7 Simple Tips to Grow a Spring Vegetable Garden

For a few years now it has been my dream to grow my own vegetable garden. When I envisioned buying a home, one of the key features it needed to have was a large backyard with room to plant a garden. I look forward to the day that I can pull my organic veggies from the yard and bring them in the house to cook.

As far as dreams go, that sounds pretty simple to accomplish, right? For me, not so much. As much as I want a garden, I’ve been so intimidated by the process. I’m completely ignorant of what it takes to grow and maintain a garden.

Last week, I remedied that. I spent time at Chastain Farm. They offered a class on how to plant a spring garden. I have to tell you, it was so amazing to me. We toured the farm, saw the resident goat and roosters, and ended up in their vegetable garden. I learned so much. They even allowed me to plant some tomatoes.

farm pics - goat and roosters

Obviously, I’m not at the point of growing a full garden in my backyard on my own. But I can start somewhere. The beauty of gardening and growing your own food is you can do it almost anywhere. You don’t even need to have a yard. A good friend of mine lives in a loft apartment in midtown Atlanta and she has a garden. As long as you have a small area that gets adequate sunlight you can start a garden. That can be your patio, deck, or even kitchen window sill.

What I love most about having a garden is that it disputes the common misconception that it’s too expensive to eat organic, healthy foods. You don’t have to shop at Whole Foods to get organic fruit and veggies. You can grow them yourself. Talk about economical.

So, for all the aspiring gardeners like me who want to grow your own food, here are seven tips to help you get started.

  1. Choose a location that will get 8-10 hours of sunlight a day. Just make sure it’s close to the house and a water source.
  2. Test your soil. You want to make sure you have good soil. The better the soil, the better the garden. Pull random selections of soil from the area you want to plant; at least eight selections are recommended.  The ideal testing time is the fall. In Georgia, you can get your soil tested through the University of Georgia extension office.
  3. Start with a small area. Don’t try to tackle a huge garden the first time out. Square foot gardening is a great option. You can also create a container garden or salad bowl garden. It can be as simple as you need it to be.
  4. Grow what you like to eat. Keep it simple. Don’t try to grow everything. This will be difficult for me because I love so many veggies. I’m going to stick with those that have a quick maturation time.
  5. Make a plan. What you’re going to plant? When do they need to be planted? Be sure to mark out the square footage. There are several resources to educate you about square foot gardening. (www.squarefootgardening.org.)
  6. Plant in succession. You don’t want to plant everything at the same time. This will prevent being overwhelmed from everything harvesting at the same. Stagger your planting.
  7. Record what you plant and where. This will make it easier to identify what you planted once the harvest comes in. One tip is to use the labels inside the packaging of whatever you’re planting. Or you can cut up slats from old blinds, write what you planted on it with a sharpie and stick it in the ground. You can use these year after year.

At the time of this writing we’re about a week and a half from April 15th. For most of the world that day is significant because it’s the tax deadline. But for gardening enthusiasts it’s a safe time to plant a spring garden. It’s typically the time that spring has sprung without the fear of a cold weather snap ruining spring plants, especially tomatoes.

farm chastain - veggie garden

So, who’s with me? If I’m brave enough to take this on, anybody can. The best part is we’re not alone. There are plenty of resources available to help you get started and to support you throughout the process. Here’s one that I like –  www.gardeners.org.

Happy Gardening!

5 Natural Remedies for the Cold and Flu

honey,garlic and lemonWe’re on the last leg of winter and even though it doesn’t feel like it, Spring will be here soon. Yet, in the meantime, many people are dealing with the consequences from this latest trend of cold, icy, rainy weather.

I know several of my friends and loved ones are suffering with flu like symptoms. So, I figure it’s a good time to share some natural remedies to help you boost your immunity. In particular, to help you combat the common cold and the flu.

I’ve shared some of these remedies over the past few years, but they bear repeating. The most common and effective antidote to cold and flu-like symptoms are citrus fruits because of the essential vitamins they provide. If you’re a regular follower of my blog you can probably guess which remedy tops my list.

  1. Lemons – help maintain your immune system and protects from infections. One reason for that is lemons are rich in Vitamin C. They are also rich in flavanoids that work in conjunction with Vitamin C for a serious punch against infection. One of the simplest ways to incorporate them into your diet is to add the juice of one lemon to warm water and drink it first thing in the morning.

  1. Ginger – warms the body and helps break down the accumulation of toxins in the organs, especially in the lungs and sinuses. It helps cleanse the lymphatic system. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a clear, colorless fluid containing white blood cells that helps rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials.Thats why it’s often referred to as the body’s sewage system. By helping keep your airways and lymphatics open, ginger may help prevent the accumulation of toxins that may increase your risk of infection.

  1. Garlic – is highly nutritious and known to boost the function of the immune system. It contains manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium, and fiber. One large 12-week study found that a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63%. It also reduced the average length of cold symptoms by 70% from five days to 1.5 days.My preference is always the real thing over supplements, but supplements are just as good.

The minimum effective dose for therapeutic effects is one clove eaten with meals, two to three times a day.  If you can’t deal with the strong taste and odor of garlic, you might want to opt for the supplement.

NOTE: if you have a bleeding disorder or take blood thinning medications, please be sure to talk to your doctor before increasing your consumption of garlic.

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar – has so many healing properties. As it relates to cold symptoms, its very effective in clearing a stuffy nose and soothing a sore throat. ACV contains potassium, which thins mucus. The acetic acid in it prevents bacteria growth, which could contribute to nasal congestion. To help with sinus drainage mix a teaspoon of ACV in a glass of water and drink it.

With the sore throat it helps head off the infection at the pass if you start to use it as soon as you notice the sore throat coming on. Most germs can’t survive in the acidic environment vinegar creates. For relief, mix ¼ cup of ACV with ¼ cup warm water and gargle every hour or so.

  1. Honey – naturally suppresses coughs. Its thick consistency coats your throat. The sweet taste is thought to trigger certain nerves that make your throat less sensitive to the cough impulse. The phytonutrients in raw honey have antibacterial and antiviral properties that may help boost your immune system and fight sickness. So, make sure you buy raw honey instead of artificial honey. It’s a little more expensive, but cost much less than a doctor’s visit.

Try combining one teaspoon of honey with two tablespoons of lemon juice in ½ cup of hot – not boiling – water.

One of the best advantages to me following a plant based diet is that I rarely get sick. I can’t tell you the last time I had a cold. If I get a hint of anything coming on I go to my lemon water and ginger.  I haven’t taken a flu shot in years. In fact, I don’t take medications at all. I subscribe to Hippocrates’ – the founder of western medicine – school of thought: “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”

I get so many nutrients from the fruit and veggies I consume every day. My immune system is pretty strong. I’m so grateful for that. So, of course I want to share my secrets with you.

I hope you will try some of the natural remedies I have described. Better yet, I hope you will incorporate them into your daily diet. If you consume these things on a regular basis, you will likely avoid getting colds and flu symptoms all together.

I hope you will let me know if you try them and especially let me know if they work for you.

References: http://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-health-benefits-of-garlic/ http://www.rd.com/slideshows/apple-cider-vinegar-benefits/#slideshow=slide1 http://www.doctoroz.com/slideshow/5-healthy-uses-honey

What I Learned From Skipping My Workouts!

Life is full of so many ups and downs. One day you’re feeling great and like you can conquer the world. The next day you feel completely defeated and want to throw in the towel. At least that’s how it feels for me sometimes.

I’m astounded by how my emotions fluctuate from week to week, especially with my activities of daily living. Case in point, for the most part I’ve been doing pretty good with working out consistently. I’ve been getting in about four to six days a week. Regardless of my eating habits, I’ve been consistent with that. Yet, last week I worked out less than I have in a very long time. I got in two days. Yep – you heard me – two days!


So, I had to ask myself – “What the heck is that about?” What started the week off on the wrong foot was my work schedule. There were a couple of days I had to travel for work and I had to be on the road at 6am. That’s usually the time I’m going to the gym. I could’ve worked out in the evening, but I wasn’t that motivated. After driving all day, the only thing I wanted to do when I got home was plop on the couch and watch TV. Aside from my work schedule, the main reason I didn’t workout was because I just didn’t feel like it!

As the week progressed, I just didn’t want to do it. I kept putting it off and it ended up not getting done. That’s when I had to take a close look into why I was doing what I was doing. There are many times I don’t feel like working out, but I push through anyway. Why was last week so different?

I realized I was allowing my “feelings” to drive me. I have learned that if I want to be successful at anything I do I can’t consult my feelings. I kept waiting to “feel” ready – to “feel” like working out. What I learned years ago is if you wait to feel ready to workout you won’t get it done. At least that’s how it goes for me. That’s why I tend to follow the Nike motto of “Just Do It”. The truth is, energy begets energy. If I get moving, I’ll have the energy to do more.

I saw a quote on a friend’s timeline the other day that was very relevant to this blog. It got my attention and I wanted to share it.

“Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.” -– William Butler Yeats

What this says to me is you have to take action first. I have to create the sparks that are often needed in those situations that I don’t want to do anything.

So, the next time you are procrastinating on an important task – or delaying your workout – here are three things you can do to get you going.

1.       Commit to doing the task for only 20 minutes. This is really good when you’re delaying a workout. If you commit to doing just 20 minutes you will usually feel like doing more. Even if you don’t do more than that, you did what you set out to do. You can apply this to other tasks like working, writing, cleaning the house, etc.

2.       Don’t trust your feelings. In fact, don’t even consult your feelings. They will usually steer you wrong. If the only reason for not doing something is that you don’t feel like doing it – do it anyway.

3.       Remind yourself that energy begets energy.  Know that you’re going to feel much better after you do something that you didn’t think you had the energy or desire to do.

There you have it – some simple strategies for you. Which one of these strategies do you think will be most helpful to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Why is Hard an Excuse to Stop?

no excuses chalkboard

For the past couple of days I’ve been on a quasi-detox. It’s not a full detox, but I’ve been juicing. I’ve been avoiding solid foods and caffeine. I started it because I wanted to reset my body and get some discipline. I just feel off track. I was hoping this would give me the jolt I need to reach my health and fitness goals.

If you’ve ever done any kind of detox you know the first couple of days are the hardest. For that reason I tend to start mine on a weekend when I don’t have to work. I know from experience that on the first day I’m tired, hungry and irritable so it’s not a good idea to be around people during that time.

Well, as usual, day one was pretty tough. It got so hard towards the later part of the day I almost gave in. I had every excuse in the book come to mind as to why I shouldn’t continue. The best excuse I could come up with was – “this is hard.”

It was at that moment I remembered something I heard Carolyn Myss say earlier that morning while I was watching Super Soul Sunday. She was speaking to an overweight woman who sought her advice about her lifelong weight problem. She mentioned that every time she tried to lose weight she would sabotage herself. One of her comments was “it’s hard.” Carolyn’s response to her was “Why is hard an excuse to stop?”

What a powerful question. I had to ask myself the same thing. When I wanted to quit on day one of my detox that question came to mind. I’d forgotten about why I was doing it in the first place. I’m trying to end a pattern of quitting before I complete my weight loss goals. I don’t often do that in other areas of my life where I’ve set goals. But for some reason I’ve been doing that with my weight loss goals. So it’s important for me to see this process through.

I know I’m not the only person who deals with this challenge. Let’s face it, we’re three weeks into the New Year and there are so many people who have already abandoned their new year’s goals. That’s why I want to offer some reasons why you should hang in there.

  1. There was a valid reason that you started. Think back to your “why”. Why did you set this goal? What’s at stake in your life if you don’t reach it? How will your life improve if you do reach your goal? If you think back to why you started this process, it will give you the motivation you need to continue.
  2. You will never reach your goal if you stop. If you keep going you have a shot at making things better for yourself. If you don’t hang in there you have no chance of reaching your goal.
  3. You never know how close you are to your breakthrough. It’s always the darkest hour before the break of dawn. Usually when things start to seem unbearable it’s because you’re near the end. Unfortunately, we don’t always see that or remember that when we’re in the midst of our trials.
  4. Change happens outside your comfort zone. As you begin to push pass what feels comfortable for you, you will experience the change you desire.  If you don’t ever push yourself to your limit you stay in a place of comfort. Consequently, you maintain the status quo and nothing changes.
  5. Real change takes time. Whatever situation you find yourself in that you want to change – whether it’s your weight, finances, or health – you didn’t get there overnight. You have to remember that getting out of that situation won’t happen overnight either. Too often we’re unrealistic about how long it takes to experience real change. Just know that it takes as long as it takes, but you will get there IF you don’t give up.

Just as I wanted to give up on my first day of juicing, I can tell you that I’m glad I stuck it out. Day two has been much easier. I’m less hungry and I have more energy.

So, if you’re telling yourself that it’s too hard I encourage you to stick it out. You’re much closer to reaching your goals than you think.

I’d love to hear your response to the question I posed in this blog. Why is hard an excuse to stop?

5 Reasons Most People Won’t Reach Their 2015 Goals

Let me start by saying Happy New Year! 2015 is underway and I’m excited about it. Like many of you, I’ve set my goals for this year and I’ve already started tackling them.


Setting goals is actually very effective for me. It’s something I do on an ongoing basis. I get great joy from looking back over my goals at the end of the year and seeing all the things I managed to get done. In 2014 one of my biggest goals was to participate in a triathlon. I’m happy to say I did that in July of last year.

Despite the fact that I enjoy setting goals and accomplishing them, statistics show that most people who establish goals or “new year’s resolutions” abandon them within two weeks. In fact, it’s estimated that 25% of the people abandon them after one week.

There are several reasons people fail to reach their goals. Here are a few of the most common:

  1. Unrealistic – Too often people set goals they can’t reach. For example, if you haven’t worked out for months or years or ever – then it’s not a good idea to set a goal of working out an hour a day every day. If you do manage to start out doing it, it will be very difficult to sustain. When someone can’t sustain an activity, they are more likely to abandon it.

  2. Not specific – When setting goals it’s important to make them as specific as possible. If you vow to eat more veggies, be clear about it. Indicate that you will eat at least one green vegetable during lunch and dinner. You can even go a step further and indicate which type of vegetable you’re going to eat. The more specific you are, the easier it is to track your progress.

  3. No timeline – Along with being specific you need to give yourself a time frame for accomplishing your goals. So, instead of saying you want to lose 10 pounds, add a date. You want to lose 10 pounds by March 1st. Having a timeline creates a sense of urgency.

  4. Lack of accountability- If you don’t attach any accountability to your goals, then it’s easy to let it go when times get hard. Years ago, I joined Weight Watchers. I’d been on tons of diets before then with very minimal results. But on Weight Watchers I lost 23 pounds! I can tell you without a doubt the accountability of that program helped me. Just knowing I had to get on that scale every week – whether I had a good week or not – was all the motivation I needed to stay on track. So, if you’re working out find a partner. Share your plan with family and friends who you know will consistently check in with you about your progress. Just have someone to whom you are accountable.

  5. No plan of action – I’m sure you have heard the saying – “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Whether you want to save money, lose weight, or buy a house, you need to have a plan of action. How else will it get done? To go one step further, put the plan in writing and keep it before you. People who write down their goals are more likely to accomplish them.

So, if you can avoid these common mistakes then I can say with certainty that you are off to a great start and on your way to success. All you need to do now is put in the work. Also, be consistent. It’s not the things you do every now and then that makes the difference. It’s the things you do consistently over time that will incite the greatest change.

Question: Which of these suggestions will help you the most as you set out to accomplish your goals for 2015?

Why You Should Get Rid of Animal Protein in 2015

Close-up of pretty girl eating fresh vegetable salad

While I was at the gym the other day a lady struck up a conversation with me about the holidays. She was lamenting about how difficult it is to eat healthy during the holidays because of all the temptations. Her biggest concern was the multitude of desserts at her office and all the Christmas parties.

I acknowledged the difficulty of avoiding the temptations. Then admitted that it’s a little easier for me to avoid the sweets at work because none of them are vegan friendly. She told me that she also recently became a vegan. She was so excited about the improvements she was already seeing in her health. She was really petite, so she wasn’t talking about weight changes. She was most excited about how she is now much more “regular”. Prior to adopting a vegan diet, she suffered from chronic constipation.

I know what you’re thinking – “this is a really personal conversation for two strangers to be having.” I guess I have one of those faces that make people want to disclose their personal stories to me. But I digress. Back to the benefits of being vegan.

She also raved about her improved digestion and increased energy level. This woman’s story was not unusual at all. These are the kinds of testimonies I hear all the time. It’s really the part that makes it easy to follow a vegan diet. Once people get past their initial concerns of what they have to “give up”, they begin to discover everything they will gain.

So, I want to share with you some reasons that you should consider getting rid of animal protein in 2015…and adopt a plant based diet.

  1. Weight Loss – Eating vegan eliminates most of the unhealthy foods that tend to cause weight issues. As long as people are making smart food choices they will lose weight. Several population studies show that a diet without meat leads to lower body mass index (BMI)–usually an indicator of a healthy weight and lack of fat on the body.

  1. Promotes Cardiovascular Health -Animal protein contains a large amount of saturated fats. By reducing the amount of saturated fats (dairy products and meat) from your diet and instead eating nuts and whole grains you will improve your cardiovascular health. Research indicates that a vegan diet reduces the risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

  2. Improves Cholesterol -Eliminating any food that comes from an animal eliminates all dietary cholesterol from your diet.

  3. Lowers Blood Pressure – A diet rich in whole grains helps to lower high blood pressure.

  1. High in Fiber – Plant based diets, which include a lot of vegetables, beans and nuts, are high in fiber. A high fiber diet has many health benefits, including normalized bowel movements, better digestion, stable blood sugar levels, and aids in achieving a healthy weight. High fiber diets also help fight against colon cancer.

The key to obtaining the most benefits from a plant based diet is to make smart food choices. If you stick to beans,nuts, whole grains, fruit and veggies you will achieve the most optimal results.

Once you begin to experience these healthy changes it makes it much easier to maintain this way of eating. I can assure you that the gains far outweigh anything you feel like you have to give up.

So, now I have a question for you: Do you think you can get rid of animal protein and incorporate more plant based foods into your diet?



How to Gain Momentum and Reach Your Fitness Goals

For the past month I have been working with a trainer to try to get ready for the New Year. There are some things I want to accomplish professionally, and for me, the success of those endeavors start with me being fit. I want to be my best self as I launch out into unchartered territory. If I feel secure with myself it gives me the confidence to pursue my dreams.


Prior to starting this process I was feeling really disconnected. I actually sought out a trainer to help me get some motivation and gain some momentum before the New Year. I had been working out and eating right, but for the most part, I was just going through the motions. That led to a plateau. I was no longer making any progress on my own. I might be a health coach, but I certainly find myself in situations where I need a little inspiration and motivation. If I don’t take care of me, I can’t be there for others, including my clients.

I know if I’m accountable to someone I tend to do much better. I also know if I’m paying for a service, I perform better. I don’t believe in wasting money so I have to get the most bang for my buck. I have to get the results I’m paying for.

I struggled the first couple of weeks. I floundered around trying to get into a groove. I needed to get accustomed to working out in the mornings again, and most importantly trying to track my eating. For months I’ve been winging it. That was not working for me.

Now that I’m a month into this process, I’m learning some lessons that are helping me get some footing and hopefully make some traction before I wrap this up this month. So, I wanted to share some of those lessons. Here are some things that make it easier to accomplish your health goals.

  1. Have a plan. It’s important for me to structure everything. I schedule when I’m going to workout and when I’m going to eat. Having a schedule helps me avoid getting off track. Also, plan for the unexpected or scheduled deviations. If you know you are going to be getting home late or traveling a lot, pack your meals and your snacks. This will keep you from getting hungry and avoid fast foods.
  2. Track your food. Logging my food is the best thing I can do for myself. Writing down everything I eat helps me avoid eating bad food. For me, I find it less appealing to eat a bag of potato chips when I know I have to log it later. When I don’t write down my food I tend to underestimate how much I’m eating.
  3. Get plenty of rest. If I’m going to be successful with my strenuous workouts I have to get my rest. If I’m working out at 6am, I can’t stay up until midnight. Recovery is so important when you’re trying to lose weight, and especially build muscles. Research shows that people who get inadequate sleep weigh more because they tend to snack more on sugar and caffeine to help them get energy.
  4. Make small sacrifices now to get big results later. I have to say no to things that will interfere with my eating and workout schedule. I know that I can’t alter my schedule too much because it’s so hard for me to get back on track. Therefore, I consider it a small sacrifice to skip a few events or dinners with friends so I can feel great later.
  5. Count every victory. I have to admit that I get really frustrated when I don’t see big gains on the scale. I’ve had those moments during this process. But I have to still acknowledge other gains I’ve made. I’ve lost inches in my waist and hips. I’m stronger and getting more tone in my arms. These are things that encourage me when I want to give up.

I’m using these lessons to help me complete this process. I hope you can adopt some of these lessons for yourself. Just remember, change is not easy. It doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve only been at this for a month. I never intended this to be a quick process. I understand that it’s a journey and there will be highs and lows throughout. Nevertheless, I have decided that I will stick this process out as long as it takes for me to hit my goal. I won’t quit when I’m tired, I’ll quit when I’m finished.

By the way, if you need a little extra support to gain some momentum to reach your 2015 goals, I will be offering a 21-Day Jumpstart Challenge in January. Check it out. If you feel it’s for you, I hope you’ll join us.

Now, I want to hear from you. What do you do to help you stay on track when you’re pursuing your goals?

5 Simple Ways to Enjoy the Holidays No Matter What You’re Going Through!

If there is no other time of the year that we can consciously sit and reflect on what we have to be grateful for, this is that time. In less than a week we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving. It’s a holiday that practically demands that we take a moment to be thankful.

Despite that, I realize this is the time of year that often has the opposite effect on a lot of people. As many are bracing to spend hundreds of dollars on Black Friday, others will settle into a great depression. The holiday season can be extremely hard for people who are unemployed. It’s also especially hard for those who have lost loved ones.

Nevertheless, I still contend that we ALL have a reason to be grateful. When times are difficult it’s harder to find any reason to express gratitude. So, if you are finding it difficult to do that, I have a few strategies to help you.

Here are Five Simple Ways to Enjoy the Holidays - regardless of what’s going on in your life.

  1. Be fully present while you’re with your family and loved ones. Make a conscious effort to give whoever you are with your undivided attention. Avoid texting and scrolling your timeline on Facebook while others are talking to you. Use the time to capture real moments with your family instead of taking constant selfies with the sole intention of posting it to social media. In fact, put your phones away. When you give someone your full attention it changes the dynamic of the interaction- for them and for you.

  1. Reflect on your life. Look back over your life to see how far you’ve come. How does your life compare today to how it was even five years ago. I’ll bet there are moments during that time when you couldn’t fathom that you’d be where you are today. Think back to a situation that you didn’t think you would overcome and now you’re standing on the other side of it. Were you single and lonely and now you’re in a committed relationship or married? Were you diagnosed with an illness that you weren’t expected to overcome and now you’re healed? Were you living with friends because your finances were so bad and now you have a place of your own? Were you in college and now you’re working in your field of choice? Give it some serious thought.

  1. Compare yourself to others. I know this sounds odd and it’s not something I typically recommend. But I mean it differently. No matter what your situation is right now, I can assure you there is someone in this world praying for the life you have. Think about it. If you have a car, a home, a family who loves you, good health, a warm house or even running water, those are things so many people desire.

Running water is a commodity that we take for granted in the U.S. There are 780 million people in the world who lack access to clean water. An American taking a five minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day. Statistics show that over 2.5 times more people lack water than live in the U.S.

Finally, if you have your health, you have something that millions of people don’t have. No amount of money in the world can supercede the value of having good health.

  1. Count your blessings – LITERALLY! I encourage you to sit down with a pen and paper and start listing the blessings in your life. Whatever you consider a blessing should be on this list. I challenge you to think beyond material things. As you recall some of life’s true blessings, that list will grow really quickly.

  1. Say “Thank You” – I want you to speak these two words out loud. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and say – “Thank You.” It’s one of the simplest things you can do to bring yourself to a place of gratitude. Repeat the phrase until it begins to resonate in your spirit. As it begins to resonate, stay in that space. If you do it right, you will likely be brought to tears. When you can say “Thank You” from a sincere place -despite the circumstances in your life- it will change your life exponentially.

My intention with this blog is to give everyone who reads it a reason to feel grateful. Please don’t allow the holidays to rob you of your joy. Set the intention that this will be the best holiday season ever. If you begin the holiday season from a place of gratitude I guarantee you it will be!

I’m grateful that you have chosen to read this blog! Now, I have a question for you: “What are you grateful for?”



How to Get Through the Holidays Without the Weight Gain

We are less than two weeks away from Thanksgiving, which signifies the official start of the holiday season. That means people will be spending, partying and eating way too much. Then as the New Year rolls around most people will vow to lose weight and get in shape.

scale with santa hat

So, I suggest we get proactive. I’m not saying you should forgo the great food over the holidays. Let’s face it, the food is one of the best parts of the holidays. Just don’t over indulge. In order to do that you need a plan. I’ve come up with a list of seven things you can do to avoid the holiday weight gain.

1. Eat a good breakfast. Don’t make the mistake of saving your calories until Thanksgiving dinner. You end up starving yourself and then eat way too much. If you eat a good breakfast and some nutritious snacks throughout the day you won’t be starved at dinner and you will eat less.

2. Decide your “must haves”. What are your absolute favorite indulgences that you cannot do without? Is it sweet potato pie? Macaroni and cheese? Fried chicken? Whatever it is, make the decision that you will indulge on those foods. Knowing that you will be able to have it without the guilt eliminates the desire to overindulge. Most people tend to binge eat on foods they feel are off limits.

3. Lighten up where you can. To make allowances for your indulgences, cut back in other areas. Put more veggies on your plate- instead of starches, drink water instead of sweetened beverages, and eat on smaller plates. Most importantly, avoid going back for seconds.

4. Make sure your meal is balanced. In most households people are just loading their plates with everything that has been prepared with no regard for balance. I know in my family it’s not unusual for someone to have potatoes, corn, cornbread dressing, and mac and cheese on one plate. That’s way too many carbs in one sitting. Ensure you have carbs, proteins and fats on your plate. Just by adding proteins and fats it’s going to keep you full longer and keep you from craving more sugars and starches later.

5. Don’t eat everything just because you can. Just because it’s all there in front of you doesn’t mean you have to eat everything. Only get what you need or just get the foods you really want.

6. Skip the leftovers. One of the biggest problems with holiday eating, especially Thanksgiving, is the amount of food that is left over. As a result, people are eating heavy meals throughout the weekend. If you’re hosting the dinner, make sure you give your guests food they can take home so you’re not left with all the excess.

7. Get in some activity – I know it’s a holiday, but that doesn’t mean you should take a holiday from your workout. This is the day you absolutely need to hit the gym or the park for a quick run. In fact, most gyms are open half the day on Thanksgiving. Even if you don’t get in a typical workout in the morning, you can at least take a brisk walk through your neighborhood after dinner. Grab a couple of family members you want to catch up with and take a couple of laps.

These are some simple, practical things you can do to be proactive and avoid excess weight gain. If you take the right steps and have a plan before the holidays begin, you will have less weight to lose in the New Year.

Of course, once the New Year kicks off, I have a plan to help you “Get Lean in 2015.” My Get Fit FAST – 21 Day Jumpstart Program will kick off on Monday, January 5th.
I will also be teaching a Tabata Bootcamp beginning Wednesday, January 7th. I’d love to have you join us.

Registration information for both events is posted on my website under Upcoming Events.

Question: Which one of these tips do you think will be most helpful to you?

4 Foods to Heal Sickness

For the past several months leading up to the November elections most of the debate has centered around three hot button issues – employment, education and health care. Whether its an election year or not, there seems to always be an ongoing debate in our country about health care.


The conversation most often focuses on access – who has it and who doesn’t. While we’re focusing on who can get insurance, there is a more important issue at hand – why so many people NEED health care.

When you look at the overall health of our society it’s clear that we’re in trouble. Most Americans are dealing with some kind of major illness, including cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. In fact, the number of people diagnosed with these conditions is startling.

According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

  • About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.

  • Every year about 720,000 Americans have a heart attack.

  • Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States $108.9 billion each year.

As for diabetes, the numbers are even more shocking. The American Diabetes Association reports:

  • In 2012, research indicated that 29.1 million people or 9.3% of the US population have diabetes. Of that total, 21 million people are diagnosed, 8.1 million are undiagnosed.

  • In 2010, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes was 25.8 million people  or 8.3 % of the population. The numbers are increasing rapidly.

Despite these shocking numbers the situation isn’t hopeless. If you are suffering from any of these illnesses, you don’t have to spend the rest of your life on medications. You CAN reverse your condition. The process is simple – just change your diet. I say it all the time – “Let Thy Food be Thy Medicine and Thy Medicine be Thy Food.”

Please don’t be deceived by the prescriptions you’re using to treat your symptoms. For the most part, that’s not changing your condition. If you take control of your health by your diet you can – in many cases- reverse  your condition. At a minimum, you can improve your condition and require fewer medications.

Now, here’s the thing. I said it’s simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. Changing life long habits is a process. It won’t happen overnight. There are no quick fixes. It takes time. The question is – how bad do you want it? What are you willing to do to reclaim your life and change the trajectory of your future?

Depending on your condition, the remedy will vary from person to person. I highly encourage you to consult with your doctor, and a dietitian if necessary, to create a lifestyle plan that works for you.

In general, there are certain foods and liquids that have healing properties that will improve your overall health. Here are a few I’ve chosen to highlight.

Garlic – has tremendous health benefits, including cardiovascular. It lowers blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, and regulates blood sugar in diabetics. Garlic is also a good source of Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C. One of the best benefits is its anticancer properties. Daily intake of garlic has been proven to reduce risk of most cancers, except cancer of the prostate and breast cancer.

Garlic is best if consumed in its raw state and added directly to your food. If you can’t handle raw garlic, it’s recommended you add it at the end of the cooking process. This will allow it to retain as much of its healing properties as possible. The longer it’s cooked the less nutrients it retains.

Apple Cider Vinegar – Vinegar has been shown to have numerous benefits for insulin function and blood sugar levels. Apple cider vinegar’s anti-glycemic effect is very well documented. Researchers say the vinegar blocks some of the digestion of starch. It doesn’t block the starch 100%, but it prevents at least some of that starch from being digested and raising your blood sugar.

It is recommended that apple cider vinegar be used sparingly and to avoid drinking it straight.  It’s so acidic that it could harm your tooth enamel and your esophagus. Dilute 1 to 2 tablespoons in a big glass of water, and sip it along with your meals one or two times a day. Studies show that vinegar can increase insulin sensitivity and significantly lower blood sugar responses during meals.

Cruciferous Vegetables – Broccoli, Kale, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, turnips, bok choy, and arugula are a few examples. Cruciferous vegetables are renowned for being extremely good for you. They contain phytochemicals and other nutrients (vitamins, minerals, and fiber) that may help detoxify certain cancer-causing substances before they have a chance to cause harm in the body.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, various components in cruciferous vegetables have been linked to lower cancer risks. Some have shown the ability to stop the growth of cancer cells for tumors in the breast, uterine lining (endometrium), lung, colon, liver and cervix. It’s recommended to eat these veggies several times a week and to consume them raw or lightly steamed to retain their phytochemicals.

Water- Our body is composed of about 70% water. So, consuming water helps maintain the balance of body fluids.The functions of these bodily fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature. Other benefits of water include: it helps your kidneys, promotes healthy skin, helps maintain normal bowel function, and it energizes your muscles.

In conclusion, I have to emphasize that eating these foods in addition to the Standard American Diet (SAD) won’t yield results. The SAD diet consists primarily of refined foods, sugar, starches, and processed foods. None of these foods supply you with the essential nutrients your body needs. As you incorporate more healing foods into your diet, you should gradually eliminate the bad foods.

So, I have a question for you: Do you believe food is  medicine?

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