Summer Lovin’ … How It Restored My Health!

summer lovin

We’re about two weeks into the summer season and I’m starting to feel the benefits. The primary reason for that is I can still vividly recall the end of last summer.

I was so disappointed to see it end. I had gotten into such a groove. I was working out consistently and I was eating the right kinds of foods; foods that were conducive to summer – salads, juices, smoothies. I was practically overdosing on watermelon! (It’s my FAV!)

Not to mention I was getting into great physical shape. When the weather is good I spend more time exercising outside and I’m naturally more active.

So, when the fall season began, I rebelled…BIG TIME! I did not want to switch to heavy foods again. My body wasn’t even craving that stuff. I knew it was going to impact me. But after a point, I was forced to drop my resistance. My training at IIN taught me about Ayurveda, so I knew I needed to surrender to the season if I had any shot at achieving balance.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Ayurveda is a 5,000 year-old system of natural healing that has its origins in the Vedic culture of India. It’s defined as a “Science of Life.” It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vital while realizing their full human potential. It provides guidelines on ideal daily and seasonal routines, diet, behavior, and the proper use of our senses.

Basically, using Ayurvedic principles we are able to create harmony between what our bodies need and the cycle of nature. That’s why in the spring and summer we crave light foods, and in the fall and winter we tend to crave heavy, comfort foods like soups and chili.

Well, I’ve been excited to embrace summer, especially now that I’ve relocated to Florida. Living near the ocean is conducive to a more easy-going, healthy lifestyle. Prior to relocating, I was under tremendous stress over my move, and my body was reacting to it. I was a slave to my flesh. I pretty much fed it whatever it wanted: candy, cookies, bread, chips, etc. These were my comfort foods and they got me through my transition.

Now that I’ve been in place for a month, I’m settling into a sense of normalcy. I’m no longer living out of boxes, and most importantly, my kitchen is unpacked. I know where my pots and pans are, and I can eat at home more often.

Thankfully, I’m getting into a groove again. I’m doing yoga, running, eating more salads, and replacing my morning oatmeal with fresh juices or smoothies. I’m basically giving my body whatever it needs. It’s craving a lot of yoga now because of all the tension I’ve been carrying around. I’ve never really enjoyed yoga because I’ve found it hard. I only did it because of the health benefits. But I can honestly say, I’m enjoying it so much! It feels so luxurious to spend an hour or more doing gentle yoga. It’s the same feeling as when you spend an hour getting a massage. This is a new experience for me and I hope it becomes addictive.

So, if I can offer you any tips from all of this, I’d say the following:

  1. Listen to your body – it knows what it needs. So many of us have grown accustomed to ignoring the signs we get from our bodies. But once you learn to listen to its promptings, you get better at it and it becomes more difficult to go back to ignoring its signs.
  2. Respond to your body – when it tells you what it needs, be responsive. I went for weeks ignoring how my body was screaming for yoga. My bones were cracking when I got up in the morning. My back was tight and stiff. But as soon as I succumbed to what it needed, I felt 100 times better and looked much more relaxed.
  3. Create a life of harmony and balance. It’s the only way to live. Avoid extremes. Don’t deny yourself either. Some days you may feel like eating veggies, salads, and smoothies. Go with that. But other days you may want ice cream or bread. Give yourself what you need, but don’t overindulge.

I hope you find my experience and these tips helpful. Summer will be over before you know it, so my prayer for you is that you enjoy it while it lasts.

Until next time…

Love, Peace, & Fitness!

Honey – Is it Hype or Does it Heal?

There will come a time in all of our lives that our belief system will be tested. For me that happened this past week.

I’ve been having a bad reaction to all the pollen in Georgia. It caught me by surprise because I never thought I had any type of allergies. The most I’ve ever dealt with is when the pollen count is extremely high I get a scratchy throat or watery, red eyes. That has been the extent of it. It passes as quickly as it comes.

Honey

But this past week things were worse than that. I had an ear ache, sore throat and an incessant cough that made it impossible for me to sleep. The more I coughed the more sore my throat became. For someone like me, medicine is an absolute last resort. I typically will not take medication. After being out of work for several days I wondered if my condition was more severe than allergies. I thought it might be bacterial.

Here’s where the test came in for me. I’ve said it many times in my blog, I subscribe to Hippocrates philosophy of “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” So, the first thing I wanted to address was that cough. It was the main culprit because it was keeping me from sleeping. After three days of no sleep I had enough. Something needed to be done.

As I began to research natural remedies for coughs and sore throat I got a lot of information about honey and its healing properties. Every article stated that it was effective in suppressing coughs.

I immediately ran out to the nearest grocery store to pick some up. When I tell you the results were immediate, I’m not exaggerating. I took one tablespoon of this honey and it ceased my coughing spells. After being up all night, I was able to stop coughing long enough to get some sleep. I took my initial dose early Sunday morning. By the time the evening came around my cough was practically gone. I kept it by my bedside all night in the event I woke up coughing. I think I took it once in the middle of the night.

By the next day my cough was gone. I continued to take the honey to alleviate the sore throat. It lingered for a couple of days more and then subsided.

Here are some of the reasons honey is so effective:

  1. Its thick consistency helps coat the throat while the sweet taste is believed to trigger nerve endings that protect the throat from incessant coughing. Honey is believed to be as effective as the common cough suppressant ingredient dextromethorphan. It can be used in treating upper respiratory tract infections.
  2.  It offers antibacterial activity. Honey is a natural antibiotic that can act both internally and externally. It can be used as a conventional treatment for wounds and burns by disinfecting wounds and sores from major species of bacteria.
  3. It’s an anti-inflammatory. Many clinical trials have been reported and revealed that when honey is applied to wounds, there is a decrease in inflammation and it will have a soothing effect.

A 2005 study published in the British Journal of Surgery found all but one of patients who suffered  from wounds and leg ulcers showed remarkable improvement after applying a topical application of honey.

Though there are researchers who doubt the healing properties of honey in some areas, most do not dispute its effectiveness for cough suppression and wound treatment.

Even though honey has great benefits for adults, it should not be used for infants. The Mayo Clinic recommends waiting until infants are older than 12 months because it may lead to botulism and produce a toxin inside their body that can cause muscle weakness and breathing problems.

My final word of advice is to make sure you purchase the best quality. I recommend raw, organic honey. It’s unfiltered and packed with enzymes, antioxidants and minerals.

I hope the next time you suffer from pollen allergies you will give it a try. I can honestly say I’m a believer. It worked for me…I know it will work for you!

Until next time…

Peace, Love & Fitness!

 

References:

http://www.medicaldaily.com/liquid-gold-7-health-benefits-honey-could-heal-your-whole-body-325932

http://www.webmd.com/diet/medicinal-uses-of-honey

5 Reasons You Should Go Vegan THIS Year!

History-Of-Veganism

There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t have a conversation with someone about my vegan diet. Most people are just curious about why I chose a vegan lifestyle. Others are curious about what kinds of foods I eat. I also meet quite a few people admit to having tried it before, but couldn’t stick with it.

Listen, I get that everybody isn’t meant to be a vegan. In fact, I recently read an article that said only one percent of the population is vegan. I’d have guessed it was higher than that.

Nevertheless, I’m finding there are more and more people choosing to make the switch. Even a young man in my office is trying to incorporate more plant based foods into his diet and cut back on animal protein. He’s making small adjustments. That’s typically what I suggest to ensure a successful transition – make small, gradual changes.

Since it’s a new year, I figure why not go all in. You know what they say: Go Big or Go Home! When we partially commit to anything we don’t get the optimal results. So, why straddle the fence with this?

The health benefits of following a plant-based diet far outweigh the sacrifices. I realize giving up dairy, eggs and meat isn’t easy. The first couple of weeks will be the hardest, but you can get through it. The key to success is to be prepared and have a plan.

Here are a few reasons you should go vegan in 2016:

  1. You already have some momentum. Most people are still feeling the high of the New Year and having a fresh start. Ride it out. You’ve already made up in your mind that you’re ready for a positive change. Adding this change will be easier if you do it now rather than later.
  2. You’ll see quick results. Since you’ll be making such drastic changes in your eating by eliminating eggs, dairy and meat from your diet your body will respond quickly.  You’ll actually look forward to getting on the scale!
  3. Your overall health is likely to improve. Research shows that vegans have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lower body fat. Obviously, not all vegans are healthy, but in general we have good health.
  4. You’ll have more energy. As long as you’re getting in your nutrients from fruit and veggies and you’re getting in enough calories, you will feel more energetic. Well planned plant-based diets are rich in protein, iron, calcium, and other essential vitamins and minerals.
  5. You’re helping the environment.  The production of meat and other animal products places a heavy burden on the environment – from crops and water required to feed the animals, to the transport and other processes involved from farm to fork. To the contrary, considerably lower quantities of crops and water are required to sustain a vegan diet. This makes the switch to veganism one of the most effective ways to reduce our impact on the environment.

These are just some of the reasons you should consider following a plant-based diet. There are many more I could list.

So, I will close with one question: if not now, when?

How to Gain the Momentum to Accomplish Your Goals

momentum

HAPPY NEW YEAR! It’s 2016 and I’m so excited about what’s to come. The new year is such a wonderful time! It offers us a fresh start and a fresh perspective. This is the time that we feel like we can do anything. The sky is the limit. I definitely try to take advantage of this moment of hope and expectation. I don’t make “resolutions”, but I do set goals. I set them throughout the year, but I kick off the main ones at the beginning of the year. The rest of the year I set sub-goals.

I have to say, I typically do pretty well with most of my goals. I tend to get at least 60 percent of them accomplished. I do well with the professional goals, but I often fall short on specific health goals. I think I self-sabotage my efforts. I start out well, and then when I begin to make progress on the scale I usually slack off. I workout with less intensity and eat with fewer restrictions. It’s not intentional. It’s an unconscious pattern. So, that will be something I can work on this year. I really want to make some headway with my weight goals. I need a break through. I know once I get it, I can help others more effectively.

Nevertheless, I do believe I have some insights to help you reach your goals. I have a proven track record of success. So, please allow me to share some of the strategies that work for me. These will work regardless of the type of goals: professional or personal.

  1. Put your goals in writing. The main reason you need to do this is to get it out of your head. Your goals become real once you can see them. It also gives you a means to track your progress. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stumbled on my goals list months or even years later, and have been able to see how much of it has come to pass. That’s such a blessing.
  2. Break down your big goals into small actionable steps. Identify the small steps you need to take to get the ball rolling. If you want to buy a house, there are several steps to get that done. Get your credit score to see where you stand; pay off small debts to reduce your debt to income ratio; start building your savings account to pay your down payment and closing costs; get pre-qualified, etc. There are so many steps to take. You can do a little bit at a time. All of a sudden it no longer feels overwhelming.
  3. Take immediate action towards completing those small steps. The sooner you start taking action, the sooner you’ll be able to generate some momentum. Those small steps will lead to big steps and before you know it you’ve accomplished your goals.
  4. Get an accountability partner. Immediately tell someone you trust what you plan to do. Be certain it’s someone who is supportive and will encourage you. Not someone who will tell you how impossible it will be to accomplish your goals. If you tell someone about your plans they are likely to occasionally ask you how it’s going. I encourage you to make it more formal by asking them to follow up with you. If you know you have to account for your actions, you are more likely to do it because you don’t want to disappoint anybody else.
  5. Evaluate your progress on a regular basis. Set up intervals to check your progress. These will be your milestones. It can be weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. Just whatever works for you and will keep you motivated. I don’t recommend letting it go too long without checking your progress. I’d say at least quarterly intervals are appropriate.

If you follow these suggestions you will find it much simpler to accomplish your goals. So, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to make a list of what you’d like to accomplish this year and then get to work. This year is going to pass by whether you do anything or not, so wouldn’t you rather reach the end of it and have made significant changes in your life. You alone are responsible for your destiny. There’s nothing holding you back but you. So, get to work and make 2016 the BEST year ever!

2015 – Finish with a BANG!

finish line ahead

It’s the beginning of December and I’m saying to myself (as usual) – “where has this year gone?” Time has flown by. At least that’s what we always say. When the New Year starts it’s hard to see the end, but once the end comes it always feels like the time has flown by.

I’ve been reflecting on the things I’ve been able to accomplish this year. What did I have on my to-do list in January that still remains now? Did I lose those unwanted pounds? Did I grow my business? Truth be told, the year started out well. I was excited and motivated and knocking things off the list. I participated in a health conference promoting healthy living. I started a nonprofit organization that’s intended to create community gardens in urban neighborhoods. I even made connections in the community garden world in Atlanta. I met people who were more than happy to assist me in my new endeavor.

That sounds like a lot, but somewhere along the way I managed to get off track. I lost my wind about a third of the way through the year, especially this last quarter. It’s hard to say why or where it all began to go south. If I had to guess, I’d say I lost my focus. I started allowing myself to be distracted by people and things in my life. I know from prior experience that when you’re trying to accomplish goals it requires laser focus. That’s true for both professional and personal goals.

One of the biggest mistakes I made when I lost my focus is I kept waiting to “feel” like doing something. That’s not how it works. Getting started creates the energy and momentum needed to keep going. If I sit and wait for the motivation, nothing happens. Energy begets energy. I’ve noticed that the more I sit around and watch TV, the more I want to sit around and watch TV.

The other part of discipline is knowing that discipline comes from doing it. The more you do the thing you don’t want to do despite how you feel about it, the easier it is to do it. I’m learning to leave my feelings out of the equation.

So, even though we’re in the final month of the year, here are some tips to get back on track in order to start the New Year with some momentum.

  1. Remember why you started in the first place. What compelled you to set that goal? What is it your health? Your lackluster job?  Your children? If those reasons still exist, then you need to get back on course.
  2. Identify what you’re willing to do to get to the end result. Determine what it is that you’re willing to give up to ensure you reach your goal. Anything worth having requires sacrifice.
  3. Don’t wait to feel ready, just get started. Once you start you’ll be able to create energy that you can build on. The more you do, the more you can do.
  4. Remember, you have everything you need at this moment to do what you need to do. It’s not dependent upon having more money, more resources, or more people. Do what you can with what you have. Trust in the fact that you will always have what you need at the time you need it. Sometimes that means doing something on a smaller scale, but do what you can.
  5. Believe in yourself. You are skilled, talented, and you can do anything you set your mind to.

So, as we prepare to wrap up this year in a few short weeks I encourage you to get back on your saddle and finish strong!  Until next time…

Peace, Love & Fitness!

Don’t Let the “Fall” – Lead You to Failure!

fall image

The start of the fall season has been a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, I love the beautiful scenery from the autumn leaves. I also love being able to wear my favorite winter boots – I think most women look forward to that.

On the other hand, it’s really interfering with my workout and eating habits. My preferred time to work out is first thing in the morning. I like to get it out the way so I don’t put it off the rest of the day. Unfortunately, since the mornings are chilly and my heater is on, I’m struggling to peel myself out of my warm, cozy bed.

As for my eating, I’m craving more comfort foods. It’s only natural to do this. Our bodies go through cycles just like the seasons. According to Ayurvedic theory, everything in the universe — living or not — is connected. Good health is achieved when your mind, body, and spirit are in harmony with the universe. A disruption of this harmony can lead to poor health and sickness.

For followers of Ayurveda, anything that affects your physical, spiritual, or emotional well-being can cause you to be out of balance with the universe. Some things that can cause a disruption include:

  • Genetic or birth defects
  • Injuries
  • Climate and seasonal changes
  • Age
  • Emotions

So, in order to achieve my balance, I need to adjust my thinking. My mind wants to hold on to what has been working for me in the past. For the past few months I’ve enjoyed eating light (salads, fruit, and smoothies). I’ve especially enjoyed the abundance of sunshine. I’m a nature girl so having beautiful weather makes me want to be active and makes me want to be outside. On the contrary, the cool, fall temperatures make me want to wrap up, and spend hours on the couch watching the Food Network and reruns of Criminal Minds.

I realize that is a slippery slope and will quickly put me on the path to the dreaded winter weight gain.  I want to avoid that by any means necessary. I’m assuming you do too. So, here are some suggestions to help keep your momentum with your healthy habits.

  1. Don’t resist the change, embrace it. I realize the important thing for me is to get my workout in. I’ve decided that I will get up on the mornings that I can to do my early workout. And on those days that I can’t get up, I can work out after work.
  2. Listen to your body. Just because my mind wants to stay with the salads and smoothies, my body is craving something different. I’ve dropped the smoothies for breakfast and added my oatmeal. I can incorporate smoothies later in the day for a snack if necessary, but as long as my body wants something warm and comforting in the morning, oatmeal it is.
  3. Incorporate activities that are compatible with the fall season. This is still a great time of the year to go hiking. It’s also a better time of year to get back into running. It’s harder to run when the temperatures are high, but fall weather makes for ideal running times. Finally, bring the activities indoors. Start that group fitness class you’ve been wanting try out, like spinning, Zumba, body pump, etc. Even if you like swimming, a lot of the major gyms have heated indoor pools.
  4. Prepare healthier versions of comfort foods. Pull out the crock pot and make your own chili or vegetable soup. When I make my own food I know it’s healthier. I can add as many veggies as I want. If it’s laden with veggies I can eat more food without adding a ton of calories.
  5. Nurture your soul by spending more time with family and friends. This is the ideal season to cherish your loved ones. If you’re going to be inside, make it quality time with family. Optimal health is about a holistic approach. When we nurture our mind, body, and spirit it fosters an environment for good health.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. Until next time…

Peace, Love & Fitness!

Reference Links: http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/ayurvedic-treatments

A Natural Approach to Combating Fibroids

I’ve come to realize that whatever you believe in will be tested. A familiar scripture in the bible reminds us that “the testing of your faith produces patience.”  (James 1:3). Well, my faith in my beliefs has been tested quite a bit over the past year and a half.

Apple & Stethescope

After a routine visit to the gynecologist I found out I have fibroid tumors. Actually, an ultrasound revealed that I have one huge fibroid that sits on top of my uterus.

Fibroid tumors are very common to women. Approximately 30 percent of white women and 50 percent of black women suffer from the troublesome symptoms caused by these nonmalignant growths.

Despite how common they are, I didn’t know much about them. I did my research and found out there were three primary options for my condition.  Unfortunately, because of the size of my fibroid the only option for me was surgical.

My immediate response was “No, I want to try a natural approach.” This was a defining moment for me. I was forced to test my beliefs. If I promote the benefits of following a plant based diet, I couldn’t doubt that now. Truth is, I never doubted it for a second.

Once I realized that many women have shrunk their fibroids using a natural approach I knew it could work for me. I asked my doctor to give me six months to try my approach. I wanted to see if I could shrink my fibroid by using a natural approach. Since I was basically asymptomatic, she was fine with that, under the condition that I would come back if my condition worsened.

I assured her that I would. Besides, she was uncomfortable performing surgery on me when I wasn’t presenting with any symptoms. I’m fortunate that my fibroid tumor isn’t located inside my uterus. That would certainly cause me to manifest more symptoms like bleeding and cramping. That’s why I never knew that I had them. I just knew that I was suffering from excessive urination. So much so, I knew it had to be attributed to something else. I just didn’t know what. So after researching fibroid tumors I learned that was one of the symptoms.

Taking a natural approach primarily consisted of nutritional therapy. Research revealed that nutrition is key in shrinking fibroids and alleviating symptoms. Most of the research emphasized getting rid of animal protein and basically adopting a plant-based diet. Since I’m already a vegan I didn’t think it was a lot I could do, but I realized there was room for improvement.

Here are some of the changes I made to my diet to tackle my condition.

  1. Eliminate sugar – simple sugars and refined sugars deteriorate health and promote fibroid growth. Simple sugars and starches are deadly to your overall health and wreak havoc on hormone balance.

  2. Eliminate wheat – studies show that gluten (a protein found in commercially grown wheat (i.e barley, oats, and rye) can interfere with the liver’s ability to metabolize estrogen. Non-gluten grains like rice, millet, and buckwheat are a better choice because they are more alkaline.

  3. Reduce caffeine – Caffeine promotes hormonal imbalance by compromising the liver’s ability to metabolize estrogen. It can interfere with the body’s absorption of iron- a major problem for women who suffer from fibroid-induced anemia due to heavy bleeding

  4. Take B vitamins – B vitamins like B6 stop fibroid growth by helping the liver metabolize estrogen efficiently and help restore hormone balance.

  5. Increase omega 3’s – consuming the right foods creates a balance between the omega 6 and the omega 3 fatty acids, thereby reducing the risk of hormone balance disturbance.

  6. Eat organic as often as possible – vegetables should be organic, free of pesticides and insecticides, and grown in soil that is rich in nutrients important for optimal health. In particular, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale and swiss chard are standouts for their ability to help metabolize hormones in a beneficial way.

One of the primary things that contribute to fibroids is high estrogen levels. So, an effective strategy is to be mindful of those things that increase estrogen and hormone levels.

I made  the changes and returned to the doctor for a follow up ultrasound six months later. What I found out was that my fibroids had not disappeared. But there was some good news – they had not increased in size. Initially, I didn’t see this as good news because the only thing I wanted to  hear was that my fibroid was gone or at least had significantly shrunk in size. I guess that wasn’t realistic.

However, my doctor was impressed. She even encouraged me to continue what I was doing. What I hadn’t realized was how quickly fibroids grow, so for mine to have stopped growing that was a positive change.

After I shifted my perspective and accepted that this was good news, I decided to get back at it. I’m still on this journey to shrink my fibroids and I know that I can. For the past few months I’ve been suffering from the repercussions of having estrogen dominance. It has been difficult to lose weight. So, I modified my diet (AGAIN) and I’m finally starting to see progress. I will tell you more about that in the coming weeks.

I just wanted to share my story and let everyone know what I’m dealing with because I’m not alone. I know I’m gaining a lot of knowledge through this experience and I plan to pass it along. If I can help one woman avoid surgery I will be happy. Some women really need surgery, but there are others who do not. I want those women to know there is another way – a simpler way.

If you’re one of the millions of women dealing with fibroids, I’d love to hear YOUR story. Please leave a comment.

Until next time…

Peace, Love & Fitness!

References: Healing Fibroids: A Doctor’s Guide to a Natural Cure

5 Tips to Go Vegan Without Losing Too Much Weight

scale

If you lined up every vegan you know against a wall, each one would look different. Some are lean and fit, some are average, some are overweight, and some are rail thin. The truth is not every vegan is created equal.

I had not really given this much thought until someone recently asked me an interesting question. She wanted to know how she could become a vegan without losing a lot of weight. I could see that she was already at a healthy weight. She was concerned about drastic changes in her appearance.

Though it is very normal to lose weight after switching to a vegan diet. It doesn’t have to be extreme. It’s natural for your body to initially change because it’s a major change for most people. When you start eliminating meat, dairy, cheese, and eggs from your diet you will lose weight. When I first became a vegan six years ago, I lost about 7 pounds in two weeks. That wasn’t too much because I was coming from a vegetarian diet. It wasn’t too drastic of a shift for me.

The main reason most people lose a lot of weight initially is because they don’t know what to eat. They remove a lot from their diet but they don’t replace it. Consequently, they end up eating rabbit food and are hungry all the time. Most people focus so much on what vegans don’t eat that they are unaware of all the great things we do eat.

So, I thought it would be helpful to offer some tips on how to transition to a vegan diet without losing too much weight.

  1. Count your calories. We usually count calories to reduce them for weight loss. But you should measure them to make sure you’re consuming a healthy amount. You need enough calories to satisfy your hunger.
  2. Eat a balanced diet with a good mix of fats, protein, and carbohydrates. Healthy fats help you feel satiated after meals. Some examples of healthy fats are avocados, nuts, seeds, and peanut butter (make sure you consume peanut butter with simple ingredients. It shouldn’t have a bunch of sugar. If you see more than peanuts and salt in your peanut butter, you don’t need it.) Some good sources of protein are quinoa, beans (i.e. lentils, black beans, garbanzo beans, lima beans), tempeh, and plant based protein powders. Some healthy carbohydrates are brown rice, sprouted breads like Ezekial bread, and beans. Beans are a good source of healthy carbs and protein.
  3. Eat your veggies, especially cruciferous veggies like broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage. They are high in fiber and protein. They make you feel full longer.
  4. Incorporate snacks between meals. Fruits like apples and bananas have fiber and natural sugars in them. A favorite snack of mine is nuts. There are tons to choose from like almonds, pistachios, peanuts, walnuts, and cashews. They give you the healthy fats and extra calories you need to avoid losing too much weight.
  5. Learn new recipes. There are so many recipes available that are so good that you won’t miss any of your former foods. I get tons of recipe ideas from Instagram. Just follow other vegans and you will learn so much. Avoid eating the same things all the time. Explore your options. Remember, variety is the spice of life.

These are some good suggestions to help you transition to a vegan diet in a healthy way without the fear of drastically changing your weight. If you incorporate these suggestions you will be healthier, leaner and more satisfied.

Until next time…Peace, Love and Fitness!

The 2nd Biggest Myth About Vegan Diets

If the most common question I get from non-vegans is “where do you get your protein?” Then the second most most common question is “what do you eat?”

Most people assume that our options are limited and so few. Especially if you say you follow a plant-based diet. Beyond fruit and veggies they can’t see it. Consequently, they can’t envision themselves adopting this lifestyle because it appears boring. Nobody wants to eat the same thing all the time, including me. After all, variety is the spice of life. That’s especially true with our food.

vegan meal

Though I tend to eat a lot of the same things all the time, I still love trying new things. I often take my favorite foods and put a different spin on them to keep things interesting. For example, I’m always looking for new ways to experiment with Kale. I like to sautee it in olive oil, garlic and onions. I also like to use it as a base for salads. Instead of plain lettuce, I will use Kale or even mix it with my favorite lettuce – romaine. Another use for kale is to bake it in the oven, add olive oil and nutritional yeast to make kale chips. You can add it to your favorite smoothie. Or even marinate it in liquid aminos, olive oil, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes to make a refreshing salad.

You see how simple it is to take one veggie and get so many meals out of it? There are so many more fruit and veggies for which you can do the exact same thing. So, if you’re on the brink of adopting a vegan lifestyle, don’t let a perceived lack of options deter you from fully committing. There are so many options.

Here are some tricks I use to add variety to my diet.

  1. Keep an open mind when it comes to fruit and veggies. Be willing to try (almost) anything once. Just because there are a few veggies that you don’t like, doesn’t mean you don’t like ANY veggies. I found this out about squash. I used to think I didn’t like squash. I eventually realized I just don’t like traditional squash. I had to try other varieties. It turns out I love butternut squash and acorn squash. Unlike the regular squash, they have more sweetness to it. I don’t like traditional or zucchini squash because they don’t have enough flavor for me. They taste too bland.

  1. Cook your veggies differently. That’s what I do with Kale. Broccoli is another veggie that offers variety. If you don’t like to steam it, sautee it or roast it in the oven. For the really bold and adventurous – eat it raw. Chop it up in small pieces and toss it in your salad. It’s a great source of fiber and will leave you feeling full.

  1. Explore new ways to add flavor without depleting the nutritional value. So, instead of taking a healthy vegetable and frying it or sauteeing it in a lot of oil, do something else. I’ve learned to start the sautee with oil, and then add a little water. As much as I enjoy eating broccoli, I don’t always like it steamed. So, to add flavor to it, I steam it in vegetable broth and squirt it with fresh lemon juice. It gives it so much flavor without adding salt or anything else to it.

  1. Get recipes from Instagram and Pinterest. I love following other vegans on Instagram. I’ve learned simple recipes that I otherwise would not have tried. I love eating pancakes on Sunday mornings, but I can never get vegan pancakes in restaurants. After spending time on Instagram, I have learned some amazing, delicious recipes for pancakes. Anytime I feel like I’m out of new ideas for recipes, Instagram inspires me. There are just as many options on Pinterest. Try both and see what works for you.

So, if you really want to try the vegan lifestyle don’t be discouraged by a misguided perception that there isn’t enough variety. I’ve shared some great tips with you that have worked for me. I’ve been a vegan for more than five years and I still get excited by all the options I have. I learn something new every day.

Now I want to leave you with a question: What’s hindering you from adopting a vegan lifestyle or at least incorporating more plant based foods into your diet? Leave your comment on my blog. I can’t wait to hear your response. Until next time…

Health Coaching for a Higher Purpose

communityGarden- greensAs I write this blog it’s the 4th of July weekend. Most of the country is celebrating our freedom while remembering those individuals who made it possible. Even our church service this morning was very patriotic. The congregation was asked to wear red, white and blue. We had flags displayed on the church grounds and in the sanctuary.

To wrap things up our pastor delivered a message that tied everything together. He started by saying “nothing that is morally wrong can be politically right.” It led to a sermon about righteousness and how it applies to our lives as Christians. He reminded us that it’s righteous to take care of the poor and under-served.

In that moment he answered a question I’ve posed to God for weeks. As I’ve been contemplating how I’m going to shift my focus I’ve been seeking God for guidance. I believe a great part of my purpose is to be of service to under-served communities. It is my profound belief that everybody should have access to whole, nutritious foods despite their income. That is the core belief that sparked the changes I’m making in my business and my blog.

My mission will be to provide low income communities in the city of Atlanta with access to whole, nutritious foods and to educate them about practical ways to use those foods to improve their health.

It’s the ideal way for me to take what I’ve learned and share it with the people who need it most. I don’t expect it to be easy. Real change takes time. But I do expect it to be worth it.

After leaving church, I decided to explore a low income community that I’ve been hearing a lot about. Emory University’s Urban Health Initiative is spearheading a project in Northwest Atlanta to create happier and healthier communities through educational gardening.

They literally started this garden on a concrete lot behind a neighborhood grocery store on the former Bankhead Highway – one of the most impoverished communities in the city. By working with the community and employees of the Super Giant grocery store they created the garden by using raised beds. It’s a classic example of where there’s a will there’s a way.

Exploring this neighborhood further confirmed the necessity of me making the shift to work more with under-served communities. Sometimes I complain that I’m not able to buy all organic foods all the time from Whole Foods. Nevertheless, I’m still fortunate to be able to access it.

That is not something that everybody can do. So, until that is a reality, I have a purpose. I can provide alternatives that allow low income families to access whole, nutritious, organic foods.

So, I’m no longer asking the question of what I need to do. I’m now exploring the many ways that I can help. I’m just one person, but if everybody did what they could to make life better for all, then it would make a tremendous impact. The beauty about these types of projects is there are so many people doing this kind of work that you’re never really alone. There are resources to get started no matter where you are.

If getting involved in or starting a community garden is of interest to you, here are just some of the many benefits:

  • Improves the quality of life for people in the garden
  • Provides a catalyst for neighborhood and community development
  • Encourages self-reliance
  • Beautifies neighborhoods
  • Produces nutritious food
  • Reduces family food budgets
  • Conserves resources
  • Creates opportunity for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education
  • Reduces crime
  • Preserves green space

The American Community Gardening Association offers a wealth of information about how to get a community garden up and running. Just visit the ACGA website at www.communitygarden.org. Follow the link to “Start a Community Garden.”