Summer Lovin’ … How It Restored My Health!

summer lovin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…

Love, Peace, & Fitness!

Honey – Is it Hype or Does it Heal?

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

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

Honey

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some of the reasons honey is so effective:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…

Peace, Love & Fitness!

 

References:

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

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

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!

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

fall image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace, Love & Fitness!

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

The 2nd Biggest Myth About Vegan Diets

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

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

vegan meal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?