About Lenny Variano

About Myself: Lenny Variano I am a certified Holistic Health Counselor, a member of The Association of Drugless Practitioners and a graduate of The Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Martial Arts has been a big part of my life for almost 30 years. I believe strongly in the fact that everyone is an individual and that all of our bodies operate differently. Developing a strong mental attitude (through meditation and exercise) a strong spirituality (by caring for all that surrounds you) and a healthy body (through proper diet) are key to complete nutrition. Coaching clients to explore, accept and prepare intelligent food choices is my passion.

A City that is Buzzing…

There is a movement in Los Angeles to encourage beekeeping in small backyard Bee Hivegardens. The city council has passed an amendment to allow residents to pursue keeping their own hives in an attempt to counteract the dramatic die-off of the honeybee populations. A quarter of the bee population has been lost in the past year by U.S. beekeepers. City bees do better in backyard gardens due to the lack of pesticides and a great variety of plant species. Great news is that this movement is starting to spread nationwide.

Tripping your way through Cancer…

Two studies, one done at New York University and the other at John Hopkins University were conducted on the effects of psilocybin (an hallucinogenic derived from mushrooms) Psilocybinand the therapeutic benefits in treating cancer patients. The results were published in The Journal of Psychopharmacology. Cancer-related psychological distress afflicts about 40% of cancer patients who found traditional therapy unsuccessful. Fear of the cancer returning after being told they are either cured or in remission prevents former patients from getting on and enjoying life. Administrating psilocybin is usually accompanied by a playlist of selected music which is believed to enhance the positive effects of the drug. Experiments have shown that relief from anxiety and depression are within the next day in contrast with antidepressants which take several weeks to take effect. This is vital since these patients need help immediately. The theory is that psilocybin interrupts the circuitry of self-absorbed thinking. At present trials are underway in the U.S. and Europe to treat forms of alcoholism, tobacco addiction and PTSD in this manner.

Bugs in our Food…

Where do we get the rich red color that makes up some of the food we eat daily? Few people realize that it is derived from pulverized insects. Extract of the cochineal bug, a Cochineal Bugscaly insect, has been used for centuries as a colorant. It is what gives color to berry flavored yogurt, some juices, imitation crab meat and even lipstick. It was discarded in the 19th century when scientists started using synthetic substitutes. Its resurgence is the result of consumers demanding the use of “natural” ingredients. The FDA has given its seal of approval on the use of this colorant. In places like Ghana, Papua New Guinea, and Bali, termites, dragonflies and beetle larvae are a big part of their diet regiment. In the west, we have more of a psychological problem with the use of bugs in our food.  But the up side is –no known side effects!

Use Real Sugar…

maple tree syrupMany look to synthetic sugars as a way of decreasing the amount of calories they consume. However, short as well as long studies have proven that children as well as adults show significant weight gain by using synthetic sugars. It stems from the fact that only part of the brain is stimulated by synthetic sugars and the reward centers are left with a craving for the energy which would usually accompany using real sugar. The enhanced appetite brought on by sweetness is encouraged by synthetic sugars which only increase sugar cravings and dependence. So go ahead and use a teaspoon of honey or maple sugar and enjoy nature instead of something that has been chemically altered.

Dancing and Our Neurological Pathways…

Processing speed, the measure of how our brains absorb and respond to information, seems to be especially hard hit as we age. The fraying of whitewestern dancing matter, the specialized cells of the brain that communicate messages between neurons, are greatly affected after age 40. A study conducted at the University of Illinois and published in “the Frontiers of Aging Neuroscience” showed a difference in brain scans of older, healthy yet sedentary adults before and after they had incorporated dancing into their lifestyle.  Participants were divided into three groups. One group was assigned brisk walking, another stretching and balance training and the final group  intricate choreography in country dancing. After six months, the three groups were retested and the group that was assigned to learn new dancing techniques had a remarkable increase in the density of the white matter. It seems that the choreography, which involved fluid lines and squares along with continually changing partners was responsible for the increase in processing speed. New activities that include movement and socializing seem to be the key in retaining mental acuity.

How to Lose 20 lbs. in 20 days…

20 days diet booksIs there a way to lose that amount of weight in less than 3 weeks?  There are over 20,000 diet books in print and some of them have even gone to 2nd and 3rd editions.   What I decided to do is present some of the more out of the ordinary methods that I found unbelievable and even a little amusing.  I do not recommend any of these but want to expose you to what extremes people are tempted to try in order to lose weight quickly. I believe, as you know, following a slow, sensible, healthy weight loss program is20 pounds baby food the best choice and in the long run, sustainable. Let’s begin with the “Wine, Eggs and Black Coffee Diet” consisting of wine, coffee, eggs and an occasional steak thrown in. “The Baby Food Diet”, also known as the diet of the stars, consists of carrying around a supply of baby food and eating all your meals and snacks out of little jars as long as you don’t exceed 14 for the day. There is the ever appealing “Cookie Diet” which consists of specially made meal replacement cookies, six throughout the day, 20 werewolfwhich brings you up to a grand total of 500 calories and then allows you 300 more calories for dinner. Of course, this is not to be confused with the “Twinkie Diet” which does not need an explanation. Next is the Hormone “hCG Diet” which consists of injecting urine from pregnant women into your body. You are allowed an additional 500 calories for the day but would you really feel like eating?  I wanted to end with the “Werewolf Diet” a diet of fasting and drinking water but only during a full moon, “Sleeping Beauty Diet” which involves taking sedatives to make you sleep more so there is less time to eat and take a deep breath “The Tapeworm Diet”.  Yes you ingest a tapeworm and it eats instead of you. Of course, they all guarantee weight loss but no mention of how fast it returns after you stop the programs. Learning how to eat properly and how your body reacts to certain foods is a slow but effective process. Once you are aware of what makes your body energized and what causes it to operate at full capacity there will be no need for any restrictions.  And one more “The Cabbage Soup Diet” if besides losing weight you are interested in losing friends as well. (gas for days!)

Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing…

Real_ authenticWhat you see is what you get! We have heard that statement many times but what  does it mean to be real. Do most of us try to fit in and adjust to present company? How many of us walk into a room and care what people are thinking? Do we realize what a strain caring about what people think can place on oneself both mentally and physically, just because we are trying to live up to a certain image or ideal. Some say to be real is to be authentic. But you can hear the word authentic being thrown around so much that we even see it written on a bag of potato chips. Is being real more about how your core self is reflected in what you say and do? Psychologists sayreal_challengers that being real is accepting both your strengths and weaknesses and not feeling you have to hide them from the world around you. People who are real or genuine seem to feel better about themselves and often show great resilience when they are faced with challenges. Just because someone “tells it like it is” does not mean they are being real. It is not about being accusatory or shaming someone because one may feel they are being honest. Authentic is not about real_friendshipbeing obnoxious. True authenticity is more about how we feel deep inside and not how we feel about other people. Giving another person a chance to slowly expose their inner real self instead of prejudging them can lead to a long-lasting relationship. Taking a moment to breath and reflecting on what we are about to say and do can be a more fulfilling way of connecting with our inner self as well as with others. Kurt Vonnegut the famous author once said: “Practice any art–music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage- no matter how well or badly, not for money or fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what is inside you, to make your soul grow.” 

Butternut Squash, Red Kidney & Lima Beans with Quinoa…

Butternut Squash, red kinney, Lima
 
Ingredients:

-1 large onion
-2 tablespoons canola oil
-1 tablespoon coconut oil
-7 oz. can of tomato sauce
-1 cup vegetable broth
-1 teaspoon of pepper flakes
-1 tablespoon of dried basil
-1 tablespoon dried parsley
-1 small sweet potato
-2 cups frozen butternut squash chunks
-1 package lima beans
-½ cup quinoa
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-½ cup raisins

Directions:

-Saute’ chopped onion in canola and coconut oil until light brown                                 -Add tomato sauce, broth, spices let simmer for 8 minutes                                            -Add red kidney beans, frozen butternut squash, lima beans –cover and with low flame mix every so often until all ingredients become hot                                                           -Add steamed sweet potato and mix

At the same time:
-Cut sweet potato in small cubes and steam separately
-In a small pot cook quinoa 17 min. (when done add olive oil and raisins, mix, cover and set on the side. Raisins will become plump.
(Serve with side of quinoa mixture)

 

Re-arming a Jellyfish…

Jelly fishMany invertebrates such as salamanders and starfish can regrow a body part if one is lost. This was also believed of jellyfish until experiments proved otherwise. Being symmetrical is a crucial characteristic of a moon jellyfish which is a necessity for movement and feeding. When two of the eight arms were removed from the jellyfish it did not proceed to regrow them. Instead it used its muscles to push and pull the remaining arms until they were once again evenly spaced. This new scientific phenomenon has been termed Symmetrization and it is how a jellyfish is able to heal itself.

Why we Love Cheese…

Americans have an incredible love of cheese. In fact, many European countries also Cheeseinclude cheese as part of their daily diet. Researchers are suggesting that It may be that cheese contains a tiny bit of an addictive substance. Casein is a concentrated milk protein, which occurs during cheese making and converts to a morphine-like chemical called beta-casomorphine 7 after digestion. Interestingly enough the chemical that is produced naturally seems to encourage calves as well as human babies to crave milk so they are more likely to nurse. In cheese the level of casomorphine is more concentrated which is why the addictive effect may be greater