How to Address Stubborn Weight Loss: Guest Post

My friend and respected colleague, Health Coach (and Business Coach/CPA extraordinaire) Jessica Mishra, of Beaming with Health, has some important things to say, particularly around a topic that her and I are both very passionate about: answering that omnipresent question of, “why can’t I lose weight? I am doing everything right…right?” I am honored to have her as a guest writer on this weeks’ post:

Jessica

Do you feel like you are doing almost everything right when it comes to your health habits? You are eating well for the most part and exercising regularly. For some reason, though, you can’t seem to reach the optimal weight you feel your body should be at. I have been through this myself, and I hear about this from clients. Let’s look at a few areas that are important to address when it comes to weight loss that do not directly relate to food or exercise.

Toxicity

Did you know that your body does this nifty little thing to protect you when you have excess toxicity in your body? It “does you a solid” by storing toxins in your fat cells. This is actually a helpful function that the body is performing, but it doesn’t seem so helpful when all you see is excess weight on your body. What can be done?

Well, basically anything that assists the body with the natural detoxification process. Saunas (especially far infrared saunas), clean eating programs, Epsom salt baths, and castor oil packs are just a few things that can be done to support the liver and the detoxification process. Teas like milk thistle or dandelion root also provide excellent support for the liver. Consistent exercise or movement will make sure your lymph system continues to move so that toxins can be removed on a regular basis.  Even if you can’t get to the gym, at least have some kind of movement every day (even a nice walk).

Pay attention to your body and see if you have some of the common signs of toxicity. If you have constipation, bad body odor or breath, fatigue, a coated white tongue, acne or other skin conditions, or headaches these can all be signs of excess toxicity. In the case that these symptoms persist, it would be good to work with a holistic practitioner such as a Naturopathic doctor, health coach, or integrative MD. Prolonged excess toxicity can lead to chronic conditions such as cancer down the line, so it is important to address it early on.

Stress and Adrenal Fatigue

Oh precious adrenal glands (small glands which sit on top of the kidneys) you have such a job to do. Especially when we are stressed! The adrenal glands produce cortisol. Cortisol is often known as the stress hormone. When we are stressed out or our bodies are undergoing a form of stress that perhaps we are not aware of, excess cortisol is produced. Do you know what excess cortisol in the body means? It means fat storage around the midsection. No thank you, we will pass on that please!

The adrenal glands can become fatigued over time when exposed to too much stress. This can come from regular stress (working too hard, worrying, anxiety), but it can also come from lack of sleep, poor diet, food allergies, and skipping meals. When adrenal fatigue has set in, it is almost impossible to lose excess weight no matter what we do.

So what can be done? The number one thing to heal adrenals is to remove the provoking agent. Easier said than done, but take your best stab at it. Try to incorporate stress management practices like yoga or meditation. Leave work early when you can. Address food allergies and clean up your diet where possible. Reduce alcohol, sugar, and caffeine because these items do not get along well with your adrenals. Eat regular meals. When you skip meals, your body produces more cortisol to get your blood sugar back up.

There are several key nutrients, which support the adrenals, but in the interest of not writing the world’s longest blog post—eat a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables and high-quality meats, amongst other nutrient-dense whole foods. Finally, the best thing you can do to heal the adrenal glands, is to get more rest. That’s right! Sleep is so important. If you can get to bed around the same time every night and get 7-8 hours of sleep that will really help. Sleep in a bit, too, on the weekends when you can.

Emotional Considerations

The mind is a very powerful thing. It can even influence the way your body functions. Sometimes excess weight can be present as a form of protection or cushion from something you are afraid of. It can also stick around when something in your life feels stuck. Perhaps you are in a job that you hate, or maybe you need to leave a toxic relationship. It is amazing what can happen with your body when you push forward through a difficult decision that you have been resisting.

I also want to say that there are many things in life that nourish us besides food. Often when one of those areas is absent or we feel empty, food steps in to comfort us. Again this is easier said than done, but if you feel an absence in one of these core areas (i.e. spirituality, relationships, a social network, or a fulfilling career) take steps where you can to make this part of your life whole again. Call on others for support when necessary. You are the creator of your own life, and the first step is setting the intention to get what you want.

Sleep

I touched on sleep earlier, but I want to say a bit more about it here. Let’s tie some of the above concepts together. When you are asleep, this is when your body detoxifies. If you do not get enough sleep, your body does not have ample time to remove toxins from your body. Hello fat storage (as discussed above).

In addition, when you don’t get enough sleep, your body looks to quick sources of energy in the form of caffeine and sugar. Thus, cravings feel much stronger when your body is tired, and it becomes more challenging to make smart food decisions. Further, when you are on what I call the “blood sugar roller coaster”, your metabolism takes a hit. You know what I mean, right? Coffee in the morning followed by mid-morning crash. Insert sugar or delicious baked good. Another crash mid-afternoon, more coffee or sugar, and then you feel depleted by the end of the day. When our blood sugar is constantly doing this rise and fall dance, our body goes into panic mode. Once again we get excess production of cortisol and fat storage.  The best thing to keep blood sugar balanced is to lessen things that spike and drop it like refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, and alcohol.  It is also very important to eat regular meals. That means no skipping breakfast or lunch no matter how busy you are.

Thank you to Amy Griffith for allowing me to do a guest blog post. I would love to hear from you! Are there areas discussed above that you feel like you could use support with? Connect with Jessica.

Skill Exchange Mixer a Success

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to participate in a workshop at the Makeshift Society. Little did I know just how much fun it was going to be, and how much I would be learning myself. Kate Koeppel, creator of Skill Exchange (and my website), brings folks together to teach, share and learn from one another, promoting self-reliance skill building.

KBrodgesell_SkillExchange_May2013_P024

Mixing up the local, seasonal, medicinal onion dip. Yum

Quite the crowd

Quite the crowd

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Supportive friends from the health and wellness world, Jessica Mishra and Michaele Kruger

That being said, the first mixer of a series open to the public was a party; we learned how to stitch a tie from This Humble Abode, properly store produce and why we should buy local from Mission Community Market, pickle green strawberries from Fermenters Club (for all you in need for a kick to your digestive system!), and how to make date sweetened almond milk from Project Juice . All in all, the night was a sweet success.

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A super happy me getting ready to perform

For additional press and information about this event, visit the DIY Network’s Made+Remade blog. Hope to see you at the next Skill Exchange! Photo credit: Kara Brodgesell.

Get Fit, Lose Fat, Eat Lots! Learn about it…

Stephanie Atwood, founder of Go Wow Team, is one of my idols. At just over 60 years of age, she is a wonderful inspiration to any woman as an entrepreneur, fitness coach and elite runner, mentor, teacher and human being.

Stephanie and I are excited about our second round of our program Get Fit Lose Fat Eat Lots! The first go around a few months ago was a lot of fun and very successful. We recorded a 15  minute teaser to give those of you interested more information, and we will be hosting an in-person information session on June 13 (please join the Meetup here to RSVP and for detailed info). We will be outlining the program before you have to commit (the program officially starts on June 20) and there will be snacks. At least come and eat with us!  :  )

From the great results that Stephanie and I have seen, Stephanie wrote the best selling first book in a series, Belly Fat Blowout on Amazon, which I consulted on and designed a 3-day cleanse for. Stephanie and I will be using this best seller along with our just published Belly Fat Blowout, Part 2, as our study guides for our upcoming group program.

In addition to the written material, the books offer links to educational handouts and templates, and MP3 downloads and links to weekly 30-minute recorded phone calls. For our group members, we offer additional support calls, three in person support group meetings, journal reviews, and a private Facebook Group Page, just for members to post their questions, concerns and discussion points.

This program isn’t some quick fix, deprivation driven diet plan (if you know Stephanie and me).  : )  It combines healthy eating (and wonderful recipes, some of which are pictured below) with moderate movement producing marvelous, lasting results.

chocolate tart

 

curry soup

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salmon salad

Here is what some of our past participants have said:

“I would give this program an A+ for the support, depth of knowledge of Stephanie and Amy and of course the results.” - Leti D

“an informative, eye opening, educational program that gave me the tools I needed to learn how to eat and workout for optimal metabolic health.” – Michaela R

All of you have access to the public group page at Facebook. The link is http://facebook.com/get-fit-success-team

Group participants will have access to a private group page, only for paid members, where Stephanie and I will respond to your questions and concerns, only available to our immediate group. We hope you can join us!

To good health and happiness,

Amy Griffith, Certified Nutrition Consultant and Health Coach, and Stephanie Atwood, Certified Coach and Trainer

rainbow+eat

I Heart Temescal

The husband and I have one night a week that we designate as our eating out night – gotta stay true to our food budget without compromising nutrition or quality. And we go big on this night; if we have a Google Deals coupon at our favorite Indian street food spot in Berkeley (Vik’s Chaat Corner, baby)? Then that’s where you’ll find us. As those of us thinking we are well-versed in the ever-evolving culinary scene of the Bay Area know, their are plenty of spots to hit up to get amazing food on the cheap. And then there are the splurges…

Doña Tomás is not just a Mexican restaurant. It is one of the establishments guilty of starting the Temescal District revolution… creating something very, very special in an otherwise forgotten and downtrodden area of Oakland. The husband had never been, and I have always loved it. The atmosphere is perfect, and having just been to Oaxaca over the holidays, it felt even more authentic than I thought it always was. The clean, white stucco walls with what look like vintage Frida Kaho tunics sparsely adorning the walls make their way through the hallway separating the bar area and main dining area. The bar feels like members of the Buena Vista Social Club will be setting up soon to play in the corner. It has deep, deep red walls, making you feel really comfortable and ready to settle in. Their thick and crispy chips with cotija cheese crumbled atop and thinner, smokey salsa is a perfect starter. We also ordered the following to share:

Quesadillas con Betabeles:  house-made tortillas filled with goat cheese, beets, fennel and thyme, topped with tomatillo-guajillo salsa
and kumquats

The kumquats added an perfect sweet to the savory

Sopes con Platanos: crispy masa cakes topped with fried plantains, black beans, crema and epazote

I heart plantains. Check out Sol Food in San Rafael for more plantain goodness…

Chile Verde: a stew of Niman Ranch lamb with potatoes, poblanos and avocado leaves, topped with crema and cheddar,
served with green rice

The food was, as always, amazing. I usually always go for the carnitas, but decided to venture out. With no room for dessert, we were satisfied. Until. Wait, wait. As we know, this side of the street has a great line-up of places to rival any Mission or Meat Packing type district have gone up around Dona Tomas, as well:

Bakesale Betty – BEST apple and pecan pie I have ever had, and when you are standing in the 20+person line on a sunny afternoon, they’ll bring out fresh baked cookies while you wait, on the house.

Article Pract – I just want to pile their yarns in beautiful hues and textures and dream away – and I gotta get back into knitting and purling myself.

Pizziaolo - I believe a few veterans from the Chez Panisse kitchen started this up, so it was sure to be good from the get go. I have never actually been, but it’s one of those place that has been on my short list WAY too long. I will for sure forgo my gluten issue for a slice of this pie.

Scream Sorbet – we aren’t talking your Dreyer’s rainbow weirdness here. With flavors like Almond Pink Peppercorn (the nut makes the cream base – there’s not dairy!) and Hazelnut Chocolate (better than I would imagine frozen Nutella to be – AND CREAMIER) this place rocks my world. Hard on the budget, but a MUST for the senses.

You get my point. This particular block is the place to be. And down the street we’ve got one of the East Bay versions of Burma Superstar and Lanesplitter’s Pizza. How can you go wrong? On the contrary. You can’t go wrong, but you can find a welcoming surprise inside…the street. Sitting pretty behind the lineup is a modest alley way that I believe was first opened to the public via the Temescal Alley Barbershop. The shop welcomes you to peer in to see the notably attractive barbers in hipster jeans and checkered shirts (my husband is the most attractive man I know, but this is like Blaine from Glee attractive). And as you head past a few of the sandwich boards, alluring one’s curiosity, you must also notice a unique finds vintage furnishings shop, a jewelry and home goods shop and much more to be perused. See the lineup here and make your way down there on a warm summer evening after dinner for music and open doors to the shops. Oakland Art Beat posts such happenings on their calendar online. Many neighbors were also sharing the fruits of their labor along the alley (pictured below).

So sweet. The women who grew these whispered to me about her mispellings, but I just assumed it was mistaken because of her excitement to share!

I took this picture earlier in the week when I was in the neighborhood for lunch. Another way to think about “urban gardening,” or even a moveable garden installation. If it had had a chicken coop? Heaven.

This was such a perfect end to the evening. There were homemade doughnuts being served outside as a small band played what sounded like a mix between Fever Ray, The Postal Service and Air. And as our friend Tim would say in response to being told about a meal or scenario that satisfies his…?                                                       “Perfect.”

Looking into Temescal Alley towards the band.

Got Goat? You Should!

Sorry for the long pause in posts. One day I was looking up information on Michelle Obama and her Let’s Move campaign (a great initiative – I just wish she could teach the FDA and USDA a thing or two) and my computer was literally eaten by a crazy virus. I have never had that happen before. Talk about a freak out. My computer was hospitalized for 10 days (Geek Squad) and is on the mend. Still a few more glitches to work through but we are close to normalcy. I am not a huge techie, but man was that scary.

Now on to the tasty stuff. I have grown to love goat cheese more and more lately. I have also grown to love butter again; a substance which brings to mind Paula Dean and her recent news of having been diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago. I feel for Paula, as I feel for many Americans that don’t cook with butter or oils in moderation – and who cook them at high temperatures, damaging the fats. There is a great series of lectures on the topic of fats (lipids) and the Lipid Hypothesis called Big Fat Fiasco. This link will take you to part one of a series. I highly recommend perusing them on a day that you plan on frying up some bacon (it won’t make you feel guilty, just informed!). It may surprise you.

From gnolls.org

Back to goat. I’ve discovered a product that I have had to reign in my love for: goat butter. It is expensive, but worth it every once in a while (oh man, is it worth it). I have found myself eating chunks of it like cheese, plain. Yup – not afraid to say it. This isn’t anything like Country Crock, my friends. Nor is it like cow milk butter. It’s got an amazing taste, and has that extra bite that goat cheese has, while still being subtle. Meyenberg is the company that has very reputable goat products (much of the goat milk you see at Safeway or other supermarkets is Meyenberg). When cooked right and eaten in moderation, it can MAKE a recipe. I have been incorporating it into my homemade pate (courtesy of one of my teachers, Laura Knoff), remembering that organ meat is better for you than muscle meat. I have used it in baked goods and especially on top of buckwheat pancakes (from a few posts ago).

Some regular butters will taste incredibly bland once you have tried the goat, especially because it is cultured. To compare the two, goat butter has a  lower melting point than cow, ideal for slow food cooking. “Goat’s milk is more easily digested by some because its protein molecules are sized differently than cow’s milk. It packs as much calcium as whole cow’s milk and contains more tryptophan, an essential amino acid,”  says Jeannie Gazzaniga-Moloo, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. The Meyenberg goat butter is European style, or cultured. This process is much like what happens in the process of making yogurt, where probiotics, or good bacteria, are grown and made present in our foods, and the product is not pasteurized. We often eat sweet cream or pasteurized butter in the US, which rids the butter or dairy products of this healthy bacteria, much needed by our body to make good gut flora (probiotics) to oust the bad, aiding in digestion. Cultured butter doesn’t last as long as those tubs of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, but that’s alright with me. You can’t believe it’s not butter? That’s because it’s not real. Nor is it food…and that’s kinda scary, isn’t it? EMBRACE THE FAT (good, whole food, undamaged fat, that is).   :)

Hawking GREAT Fare…

The husband and I were invited to a party for a friend at Pican in downtown Oakland on a Saturday evening. We had never been to Pican (California inspired Southern comfort food in downtown Oakland). All who have been there sing its’ praises, and I soon found out these praises were legit. We were there for light bites and drinks, which was probably better in the long run for my – at times – over-stimulated digestive system. Some family members and friends say I am super healthy and very disciplined, but when things don’t work well with the digestive system to the degree that I have experienced, you learn to just bypass those foods and find WONDERFUL tastes in and an appreciation for super natural foods. However, it can at times be hard for me to remember my dietary downfalls when tempted by a scrumptious corn meal and maple battered fried chicken breast in front of me. So, before getting sucked in to a couple days worth of stomach issues, (which probably would have been TOTALLY worth it) we said our good bye’s to our hostess and were on our way to grab dinner. We headed back towards the car, remembering the place we had parked outside of: Hawker Fare. The menu looked Thai, or what we could relate to as street Thai food, having had some experience with what has become a food truck nation in San Francisco. We were both excited to venture on in.

Upon entering Hawker Fare, the atmosphere made us comfortable and not as square as we think we are getting. We don’t drink very much (in fact my husband has cut down on even enjoying a beer or two per week or lattes because of some stomach issues) and we eat as healthfully as we can, when we can control it. This is due also to budget; we don’t eat out very much. SO…when we do, we want to take advantage of the amazing food that the Bay Area has to offer, while accommodating a shoe string budget that we allow ourselves for eating out. There was some really interesting electronica/hip hop/trance/dance music in the background, but it wasn’t playing so loud as to make the restaurant seem too hip for its own good. And the staff were super kind, were obviously really pumped about the menu themselves and happy to serve us, even thought we came in about 15 minutes before closing. Colorful and bold street art and random music and vintage movie posters spanned the walls. My favorite was what looked like a vintage flyer that read off, for each day of the week, an animal body part that was going to be served for that given day. Ethically uncomfortable? Or a sign of using the whole animal and respecting the food chain in all its glory? I think so. I am not a vegetarian, but I eat very little meat, and the  meat I do eat usually comes in small amounts and, these days, in the form of organ meats (pates). I also love vegan and raw cuisine. But, when in Rome…and when the waitress mentioned that their beef “larb” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larb) also had tender tripe mixed in? I was willing to give it  second shot, despite having had tough and unmasked textured tripe in Morocco. THAT was an experience.

Our order: we got the green papaya salad, the beef larb and the “Kao Mun Gai”: poached chicken served with a salted mung bean sauce, fresh cucumber and cilantro leaves. The papaya salad and beef larb were really refreshing and had very complex flavors from some of my favorite ingredients mixed together: red onion, mint and cilantro. The Kao Mun Gai also came with a fried egg on top, so the side sauce made for a great accompaniment to the cracked and oozing yoke. It was delicious. Plus, it being 9:30pm, it’s always hard to properly digest heavier foods that close to hitting the sack.

The beef larb – cooling, savory and complex flavors to make a great starting dish to dinner

Crisp Green Papaya salad with fresh ground peanuts for a crunch

Some interesting facts about cilantro, mint and the infamous mung bean, which can all be found in South East Asian cuisine:

Cilantro: from the carrot family, cilantro supports the spleen, stomach, bladder, and lungs and help as a diuretic. It supports perspiration and can treat a fever, as it is subtly spicy, but doesn’t usually provide as much discomfort as certain peppers can. It aids digestion, relieves intestinal distention and can help with nausea, soothes inflammation and quenches thirst. It is also believed that cilantro can be used to remove toxins, including heavy metals, from the nervous system and body tissues. The fresher it is the better!

Mint: this is a very cooling herb that I often forget about putting with savory dishes. it supports the lungs, liver and helps to disperse pathogens, i.e. viruses, and promotes the circulation of energy, blood and the lymph system. The essential oil of mint is also very useful and helpful: inflammation, nausea, indigestion, fever, flatulence and headaches may subside with its use. Mint tea with lemon and honey? Yes please.

Mung Beans: of sproutable seeds, mung bean ranks at the top with alfalfa seeds as easy to sprout, tasty and easy to use for many things: making into noodles or used for dal, in Indian cuisine. They are great legumes to eat in hot weather as they disperse body heat. Try a mung bean mash stew with coconut curry. SO tasty.

A DEELISH mung bean stew. Spinach, coconut curry, beans…

Next time you are in OAKLANDISH territory, pay a visit to Hawker Fare. It will take you into a really interesting part of Oakland where there is a heavy insurgence in its rich culture, expanses of empty corporate space, and where super creative people are setting up shop and making Oakland into an amazing place to venture into.

More on Hawker Fare:

http://www.yelp.com/biz/hawker-fare-oakland

http://sf.eater.com/archives/2011/07/12/the_early_word_on_hawker_fare_in_oakland.php

http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/2011/06/04/hawker-fare/

REFERENCES:

Wood, Rebecca. (2010). The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY. Penguin Books.

Oh Gratitude, oh Gratitude…how lovely are your restaurants…

I am sure I am one of 10 kagillion Berkeley and Bay Area natives who are going to be posting, commenting and blogging about this, and many of you will probably think to yourselves that it was a strange place anyway; too expensive and “so Berkeley.” But Cafe Gratitude, which is closing the doors of all of its restaurants, including Gracias Madre in San Francisco’s Mission District, is “so Berkeley,” and that is a GOOD thing. More things should be “so Berkeley.”

It is not my intention to seem dogmatic in the context of speaking about Cafe Gratitude, in that the cuisine of the restaurant is THE WAY to eat. I understand; to each their own. However, would anyone, in their rational mind, want a McDonald’s on every corner, or an establishment like Cafe Gratitude, if you had to choose? (and you could still enjoy McDonald’s every once in a while; it just wouldn’t be so readily available). Cafe Gratitude is healthful, makes you feel good and is a joyful place to visit, even if it is just to try a raw cacao truffle or a piece of key lime (cashew) pie as an adventure. Here is what I am choosing to focus on: that there really is something for everyone on the menu, at least to try once. It might not be a favorite place for the general public, but it is a wonderful resource. It supports the fact that there is still so much more that we ALL need to learn about health, and that a place like Cafe Gratitude teaches, but doesn’t force feed (no pun intended). Not to mention the fact that, in times like these, we should all rise towards being more grateful for the good in our lives, showing gratitude to the people who bring us happiness, not the materials that superficially bring us this feeling that is fleeting. Admittedly, we all, as humans, struggle with this every day. For me, writing about it helps to create balance between these thoughts, flushing out times when I have a bad day and want to buy a pair of shoes. I can really get SO MUCH MORE from good food, good relationships and a healthy lifestyle than from a pair of shoes. If you’re grateful and you know it, clap your hands. And keep clapping.

For my classmates, friends and me who have enjoyed it’s unique atmosphere and philosophy, it is truly the end of something special. The Gratitude philosophy had in their minds what many altruistic and righteous spokespeople of the food movement have been communicating about (i.e. Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, Jamie Oliver, Joshua Rosenthal…the list could go ON AND ON). Thankfully, they have been pushed into the spotlight more, as well. Aside from the goodness, realness and wholeness of the food, to me and to many others, Cafe Gratitude is crucial, uplifting, exciting, cleansing, mysterious, different, raw, healthful, meaningful, experimental, important, whole, real and true. It is to be appreciated. For more information and to support Cafe Gratitude, please visit a few of their support networks:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cafe-Gratitude/54188889030

http://www.yelp.com/biz/cafe-gratitude-berkeley

Here are a few fun pictures from a first trip to Gracias Madre (not raw, but some of the best food that happened to be Mexican-inspired vegan) with my dear friend Maggie.

The spread, with a basket of fresh blue corn tortillas. We had roasted sweet potatoes with some spices and grilled onions, sauteed kale with pepitas, mushrooms with cashew sour cream, black bean puree and brown rice.

Dessert – I think I remember it being a dulce de leche-esque cashew “cheez” cake with sprinkled toasted coconut and cinnamon nut milk “ice cream”

I also made my own attempt at the “I AM COOL” mint cacao shake, with a recipe to follow.

  • 2 tbsp raw cacao nibs (I know, I know – they are bitter. But the honey or dates will help and they are cacao in it’s purest form!)
  • 8 ounces cold or semi-frozen nut milk (hazelnut might make a bit of a nutella-type flavoring? Yummm…)
  • 1 few fresh mint leaves (5-8)
  • 1 tbsp honey or three dates or 2 tbsp date sugar
  • 1 scoop of Vital Scoop (from Bauman College. It has whey in it, but it is the best green powder I have tasted that has a tinge of sweet coconut flavor, but not overpowering. A great additive to a shake like this to sweeten without adding too much sugar and a great way to get some greens supplemented!)

And, of course, the Vitamix or one comparable to it is best here. Blend away until super smooth!