Lovely Lemon Nightcap

Since it helped me kick my coffee habit two years ago, I have been a huge fan of lemon water. At the time I tried it I was fasting. As a part of the fast, I decided to stop drinking coffee. So I replaced it with a cup of warm lemon water in the morning. By the time I finished the fast, I’d lost my taste for coffee and haven’t drank another cup since.

The initial appeal was the health benefits. As you know, lemons are loaded with vitamins, including Vitamin A, Vitamin B-complex, and Vitamin C. Drinking lemon water aids in digestion, boosts immunity, aids in weight loss, clears the skin, and reduces inflammation. Those are just a few examples.

Because of all the nutrients associated with lemons, I’m always recommending it to friends and family for a multitude of issues. My typical routine is to consume fresh lemon juice in warm water. It gives me energy in the morning and also serves to relax me in the evening.

I recently discovered another variation of lemon water. I’ve been incorporating this change for the past few weeks.

In this week’s blog I talk about the Lovely Lemon Nightcap, how to make it, and all of its benefits.

So, here’s what I’d like for you to do. Leave a comment below to let me know if this something you’re willing to try. If so, try it for the next two weeks. Then let me know how it’s working for you. Drink up and Enjoy!

My Secret to Eating Healthy Without Breaking the Bank

Have you ever uttered the words – “I would eat healthy foods, but it’s too expensive.” If you have, then you are not alone. This is one of the most common reasons most people say they can’t eat healthy.

In a perfect world we’d all eat 100% organic foods – at least I would. Unfortunately, I can’t do that at this point in my life. That is too expensive. My dream is to one day be able to do all of my shopping at Whole Foods. Until then, I break up my shopping list between several stores.

Obviously, eating 100% organic foods is the best case scenario. However, very few people can afford to do that. Its not hopeless though, there are several options in between the best and the worst case scenarios.

In this week’s blog my goal is to debunk the myth that eating healthy is too expensive. Truth be told, healthcare costs are skyrocketing. Obesity rates in the U.S. are at an all time high. So, when you look at it like that, we can’t afford NOT to eat healthy.

Watch this video to find out my secret to eating healthy without breaking the bank.

Eating Healthy Without Breaking the Bank

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is just an idea of what works for me. I’d love to hear some things you’ve done to eat healthier within your budget. Please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

The ‘Immortal Health Elixir’

For  years I was addicted to coffee. I drank two to three cups every day to get myself going. Nearly two years ago I stopped drinking it all together. It wasn’t planned. It happened naturally after a brief fast. During my fast I switched to drinking warm lemon water every morning. By the time the fast was over, I lost my taste for it. I didn’t want to be done with it, but since I’d struggled for so long to get off it I took the first opportunity I had to break the addiction.

kombucha

Since then I’ve been an avid tea drinker. I vacillate between green tea and black tea. My primary choice in the beginning was green tea. I always experienced such powerful results from it – high energy, clear skin, reduced menstrual cramps and bloating, improved digestion, etc.

It wasn’t until I realized I could mimic my coffee experience by adding almond milk and agave to my black tea. I know it’s not the ideal way to consume black tea, but I needed something to trick my palette. I was getting my “coffee” without consuming the real thing.

We always hear about the tremendous benefits of drinking tea, especially green tea. There are also plenty of benefits to black. Recently, I’ve been learning about the benefits of another tea – Kombucha.

Kombucha is a naturally carbonated fermented tea. It is typically produced in sweetened green, white or black tea. It has been used for more than 2,000 years to improve health and fight against infection and chronic disease. In fact, because of its health benefits, the Ancient Chinese refer to it as the “Immortal Health Elixir.” It only came to the U.S. in the 1990’s. Though there has been rich anecdotal history and research in other countries that document the benefits of this tea, there have been very few studies done in the U.S. Nevertheless, it has shown to promote numerous health benefits.

1. Kombucha is primarily lauded for its ability to detox the body. It’s loaded with enzymes and organic acids that help detoxify the body. This reduces the load on the pancreas, liver and kidneys, and helps the body rid itself of unwanted wastes and destroys cancer cells.

2. Kombucha promotes gut health and improves digestion. It is loaded with probiotic bacteria and yeast that make their way into the gut and ward off parasites and pathogens. This has a myriad of benefits such as fighting candida (harmful yeast) overgrowth, mental clarity, and mood stability.

3. Kombucha  is low glycemic and non-inflammatory.

4. Kombucha improves joint function. It contains glucosamines, which are a strong preventive and treatment for all types of arthritis. Glucosamines help preserve cartilage structure and prevent joint degeneration.

So, these are just a few of the many benefits of Kombucha. It can be bought in natural foods stores like Whole Foods. I’ve also found it in Kroger. If you’re more hands on, you can actually make it yourself for a fraction of the cost to buy a bottle.

Finally, with daily consumption you can start to see health benefits within one week, including boosts in your energy level. For more chronic illnesses you can see results within one year.

Question: Have you ever tried Kombucha tea or experienced its healing effects?

Life in the “Dis-Comfort” Zone

As of late I have found myself in a constant state of discomfort. I mean this spiritually, emotionally, and physically. From a spiritual perspective, I’m on a never ending quest to become the best possible version of myself. That requires me to try to walk out the Word of God daily. As anyone on this Christian journey knows, that is no small feat. I have to continuously analyze my actions, behavior, and reactions.

discomfort zone

Emotionally, I’m checking my feelings about critical relationships in my life. I’m assessing who I want in my life, as well as what I want and need from people in my life.

Physically, it’s two fold. First, I’m not currently satisfied with my body/weight right now, so that’s uncomfortable. The second part to that is I’m challenging my physical limits as I’m preparing for an upcoming sprint triathlon. I believe this physical aspect to be the greatest level of discomfort of them all because it’s magnifying the other areas. The physical challenges reveal a multitude of spiritual lessons.

On the physical level, my triathlon training is the hardest thing I’ve attempted in a long time. It scares me the most. It’s requiring me to do things I’m not yet physically capable of doing. In conjunction with the triathlon training, I’ve been preparing for a half marathon. Each week during my runs I add miles to my long run distances. Two weeks ago I ran 13.1 miles. I haven’t run that far since I participated in my first half marathon in 2007. It was intimidating, scary, and down right painful. The last three miles felt impossible. By the last mile I was in excruciating pain from my waist down.

Regardless of how hard it was, I refused to stop. I didn’t want to stop running because I was too close to my goal. I adjusted my course. I reduced my speed, but I wouldn’t stop. When I hit my distance I felt relieved. I felt proud of myself for keeping at it. But I still felt awful.

What I’m holding on to now from that ordeal is the experience of not giving up. I was so beyond my comfort zone during those last few miles. I didn’t know how I’d finish. What I eventually realized was if I had any shot at reaching my goal, I had to get okay with being uncomfortable. I’d never felt that bad  before on a run. It was a foreign feeling. I was definitely outside of my comfort zone. That’s when real change happens. It happened for me that day. I shifted my mindset. I go back to that day even now as I’m about to do something I don’t want to do, especially a hard workout. That run is now my barometer. I tell myself, “if I could run 13.1 miles, I can do this.” No workout I currently do is THAT hard!

To really get this lesson in my spirit I have to start practicing it –being in the “dis-comfort zone.” I have to do this in all areas of my life. When I’m overwhelmed with all of my projects and I get to the point where I want to give up, I have to remember that I’m in unchartered territory  - I’m outside my comfort zone. Eventually, I will get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Question: When was the last time you were outside your comfort zone?

My BIGGEST Fear – Why I Had to “Do it Afraid”

Earlier this year when I decided to participate in a triathlon I had two primary objectives: to overcome my fear and to stretch beyond my comfort zone. I’ve always secretly wanted to participate in a triathlon. My inability to swim and my fear of swimming in anything besides a pool really paralyzed me. So far, the main thing propelling me forward has been my desire to experience a feeling of accomplishment. Not just any feeling of accomplishment, but the one you get when you know you did something that you NEVER thought you could do. I know from past experience that when I do something I never thought I could do, it gives me the confidence to try even more things.

My First Swim Practice

Since I made this declaration in January I’ve taken a series of small steps to help me reach my goal of completing my first sprint triathlon in June. First, I joined the Atlanta Triathlon Club. Next I started following the training calendar with the planned workouts. The last big step is what inspired this blog. I showed up for my first swim practice.

This was the HARDEST thing for me to do! I procrastinated for three weeks before I mustered up the courage to show up for practice. Aside from putting on a bathing suit, which I haven’t done in years, I was mortified to walk in to that swim center as a grown woman who can’t swim. I knew I’d likely be the only one. I feared I would automatically stand out. When I walked in I was terrified and intimidated. I was 15 minutes late and everybody was already in the pool swimming laps. The coach asked me to get in the “beginner’s” lane. Well, it was not what I’d imagined because all the “beginners” were coming towards me at full speed – just like the “experienced” swimmers in the other lanes. I was literally gripping the side of the wall trying to get out of the way. It was then the coach realized I was serious when I said I couldn’t swim. For my safety, and to avoid disrupting the practice, he knew I needed to get on the other side of the pool. Forget swimming laps, my assignment was to just get acclimated to the water.

When I was in that water watching the other swimmers practice, two things happened. First, I kept telling myself, that I could do it. That I would do it. So, I just started putting my face under water, kicking off the wall, and practicing floating. I gradually became more comfortable.

The second thing that happened was I began to visualize myself swimming laps with the team. The more I saw them pass me, the more convinced I became that I will soon join them. That was the most empowering thing. My entire attitude shifted. Just by showing up I knew that I’d taken the first step to realizing my dream. Showing up was half the battle; the hardest part of the battle. So, I guess my take away is – the most important thing we can do when facing our fears is to just show up and do it afraid. After all that’s what courage is, doing the thing that you’re afraid of in spite of fear.

By the way, what sealed this experience was the swimming coach volunteered to give me a quick swim lesson after practice. He reassured me that I would get there. He reminded me that at some point everybody in that pool was in the same position I found myself in at that moment. He dispelled my greatest fear of being judged. Nobody there judged me. They cheered me on and encouraged me to stick with it.

Even now, I’m not practicing with the team yet, but I’m getting there. I have a friend who is a former swim instructor who has committed to work with me. My goal is to be swimming on my own by April when the club starts the open water swim practice. That gives me about three weeks. I will do this!  The video of me swimming laps is coming…stay tuned!

Question: Can you recall a time you faced a major fear and overcame it?

Is Dairy Giving You Acne?

On a recent trip to Whole Foods the cashier noticed the items in my basket and asked if I were a vegan. She expressed her interest in trying it out. Like most people, she was a little reluctant because she assumed it would be too hard. She went on to say that even if she didn’t commit to trying a vegan diet, she at least wanted to try to avoid dairy. I noticed that she had acne and I encouraged her to definitely work on getting dairy out of her diet. Let me explain why.

dairy=acne

First, I wrote a blog last year about why dairy, especially milk, does not do the body good. It’s called, “Got Milk, Let’s Hope Not.” I addressed some of the common myths associated with why people think they need dairy, especially for the calcium and Vitamin D. So, I won’t get too deep into that aspect. You can go back to review that blog post.

According to statistics we now have more than 17 million acne sufferers, and there are dozens of infomercials offering topical solutions to fix it. As an advocate for following a plant based diet, I can tell you, the primary solution to most acne (severe cases of acne may be different) is not found in what you put on your skin, but more so in what you put in your mouth.

A 2007 study carried out by Harvard School of Public Health found that there was a clear link between those who drank milk regularly and suffered with acne. Interestingly, those who drank skimmed milk suffered with the worst breakouts, with a 44% increase in the likelihood of developing blemishes. It is thought that processing the milk increases the levels of hormones in the drink.

According to doctors, much of the milk that we drink is produced by pregnant cows and contains high levels of hormones that can send oil glands into overdrive. Progesterone, Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1) as well as compounds that the human body turns into dehydrotestosterone (DHT) are passed on to the milk, which can aggravate acne. Unfortunately, organic milk from cows is not exempt. The hormones in organic milk are just as bad.

So, here are a few things you can do to improve your acne through your diet. Each of these have anti-inflammatory effects on the skin.

  • Replace the calcium that you would normally get from dairy by eating other foods such as calcium-rich leafy greens like kale, mustard greens, bok choy, and broccoli.
  • Incorporate more omega 3 fatty acids into your diet. Though fish is the main source of omega 3′s, there are several plant based sources, including flaxseed, walnuts and canola oil. Flaxseed is the best plant source for essential fatty acids.
  • Consume more antioxidants, like Vitamins A, C, and E, which can be found in a host of fruits and vegetables (i.e. kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, oranges, etc.)
  • Consume more flavanoids, which are found in red wine, colorful fruits and vegetables, etc.
  • Drink green tea.

So, even if you’re skeptical as to whether or not dairy is causing your acne, follow a dairy-free diet for at least four weeks to see if your skin improves.

References/Links:

A MUST See for Parents – Say Goodbye to Childhood Ear Infections!

You don’t have to be a parent to know that the most frequent cause of infant distress is ear infections. In fact, except for wellness baby visits, ear infections are the most common reason for trips to the pediatrician. They account for approximately 30 million visits a year in the United States.

babyholdingears

Ear infections are such a frequent occurrence in infants and children that most parents expect it to happen and helplessly suffer through it. Well, according to Dr. Jeremy Hess there is hope and help for parents. Best of all, it’s a solution that doesn’t require prescription drugs.

I introduced Dr. Hess through my video blog a few weeks ago when I kicked off a three part series on the benefits of chiropractic care. Through his practicehe has successfully treated and reversed a host of illnesses, including asthma, fertility issues, and ear infections.

In this final part of the series, Dr. Hess discusses his new book “Baby Designed by God.” His book educates parents about the God given methods of pregnancy, birthing and raising healthy children.

If you’re a parent of young children, this episode is a MUST see.

Dr. Jeremy Hess

Dr. Hess shares a practice in Stockbridge, GA with his wife Dr. Amanda Hess. For more information on their services, please visit their website at www.godiscoverhealth.com. You can also find his book, Baby Designed by God on his website.

Question: Have you ever benefited from chiropractic care? Would you consider it as an option for your infant or child?

 

I admit it — I’m a FRAUD! Living a Double Life!

In last week’s blog I shared why I believe running is a metaphor for life.  You get out of it exactly what you put into it. If you get out and do it, you can get better at it and you improve your performance. If you do nothing, nothing changes.
double life
For all the years I’ve been running I’ve had a love/hate relationship with it. I don’t particularly enjoy getting out there to do it, but I always know I’m going to feel much better when it’s over. It gives me such a sense of accomplishment. It has only been fairly recent that I’ve begun to really enjoy it. It’s one of the few activities I use to clear my head and to stay in the moment. I get that same feeling from hiking and yoga. Each of those force me to stay present.
Now, I’m gaining something even better. It wasn’t until I finished my long run two weeks ago that I began to notice the contradiction of my behavior on the road versus my behavior in life. It has me feeling like a fraud living a double life, and it’s time to come clean!

1. In life, I often compare myself to others. I look at what others have accomplished and question why I haven’t done the same or better. And if I’m being honest, I’ve occasionally allowed the successes of others make me feel bad about what I haven’t done.

When I run I don’t compare myself to others. I never get caught up in the hype at the starting line. I set my own pace because I know what I have to do to run my best race. When people push ahead at break neck pace I graciously move to the side and let them pass. What I always tell myself is, those same people pushing pass me right now, I will be lapping them in a couple of miles. More often than not, that’s exactly what happens by the time I’m halfway through the race.

2. In life, I often allow myself to get thrown when I’m having a bad day or a series of bad days. I expect things to go well and when it doesn’t it can throw me off course or send me into a downward spiral of self criticism. I tend to think I’m always suppose to be on my game and when I’m not I beat myself up.
However, in running, I accept that every run will be different. I never expect that just because my previous run was good the one I’m currently running will be the same or better. In fact, after coming off a good run I tend to expect the next one to be bad. When it isn’t I’m pleasantly surprised. But when it does go bad, I don’t let it bother me. I just tell myself I’m doing the best I can on that given day and tomorrow will be better if I hang in there.
3. In life, I’m extremely judgmental of myself. I’ve started to get better, but I still have a lot of room to grown in this area. In running, I show myself much more compassion.
4. In life, my ambition gets the best of me. I set a lot of goals to keep me motivated and inspired. That’s not a bad thing. The problem this presents for me is I don’t allow myself time to savor the accomplishments of my goals before I’m on to the next thing. I rarely take it in. Consequently, I don’t see all I’ve accomplished in my life. I rarely pay attention to it until someone else brings it to my attention. I just don’t see it. However, in running I’m the complete opposite. I take time to celebrate the small victories.  I will ride off the high from victories on the road, especially when I  meet my mileage and speed goals.
5. In life, I will feed into the negativity and the fear that comes from stretching beyond my comfort zone. When I’m in the midst of a challenge, I have a harder time encouraging myself for an extended period of time. I will do it for a minute, then get back to being discouraged.
In running, I encourage myself the entire way through until I finish. It’s easier to encourage myself when I’m in the midst of the run, when it’s hard. I will do everything possible to prevent myself from quitting. I will slow my pace, give myself encouraging self talk. I say, “you’ve got this.”… “you can do it”… “you’re more than half way through”…”you’re past the point of no return just stick it out for a little while longer.”
All of those things help me get back to the moment and focus on the task at hand – finishing my race.
Even as I’m writing this so many bells are going off in my head. I’m overcome with “Aha” moments. It’s clear to me now that If I can exhibit such an awesome and winning attitude when I’m facing challenges in running, I can do it in life. I’m the same person, I just have to tap into that part of me more often in EVERY area of my life.
These last two blog posts have definitely been a turning point for me. I hope they have allowed you to see yourself as I have seen myself. I also hope you will share your personal revelations with me. I’d love to hear from you!

Why Running is More than Exercise – A Metaphor for Life!

publix10kI have been a runner for more than 20 years. It began for me when I was 17 and started preparing to go to boot camp. I started running in my neighborhood because I knew it would be a part of basic training. And it was. We ran every day. Beyond boot camp I continued to run as a part of my exercise regimen to stay in shape. I’ve easily participated in more than a dozen races, including 5k’s, 10k’s and one half marathon. Even though it’s something I’ve always done, it’s not something I’ve always enjoyed. Nor is it something I’ve always considered myself to be really good at. I used to compare myself to other runners. Since I’m not what I consider a fast runner, I’ve never given myself credit for being halfway good at it.

In recent years, I’ve changed my perspective about running. What I like about it most is that it’s a metaphor for life. In running, as it is in life, you get out of it what you put into it. When people are trying to improve in running I always tell them, “if you want to get better at it, you have to do it more.” You don’t become a better runner by wishing it or by watching other people. You have to get out there and put one foot in front of the other. You have to start where you are. For some people, it means starting with a walk, then increasing to a walk/run, then ultimately all running. For others they just start running, as I did. I typically start out at a slow pace to warm up and then pick up my speed as I go along, ultimately finishing strong.
It’s so encouraging because as you do it, you will become stronger and you quickly begin to see physical and emotional changes. Your endurance builds up rather quickly over time. Eventually it gets easier to cover distance at a faster pace.
Here’s the other part about running. You have to accept that every day is not the same. Some days you will do more than you expect, and the next day you can barely cover half the distance of your best run. It can feel so discouraging if you let it. I find that I tend to give myself permission to have bad days in running. However, in other areas of my life I tend to beat myself up when I have a bad day, especially when I don’t accomplish the goals I set for myself.
This past weekend I experienced a great victory. I am in the process of  simultaneously training for a half marathon in April and a sprint triathlon in June. My training schedule includes long runs on the weekends. This past weekend I was scheduled to do an 8 mile run. I was extremely anxious about this milestone because I haven’t been covering long distances lately. I’m a seasonal runner. I don’t run much in the winter. On my run days, I’ve been doing an average of 3 miles. So, to jump to 8 miles was scary.
One of my best strengths as a runner is I can cover distance. I think it’s because I’ve learned to set my own pace – I don’t try to keep up with others. I don’t run fast, but I can run far when I’m rested and prepared. I also prefer to run my entire distance, I don’t like to stop and walk, unless I’m injured or in pain. Otherwise, I keep at it. When I went out to run on Saturday I kept telling myself, I probably wont’ run it all, but I’ll do the best I can. The most important thing for me was to cover the distance. Well, not only did I run the distance, it didn’t feel hard at all. I actually could’ve run another mile or 2 if I had to. I can’t describe how incredible it felt to accomplish that goal. I felt AMAZING!
As I’ve reflected on that run, I’ve started to see how I can take that same approach in the areas I’m struggling with in my professional life. Here’s my take away.
In ALL things:
1. Prepare as much as you can.
2. Be determined to do it afraid.
3. Do your best and accept that it’s enough.
4. Don’t give up! Run the race with endurance.
5. Know that when you do something you didn’t think you could do, it gives you confidence. It inspires you to continue to push beyond your comfort zone and tackle other goals you’ve set for yourself.
Next week, I will continue this topic. I will share more of the life lessons I’ve learned from running. These revelations really helped me. I hope it does the same for you.
Question: Are there any ordinary activities you do that you’ve gleaned any life or spiritual lessons?

My Visit to Vegan Heaven!

When you choose to follow a vegan lifestyle you get accustomed to being the “minority” in the group, especially when you dine out. With the exception of certain cities that are really vegan friendly, there will be limited options on most menus. I’ve grown accustomed to it, so I’ve learned to do one of two things – eat before I go to the restaurant or order a bunch of side items when I get there.

On those occasions that I encounter a menu that does have authentic vegan options, it will typically be about three or four options if I’m lucky.  Atlanta is a fairly vegan friendly city. I can easily find something to eat on the buffet at Whole Foods or Sevenanda. I even occasionally visit Soul Vegetarian or Life Grocery Cafe. Life Grocery offers raw vegan foods. But for the most part, Atlanta doesn’t have a ton of “vegan restaurants.”

ceviche

Well, last weekend I had the pleasure of dining at one of Atlanta’s vegan restaurants, so I feel compelled to write about it. A friend of mine, who is also a vegan, and I went to Cafe Sunflower in Buckhead. We were like two kids in a candy store. The menu was incredible! They offer so much delicious food even a non-vegan would enjoy it. We were so amazed by the offerings that we couldn’t believe they were vegan. We had to keep asking, “is this vegan?” I know the waitress was sick of us repeatedly asking that.

It has been so long since I could just go to a restaurant and have so much vegan food. From the appetizer to dessert we were in vegan heaven.  For appetizers we had ceviche, spicy tomato lentil soup and wild mushroom soup. For our entrees we had fried avocado tacos, and vegan vegetable quiche. And for dessert some sort of caramel cake. I only had a couple of bites of dessert, but it was rich enough to satisfy the desire for it without overindulging.

vegandessert

We were so giddy after lunch. We both wished we could have that experience everyday. Maybe if we had that experience everyday we wouldn’t appreciate it as much. I’m fortunate to have several close friends who eat like I do, so when we’re in our circle we are good. It’s when we are outside our circles we feel like the odd man out. All I know is for that moment in time it felt great to be “normal.”