New Season – New Direction

new direction

In a few weeks I’ll hit a milestone –the two year anniversary of launching Plant Food ROCKS. It’s hard to believe it has been that long. My intention with the blog has always been to promote the benefits of following a plant based diet.

From that perspective, I’ve shared everything from healing foods to super foods. I’ve shared my fitness journey from hiking, to my 21-day yoga challenge, and my greatest feat of participating in a sprint triathlon.

I’ve also incorporated spiritual lessons I’ve learned about faith, prayer, and meditation. My favorite blogs have been those that have evoked the most response from you. Most of you tend to respond favorably when I’m transparent on matters that you can relate to.

As you know, I approach health and wellness from a holistic perspective: mind, body, and soul. Every area of our lives impact our health. If our lives are out of balance in any area, it’s going to impact our ability to obtain optimal health.

The last few months I have been reconsidering my objective with the blog. Some days there were things I wanted to share that fit my objective, but didn’t feel authentic. I can honestly say my desire has shifted a little bit. So, I’ve been working through that. I made the conscious decision to pull back on blogging until I was clear about the direction I wanted to take. I’ve asked myself: what’s next for the blog? More importantly, what’s next for me?

I’ve spent time getting to the bare bones of what I believe, what I’m passionate about, who I want to impact, and what I have to teach. At heart I’ve always been a teacher. Whenever I learn something, I feel compelled to share it with others. That typically comes through in the form of a workshop, blog, or sometimes while just having dinner with a friend.

I’ve come to a point in my life where I’m thinking about the imprint I want to leave in this life. How I can cause a ripple effect on the world – effect generational change.  It’s easy to convince ourselves that if we don’t have a lot of money or celebrity then we’re not capable of doing anything that really matters. We can’t impact real change.

I choose to believe that I CAN do something. The truth is – we all can. Just start with where you are and do what you can. At the end of the day, that’s all you’re responsible for- doing your part.

Well, I’m excited to say that I have clarity on that. I know what it is I’m supposed to be doing. On the anniversary of Plant Food ROCKS, I’m going to announce that change. I will say that it’s not a drastic change. It’s actually a very appropriate next step. It’s a shift from an individual impact to a more community impact. The next chapter for me involves getting to the heart of the community and impacting change with those who really need it most.

So, I hope that you will stay tuned to find out what I’m doing. I also hope that it will inspire you to step out of your comfort zone and pursue your own dreams. If you don’t have a dream, perhaps it will motivate you to begin to form one. Until next time…

Your Health…Your Way!

The power to live a healthy life is inside you. That was the theme of the Phoebe Sumter Women’s Health Conference I spoke at this past weekend. Hundreds of women gathered at Georgia Southwestern College to learn how to take control of their health. There is no way I could turn down the opportunity to impact these women’s lives. My intention was to inspire and empower to change.

lmp at health conference

I spoke from the topic of “Your Health…Your Way.” I like to come from a place of practicality. It’s so easy to get caught up in trends and comparing ourselves to others. Whether it’s taking a spin class, crossfit, or hot yoga. Every fitness craze isn’t for everybody. So, you have to figure out what works for you. Most importantly, you have to find a strategy that is sustainable. If you choose something that is too difficult to maintain, you’re more likely to quit.

Since it’s about a lifestyle change and not about a “diet”, I want to offer some practical strategies for eating and working out. I call it my Eat SMART, Workout HARD plan.

Eating SMART is about “mindful” eating. It forces you to pay attention to what you’re eating. Eating SMART means to eat with the following guidelines:

  1. Simple ingredients – read food labels to ensure you recognize the ingredients and can pronounce the names. If you don’t recognize it, don’t eat it. Also, look for words ending in “ose” (fructose, dextrose, sucralose, lactose, etc.). These are all synonyms for sugar.

  2. Measure your portions – be mindful of portion sizes. Measure your food if possible, at least until you get a better understanding of appropriate portion sizes.

  3. Accessible Snacks – keep healthy snacks handy. If you’re unprepared and end up hungry, it’s more likely that you will grab the first thing you can find. That’s usually not healthy. So, keep healthy snacks accessible at work, in the car, and at home.

  4. Real foods – limit processed foods and replace them with whole, real foods. Add fresh fruit or veggies to every meal – fruit with breakfast and include leafy greens with lunch and dinner.

  5. Tasty foods – add flavor to your food by using fresh herbs and spices. Experiment with different herbs like cilantro, parsley, thyme, dill, etc. They are good replacements for table salt. Also, use spices like cayenne, paprika, cumin, etc. These are great ways to add flavor without using heavy sauces or cheese.

These are great starts to get you on track to living a healthier lifestyle. In conjunction with eating SMART, you should avoid skipping meals, especially breakfast; stop eating at least two to three hours before you go to bed; make sure you include proteins, carbs, and fats at every meal, and drink plenty of water.

I know the typical recommendation is to drink two to three liters of water per day, but if you’re doing “Your Health…Your Way” I want you to make this work for you. Start where you are. If you’re not drinking any water at all, add a glass with each meal and build your way up.

In my next blog I will share with you what it means to “”Workout HARD.” In the meantime, you can get ready for summer with my new 21- Day Jumpstart Challenge. It begins June 1st. This will be a group coaching program with no more than 12 participants per session. So, REGISTER NOW!

Finding Joy in the Journey

April showers bring May flowers. As it is in the natural it is in the spirit. We got a lot of rain in Georgia during the month of April. Now as we are a few days into May, the spring weather has surfaced. It has been absolutely beautiful every day.

finding joy in the journey

Well, as I look back over the past month, it was pretty rainy in my personal life. I faced a lot of physical and emotional challenges. I injured my back during yoga, so I was in a lot of pain for about a week. I was unable to workout for almost two weeks.

I also began processing a lot of emotional baggage that has been lingering with me. I had some things I haven’t wanted to deal with, and since you can only suppress your feelings for so long, it all began to unravel.

When the unraveling process begins, its really scary. It feels like opening pandora’s box. You don’t know where its all going to lead and you don’t know what you’re going to find. This requires a great deal of faith. Faith in the journey. Faith in knowing that whatever comes your way, you’re equipped to handle it.

Aside from the fear of the unknown, there’s the fear of not knowing how long it’s going to last. How long am I going to be in this season of my life? This rainy season. Unfortunately, when you’re in the midst of your storm, it feels like it’s never going to end.

As the end of April approached, things started to change. After about a week and a half of constant rain and cool temperatures, the rain began to clear out. I began to see some sunlight peaking through the clouds.

Just as the rain has passed and the days are so beautiful, I have to believe that my spiritual life will mimic what has transpired in the natural. I’m an eternal optimist. No matter how bad things appear to be, I always believe it’s going to work out. I heard someone say, “it will all work out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out, it’s not the end.”

It’s important that I learn from every journey. I’m not at the end of this journey, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m gaining insights that are strengthening me.

Here are some insights I’ve gained so far.

  1. In everybody’s life a little rain must fall. When I’m going through hard times, I’m so quick to ask, “why” or “why me”. What I’m quickly reminded of is that we all go through things. Some people have greater challenges than others, but we ALL go through something. I’m comforted in knowing that I’m not alone.

  2. No matter how long it rains, the sun will always reappear. It can’t rain forever. In the old testament in the bible it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. That had to be horrendous, but it eventually came to an end. I’m reassured by knowing my rainy season isn’t here to stay. I don’t know the expiration date, but I know it will come to an end.

  3. What you resist persists.  When I’m hurting, I have a tendency to try to behave as if I’m okay. That is especially the case when I don’t think I’m going to be able to handle it. But what I’m learning is the more I try to resist feeling the pain, the more it continues to surface. When I’m hurting, I try to give myself permission to feel it – for a set amount of time. Maybe it’s a few minutes. When I’m really sad, I’ll give myself a full day. After that I have to move on. Otherwise, I stay stuck. Just giving myself permission to feel whatever it is I’m feeling I get past it much faster and much easier.

  4. You have to find joy in the journey. No matter how bad it feels, there is always joy in the journey. Maybe you suffered a tragedy, but that tragedy brought you closer to your family. Perhaps you found out how strong and resilient you are; or maybe it brought you closer to God. The challenge is to find that joy. We often think we won’t be happy until we get to the end of our journey, but joy can be found in the process. Happiness is based on what’s “happening” in our lives. Joy comes from within.

So, this is where I am right now. I’m not sure how much longer this season of my life will continue. But I do know I will get through it. I will continue to seek the greater purpose of this experience and remind myself that this too shall pass. In due season, THIS TOO SHALL PASS!    

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!

homer

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.

readysetgoal

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?

References:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983

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.

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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?