Master Your Time: 3 Tips for Managing Your Schedule as an Entrepreneur

Do you work for yourself? Want to develop a better routine for work? As an entrepreneur, mastering your time for efficiency and productivity can be simple, but it is important to discover what works best for you!         

Before I started my own nutrition practice I worked in corporate America as a banker in technology finance. I used to have weeks where I felt like no matter how many items I checked off of my to-do list, they would keep piling up and the list would get longer and longer. Some mornings I would come into work and stare at my to-do list not even knowing where to start, thus triggering bouts of high stress and anxiety.  Anyone feel me on this? Simply put, I wasn’t managing my time well.

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Fast forward to quitting my banking job and setting out on my own. One of the unexpected hurdles that came up during the first few months of working for myself was, how the heck do I manage my time? I had a million things I wanted to do. Client scheduling, sessions and follow ups. Marketing on social media, newsletters and blogs. Partnerships and community events. Corporate wellness, office hours and nutrition talks. The list goes on and on.

It took a lot of time to figure out my new routine, when to schedule clients, how to schedule clients, and even things like when my brain was most focused and efficient and also my sleep schedule. Now that I don’t work a 9 to 5 I am able to maximize hours for when my brain turns on (late afternoon and evenings) versus when to focus on more menial tasks that don’t require a lot of brain power (mornings).

I have put together my 3 tips for managing your schedule as an entrepreneur like a pro.  These have worked tremendously for me and I highly recommend trying one or all three to see how it works for you!

ESTABLISH A MORNING ROUTINE

As an ENFJ I need structure and as “the most introverted of extroverts” I also need quiet time. I understand that what might work as my routine can be very different for others, but what is important is establishing your own in the morning.  Setting a routine in the A.M. is so important for how we spend the rest of our day.  As an entrepreneur, it is likely that you will have many opportunities thrown in your direction at once, so having a daily routine can help to ground you and give you some much needed time for yourself.

I am a late riser.  My internal alarm clock is set to 8am. My boyfriend is usually up in the morning and on his way to work by then. Most days I don’t leap out of bed right away. I take some time to stretch my body laying down or I do a quick 1-2 minutes of Dr. Andrew Weil’s breathing exercise which helps to center me before starting my day.

My first stop in the morning is the kitchen. I heat up water on the stove to pour into a big 16 oz. glass with a giant squeeze of lemon.  Warm lemon water is my “coffee” and gives me energy, cleanses and alkalizes my system and gets me ready for the day. I then sit on my couch and enjoy this warm cup of goodness while I check my calendar to prep for the day and time-block for the next day (see below). I then answer any urgent emails and leave the rest for later.

Back in the kitchen I am making a smoothie for breakfast.  This work for me as it is such an easy way to get a dose of vegetables, protein and healthy fats in the morning. I take this smoothie to my desk in my home office and dive into my emails first thing. Clearing out what I can in the morning helps me feel like I can concentrate on other tasks for the rest of the day.

The last part of my morning routine is getting exercise. I usually take a 10am yoga class a couple blocks away from my house. On days that I am taking clients at MNT Studio I will take an afternoon class there. Exercise is such an important part of my routine and if not yoga or pilates I am walking around San Francisco for at least 20-30 minutes a day. 

TIME-BLOCKING

To be honest, I don’t know how I would function without time-blocking.  Never heard of it?  No problem, let me break it down for you. A big part of creating a daily routine is to block time for certain tasks.  If you are like me, and struggle to stick to a routine and find your mind wandering from one idea to another then time blocking will help balance your time.  Sometimes I even schedule a time for when I just let my mind wander! I put this down on my calendar as “do not work.” But I have to admit that structure doesn’t always rule my day, so being flexible is important as well.

Here is how it works:

Time blocking is the act of scheduling sessions of work and different tasks on a calendar. By deliberately assigning work time on your calendar, you automatically acknowledge the immutable resource of time. Here is an article I love on time blocking from Fast Company.

Some people schedule every planned task throughout the day and completely fill their calendar.  Others, like me, allow for flexibility if other things pop up. Flexibility and buffered time are part of my planning process as is the time to do the planning itself. I also find a huge benefit in time blocking tasks that require more brain power for later in the day when my brain is more turned on.  This is also why I take my clients in the afternoon and early evenings.  

I do not time block every day. When I find it most useful is on days when I don’t have clients and I am left to my own devices. Here is a sample of my Friday that helped me stay focus towards the end of the week so I can relax and take my mind off of work for the weekend.

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Also, a final note on time blocking if you plan to try it out. I would recommend figuring out a way to become productive with your work before you start time blocking your work. In order to do it well, you need to work first on time management, and honestly what I find works best with time management is cutting yourself some slack. Know how to adjust and buffer throughout the day. Don’t schedule to many tasks.  Stick to 2-3 important ones. Practice acknowledging interruptions from the self and the world and have a sense of what exceptions work and don’t work for you. 

SETTING BOUNDARIES

Deciding to limit how much I work has been key for keeping my sanity. When I first launched my business, I didn’t set boundaries on when I worked and what I did when. This eventually led to being frustrated when I found myself working on weekends and also guilt whenever I had any free time and I wasn’t working.

When I put limit on the hours I worked, this changed everything. Time-blocking my day helped me immensely with setting boundaries since they literally became tangible tasks on my calendar. Establishing a morning routine that didn’t involve me opening my computer or phone first thing was key as well.

Setting boundaries also includes setting a schedule for each week that works for you. As an entrepreneur, you have to make money in your business to survive and to keep on doing the work that you are passionate about. To me this meant taking clients when I could get them, any day of the week and any time. What I realized after the first couple of months was that this wasn’t efficient for all the other work that goes into running a business and didn’t help me maximize my time. After trial and error, I settled on taking clients only three days a week in certain time blocks and used the other two days of the week for marketing, writing, meetings or to relax over a long weekend.

As a nutritionist and wellness coach who also wants my clients to be successful, I allow for unlimited emails in my programs. In the beginning, I would reply to emails as they came through, even if I was out to dinner or after 11pm. Setting boundaries like responding within 24 hours to all emails allowed me to be more present in my life.

Take the time to play around with what works for you with setting boundaries, setting a schedule and setting up a routine. Make time to be present in your life and find balance for getting work done and spending time with yourself and those that you love. After all, if you have also left the corporate world to become an entrepreneur, isn’t that what it is all about?


Molly AllimanComment
How important is it to buy organic fruits and vegetables?

I get this question a lot, and it is one I used to ask myself whenever I went grocery shopping and would balk at the price of an organic apple being over one dollar. Therefore, I did what I always do when I don’t have the answer, I investigated and educated myself on not only how important it is to buy organic and why, but also which fruits and vegetables are more important to buy organic versus others.  I am compiling what I found here, just for you!

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In my opinion, having a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables is so important that I would rather have people eat non-organic / out of season / not local produce than not eat any at all. Especially if one dollar organic apples are not in your budget, or you live somewhere with a short growing season and long winter. Many people can’t afford to buy all organic all the time, and therefore it helps to know if it’s worth to pay extra for that apple or head of cauliflower.

The good news is that you don’t have to buy all organic produce to reduce your exposure to contamination. This list from the Environmental Working Group gives you the inside scoop on which fruits and vegetables contain the most chemicals and which ones are least contaminated so that you can make an informed choice to buy organic or not. I use it when shopping to help put some money back into my pocket.  Also, my basic rule of thumb when buying organic is to spend the money on the foods I eat the most.  For example, if you are eating berries and cucumbers every day then buy organic.   

Familiarize yourself with are these two lists:

THE DIRTY DOZEN a.k.a. the twelve most contaminated:

1.     Apples
2.     Celery
3.     Tomatoes
4.     Cucumbers
5.     Grapes
6.     Hot peppers + bell peppers
7.     Nectarines
8.     Peaches
9.     Potato
10.  Berries
11.  Collard Greens
12.  Kale + lettuce

 

THE CLEAN FIFTEEN a.k.a. the fifteen least contaminated:

1.     Asparagus
2.     Avocados
3.     Cabbage
4.     Cantaloupe
5.     Sweet Corn (be wary of GMOs and buy local)
6.     Eggplant
7.     Grapefruit
8.     Kiwi
9.     Mangoes
10.  Cauliflower
11.  Onions
12.  Papaya
13.  Pineapples
14.  Sweet peas
15.  Sweet potatoes

And what about fruits and vegetables that are not on these lists? Like bananas for example? I label bananas as peeled fruits, like mangoes, avocados and kiwis, and therefore I don’t typically buy organic.

Although one thing to think about with peeled fruits is although the thick skins may spare you from significant pesticide exposure, it is possible that large amounts of pesticides and herbicides are used on the farms from which these originate, contaminating groundwater, promoting erosion and also possibly damaging local ecosystems. To help keep contamination out of your food and the environment, it’s best to buy organic when you can. Educate yourself and make smart decisions about your food.  Your health will thank you!


Molly AllimanComment
How I Left Corporate America (and why you should too)

This is a post that I have been wanting to write forever, but first, I actually had to leave my career in banking.  To be honest, this wasn’t an overnight decision. Instead it lingered in the back of my mind for many years.  It started as a “wouldn’t it be cool” idea if I could actually build a business doing what I love – helping people eat nourishing food to improve their health.  I never thought it would be possible to turn my passion into a business.

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I worked in corporate banking for 13 years underwriting and structuring debt for technology companies in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. It was the longest “relationship” I had ever been in, and breaking up was hard to do. Because for a long period of time I loved banking. While other young girls dreamed of being veterinarians and ballerinas, at a young age I dreamed of being a business woman wearing a black suit and carrying a briefcase down Wall Street (just ask my mother about this). I didn’t make it to NYC, but climbed my way up the ladder in Los Angeles and San Francisco as a woman determined to break the glass ceiling. I loved the pay checks, I loved the bonuses, I loved the perks and I especially loved the creativity of structuring debt and proving myself to rooms full of white-haired men over and over again.   

Overtime, as with anything painted in glittery gold, the appeal of banking lost its shimmer and I began to see the cracks in the pavement as I continued down the road of my corporate career.  Three years ago I landed at a large institution, one of the biggest banks in America (by assets), and this is where my long term relationship with banking began to reach its imminent end. Compounded by my marriage that ended during my tenure here, I started to re-evaluate what it was that I truly loved about my career.  I noticed that things that were once important to me – money, status, nice clothes, expensive trips – were no longer my priority. They were no longer ME. Or maybe, I thought, just maybe this lifestyle never really was me.  It was time for a change.  It was time to become me again.

I have always been a hippie at heart. I actually hate using a hairbrush, I never really enjoyed wearing a lot of makeup, I could eat crunchy granola, beets and kale every day, and horoscopes and moon phases are pretty much my favorite things to talk about.  But my absolute favorite topic, that lights me up and will get me talking for hours, is about the power that eating whole foods has to change our health. I won’t crowd this post with my own story about my health and wellness journey, but I have seen firsthand the effects that food can have on your body and your mind. I have suffered through the negative effects of a diet based off of processed foods and have since discovered the health benefits of eating a diet of real food.

I have always “coached” family and friends on their own diets and how to make healthier choices, and people started to encourage me to make this into a career. After many years, I started to listen and then used the power of Google to find the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York.  They offer an online certification for health and wellness coaching and I knew this was the next step that I needed to take. I also started to spend most of my time on weekends writing my business plan and materials for my own practice. It took me one year to finally enroll in IIN, thanks to a huge push from a friend of mine, and then it took another six months to convince myself that I could actually do this.  I starting practicing on coworkers and friends, using my own health forms I had created and my personal knowledge I had built over 10 years of how to formulate a diet of whole foods without restrictions, calorie counting or portion control.

I started an Instagram account for fun to document the food I was eating and to share with friends. This is when things started to change. I met an amazing group of like-minded individuals who cared about the real food movement as much as I did, and for the first time in a while I felt understood by my peers.  In banking, I never felt wholly accepted or comfortable in a world dominated by men, long hours and unhealthy habits.  Whenever I brought a green smoothie into work with me in the mornings, or ate a kale salad at a group luncheon, I always received strange looks and back-handed comments disguised as jokes. Another huge reason to move on from your current career, is when you start to struggle with how to relate to your peers.

 Me in my office on my last day of work, can you see the joy radiating on my face?!

Me in my office on my last day of work, can you see the joy radiating on my face?!

One of the most important things, and what I always tell others who are trying to leave their career and start a new one, is to immerse yourself in a community of others who are currently in your dream career. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, for advice and for lunch dates to pick someone’s brain.  People who are equally passionate about what they do, will open up and share their stories and offer you amazing advice and help. I am truly thankful for everyone who has been my supporter on this journey.

Having support is one thing, but believing in yourself and that you have the ability to create something out of your passion is what is most important and key for making the leap. At first, I was so fearful of not being able to be successful in another career. I was questioned by those close to me how would I make money and support myself? I second-guessed myself for leaving what others thought was a great career. I began to question myself and self-doubt reared its ugly head for the first few months.

The I remembered what an older female colleague and mentor told me once, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” So step one, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. If you are good at what you do in your current job, imagine the possibilities in a job you love.

Step two, here is my full list of what to do before you jump:

1.     Write a business plan. Don’t make it complicated, mine was one page. You can only plan so much before you actually DO IT.

2.     Find your people – put yourself out there to meet new people who are currently doing what it is you would to do. Go to events, plan lunches, coffee dates, etc.

3.     SAVE MONEY. I would say you should put away at least six months of monthly living costs before making the leap.  If you are leaving corporate America, it is safe to assume that you are already receiving substantial paychecks to build a good nest. 

4.     Adjust your living costs. Where you save biggest are living expenses and food. I have lived alone and moved in with roommates when I left the bank, which cut my rent by one-third. Your monthly budget should consist of 50% living expenses, 30% wants, and 20% savings (of your gross income). Write down your monthly income goal for your new venture and calculate based off of this.

5.     Don’t burn bridges. Even if you are fed up with your current career, continue to treat your peers, manager and executives with respect. You never know when things will come back around.

And with that I will leave you with a quote from Mr. Steve Jobs: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you will know when you find it.”

Molly Alliman
What Processed Food Did to my Health in 4 Days

I did a little accidental experimentation over the holidays.  While traveling through Tennessee and Kentucky to visit my boyfriend’s family I was faced with the challenge of either eating a plethora of processed foods or not eating at all. Instead of choosing the latter, I chose instead to dive full on into eating a standard American breakfast, lunch and dinner of whatever was being served. I wanted to see what would happen to my body and health as a result.  It was just for four days, what harm could it really do?

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Before I tell you the surprising things that happened, let me give you a brief history of my own food choices and health journey.  

THE SHIFT TO REAL FOOD
I have been off chemically processed foods for over 10 years, eliminating them out of my diet by choice and also by necessity for my health.  Realistically it is almost impossible to cut out all processed foods from your diet, even bagged spinach and tahini are considered processed, but what I write about in this post considers food products that contain chemically processed ingredients (preservatives, sugars, etc.) that in my opinion can’t truly be called “food” as most chemically processed food is devoid of any nutrients.

I had my gallbladder removed 10 years ago as a culmination of many health issues including IBS, candida, weight gain, chronic yeast and bladder infections, digestion pain so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed unless I was going to the toilet, migraines, recurring bronchitis and upper respiratory infections, inflammation and the list goes on. I commonly referred to myself as a lemon. I worked long hours in my banking job, all I wanted to do was excel and achieve success. As a result, I gained 20 pounds and got really sick. After hitting dead ends with conventional western doctors and taking medications that caused other symptoms that were often worse, I tried whole food nutrition as medicine.  No doctor ever asked me what I was eating, and so I knew I needed to take matters into my own hands with what I ate.

I used to live off of processed food like frozen burritos and Stouffer’s mac and cheese, so eating real ingredient food was both challenging and confusing at the same time.  It took practice.  I had gotten so used to eating what everyone else around me was eating that I lost control of my body. I used to be convinced that calories were king. Instead, I taught myself how to read the ingredients on labels. I learned how to cook. How to pay attention to what my body was telling me.  What happened changed my life. All my ailments simply vanished and I was able to maintain my weight by changing my diet and eating real food with no chemically processed ingredients. Not only that but my skin, energy, sleep, mental clarity and mood all improved beyond what I expected. I remember at first being addicted to the energy that good food gave me, almost like a runner’s high.

Not only did real and whole foods rid me of all my symptoms and made me feel alive and well again, but they tasted better. I found that I was fuller faster and fuller longer when eating nutrient rich food, which I truly believe is the key to weight loss and good health.

WHAT I ATE
Ok, back to processed foods. Here is a short list of common processed ingredients found in what I ate over the holidays as well as pantry staples including salad dressing, bacon, maple syrup, jam, peanut butter, bread, and because we are in the South, Pillsbury biscuits.

-       High fructose corn syrup

-       Caramel color

-       Mono and Diglycerides

-       Calcium propionate

-       Sorbic acid

-       Sucralose

-       Sodium Benzoate

-       Calcium Disodium EDTA

-       Maltodextrin

-       Glycerin

-       Nitrates

-       Hydrogenated vegetable oils

-       Cellulose gum

-       Hydrolyzed corn protein

-       Modified food starch

This list may have been longer, considering I didn’t have access to all the ingredients/labels of food I ate, or knowledge of how food was prepared in restaurants (I ditched my usually MO of questions for waiters prior to ordering, this is not something that is probably customary at a Waffle House).

From December 23rd to December 26th I dove in to my old diet, it was kind of like visiting an old friend.  Or maybe better described as a toxic ex-boyfriend who took me years to break up from because I was convinced I loved him. That is until I knew what love and self-respect really was in finding real food. But I digress. And I have to admit it was hard to shake current healthy food habits. Trying to pick the “healthiest” of unhealthy options was thrown out the window.  Instead, I went back to habits of eating what everyone else was eating during family brunches, dinners and restaurant outings. I will also caveat that I didn’t drink alcohol during this period. Also, due to unseasonably cold weather and long driving distances, these four days were largely sedentary. So what happened was a result of not only eating standard American processed food, but also being sedentary with no exercise and hardly any walking. It really went like this: Bed – car – relative’s house – couch – car – relative’s house – car – couch – bed. Repeat.

WHAT HAPPENED
What happened as a result was both surprising as well as expected.  Again, the toxic ex-boyfriend. Surprised by his actions but also expected given past experiences. Here is a list of my symptoms over the course of four days:

-       Bloating and gas. I will say, that I am not free of either of these symptoms with my current diet, as gas is natural as we pass certain foods through our digestive systems, but this was different. The gas was unreal and smelled horrendous.  My poor boyfriend, I had to step out of the room a few times it was so bad. I mean, I am not calling myself a saint or saying I have the perfect digestive system and I poop roses. But I will say I haven’t smelt gas like this before from my body. I was shocked.

-       Interrupted sleep. Not only did I find it hard to go to sleep, but also waking up again and again during the night.

-       Anxiety. The feeling of wanting to crawl out of my own skin.  This could have been the result of not exercising, but I cannot remember the last time I experienced heightened anxiousness for no apparent reason. I mean, I was on vacation and relaxing!

-       Bad breath. Morning breath was in full force and by the afternoon I had dry mouth and a bitter taste.

-       Shift in cravings. The more I ate, the more I wanted. I became a bottomless pit and surprised myself by how much food I could take down in one sitting.

-       Cellulite. This is something I battled endlessly when I ate a diet of processed foods. It took years for it to clear up and for me to be confident in wearing shorts and bathing suits. But in less than a week it all came back.

-       Weight Gain.  I gained four pounds (note: I weighed myself at the beginning and at the end of our 2-week trip). Imagine if I kept on going. By my calculations I would gain just over 100 pounds in one year. And that is just weight.  What else would happen to my health? Would all of my ailments come back and more? I kept thinking of Fast Food nation and his doctor advising him to stop or he would die. (If you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend it).

In 2017, it was reported that Americans are the fattest we have ever been. It makes sense, as most Americans live a sedentary life of bed – car – office – car – couch – bed and eat a diet of processed foods. Can we point the finger at ourselves or directly back at the food companies and our government? The majority of products (I have read this number is over 80%) on grocery store shelves, and the list above, come from one of two sources, corn and soy crops, both subsidized by our government and used to make junk food chemicals that serve no nutritional purpose for the body but to sell food faster and cheaper.

Today, I wouldn’t be where I was unless I found real food.  I encourage you all to ask yourself the very important question of what is in your food? By eliminating chemically processed foods from my diet I was able to maintain my weight, get off of prescription drugs and all my health ailments vanished.

Ask yourself the question, will this food give me nutrition or deficiency? Set out on your own mission of exploration. What is in your food and how can you live the healthiest life possible? In my opinion, eating well is the highest form of self-respect.  Well, that and leaving your toxic boyfriend or girlfriend behind ;)


Molly Alliman
10 Holistic Cold and Flu Remedies for Immunity this Winter

We all know the telltale signs - a tickle in the back of your throat, the dull headache and the body aches.  This is how a bad cold or flu usually starts but the good news is that there always time to nip it in the bud before it completely sets in.  Here are my tried and true remedies for staying healthy through the winter and kicking sickness in the booty. 

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I wrote up this protocol recently for a few of my clients who had been asking me how to stay healthy and to not get sick this winter. These are remedies that I follow myself to build up my immune system during cold and flu season by eating nutrient dense foods and sticking to these steps below I am usually able to keep myself from getting sick or shorten the duration of whatever bug I can't help but catch. P.S. if you are doing air travel for the holidays, this is a great protocol to follow as well, even if you aren't feeling sick.  

1) Drink Green Juices (without fruit), I like ones with celery and cucumber base plus any other greens, kale, spinach, romaine, dandelion greens, parsley, lemon or lime. Best on an empty stomach. The one pictured above has a healthy dose of ginger.  Ginger (and garlic too) have strong anti-bacterial properties, and if you can stomach it, a ginger shot works wonders too. 

2) Eliminate sugar, processed white flour and dairy.  The first two will lower your immune system response and dairy can add to mucus production and also cause sinus infections. 

3) Up your dose of Vitamin C and use vitamin C powder (absorbic acid) at onset take 1/2 teaspoon in water every 30 minutes until symptoms subside. 

4) Bone Broth.  Buy from a local butcher if you can, or I like bonafide in the freezer section of whole foods, beef or chicken.  Sip this in the AM first thing waking up (8 oz.) and before you go to bed (8 oz.) This helps build immunity and gelatin coats your intestines to help with absorption of nutrients from those green juices ;) The more nutrient rich your diet is, the less likely you are to get the cold or flu. 

5) Book an acupuncture appointment. I always recommend this right when you feel like you are getting sick. Adam Wiscomb in the financial district is amazing and works wonders.  I always see him when I am coming down with something and it works like a charm every time.  Tell him that I sent you :) You can book through his website. 

6) SLEEP! Get 8-10 hours of sleep and go to bed early.  Sleep is necessary for repair, recovery and fighting off infections. 

7) Frankincense essential oil. Two drops on your tongue at the first sign of a cold can be enough to nip in the bud.

8) FOOD! Ginger, garlic, onions, radishes, (all have anti-bacterial properties) turmeric (anti-inflammatory), chicken and lamb (contain selenium and zinc needed for immune function).

9) Sinus Rinse. Grab a Neil-Med or a Netti-pot and get to flushing! Most colds start with the build up of mucus and infection in your nose and throat. Flushing in the morning with warm water and salt is so helpful in keeping infections away. 

10) WATER! While following my anti-cold and flu remedies above, what is most important is to drink tons of water. I am talking enough to make you go to the bathroom every one to two hours. Water will help flush the system and being hydrated is major in fighting the flu virus or infections. 


Molly Alliman
Lazy Sunday: Lentil and Vegetable Soup

One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday in the winter is to put on some good jams and make soup to relax with on the couch afterward and watch a good movie.  Slow Sundays at their finest. This soup was so ridiculously easy to make, I am definitely throwing it into my list of go-to recipes. Tis the season for baked goods and spiked beverages and was craving all the nutrient replenishment today. To make it easy on digestion I skipped any grains and went straight for the sweet potatoes for starch nutrient rich lentils for protein and some grass-fed butter (or olive oil) for healthy fats.  Kale, carrots and celery were added for vegetables and turmeric for anti-inflammatory goodness. 

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If you haven't felt it yet, the holidays are most certainly in the air. We have been a bit confused in San Francisco as of late, with the California sun bringing warm temperatures above 60 degrees well into December. I am definitely not complaining but there is something nice about bundling up and going for evening strolls to look at all the lights.  Last night was actually our first Christmas party we had been to this year (hello homemade apple cider and chocolate crinkle cookies) and tonight we are rolling to a Scandinavian Christmas dinner at Plaj Restaurant with a group of friends to get festive.  I still cannot believe that Christmas is a week away. This girl is usually deep into soup making by now. Thankfully it has cooled a bit to the 50s and I am stocking up on broth and diving into my favorite cookbooks for recipes.  

This recipe is adapted from Sprouted Kitchen's Everyday Lentil Soup with a few tweaks of my own. I took the garlic and onions out as my stomach no me gusta, switched up some spices and added more liquid so that it was more of a soup than a stew. I also played around with some toppings that I though paired nicely with this bowl of goodness (you guessed it, my favorite sheep's milk yogurt). Here is the recipe so that you can play around with my version and enjoy it this week before diving into your family holiday traditions. 

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INGREDIENTS:
4 cups chicken or veggie broth (I used Bonafide Provisions Chicken Broth)
2 cups filtered water
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled
1 medium white sweet potato, peeled
2 stalks of celery
1/4 teaspoon each of garlic powder, dried oregano, dried parsley and dried thyme (1 tsp. Italian herbs)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, to taste
1/2 cup green lentils
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 tsp. turmeric
2 Tbsp. unsalted garss-fed butter (I used Kerrygold) or olive oil for vegan
3 cups roughly chopped curly kale

2 Tbsp. chopped parsley, for garnish
1/2 grated manchego cheese or 2 scoops sheep milk yogurt (can be made vegan using a dairy-free yogurt)
Jilz Crackerz for soup dipping

METHOD:
Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven until warm.  Add in the celery, carrots and sweet potato, sauté for 5 minutes.  Add in all the spices except for the turmeric. Give another stir or two.  Add in the lentils, the broth and water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover to cook for 25 to 30 minutes until the lentils cook down.  Remove from heat and pulse half of the soup in a blender.  Pour back into the rest of the soup in the dutch oven. Stir in the kale, the butter or oil and the turmeric until the kale wilts and the butter melts. Add more water if needed to thin out. Divide into bowl and serve with grated cheese or yogurt topping with parsley for garnish.  ENJOY!

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Molly Alliman
Mexico City Food Guide

For a giant, sprawling city of almost 9 million people where the most popular dish is the tacos del pastor, made from thinly sliced slow-roasted pork layered atop a fresh tortilla that can be found at just about every street taco stand, there is also a plethora of healthy options that proudly stand out and are made with fresh ingredients and local flavor.  That’s not to say that I didn’t venture off the beaten path to imbibe with the locals, standing on sidewalks in questionable neighborhoods while eating the best tacos I have ever had with juices dripping down my hands while fervently wiping what I could with my single napkin.

 I loved how walkable the city was. We did a "choose your own adventure" style of traveling by picking a neighborhood for the day and turning down streets when something caught our eye.

I loved how walkable the city was. We did a "choose your own adventure" style of traveling by picking a neighborhood for the day and turning down streets when something caught our eye.

Let’s not forget that Mexico City recently suffered a major earthquake less than two months ago on the anniversary of the largest one that rocked the city in 1985. Described in this article, by an expat resident whose home split into two in the neighborhood Roma Norte next to where we stayed, as “a dreaded vertical bucking.” Everywhere we walked, rubble was still being cleared and structures rebuilt.  Often times though, you could forget that an earthquake recently ripped through the city, as we were met everywhere we went with resilient smiles and kindness.

While wandering through the city on our second day, we stumbled upon a pop-up open air locals market. Walking through and eyeing all the wares for sale, I also eyed one of the shopkeepers sipping on a green juice.  My heart lept.  I immediately asked in broken Spanish where it was from. Instead of just pointing in the general direction, he left his stall and walked us not only to the right place but put in my order for me complete with a jovial handshake and smile.

This trip was literally all about smiles and even more about saying YES than saying no. I have included a mix of taco joints, healthy joints, bakeries, coffee spots and street food. I thought it would be easier to divide by the neighborhoods we spent most of our time in and elsewhere.

 Condesa neighborhood where we stayed

Condesa neighborhood where we stayed

Condesa
Despite being one of the largest cities in the world, we found Mexico City both charming and manageable. This was largely due to where we stayed in the bohemian district of La Condesa, a fashionable area with tree-lined streets with center walkways and a smattering of cute restaurants, cafes and boutiques. This is where our Airbnb was and we loved the proximity to the rest of the city. Here were my favorite spots:

El Califa – definitely a locals spot, but always packed and buzzing. There extensive taco menu is amazing but we went straight for the pastor tacos as well as another local specialty,   with sides of guacamole and grilled nopales (all about eating fresh cactus on this trip).  There are many locations throughout the city, and late night hours for those adjusting to a time change like we were.

The Green Corner – a little hippie haven in the middle of Condesa.  This place doubles as a store where you can pick up produce, snack bars, protein powders and really anything you’d find at a tiny health food store here in the Haight. Perfect to pick up snacks for the plane ride home. The restaurant itself is super casual.  Most of the patrons sat outside with laptops sipping green juices, eating chia seed pudding bowls or Mexican brunch made with fresh and healthy ingredients. I came here twice for the coconut chia pudding bowl.  Made each time with different fruit and crunchy toppings.

 The coconut chia pudding bowl at The Green Corner with pineapple, pecans, shredded coconut and maple syrup

The coconut chia pudding bowl at The Green Corner with pineapple, pecans, shredded coconut and maple syrup

Mia Dominecca – a fancy joint with fresh and creative dishes with veggie forward dishes in a city where meat reigns.  The mackerel crudo was a definite standout.

Blend Station – a super hipster coffee joint serving up toasts and breakfast sandwiches.  Loved the vibe and everything is made in house including the bread and also english muffins.  They have salads too but I would recommend the pork belly breakfast sandwich or the vegetarian with refried beans and a perfectly fried egg.

Lardo – my favorite spot. Came here twice as well and only a few blocks from our pad.  Serves one of the best matcha lattes I have ever had (David said the regular latte was muy Bueno tambien). They are known for their fresh baked breads and pastries.  We got a guava and cream pastry, the vegan strawberry and quinoa muffin, the green chilaquiles with fresh mozzarella and poached egg and the croquet madame which was insane.

 The bright and airy ambience of Lardo made you want to relax there all day long. 

The bright and airy ambience of Lardo made you want to relax there all day long. 

Roma
This neighborhood sits next to Condesa, a similarly arty enclave, but with more of a hipster vibe. There is Roma Norte and Roma Sur.

La Zumeria  - the green juice, green smoothie and smoothie bowl menu here is what dreams are made of… errr, at least for the smoothie obsessed like me. I got the Mexi green juice made without fruit, but with the sweet addition of calabaza squash. I also got a green smoothie, I forget the name but I asked for the one that was the greenest.  It was crazy creamy and delicious. Go here!

 Getting all the greens at Zumeria Raw Juice Bar

Getting all the greens at Zumeria Raw Juice Bar

Cicatriz – This might be my other favorite place, and according to David the best coffee. The service was slow but the space is beautiful and the food was perfect. Avocado toast on thick slices of fresh bread layed with radish, olive oil and sea salt. Coconut yogurt bowl with house made granola and an artful display of bananas.  Best part, they are a vegan bakery.  I got the carrot, ginger and chia seed break to go. WOWZA.

 Vegan baked goods selection at Cicatriz

Vegan baked goods selection at Cicatriz

Hotel Casa Awolly – if anything, points for creativity. This place serves me a green juice cocktail in a glass contraption. Pork ribs served in bone marrow and amazing ceviche with the freshest green marinade complete with avocado and cilantro. Loved sitting here in the afternoon and getting the royal treatment. The space itself is beautiful and totally Instagram worthy.

 The prettiest green cocktail I have ever seen or tasted at Hotel Casa Awolly

The prettiest green cocktail I have ever seen or tasted at Hotel Casa Awolly

Elsewhere
Panaderia Rosetta and Café Nin next door – Best baked goods in the city. Hands down. Sit at the counter, order a matcha latte and point to whichever sweet treat suites your fancy when they bring the basket of goods around.  We had a cinnamon roll and some version of a morning bun that was to die for.

Markets – Mercado San Juan and Mercado Merced
A word of advice, hire a guide if you are going to either of these.  Mercado Merced is massive and not in the best area.  We tried to go on our own and overwhelming is an understatement. We got really lost along the rows and rows of the chaos and people, only finding the flower market and the shoe market and completely missing the food market.  Doh! Should have played tourist and hired a guide.

 Outside the Mercado San Juan

Outside the Mercado San Juan

Mercado Roma – go here. Wander around this little hipster market filled with food counters from some of Mexico City’s most popular restaurants and cafes. The tamale de queso con rajas tacos from Azul Antojo are mind blowing.

Street tacos – look for the ones that have stools, people sitting down eating and where you can see the tortillas being made.  If you are wary of the meat, go for the fresh refried beans.  They are fantastic.  At some places the guacamole is free, including the one I went to in El Centro, the address was 20 Calle Ramon Corona. Stumbled here on accident when trying to make our way to the market.  It was the large tub of fresh homemade guacamole that caught my eye. Also the guac was FREE. 

 Legit street tacos with chunky, perfect and free guacamole

Legit street tacos with chunky, perfect and free guacamole

Quintonol and Pujol – the highest rated restaurants in Mexico City.  Grab a reservation months in advance, put on your fanciest thangs and ENJOY!!

So are you convinced yet to go to Mexico City??! It’s amazing. We could have easily stayed for another 5 days and continued to eat our way through this beautiful and historical city. But alas, planning the next visit and trying to get my taco fix where I can here in San Francisco.

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Molly Alliman
FODMAP Friendly Snacks for IBS + SIBO Diet

I get asked a lot by my clients, who I work with on a Low FODMAP diet for managing symptoms of IBS and SIBO, about what snacks they can eat. Being on a restrictive diet can seem daunting and also very limiting, but I assure you that your taste buds can be happy campers and your health will thrive on the low FODMAP diet. 

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So you might also be asking, what the heck is a FODMAP?! FODMAPS is an acronym for: Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, and Monosaccharides And Polyols.  Still confused?  The common thread are short-chain carbohydrates that attract water and don't absorb well in your small intestine, instead heading to your colon, where bacteria have a field day quickly fermenting them. Symptoms of FODMAP intolerance include burping, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and flatulence: very similar to what occurs with IBS. A research team at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, created the low-FODMAP diet, which eliminates frequent food offenders that contribute to or exacerbate IBS and other gut problems. 

What the FODMAP diet does contain are processed sugars and flours, which if you are committed to eating only whole and natural ingredients can pose a challenge.  Which is why I am here to help! You can snack and eat your way through the FODMAP diet knowing you are getting the most nutrition dense foods for proper energy and satiation. 

Alright, let's get down to the goods. Here are some scrumptious snacks to satisfy your hunger between meals. Links provided for brands that I like and are low FODMAP friendly. 

- Celery sticks with sunflower seed butter (TJs has an excellent unsweetened one and I also like Sunbutter)

- Peeled and sliced cucumbers or these crackers dipped in kite hill chive cream cheese 

- Cooked sweet potato peeled + sliced into rounds, topped or dipped in smooshed avocado (1/8 avocado is recommended for low FODMAP, but can increased based on reintroduction testing)

- Blanched asparagus or melon (after testing) wrapped in prosciutto, I like this brand 

- A hard boiled egg or two, the easiest snack!

- A smoothie! I recommend a mix of almond milk, frozen berries (not blackberries), spinach, zucchini, avocado and hemp/flax/chia seeds. I also like  this one which is fruit free! 

- Brown rice cakes with nut or seed butter and 1/2 banana or sliced strawberries

- Lactose free yogurt with berries - I like kite hill yogurt and green valley lactose free yogurt

- GoMacro Peanut Butter Bar (Protein Replenishment in blue packaging). 

I work with clients who have IBS and offer a 30-day program to help eliminate, reintroduce and maintain.  These snacks are safe for the Maintenance part of a lowFODMAP diet. If you would like to work with me to help manage and eliminate IBS contact me by clicking HERE. 

REMEMBER: Each person's triggers are unique, so we work together to assess your tolerance to certain ingredients or products. 


Molly Alliman
10 Daily Detox Rituals to Incorporate into Your Life

The most common question I get from those who have completed my 10-Day Balance Cleanse is how can they continue to feel great? What are some daily detox rituals that can be incorporated into their daily life? Good news - I am here to answer both of these questions with my list of 10 Daily Detox Rituals that are easy to add into your routine. 

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Although I practice detoxification every six months by doing my cleanse, I also incorporate these every day practices.  Maintaining a healthy weight, clear skin, good digestion, increased energy, mental focus and a balanced and happy mood can be managed through diet and taking care of your body every day.  There is no quick fix to health, it is a practice of daily rituals and habits for improved health to last a lifetime. Your kidneys and liver are doing the work eveyr day to detoxify your body, and these daily rituals will help to get the job done right. You don't have to incorporate all ten, but just start with one or two of the rituals below and see how these makes you feel. 

10 DAILY DETOX RITUALS

1. Drink warm lemon water
Drinking a glass of hot or warm lemon water first thing in the morning upon waking will help to flush the digestive system and rehydrate your body. 
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Adding this wonder tonic to your water prior to eating meals (just 1-2 teaspoons) will help with digestion and the breakdown of food.  ACV also alkalizes your body, helps to break up mucus and cleanses the lymph nodes. 
3. Drink Cleansing Teas
Dandelion, licorice, slippery elm, chamomile and ginger teas all aid in detoxification. 
4. Eat More Fiber
Eating foods that are high in fiber - vegetables, flax seeds, oatmeal, berries, beans and nuts for example - help to keep you regular. 
5. Sweat, Sauna + Hot Yoga
Sweating is one of the best ways to release toxins.  If you have never tried an infrared sauna, I highly recommend them! Infrared saunas assist in removing heavy metal toxins stored in fat tissues.
6. Dry Skin Brushing
You can buy a dry skin brush (sounds weird I know, but it's actually awesome) on Amazon or at Whole Foods.  Dry skin brushing activates the lymphatic system, stimulates blood circulation, and enhances toxin elimination through our body’s largest organ — the skin! The act of dry skin brushing is really great for beating dry skin during winter month's too.
7. Tongue Scraping
Cleans the tongue of accumulated bacteria and debris from the night before.  This is an Ayurvedic practice that is excellent for everyday detoxing. 
8. Hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy is the practice of alternating between hot and cold water in the shower - 2 minutes warm and then 30 seconds cold. This decreases inflammation, removes wastes from tissues, and stimulates circulation.
9. Epsom Salt Bath
Draws out toxins, eases stress, improves sleep.  Feels amazing after working out when your muscles are sore.
10. Eat Vegetables with every meal. 
Incorporating vegetables with every meal is the most efficient way to keep energy up, digestion working, weight off and glowing skin.  For example, sneak vegetables into your breakfast in a smoothie or with spinach in your eggs. 
 


Molly Alliman
MNT STUDIO | #MNT10 Challenge

Earlier this month I participated in the #MNT10 Challenge at MNT STUDIO. Tasked with completing 10 workout classes in 14 days I knew I had my work cut out for me.  The instructors here don't mess around and are expertly trained to kick you in the tush, leaving you sore but wanting more the next day.  As their resident wellness coach, I was also hosting a 10-day cleanse to compliment the challenge.  So the pressure was on! 

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I met Elaine Hayes, owner of MNT STUDIO, through a mutual friend and instructor at her beautiful pilates and barre studio in the SOMA district of San Francisco. She was looking for a new Health and Wellness Coach to join the team and bridge the gap between exercise and nutrition, offering my health coaching services to studio members. I immediately said yes, and the fact that Elaine is an incredible person + bad ass female entrepreneur who has built her business from the ground up made my decision even easier. I mean look at how gorgeous this place is! 

Fast forward to present day.  I left my corporate banking job behind me and traded in my business suit for pilates socks. Conversations about debt repayment became conversations about nutrition and health. Right away we knew that creating a Fitness and Nutrition Challenge was a must! Thus the #MNT10 Challenge was born, combining 10 days of fitness classes at the studio with my 10 day detox. I participated in both and enjoyed every day of it. Trish, Hande, Gabby, Emily and Carlie reminded me what it was like to WORK HARD for the body you really want. All instructors are expertly trained to to lead you through 50-minute work outs that target all the right spots. 

Doing my detox with the group and cleansing again felt oh so good - two cleanse smoothies a day and lunch and dinner made with whole grains, veggies, fruit, nuts and organic meats. By Day 5 and after four classes I was feeling amazing! By Day 14 I noticed that my booty was more lifted and abs, arms and legs more toned. I had amazing energy and was sleeping so well. One participant who did both my cleanse and the #MNT10 Challenge lost 8 pounds, and another lost an inch off of her waist and thighs! 

I always tell my clients about the 70/30 rule - weight loss and good health is a combination of 70% nutrition and 30% exercise.  These 14 days for the challenge truly reminded me to practice what I preach! I feel incredible going into the holidays this year and my pilates addiction continues at my favorite studio. 


Molly Alliman