This One Nutrient Drastically Impacted My Vegan Diet & Health

seaweed

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!

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!

5 Reasons Most People Won’t Reach Their 2015 Goals

Let me start by saying Happy New Year! 2015 is underway and I’m excited about it. Like many of you, I’ve set my goals for this year and I’ve already started tackling them.

readysetgoal

Setting goals is actually very effective for me. It’s something I do on an ongoing basis. I get great joy from looking back over my goals at the end of the year and seeing all the things I managed to get done. In 2014 one of my biggest goals was to participate in a triathlon. I’m happy to say I did that in July of last year.

Despite the fact that I enjoy setting goals and accomplishing them, statistics show that most people who establish goals or “new year’s resolutions” abandon them within two weeks. In fact, it’s estimated that 25% of the people abandon them after one week.

There are several reasons people fail to reach their goals. Here are a few of the most common:

  1. Unrealistic – Too often people set goals they can’t reach. For example, if you haven’t worked out for months or years or ever – then it’s not a good idea to set a goal of working out an hour a day every day. If you do manage to start out doing it, it will be very difficult to sustain. When someone can’t sustain an activity, they are more likely to abandon it.

  2. Not specific – When setting goals it’s important to make them as specific as possible. If you vow to eat more veggies, be clear about it. Indicate that you will eat at least one green vegetable during lunch and dinner. You can even go a step further and indicate which type of vegetable you’re going to eat. The more specific you are, the easier it is to track your progress.

  3. No timeline – Along with being specific you need to give yourself a time frame for accomplishing your goals. So, instead of saying you want to lose 10 pounds, add a date. You want to lose 10 pounds by March 1st. Having a timeline creates a sense of urgency.

  4. Lack of accountability- If you don’t attach any accountability to your goals, then it’s easy to let it go when times get hard. Years ago, I joined Weight Watchers. I’d been on tons of diets before then with very minimal results. But on Weight Watchers I lost 23 pounds! I can tell you without a doubt the accountability of that program helped me. Just knowing I had to get on that scale every week – whether I had a good week or not – was all the motivation I needed to stay on track. So, if you’re working out find a partner. Share your plan with family and friends who you know will consistently check in with you about your progress. Just have someone to whom you are accountable.

  5. No plan of action – I’m sure you have heard the saying – “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Whether you want to save money, lose weight, or buy a house, you need to have a plan of action. How else will it get done? To go one step further, put the plan in writing and keep it before you. People who write down their goals are more likely to accomplish them.

So, if you can avoid these common mistakes then I can say with certainty that you are off to a great start and on your way to success. All you need to do now is put in the work. Also, be consistent. It’s not the things you do every now and then that makes the difference. It’s the things you do consistently over time that will incite the greatest change.

Question: Which of these suggestions will help you the most as you set out to accomplish your goals for 2015?

Forget the Fad Diets – 4 Easy Steps to Get Fit FAST!

Get Fit FAST labelSummer is officially over and we’ve entered the fall season. As the temperatures are getting cooler I’m already starting to crave warmer, more comforting foods. I was recently thinking I need to become proactive with my eating and workouts in preparation for the cold months ahead. The goal is to avoid the extra weight I typically put on in the winter. That’s when it dawned on me that all year I’ve been trying to lose the “extra weight” I gained last year. I feel like it has been a year of ups and downs with my weight. So, it got me to thinking. I had to ask myself – “why is that?” I feel like I keep losing and regaining the same five pounds.

I’m a health coach and fitness instructor, so this should be easy, right? I know how to lose weight. The truth is, we all do. When it comes to losing weight we all know what to do.  Take in fewer calories, and workout more. It’s not rocket science. But weight loss is about so much more than what we eat and how much we work out. Food is the most abused drug. It’s our comfort when we’re lonely, our companion when we’re bored, and our reward when we’re successful. We have to learn how to develop a healthy relationship with food in order to achieve long term weight loss success.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of all the ups and downs. I want balance. I need it. My weight fluctuations have been a reflection of my inability to gain balance in my life. I know if I’m having a problem, then others can relate to it too.  That’s why I often use my life experiences – the good and the bad- as a catalyst to help others.

The solution for me has been to design a plan for myself that I can do no matter what. I’m not into fad diets and quick fixes. They only work for a season. Ultimately, I always end up in the exact same place I started – trying to lose the same 10 pounds. So, I had to come up with a way to manage my weight without feeling deprived and like I’m always dieting. The key to success in any program is that it’s sustainable. Plans that are really restrictive are difficult to sustain.

That’s how my recent eating plan came to be. I wanted to create a system that is simple and will produce results. I developed a Get Fit FAST approach. It’s a 21- day jumpstart program. It’s designed to help people incorporate healthy habits into their busy life without it being a disruption. It focuses on simple strategies that can be easily implemented. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle plan.

The best part of this plan is it goes beyond eating and working out. The group coaching aspect really helps you identify self- sabotaging habits that have prevented you from achieving consistent, sustainable weight loss in the past. That’s really the beauty of this program. We go beyond the surface.

The FAST approach is 4 steps:

Step 1 – Eat FRESH foods at every meal.

Step 2 – Make sure your foods are ACCESSIBLE.

Step 3 – Make sure the ingredients of your food are SIMPLE.

Step 4 –Make sure the food is TASTY.

Other components of the program include a nutrition plan, a fitness plan and group support. When people have a support system and accountability for their actions they tend to do much better.

It’s also a virtual program. You can do it from anywhere. Location is not a factor.

If this sounds like a plan for you and you’re ready to make a change I encourage you to join us for the next challenge that is kicking off on October 1st. The registration deadline is Monday, September 29th.

If you’re really ready to end the cycle of yoyo dieting in your life and make life long changes, you should REGISTER now.

So here’s my question: What do you think has prevented you from accomplishing your health goals?  

5 Ways to Stay Focused & Reach Your Goals

As of late I’ve been really struggling to get up as early as I’d like to in the morning. Ideally, I’d like to get up at 5:30 so I can get in my prayer, meditation, workout and breakfast before work. When I get these things done before work I’m able to be more productive all day. I also have such a tremendous sense of accomplishment before 9AM.

If I’m being honest, I’m able to do this maybe once a week, sometimes two. On the other days I’m getting up at 6:00 or 6:30. That leaves me just enough time to spend a few minutes in prayer before I head to the gym for a quick workout or I workout after work. My meditation gets put off until later. I manage to get things done, but not in the ideal way I’d like.

So, this quote has really stuck with me lately.

ifitsimportant

When I read this quote it made me question my priorities. If these things are important to me, why am I not able to make them happen?

I remember a few years ago when I was living in Columbus I was on a quest to lose 20-25 pounds. I had to be at work at 8am. I wanted to get my workouts done in the morning. I’d get up at 4:30am to be at the gym by 5am. I was so committed. I remember going to bed every night by 8:30 so I could get the rest I needed to be up so early. I was literally in bed before the sun went down. As I began to lose weight, I became even more motivated. I started adding an evening run in the park a couple of times a week, so I could accelerate my weight loss. Needless to say, I hit my goal and lost about 23 pounds. I felt incredible.

As I reflect on that time, the greatest difference between then and now is I made it a priority. It was important to me. I wanted to feel good and get the weight off that was making me so unhappy. Whenever I wanted to slack off I thought about my end goal. In addition to my workouts I was on Weight Watchers. Knowing I had to weigh in every week was a motivator. I refused to be embarrassed by not making progress. The accountability helped me.

Sometimes we identify goals we have, but we quickly lose our motivation when it’s time to start the work. We all go through this from time to time. I’ve seen a shift in my attitude lately and I’m starting to get back on track. There are some strategies that are working for me and I want to share them with you. Here are “5 Ways to Stay Focused and Reach Your Goals”:

1. Determine your “why”.  What was the catalyst for change? Your health, your marriage, your family? You will need to remember these things when it gets tough.

2. Get some accountability. Is there someone you can enlist to help you? Do you need a workout buddy? Knowing someone is expecting you to show up makes it easier to follow through.

3. Celebrate small victories. Even when you make minor progress towards your goals its incentive to keep it up. When you lose 1-2 pounds of your 20 pound goal – celebrate that. Acknowledge how difficult it is to lose 1 pound in a week. That’s 3500 calories you had to burn. If it’s not weight loss, are you snacking less? Are you adding more veggies than you ever have before? These are all small victories. Don’t wait until you get to the end to celebrate.

4. Create structure and organization. Put the time you need to devote to this goal on your calendar and respect your appointment with yourself. In my case, I want to get up earlier so I can’t stay up until midnight. I need to commit to having a set time to get in bed early and stick to it.

5. Remember what’s in it for you. How will accomplishing your goal change your life? What will reaching this goal allow you to do? What’s at stake if you don’t accomplish your goal? The answer to these questions need to be at the forefront of your mind at all times. When you want to give up, they will remind you why you’re doing this in the first place.

Now, just do it. It will be a lot easier if you can remember these five tips. I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired to keep pushing through to accomplish the goals I’ve set for myself. I’d love to hear about the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Here’s my question for you: Are you finding it hard to do the things you say you want to do? Which one of these tips will help you get back on track?