Jim here... As I may have mentioned a while ago, I joined a gym recently. I figured, with Wendi and Bailey living on the other side of the country, I might as well find something healthy to do with my alone time until I'm able to join them soon (aside from my seemingly never-ending quest to rid our household of 13 years of rampant accumulation). I joined on a whim, actually. There's a gym near my home called Planet Fitness. Honestly, I have no idea how they make money. A membership costs just $10/month -- and it's a Wal-Mart-sized place, too, absolutely packed with state of the art machines. (Actually, it's a franchise, so there could very well be one near you.)

In any case, it had been a while since I'd been inside an actual gym. I've certainly remained relatively active, of course. But being in a gym is a little different -- and certainly has its plusses and minuses. On the minus side, I've always kind of felt that, if you add up all of the time it generally takes to get (1) get ready to go to a gym, (2) drive there, and (3) drive home -- say, a half-hour, total, for those things -- then you could probably better invest that time in just going for a run for a half-hour, leaving straight from your home. From a time management standpoint, I'm not crazy about gym memberships (meaning not that physical exercise isn't worth the investment of time, but rather that there are ways to accomplish the same results in much less time).

This retreat has been planned for quite some time, and we are very excited about it! It's going to be three days of feeding your body, mind, and spirit. We've kept the cost as low as possible, so that more people can afford to take the time to get away for some quiet time.

All the food is organic and raw, prepared for you with lots of love! There are yoga sessions, meditation, and even a beautiful bonfire if the weather is nice. I've taken some personal retreats at this ashram, myself, and it is so peaceful (it is called the Peaceful Valley Ashram, after all). ;-)? We've created a schedule of suggested activities, but everything is optional. This is a great opportunity to simply get away and calm your mind.

The mono meals ended and I did create that beet pasta with alfredo sauce that I was dreaming about. So, here's the recipe:

BEET PASTA

Today we welcome Shea Lynn Baird from Monday Night Live. As you may recall from a few weeks ago, Wendi and KDcat visited with Shea and her husband Stephen during their 2010 Trip. While there, they all attended a raw food meetup, and Shea brought a wonderful Thai salad. She shared this delicious creation with all of you in this special guest raw chef edition of Makin' It Monday, below:

Jim here... I was listening to a radio commercial the other day that promised to reveal the "secrets that credit card companies DON'T want you to know." You hear that kind of rather manipulative marketing all the time, right? It's a psychological thing, I suppose -- filling your mind with intrigue almost instantly. My credit is pretty decent, but I was thinking, "Wow, I wonder what those secrets are?!" We humans are curious creatures, aren't we?

But then I started to laugh to myself, imagining a raw foods radio spot adopting that technique. "Buy our special report and learn all of the Secrets that Raw Foodists do NOT Want YOU to Know!!!" And then I laughed some more. Know why? Because, when you think about it, there are absolutely, positively NO secrets raw foodists don't want you to know! Isn't that stunningly cool? In fact, the entire message of the movement is conveniently included right there in the words "raw foods." It couldn't be simpler -- the cure for what ails so much of the planet, neatly summed up in two words.

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In this video, Wendi talks with Leela Mata about the different branches of yoga and how diet and raw foods affect the practice of yoga. Of all the branches of yoga, Hatha Yoga is the most popular in the United States.Mata Ji explains that it is through the practice of Hatha Yoga, strengthening the body through the asanas (poses), that you awaken on a deeper level. You will become more open to connecting with your spiritual nature, to realizing more about yourself.

We've spent some time on this blog talking about how much fun you can have via the meetup.com web site. If you search that site, you can probably find raw food meetups near you!? But, a few readers have asked us some follow-ups, such as What should I bring and What should I do if I'd like to host a raw foods meetup

*Attending* Raw Foods Meetups

Okay, so you signed up for a raw foods meetup group, waited patiently for the next event to come round, and now it's time!? But, wait... this is your first such outing. What should you bring

In this special five-part series, Joanna Steven uncovers where some top vegetarian athletes get their protein. Here's part three, focusing on Robert Cheeke's take on this issue.

YELLOW PEA POWDER

In the spring of 2005 this natural body builder became a champion bodybuilder - all on a strict? vegan diet. Robert Cheeke, an activist/athlete raised on an Oregon farm, went vegan when he was 15 years old and transitioned to full on vegan only two months later. Winning titles in Portland, OR and competing at the Natural Bodybuilding World Championships held in California, Robert maintains his intense mass building workout regime on a 100% animal-free diet.

A while ago, I received an email asking whether I had any thoughts on how old or young a person needs to be in order to benefit from a raw food diet. Yes. Yes, I do have thoughts on that! Lots of thoughts! ... Here goes:

The easy answer, of course, is that people of ALL ages can (and should) benefit from raw foods. I can assert with confidence that, for most people, increasing your intake of raw fruits and vegetables will likely bring about positive changes to your health, regardless of your age, dietary habits, or current state of health. (Naturally, reducing or eliminating the "bad" things is also paramount.)

Day 8:

Let's focus on creativity for a bit. This is an area where many men have been comfortable expressing a feminine quality, especially when done through art and music. I say many, because we all know at least a few men who were raised to believe that a strong, powerful man doesn't spend his time with such frivolous things. Instead, he works hard to earn an income to support his family. In the past, and still sometimes today, creative men were viewed as weaker and less masculine, not practical and in control. The feminine quality of creativity was, however, encouraged in women who were afforded more time for such "frivolity."

As a follow-up to yesterday's McDonald's-bashing post, I thought I'd post another perspective -- namely, that not all chain smoothies are bad. I can't claim to have tried them all, but I can report with confidence that, for raw most foodists, a trip to Jamba Juice can be awesome!