, I would propose, the biggest reason people experience negative feelings – they are acting out of alignment with who they know they should be.

Now, luckily, most of “you” fits inline with social structures. But there are some areas that are a little, um, off the beaten path. With those aspects of your personality, it can be hard to fight the powerful current of society and deal with the weird looks.

This is because we create social structures that are designed to make things flow smoothly. Some of these structures (like highways) work quite well. Others, however, don’t work for everyone. Certain styles of living, like going to college and getting a safe job with a 401(k), don’t suit some people. In fact, they don’t suit hardly anyone. Nevertheless, people do them in order to fit into the system. A sense of distress and unhappiness is the result – it’s telling you to STOP with the nonsense and start living your passions.

This is at once the easiest decision you’ll ever make and the most difficult thing you’ll ever do. If you’re looking for the 8-step plan for living true to yourself, I don’t have it. This is because 1) there is no exact plan – each step is revealed to you along the way, and 2) you already know how to do it. This has nothing to do with figuring out the steps, it’s about your decision to be YOU, or to quietly hide from the truth and sadly flow along with society. One option is safe and miserable, the other is risky and oh so delightful. You decide.

At the end of the day, this is your LIFE. And if you’re not doing you, who will?

Image Credit: shannon abigail simbulan.

update

I’m about half way through my experiment of delight. During the month of February, I have decided to follow my delights no matter what happens. 13 days in, it has been interesting. My views have morphed a bit; some things have fallen by the wayside and some new things have been added. If you’re interested, here are some haphazard thoughts on how delight has impacted my life so far:

I just want to love people. As I have oriented my focus around delight, the way I relate to people has changed. Now, I just want to feel and express love towards others. I discovered this while experimenting with different social responses and asking myself, “does that response make me feel delighted?” and I found that resentment, anger, and indifference all felt bad. But love and acceptance were really delightful! For this month, I have no choice but to feel love towards others. I don’t care if it makes me look stupid or inappropriate. I don’t care if they love me back. None of that matters because I have discovered that the delight is entirely within my own feelings. Loving you makes me feel great no matter what you feel in return.

But… half-assed relationships suck. While it is true that I love you, I don’t want you on the fringes of my life. I have found it to be quite difficult having people in my life who are distant, where we only talk every once in a while. Those relationships are actually less delightful than no relationship at all. We don’t know each other very well, we don’t care enough to spend time together more regularly, so what are we doing? It’s difficult (and unpleasant) to continually be “reconnecting” with the same people in a shallow way. To me, I’ve found it better to make my relationships a little more black/white, focusing on the people who really want to be in my life. There might be fewer of them, but those relationships will be so much more rewarding … This might be the biggest and most important insight so far. I have come to see my social life like a house: you’re welcome to come inside or you’re welcome to leave, but please get out of the doorway.

My novel… Yikes! I wrote about 25,000 words (1/3) of my novel and I hit a wall. It’s not that I have writer’s block. I could force myself to keep writing if needed, but the work is just totally undelightful in every way. It became a struggle to sit there and type out this novel, so for the time being, I have given it up. I don’t know what this means, but my job in February isn’t to judge my delight, just to feel it. We’ll see what happens…

Negative thoughts gotta go. This seems obvious as I write it, but negative thoughts are totally undelightful. And therefore, not acceptable during my month of delight. I’ve actually found it quite easy to say “this thought is not bringing me delight, let’s change it.” As I recognize how important delight is to me, and how much negative thinking detracts from that delight, it is pretty easy to cut it off before it gets out of control. For whatever reason, thoughts of happiness, positive outcomes, love, and self-worth lead me down a path of endless delight. But negative thoughts pour my happiness right down the drain. Forget balance, I’m just trying to tip the scales towards positivity as much as possible.

Computers are undelightful. I hate using the internet and computers for anything other than specific tasks. If I pay attention, it is never delightful to mindlessly stare at a computer screen, browsing the web or compulsively checking web stats. Yet, I love the computer when it helps me perform a task like designing an iPhone app, or sending an email, or talking to all of you. So this is another casualty of my delightful month. I’ve decided that, before I open the lid of my laptop, I must first know exactly what I plan on doing and when I expect to be finished. Then, I do the task and walk away.

Similarly, social media has been a casualty of delight. Other than Twitter, which I really enjoy for some reason, I’ve completely stopped using social media. Facebook makes me want to throw up so I simply walked away. Google+ isn’t too bad, but I don’t have any fun with it, so I’m letting it go as well. Twitter, however, is fun to me. I enjoy connecting with people on that platform, so I’m using it only for reasons of delight. But most of all, I just don’t want to connect with people digitally. I want real people in my real life. If the internet can help with that, great, but it’s only the facilitator for something much different.

Delight isn’t just hedonistic pleasure. Lest you be concerned that I’m simply seeking mindless pleasure all day long, I’ve got news for you. Delight takes many forms. For example, last week I had the inspiration to work on my taxes and it was delightful. Exercise is extremely delightful, as is doing housework or running errands. It’s funny, this focus on delight hasn’t brought me nearly as much “pleasure” as it has positive, stable, and healthy improvements that have boosted my wellbeing and productivity. This is a counterintuitive result, but I am not entirely shocked by it.

Delight can be fuzzy. Going into the experiment, I expected that I would often have a hard time identifying my delights. That has definitely been the case. Humans are terrible at predicting how pleasurable an activity might be. We might expect something to be fun and it ends up miserable. I’m not trying to overcome that fact, I just want to work within those limitations. My goal this month is not so much to be delighted all the time or predict my delights perfectly (both are impossible), but to be aware of how much delight I am experiencing in each moment and make steady improvements if I find my delight-level lacking. It’s a continual process–a habit–that is never finished.

I don’t know if that had any value to you, but it was delightful for me to write it :)