Olivia Janisch

Open yourself to the joys of life through real food, travel, and positive action.


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I made it to the top of an active volcano and it really hurt

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Eight grueling hours hiking the steepest and slipperiest slope I’ve ever come across in my life.

It started harmlessly. A long walk up a rural path dotted with simple homes and farm animals snuffing out their breakfast at around 6 AM. My companion was my Nicaraguan guide, Alberto. A native to the island, he spoke less English than I spoke Spanish. I learned he had a daughter, he learned that I came from California. That concluded our introductions. Needless to say, it was going to be a quiet day.  

By the time we got to the entrance of the hike, I was sweating profusely.

We started out through the beautiful jungle setting accompanied by sounds of howler monkeys and birds. Weaving up through varying terrain and surrounded by tropical trees, the lush setting distracted me from how treacherous the climb was becoming.

When we stopped for a rest and Alberto offered me a day-old piece of bread, I noted that we had gone from a warm and slightly windy temperature to what I would imagine it felt like to be in a cloud. As I was already quite tired from the steep incline of rubble, I asked how much longer we had, to which he responded, ‘dos e media, tres horas.’

It was at this point that I realized I was in for way more than I had expected, and it was doubtful I’d get to catch up with my friends later on at the swimming hole for a coconut beverage as I had hoped.

As we climbed on, the terrain went from rubble to huge boulders, to slippery boulders, to slippery rocks, to pure mud and swamp that sucked at all edges of my once brightly colored pink Nikes. The air pressure became thinner and the temperature turned icy cold. The moisture on my body that before was perspiration was now rainwater from the heavy vapor that was coming from the, yes, cloud we were climbing through.

I began to understand that this was not a casual hike, and that maybe I should have paid attention when people told me that many hikers had fallen to their deaths on that very same volcano.

The moment this fact passed through my head, I began to panic. I wanted my parents. I wanted to turn around. Tears welled up in my eyes. The pain in my legs was becoming unbearable, and as Alberto hiked ahead and disappeared into the cloud, my resolve began to weaken. The eighty-five degree staircase of rocks and bushes went on for hours with no reprieve. My vision blurred, my calves began to cramp, and I seriously started wondering why this death trap trail even existed.

I knew I couldn’t turn around, mostly because I didn’t know how to say it in Spanish, so I began repeating positive affirmations to myself. ‘You got this Liv,’ ‘If anyone can do this it’s you,’ ‘It’s an adventure!’ This helped a little, until I would glance up into the howling vortex I was absolutely terrified of, and wondered if I could actually make it to the top.

Then, at a certain point, I swear to God, Whitney Houston popped into my head, and ‘Dance with somebody’ got me motivated for the last two hours up to the crater. It was a miracle.

I don’t even like Whitney Houston.

We finally made it to the crater, and it was absolutely miserable.

The wind was roaring at this point. I was freezing and soaking wet. There was heat blasting through the rocks and I could feel the power of the volcano beneath my feet. Visibility was absolute shit and I was more than ready to start the descent.

Going down, at first, was an amazing relief. My legs relaxed, I could plod along without the use of my walking stick, my neck softened. It was luxurious.

But then the injuries started. I began slipping and sliding everywhere. Scraping my legs, banging my knees, catching my backpack on bushes. The journey down would prove to be longer and more fearful than the climb.

After three hours, the wind quieted and I was able to see more than five feet ahead of me. My nerves slowly began to settle, and I came to believe that I probably was going to live. When I finally got to the bottom, flat ground had never felt so good.  

All in all, it was the most painful and terrifying experience of my life. Would I do it again? Fuck no. Do I wish I hadn’t done it that day? Maybe. But where did staying in my comfort zone ever get me? I just hope that taking on challenges like that will help create the framework for future challenges of life; that I can learn to be calm, to persevere, and if all else fails, to put on and 80s song and dance through the pain. 


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Cultivating Simplicity

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Certain people, it seems, are blessed with an ease of living. Life is gentle on them, and they are gentle towards life. The ability to go with the flow, to take things in stride, and to accept life as it is, is ingrained in some, but for others it is something that must be cultivated. Everyone is different, but when we transfer our resistance to acceptance, and turn fear into faith, we have an opportunity to recalibrate the direction of our existence.

The way is through simplicity.

By simplifying, we minimize our need to control and place great faith in the universal power that holds planets and stars in place, and supports all life on earth. Of course, this isn’t the easiest thing to do, but we can beginn to cultivate simplicity through our everyday actions and beliefs.

1. Practice forgiveness

Forgiveness is the ability to let go of emotions that do not serve us to make space for thoughts and experiences that do. When we hold on to negative emotions about the past we prevent exceptional things from happening in the present. Commit to letting go of hurtful things in the past. It takes time, but once you free yourself from the grip of the past you will be able to flourish in the present.

2. Simplify your foods

Reading nutrition labels, counting calories, and trying to interpret ingredient lists takes away from the true purpose of eating. Food is there to nourish our bodies, minds and souls. We receive the properties of that which we put in our bodies. Thus, when we eat food that is alive and thriving, our entire being thrives. Make the majority of what you eat come straight from the ground. It’s as simple as that. A plant based diet means eating things that will nurture your body and your life, and nourishing your being with the vibrance of the earth.

3. Let go of that which does not serve you

Bad TV. Gossip magazines. People who make you doubt yourself. Food that makes you feel guilty. All of these things create negative energy in your life and complicate your existence. Everything you do, read, see and interact with should have an essence of love. That is not to say that difficult circumstances should be avoided, or that life should be peachy at all times, but anything you choose to make part of your life should serve your higher purpose of peace and wellbeing.

4. Give what you wish to receive

That which you do not give you will not receive. Where are you holding back in life? What are you wanting that’s not coming to you? Try showing it to everyone, to loved ones, friends, grocery store attendants and the postman. Once you share the love and generosity you desire, without exception it will come flooding into your life.

It’s a journey to practice these principles at all times, but by holding them in our mind’s eye we can work towards a more peaceful, meaningful and happier existence.


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Each Day Anew

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Do not say, ‘It is morning,’ and dismiss it with a name of yesterday. See it for the firist time as a newborn child that has no name.

-Rabindranath Tagore


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The Way of the Heart

“The way of the heart is the way of courage. It is to live in insecurity; it is to live in love, and trust; it is to move into the unknown. It is leaving the past and allowing the future to be. Courage is to move on dangerous paths. A person who is alive, really alive, vitally alive, will always move into the unknown.”
-Osho

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5 Ways to Lose Weight Without Dieting

Weight loss is a complicated beast, and there are a lot of things that we do over time that affect our weight. Instead of dieting, I suggest cultivating healthy habits that support your ultimate goals and enable you to feel great all the time. Here are some tips that when incorporated into your lifestyle can help you to feel slimmer and more energetic.

1. Stop eating late at night

Your body is not very good at digesting food late at night. It’s winding down from the day and slowly moving towards rest, and since you’re most likely not very active at that time of day the food isn’t used for energy and is stored pretty inefficiently. Eating late at night is the probably the best way to put on pounds, so try and stop eating anything after 8:00 pm. If you find yourself wanting to eat, drink water or tea, and if you really are hungry (and not just bored), eat something easy to digest like fruit or soup.

2. Drink more water

Being properly hydrated is extremely important for all functions of the body, but when it comes to keeping a healthy weight it’s especially necessary. Drinking plenty of water helps to flush toxins from the body that can interfere with the optimal functioning of hormones that regulate how your food is used and stored, your metabolism, and your hunger levels.

Not only that, but many times when we are thirsty we take that as a signal we’re hungry so we start eating. Instead of giving our body what it wants we end up eating unnecessarily and not satisfying our craving. Next time you feel like going for a snack in between meals, try slowly drinking a glass of water and see if that tempers your hunger.

3. Have smoothies or juices for breakfast

The best way to start the day is with something light and extremely nutrient dense. Juices and smoothies are a great source of macro and micronutrients, will give you energy and fill you up, and are easily digested and used by your body.

4. Stop watching TV

If you have time to watch TV, you certainly have time to get off your ass and get in shape. TV is a time suck and can distract you from all of the other amazing things out there. If this is too extreme, try rewarding yourself to one hour of tv for every thirty minutes of exercise. If and when you do watch, choose one or two shows you want to watch and then turn the TV off when they’re done. This way, you don’t end up mindlessly flipping through channels and end up accidentally watching Shahs of Sunset.

5. Only snack on whole fruits and nuts

Fruits are really good for your body. They contain fiber, B vitamins, electrolytes, and are powerful sources of antioxidants. Your body digests them really fast so it’s best to eat them on an empty stomach, and you can eat as much as you want. Nuts are an excellent source of Omega-3s which help your body use stored fat for energy, and they also have a lot of protein which makes you feel full and satiated. Snacking on foods that provide your body with nutrients makes your hormones function more efficiently, and will reduce cravings for processed and refined foods that encourage your body to put on weight.