Yes, You CAN – Eat Healthy on a Budget!

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For a long time, I’ve subscribed to the belief that you can eat healthy on any budget. Though I still believe that to be true, I have recently come to realize that it’s a lot easier said than done.

I was preaching that message from the top of the mountain. Well, I’ve been in the valley for the past 10 months, and my perspective has changed.

There is no better teacher than the experience of walking a mile in another man’s shoes.

After moving to Florida last year my income dropped significantly. That’s when I had the epiphany that it’s much harder to maintain my lifestyle on a budget.

Suddenly, I had to decide between gluten free bread and whole grain; organic and non-organic; cage-free or regular eggs.

I was forced to reevaluate my lifestyle. Initially, I made the cheap, less healthy choices. But that took a toll on my health and my weight.

That’s when I began to ask myself the tough questions. How much was I willing to compromise for my health?”

My decision was I want to live a healthy lifestyle by any means necessary. So, I had to figure out which compromises I was willing to make. When you have a limited budget, it’s important to make every dollar count.

I realized I may not be able to buy the volume of things I normally bought, but I could make some changes and get the same results.

So, here are some simple things you can do to live healthy on a budget.

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1. Eat what’s in season – when it comes to buying fruit and veggies, this is the biggest budget savings. Foods that are in season are always much cheaper. Have you noticed how much cheaper it is to buy watermelon in July than it is to buy it in December? That’s because it’s not in season in December. Become familiar with which fruits and veggies harvest at what time of year. Right now, it’s the best time to buy apples. They’re in harvest.  They will taste much better and are a lot cheaper. In fact, this is the time of year I can actually afford to buy organic apples. There are several websites that can help you find out what’s in season. Here’s a link I used - https://www.seasonalfoodguide.org

2. Purchase more sustaining foods – when you can’t buy as much food, you have to be selective about the foods you buy. You don’t want to waste money on unhealthy, nutrient deprived foods that won’t sustain you. I’m forced to make better choices. I can either spend $3 on a bag of kettle potato chips, or that same amount on six sweet potatoes. Obviously, the sweet potatoes are the better value to my budget and my health.

On the flip side, avocados may be a little more expensive, depending on when you buy them, but their value far outweighs the expense. They are high in fiber and rich in nutrients. They’re considered to be a healthy fat, so they keep you full longer. They also contain antioxidants, so you will have amazing, glowing skin.

You just have to know how to buy them. You want to buy them with varying degrees of ripeness. Buy a couple you can use right away, and some that won’t be ripe for at least another 3 or 4 days. The harder they are, the longer it takes them to ripen. You want them squeezable if you plan to eat them right away. If you don’t understand how to buy them you end up wasting money because they all ripen at the same time, and you can’t possibly eat them all. Ultimately, if you make better food choices, you will be more nourished and you won’t have the desire for chips and cookies.

3. Choose different brands – often times we have certain brands we prefer because of our history of use or brand recognition. More often than not, preferred brands are more expensive. So, when possible, shop the store brand or a less popular brand. Just make sure the ingredients are the same. For example, I prefer to buy Silk or Blue Diamond Almond Milk, but the store brand (Winn Dixie, Trader Joes, Publix, Walmart, etc.) will be at least a dollar cheaper. Yet, it’s the same exact product.

4. Shop at alternate locations – if money isn’t a factor, I’d much rather shop at Whole Foods or the local natural foods market. These stores offer a quality and fun shopping experience for me, but that usually comes with a price. Whole Foods has the variety of whole, organic produce that I prefer, but I have to pay a premium for it. So, an alternative is to go directly to the source and shop the farmer’s market. This is great when you live in an area that offers a really good, affordable farmer’s market. It saves you save A LOT of money.

I had the BEST options when I lived in Atlanta. But now that I’m in Jacksonville, FL I don’t have a good farmer’s market. At least nothing that I believe compares to what I had in Atlanta. However, I’ve found a great alternative in Aldi’s. It’s a much cheaper grocery store that offers so many organic options, and at very low costs. They also offer a good variety of organic fruit and veggies. It’s a semi-traditional grocery store environment, with farmer’s market prices.

5. Distinguish between luxury and necessity items – one thing this year has shown me is the difference between what I want and what I need. A lot of things I’ve enjoyed buying in the past were just things I liked, but didn’t need. For example, I enjoyed a good plant-based protein powder. That little indulgence typically cost me anywhere from $12-25 depending on the brand. So, I’ve chosen to temporarily cut that out of my diet.

At this point, I think I’ve made my own case for the fact that you CAN eat healthy on a budget. You just have to be strategic and you have to be committed to living a healthy lifestyle. It’s a little harder to do, but it can be done.

Just remember – you’re WORTH it!

Until next time…

Peace, Love & Fitness

Journey to Better

I have been on a journey to wellness my entire adult life. But there’s a big difference from what that looked like when I began in my early 20’s and what that looks like today.

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In the beginning my sole focus was changing my physical appearance. I was consumed with calorie intake and working out. So, I evaluated my success by how many pounds I dropped in a week or a month.

As I have matured as a woman, I have evolved. I realize wellness is about more than my physical appearance. The very definition of wellness is…

a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

You can’t have total wellness without a reintegration of the mind, body and the spirit. This wholistic perspective is what inspired me to enroll in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to obtain my health coaching certification. It emphasizes the importance of achieving balance in every aspect of our lives.

The past couple of weeks I have been putting a lot of energy into improving my overall health, with an emphasis on my spirit. I shared my breakthrough in yoga in my last blog. I believe that breakthrough was the catalyst for my latest endeavor.

I’ve heard it said that September is the new January. I would have to say that’s true. I think it has to do with the realization that we’re approaching the final months of the year, so that makes us reflective. At least that’s the case for me.

I’ve been feeling a strong desire to reset. Initially, I was going to do a cleanse or detox. But instead of juicing or fasting, I chose a more spiritual route.

Since everything is better when you share it, I wanted to invite you to join me. I’m on a 100 Day Journey to Better. It’s all about taking the next 100 days to focus on improving myself mentally, physically and spiritually.

I began a week ago and the first 7 days have been AMAZING! I wasn’t expecting to receive such powerful insights so early into the process. If I’m experiencing this type of revelation at this point, I can’t imagine what I’ll be like at the end of this 100 days.

The best part is I’m not doing it alone. I’m a part of an awesome group on Periscope. It’s facilitated by Dr. Bertice Berry  a world-renowned sociologist, author and comedienne. Her generosity of spirit and wisdom is overwhelmingly awe inspiring.

If you’d like to get an idea of what this process is about – here’s the link to day one - Journey to Better .

If you’re uncertain as to whether or not this process would be beneficial for you, here are some indicators that you might need to reset:

  1. You desire clarity about your purpose
  2. You feel stuck
  3. You feel uninspired
  4. You have an inconsistent or no spiritual practice
  5. You lack joy
  6. You lack energy
  7. You’re not sleeping enough or sleeping too much
  8. You’re out of balance (excessive eating, weight gain, no exercise routine)
  9. You’re isolating yourself from friends and family
  10. You haven’t accomplished the goals you set at the beginning of the year

If you’re experiencing any of these things, you would definitely benefit from a reset. It’s never too late to start again.

I hope you’ll check out the link I shared, and if you feel led to do so, I hope you will join us. Don’t worry if you weren’t there for the beginning. You can catch up.

Until next time…

Peace, Love & Fitness

The Power of Yoga: 6 Lessons that Led Me to Love

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For years I’ve had a love – hate relationship with yoga.

It’s such a beautiful practice and I love the expression of it that I see from others. Yet, I hate the struggle it presents for me because of my limited flexibility.

I realize yoga is about so much more than stretching and flexibility. It is truly a spiritual practice.

This has been one of the most challenging years for me. Every area of my life has shifted and I’ve been forced completely outside of my comfort zone.

Recently, I finally decided to stop resisting the changes and began to embrace them.

That mindset has followed me to the mat.  I’ve been incorporating yoga into my lifestyle for the past few weeks.

I started out practicing once or twice a week because my body was so tense and I felt like I needed it.

Now, my yoga practice is aligning with my life. I’m experiencing a tremendous transformation in my life, and the same thing is happening on the mat.

I increased my practice to daily sessions and I’m amazed by my progress.

Obviously, my flexibility has improved. But here are some of the lessons I’m learning on the mat and in life.

  1. Be present and enjoy the moment. When I take the time to be fully present in the poses I’m not focused on the time. I bask in every sensation my body experiences. It reminds me that I’m alive.
  2. Be grateful. My body is functioning and moving and serving me in ways that I don’t take notice of often enough. I no longer take that for granted.
  3. Don’t be judgmental. I have spent most of my life being critical of myself and my body, especially this past year as I’ve gained some weight. But as I feel the changes happening in my body, and I become more flexible with every practice, I feel so grateful.  How dare I judge something that is working so hard for me. My body is a temple. It should be cherished. No amount of weight gain or weight loss will ever change that. My body is uniquely mine. Therefore, it is perfect!
  4. I’m enough. Whatever I bring to the mat on any given day is enough. Sometimes I can do more. Some days I’m capable of less. But whatever I have in me on any given day is enough.
  5. Know your limitations. My yoga practice – as is my life – is uniquely my own. I’m not competing with the person next to me or the instructor on the video. I have limitations. I can take a break if I need to or modify my poses. That’s perfectly ok.
  6. Be consistent. You get out of it what you put into it. Everyday that I practice I get a little stronger, and little more flexible. It doesn’t even matter how much time I put in each day, I just have to show up and do the work.

It amazes me how the challenges I’m working through in my personal life mirror those I’m working through on the mat. That revelation has been a tremendous aha moment for me.

These new insights are my inspiration to get to the mat everyday. I don’t have to fear or dread my practice anymore because I’m not going to get there and feel like I’m inadequate. I’m more than enough and I have just as much a right to be there as anybody else.

Now I get it. That’s why I didn’t want to practice yoga. I believed that because I couldn’t execute the poses perfectly I shouldn’t be there. I felt insecure.

It’s heartbreaking to realize that’s how I’ve felt in my life for so long.

But now I know better. And it’s empowering!  Neither life or yoga is about perfection.

As is the case in my life, I have learned in yoga that all I need to do is just show up! The rest will work itself out.

From here on out, I no longer have a love – hate relationship with yoga. It’s ALL LOVE!

Love for the practice and love for myself because now I can clearly see that my struggle was never about yoga anyway, it was all about me.

Namaste!

Please DON’T Overlook this Mineral in the Vegan Diet!

The primary reason most people consider a vegan diet, and subsequently adopt the lifestyle, is because of the numerous health benefits. From weight loss to low cholesterol to heart health there are a lot of health benefits to following a plant based diet.

kelpOn the fitness side, you’re also seeing many elite athletes switching to the vegan diet, if only temporarily, when they need to get in optimal health for competition. Triathletes, runners, bodybuilders, and football players have proclaimed the physical benefits.

On the flip side there are a couple of areas that must be monitored. When it comes to essential nutrients that can’t be obtained from fruit and veggies, vegans need to beware. The most common nutrients to monitor are protein and iron. These are always of concern, so most people stay on the lookout for issues.

As I indicated in my previous blog, I recently discovered the importance of iodine. I didn’t get a handle on my iodine intake soon enough and it caused – or at least contributed to – some key health issues I’ve been experiencing for the past couple of years. You can check out “This One Nutrient Drastically Impacted My Vegan Diet & Health” for more information about that.

Iodine is an essential mineral I don’t think most people give much thought to, but it’s crucial for vegans and vegetarians to consider. There are several reasons to be mindful of iodine deficiency:

  1. Thyroid Function – it can impact the functioning of the thyroid. Both too little or too much iodine can cause an enlarged thyroid gland, commonly known as a goiter. Hypothyroidism, in which metabolism slows and weight and cholesterol increases; or hyperthyroidism, in which metabolism increases resulting in weight loss.
  2. Brain Development – it can inhibit brain development in a fetus, therefore, pregnant and breastfeeding women should consume higher levels of iodine than the standard recommended amount for women in general.
  3. Mental Retardation – it’s the most common preventable cause of mental retardation.

Since iodine isn’t found in fruit and veggies, vegans and vegetarians are at greater risk for iodine deficiency. Foods high in iodine include dairy products, eggs, seafood and some types of bread.

The good news is it doesn’t require a lot of iodine to reduce the health risks. Iodine recommendations vary depending on age and other factors.  Recommendations are expressed in micrograms, which is one-millionth of a gram. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for teens and adults is 150 micrograms per day; pregnant women need 220 micrograms per day; and women who are breastfeeding need 290 micrograms per day.

Since I felt my health situation required me to take drastic measures to get my iodine levels on track, I added salmon, tuna and eggs to my diet. But you don’t have to do that. As a vegan or vegetarian there are things you can do, including:

  1. Eat iodized salt. I was consuming sea salt, which does not include iodine. The container of salt will indicate whether or not it contains iodine. Now, I buy iodized salt.
  2. Eat seaweed. Most of the iodine found on the earth is found in the ocean. Since the availability of iodine from seaweed is variable, be mindful of the potential to consume too much. The most common seaweed among vegans is kelp. As mentioned earlier, too much iodine can also cause health risks, including arsenic toxicity from excess kelp.  Eating seaweed a few times a week should suffice.
  3. Use an iodine supplement. If you are watching your dietary sodium and don’t use much salt, or if you prefer to avoid iodized salt, a small daily iodine supplement is a good idea.  A regular multi-vitamin and mineral supplement may contain iodine – check the label. The amount of iodine in your supplement should be close to the RDA for your age group.

As always, most of my blog content is based on my personal experiences, as is the case with this topic. These are just my thoughts and some generic suggestions regarding iodine. But I highly recommend you consult your physician for recommendations that are specific to you and factor in your overall health.

 Until next time…

Peace, Love & Fitness!

This One Nutrient Drastically Impacted My Vegan Diet & Health

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It has been a long time since I’ve blogged. Way too long! Not to make excuses, but there are a few reasons for that.

I relocated to Florida last year and for a little while my priorities shifted. I still care about health and wellness, but I have other projects I work on that are unrelated to this blog. Since I apparently can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, my blog got pushed to the side. Nevertheless, I’m back and I want to share a few things that have impacted me.

For the past year I have been struggling to stay on track with my healthy vegan lifestyle. It’s not because I don’t’ believe in it anymore, I still do. I may have mentioned in a previous blog that I have fibroids. I should say I have one HUGE fibroid. It has thrown me completely off balance – mentally, spiritually, and physically.

Fortunately, it’s not intrauterine so I don’t suffer from many of the physical symptoms other women suffer. My fibroid sits on top of my uterus and my bladder, so my only physical symptom is excessive urination. I joke that I have the bladder of a pregnant woman in her third trimester.  Actually, my doctor equates the size of my fibroid to that of a woman who is five months pregnant.

I’ve tried to take my health challenges in stride, but the past year has been tough. When I initially found out about my fibroid I resorted to the natural approach. I chose to tackle it through my diet. I truly believe food is medicine, so that’s always my first course of treatment. After about six months of diet changes I went back to my doctor. It didn’t shrink, but she was excited that it hadn’t grown any larger. That was encouraging.

However, there is one side effect that is quite discouraging. Since there is a connection between fibroids and estrogen dominance, I began to notice those effects on my body. The biggest effect has been on my weight. I’ve had the hardest time losing weight without a lot of effort, and I’ve been steadily gaining weight. That has impacted me the most, especially my self-confidence.

While I was struggling with finding balance, including hormonal balance, I didn’t feel inspired to blog about health and wellness. I tend to teach others as I learn, but this time I couldn’t do that because I’ve been trying to figure it all out.

Another change I noticed was in my hair. I’ve always had strong, healthy hair so when it started getting thinner and shedding more, I was really concerned.

Honestly, I’ve felt like my body has been invaded, and I don’t even feel like myself. I’m just beginning to find my way back.  I’ve decided that I do want to have the surgery to remove the fibroid. I’m going to have it this year. In the meantime, I’m taking charge of my life. I’m taking control of the things that I can.

I’ve abandoned the excuse that it’s impossible for me to lose weight until I have surgery. That’s not true. I may not be able to lose 5 pounds as quickly or easily as I have in the past, but I CAN still lose them.

I began to suspect that my iodine levels were deficient. The more I researched it, the more it made sense to me. I also believe there is a connection between my iodine deficiency and my fibroid growth. Being a vegan, I was at risk of iodine deficiency. Unfortunately, I didn’t know to look out for that. You hear so much about vegans lacking adequate protein and iron. So, I kept an eye on those things. But I didn’t do that with my iodine levels.

There are so many things vegans and vegetarians can do to get iodine. I’m going to focus a full blog on that next week.

I felt like I’ve been deficient so long, I needed to do something to have an immediate impact. About four months ago I added wild caught salmon and tuna into my diet. I chose these two because of their omega 3’s. I also added eggs. I prefer cage free because they too have lots of omega 3’s.

So far, I’m happy with the changes. I’ve seen a tremendous improvement in my hair and iodine levels. I’m not sure if I’ll go back to a strictly vegan diet or not. With the exception of adding the fish and eggs, I kept my other eating habits the same. I still don’t eat dairy, cheese, or meat. Most days it’s plant-based anyway. I have fish about 3-4 days per week.

So, now I’m on the upswing and I’m working to become the best, healthiest version of myself. If you too are trying to re-establish healthy routines, keep these things in mind.

  1. Take it one day at a time. Don’t get consumed by how far you think you have to go, do what you can today.
  2. Don’t compare yourself to your former self. Accept where you are right now. It’s okay. Just remind yourself that everyday you’re getting stronger and better.
  3. Keep it simple. Do one small thing each day to restore your health. Whether it’s drinking more water, adding more fruit and veggies, or just doing something active, such as walking, swimming, or biking. Positive change happens over time – if you’re consistent in your efforts.
  4. You’re good enough now. Don’t convince yourself that you’ll be good enough or better once you hit a magical weight loss goal or fit into an old pair of jeans. You’re good enough right now, even if you never lose another pound.
  5. Be grateful. An attitude of gratitude will help you appreciate where you are on your journey and remind you that life is good.

Until next time…

Peace & Blessings!

Summer Lovin’ … How It Restored My Health!

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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!