Purposeful Plant-Based Living

One of my greatest sources of frustration is listening to politicians and even my fellow Americans debating about whether or not we should have access to free healthcare in the U.S. For me it’s a no brainer. There are several countries already doing it. So, to think that the richest country in the world can’t make this happen is unfathomable to me.

In order to overcome that frustration, I started thinking of possible solutions. Contributions I can make as an individual.

For the past three years, I’ve had a genuine desire to create community gardens in urban neighborhoods. My intention is to help improve health and teach young people the value of growing their own foods and following a plant based diet.

If we can improve the nutrition of residents in low income communities, we can improve overall health by reducing the number of people diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and more.  

Ideally, I would like to use community gardens as a means to ultimately lower the costs of healthcare. If we teach people to use nutrition as a preventive measure to improve their health, then we reduce the amount emergency room visits that could have been prevented through routine doctor’s visits. People without health insurance often only see a doctor after landing in the ER.

Though community gardens are relatively simple, my lofty goals are not, which left me feeling very overwhelmed by the undertaking. I actually almost talked myself out of my dream.

What helped steady me is the thought that regardless of how overwhelming the task, I’m responsible for doing my part to contribute to the world. If this is why I was placed on this earth, then I have to do it.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I don’t have to do it all at once. I just have to do what I can do and the rest will fall into place.

Now, that I’m here in Jacksonville, the vision has resurfaced. Seeing as how I’m still new to the area and I don’t have the connections I had in Atlanta, I initially felt it would be even harder. On the flip side though, Jacksonville isn’t inundated with community gardens like Atlanta. The need seems to be even greater here.

So, in recent weeks I began to share my vision with people I’ve encountered. Every time I’ve done that, my path has been lit. I see more pieces of the puzzle coming together. Last weekend, I volunteered to work in a local community garden in a low income neighborhood in the city. I may not have my own garden yet, but in the meantime I can serve another garden. This allows me to learn and to do what I love.

From the moment I stepped foot in that garden I felt like I was at home. It’s the feeling you get when you know without a doubt that you’re working in your purpose. I KNOW this is what I’m suppose to be doing.

I officially formed my nonprofit organization a few weeks ago, and now I’m preparing to apply for my tax-exempt status.

Here are a 10 reasons planting a community garden is the right thing to do:

  1. Lowers food costs
  2. Increases access to fresh foods
  3. Improves food security (the state of having reliable access to sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.)
  4. Increases physical activity through garden maintenance activities
  5. Improves dietary habits through education
  6. Increases fruit and vegetable intake
  7. Reduces risk of obesity and obesity-related diseases
  8. Reduces crime
  9. Improves mental health and promotes relaxation
  10. Creates community pride/neighborhood beautification

Even if it’s not possible to create a full garden at the moment, start where you are. Get a planter to place in the window sill and grow tomatoes, lettuce and herbs. Or plant a garden on your deck or rooftop of your apartment.

The important thing is to start where you are. You can take small steps to improve your health. No matter where you are today, your life and your health could be remarkably different in one year. It all depends on what you choose to do today.

Until next time…

Peace, Love, & Fitness

FAITH.FOCUS.FINISH.

My journey to reclaim my health has been such an evolution. When I began working out at Burn Boot Camp nearly two months ago, I had one end game…to see a significant drop on the scale.

To be honest, I haven’t had any major victories on the scale yet. I’ve lost a few pounds and a few inches to date, but not what I expected.

Normally, when I don’t get the immediate results I desire, I become frustrated and begin to self-sabotage, which eventually leads me back to where I started.

Fortunately, being a part of a community like Burn Boot Camp makes it hard to give up. Not only is the trainer extremely motivating and encouraging, but so are my Burn sisters.

One of the most valuable lessons I’m learning is to change my mindset. The more I show up thinking I can’t do something, the more difficult the task becomes.

The picture featured in this blog was taken at the First Coast 5K in May. I was about one month into Burn. It was at this point that I started to realize how much boot camp was impacting my mindset.

I was very apprehensive about running that race because the Corporate 5k I ran about a month before this one, didn’t go very well. The only thing that compelled me to show up for this one was the fact that I signed up with a co-worker. She was my accountability.

I didn’t start out thinking I’d finish the entire race. I really didn’t have any expectations, but to do better than I did in the Corporate 5K. That didn’t necessarily mean beating my time or even running the whole thing. I just wanted to feel better than I did during that previous race. I felt tired, my body was sore, and I was in a constant battle in my mind. Conflicting thoughts telling me I was too tired and out of shape to do something I’ve always easily done in the past.

I decided to start off running and to go as long as I possibly could. But something happened almost half way through the race. When I wanted to stop, I kept hearing the voice of my trainer in my head.

She was saying, “We don’t quit ‘til we win.” And for me, my win was at the 3.1 mile mark. Not a moment before.

When I look at that picture, I remember we had just started, but I can already see the focus on my face. Even at this point I didn’t know I’d finish the whole thing running, but I was determined to try.

Once I hit the halfway mark it was a constant push and constant battle with my thoughts. My mind was saying I was tired, but I knew I couldn’t stop.

A good friend of mine has a motto that he lives by: FAITH. FOCUS. FINISH. Basically, it means in everything we do, especially when it comes to accomplishing our goals, we must have the FAITH to believe it, the FOCUS required to accomplish it, and then to not stop until we FINISH.

Now that I’m looking at this picture about a month later, I remember how victorious I felt that day. I had pushed myself beyond my limits. That was more important to me than any progress – or lack thereof – that I’ve made on the scale.

I’m glad that when I first looked at this pic I could see my strength. I could immediately see the definition I was starting to get in my arms. That tells me I’ve come a long way because I tend to look at my perceived “flaws” when I look at my image on pictures or in the mirror.

I’ve been working really hard to overcome that.

Today, as I look at this picture, I celebrate another milestone on this journey. I’m victorious because I’m strong and I’m a finisher. I don’t quit when it gets hard.

We have to learn to celebrate all of our small victories along the way, especially the non-scale victories (NSVs). In my opinion, those are the ones that matter most.

Here are a few of my favorite NSVs so far:

  1. I’m getting up at 4:40 AM 4-5 days a week. This is a huge deal because weeks before I started BURN I was struggling to get out of bed before 7AM just to do a 30 minute workout video on YouTube. I remember feeling so bad about myself for being too lazy to get out of bed. Now, it has become a habit.
  2. My mindset has shifted from “I can’t” to “Yes, I can.” I may not do it perfectly, and I may have to make some modifications, but I will try and I will do it.
  3. My body is stronger and is getting toner. I can go further down in my push-ups. My biceps are starting to grow and my arms are slimmer.
  4. I have more stamina and cardiovascular endurance.
  5. I’m thinking more positively about myself and focusing on my strengths.

This is just the beginning. I know the best is yet to come.

I’ll keep you posted as I continue to make progress.

Until next time…

Peace, Love & Fitness!

(Oh yeah…don’t forget —FAITH. FOCUS. FINISH.)

The Debate is OVER – 10 Ways to Get Protein from Whole Foods

Image result for plant based protein

Though it’s still the most commonly asked question of vegans – “Where do you get your protein?” – people are starting to realize vegans can and DO get enough protein.

Every day you read about athletes who choose the vegan diet to get into peak performance shape.

Still, when most people think of protein they tend to think cheese, eggs, fish and chicken. But as someone who has been a vegan for several years, I can tell you with absolute certainty that every whole food contains protein.

I prefer to get my protein from a whole foods diet, as opposed to processed, soy-based products. As a matter of fact, finding plants packed with protein is easy to do, and easy for your body to use. Plant-based foods are free from cholesterol, tend to be high in fiber, and are often alkalizing to the body.

Conversely, all animal products are devoid of fiber, and are acidifying to the body, which causes calcium to be leached from your bones, as well as decreasing oxygen levels in the blood, and negatively impacting the digestive system.

So, for anyone wondering how to get protein from whole foods, here are 10 great plant protein sources…

  1. Beans/Legumes (lentils, black beans, chick peas, etc.)
  2. Peas (split peas, black-eyed peas)Split peas
  3. Nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews)
  4. Seeds (pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds) 
  5. Quinoa  
  6. Nutritional Yeast –  is a deactivated yeast sold commercially as a food product. It has a strong flavor that is described as nutty, cheesy, or creamy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes.
  7. Tempeh – a fermented soybean-based food. It’s a perfect meat alternative in pasta dishes.
  8. Vegetables (broccoli, spinach, asparagus, cauliflower)
  9. Spirulina – This blue-green algae is a freshwater plant that is now one of the most researched, and alongside its cousin chlorellamost talked about superfoods today. Grown around the world from Mexico to Africa to even Hawaii, spirulina is renowned for its intense flavor and even more powerful nutrition profile. It’s a complete protein containing all essential amino acids.  
  10. Plant Based Protein Powders (rice protein, pea protein, hemp protein)

This is just a small list. There are tons of plant protein sources available.

So, the next time you hear someone asking a vegan where they get their protein, you can give them a list!

Until next time…

Peace, Love & Fitness!

The Magical Super Food You Need to Add to Your Diet…TODAY!

coconut oil is not healthy

As I continue to hone in on things to improve my health and to boost my weight loss I have been making some awesome discoveries.

My latest obsession is with Coconut Oil. Right now, it’s my all-time FAVORITE super food. I have used it for a couple of years on my skin. I have excessively dry skin and I’ve found it to be the best moisturizer I could buy.

Aside from moisturizing my overall body, I’ve been using it around my eyes to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It has been incredible and works really quickly.

However, until recently, I haven’t really incorporated it into my diet. I didn’t really know how. I thought the only thing I could do was cook with it, which I didn’t really want to use it like that.

Coconut oil began to get back on my radar a few weeks ago after watching one of my friends, whos a Raw Food Health Coach, video about healthy supplements. She mentioned that coconut oil helps burn fat. That alone made me perk up. I’d never heard of that. Since then, I’ve been researching the benefits of it and trying to find seamless ways to include it in my diet.

What I found was astounding! Coconut oil has been proven to be effective in a number of ways, including:

  1. Blasts FatCoconut oil has an unusually high amount of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). The human body does not store digested MCTs as fat, but instead transports them directly to the liver where MCTs are quickly converted into energy. Studies have shown that the capric acid and other MCTs in coconut oil can increase energy expenditure in humans. When consumed in the morning, coconut oil can boost your energy levels by an average of 5% for a full twenty-four hour period.
  2. Promotes Heart HealthCoconut oil increases the healthy cholesterol (known as HDL) in your body, but it also helps to convert the LDL or “bad” cholesterol into good cholesterol. By Increasing the HDL’s in the body and changing the ratio of HDL to LDL, the saturated fat in coconut oil helps promote heart health and lower the risk of heart disease.
  3. Prevents Insulin Resistancethe MCT’s in coconut oil help balance the insulin reactions in the cells because of ketones our bodies produce when we consume it. These ketones take off the strain on the pancreas by giving the body a consistent energy source that is not dependent on glucose reactions.
  4. Promotes Gut Health and Aids DigestionCoconut oil improves digestion by helping the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, calcium, and magnesium. If coconut oil is taken at the same time as omega-3 fatty acids, it can make them doubly effective. Coconut oil can also help improve bacteria and gut health by destroying bad bacteria and candida.
  5. Balances Hormones Without the proper building blocks – usually fatty acids or derivatives thereof – your body can’t properly synthesize the hormones needed to regulate such things as mood, thyroid function, digestion, sex drive, and metabolism.  The medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil assist the body in the conversion of cholesterol in the blood stream into the sterone pregnenolone.  This endogenous bio-chemical is one of the main precursors for the human body’s production of hormones. 

There are a host of benefits from using coconut oil that you can research.

Please be mindful that the type of coconut oil you consume matters. Unrefined organic coconut oil is considered the gold standard. It is extracted from fresh coconut using a wet-milled fermentation process that protects the beneficial properties of the coconut. This type of coconut oil has been found to have the highest antioxidant levels. This process does use heat but studies show that it does not harm the oil or reduce nutrient levels.

Also, quantity is a factor. Too much of a good thing could have opposite effects. It’s recommended to add no more than two to three tablespoons of coconut oil to your daily dietary regimen. 

I’ve been enjoying finding practical ways to actually incorporate coconut oil into my diet. Here are some suggestions:

  • Add coconut oil and cinnamon to your sweet potato. Gives it a buttery taste.
  • Add it in your coffee.
  • Add a couple of tablespoons to a smoothie or protein drink.
  • Instead of olive oil or canola oil, sauté food with it.

These are just some ideas that work for me. I encourage you to do the research and find simple ways that work for you.

Until next time…

Peace, Love & Fitness

References: http://www.naturallivingideas.com/eat-coconut-oil/

https://www.eatthis.com/benefits-of-coconut-oil/

5 Life Lessons Learned From Fitness Boot Camp

For the past few months I have been on a journey to restore my health. From an overall health perspective my blood levels and the things that truly matter are amazing. It’s my weight that has been an issue for me the past couple of years.

I’ve shared in the past that I have a large fibroid that sits on my uterus and it has been bothersome. It definitely hasn’t made it easy to lose weight.

Yet, despite my insistence on making it an excuse for my weight loss failures, my fibroid hasn’t made it impossible to lose weight.  It just forces me to work a little harder.

There was a point in time that I allowed it to hinder me because in my mind I “couldn’t” lose weight. I began to really give up. Fortunately, the end of last year I began to shift my perspective. When I did that, my results began to improve.

The day after thanksgiving I decided to join Weight Watchers. It helped me push the needle a little bit. That’s when I really realized I was the culprit of a lot of my weight loss struggles because once I began to monitor my intake, the scale started moving.

Most recently, I’ve been kicking my workouts into high gear. Once it became clear to me that spending 20 minutes on the treadmill and 20 minutes on the weight machines wasn’t going to impact my body, I cut back on going to the gym. I needed a jolt. So, I started challenging my body in different ways.

I began exercising to tough workout DVDs that emphasized High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and YouTube videos of my favorite fitness experts. As that built my confidence, I ultimately decided to brave longer and different workouts.

I bought a few sessions at the Kickboxing gym. Initially, I liked it, and I know it is the kind of workout that yields positive results. But it wasn’t enough to keep my interest. What it did though, was show me I can handle a lot more in my workouts.

That led me to my current endeavor – Burn Bootcamp. I participated in several boot camps when I was in Atlanta. There were tons of trainers that offered boot camps through Groupon deals. They typically conducted their classes in public parks.

However, I’ve never been to a Bootcamp “gym.” It’s not really a gym because you won’t find any cardio equipment or weight room. Instead, you have a setting that uses every tool in its box to whip your body into shape. Everything from elastic bands to ab balls, from free weights to your own body weight. Every day is a new challenge.

Initially I was afraid. On my first day of class the girl next to me said “You’re gonna love it. You’ll become addicted.” I thought “yeah right.” She said she’s so addicted that she feels guilty when she doesn’t come to class.

I’m only three days in and I’m starting to really understand what she meant. I never thought I could enjoy something so hard, so much.

I say this has been a journey because I’ve learned a lot about myself. In particular, here’s what Burn Bootcamp has taught me:

  1. Mindset Matters – I’m realizing the importance of getting my mind in the right space before I get to class. What I tell myself makes a difference in my outcomes. When I focused on my fear, it ruined the experience. After completing that first hard class, I saw that I “could” do it. After that, I changed the way I thought about class and how I approached it. I now enter class with an “I got this,” and “I can do this” mindset.
  2. Hard work pays off – if I put in the work, I’ll get the results. I no longer expect things to be easy. I just have to know that it won’t ever be easy, but it’s worth it. I remind myself of how I want to feel and how I’m going to feel after completing a hard work out.
  3. Accomplishment is addictive –there is nothing like the feeling of pride after completing something you never thought you could do. I’m getting addicted to that feeling. It’s that feeling of accomplishment that I keep in mind when my alarm goes off at 4:30AM and I want to stay in bed.
  4. I’m in control – I get to set the tone and pace for my workout. The trainer gives us plenty of options for each exercise and I can choose the level that works for me. Some days are harder than others, so I scale it down. But there are other moments that I choose to crank it up. Whatever option I choose, it’s ok. I get to choose how I do my workouts and I get to choose how I live my life.
  5. We’re all in it together – the best part of being among the Burn Bootcamp community is that it’s a team effort. Whenever I’m really struggling, I just look around the room and I see that it’s not just hard for me. It’s hard for everybody. The beauty is we all stick it out, encourage each other, and most of all NOBODY ever quits!

I’m only 3 days into my 14 day trial and I’m certain I will join. This is exactly what I need and I have no doubt I’ll be able to reach my fitness goals if I stick it out. At this point, quitting is not an option.

I’ll keep you posted on my results.

Until next time…

Peace, Love & Fitness!

Renewed for the New Year!

2018

This is undoubtedly one of the happiest times of the year. People are excited about all the possibilities of the upcoming year. They’re eager to close the door on the past and set their sights on the future.

For me, it’s a very reflective time. I actually began my reflection the last couple of months of 2017. I started looking back at everything that occurred up until that point. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I looked for the lessons from those experiences.

I also looked at what I wanted to do differently as I move forward. How can I take things to the next level? What am I lacking, and how can I fill the gaps?

I can honestly say that 2017 was the hardest year of my life. I lost a lot. I had to start over, AGAIN. It didn’t feel good. I spent the majority of the year in survival mode.

I felt like I lost myself. I lost my confidence and I was forced to figure out who I am now. Because after everything I went through, I’m no longer the same person.

During my reflection I was able to see that I’m finally on the other side of all the turmoil. I am finally ready to shed my old skin and reveal the new one.

I have been reborn from the inside out. Now it’s time for my outside to reflect who I am on the inside.

I would not have chosen the journey I took last year, but I’m really glad it happened. It taught me that I’m stronger than I give myself credit for. I can take a lot.

I’m still figuring some things out, but I’m really clear about other things. The primary thing being my health. I’m ready to live the best life possible. That requires me to be in optimal health.

New You Just Ahead

So, here are my key focus areas for 2018:  

  1. I want to be a better vegan. In response to my troubles with fibroids, I stopped being a vegan for a few months last year. I continued most of my plant-based habits, but I added fish and eggs to my diet. After about 5 months of that, I decided I wanted to go back to a fully plant-based diet. Now, my food choices are primarily about nutrition. I’m striving to eat to live, not live to eat.

  2. I want to be more intentional about my workouts. I was keeping active this past year, but I wasn’t elevating my workouts. I did a lot of walking and some yoga. That’s about it.  I’m more deliberate about what I do and why I’m doing it. I work out at least 4-6 days per week. I strive to give my body what it needs. Some days that’s yoga, others it’s strength training, or it might just be cardio. I’m not forcing anything. I’m giving my body what I believe it’s telling me it needs. The added benefit to this approach is that I show my body more love and appreciation. I’m not judgmental because of what it’s not. I’m grateful for what it is, and how it consistently serves me.

  3. I want to be more aware of my thoughts and mindset. Thoughts are powerful. They ultimately dictate our actions. For the past couple of years I’ve made excuses about my health and weight because of my fibroids. It kept me at the status quo and unhappy. I now see it’s all in my mind. I can do anything I set my mind to. I can overcome any challenge as long as I have the right mindset.

believe you canI started incorporating these changes in my life the day after Thanksgiving. I’m almost at the 10 pound mark for weight loss. That’s a BIG deal for me! Especially because I’m doing it on my terms and at my pace. I’m not feeling deprived. I feel empowered.

Every week I’m making progress in my mind, body and spirit.

I realize how much an impact my thoughts have on my progress in all aspects of my life. My work, my health, and my relationships.

What makes me most excited about this year is the realization that I’m the one who ultimately controls the outcomes I get. I can have the life I desire. Not because I wish it so, but because I make it so.

What I know for sure is that If I’m willing to put in the time, energy and effort to accomplish my goals, anything is possible.

What are you believing for this year?

Until next time…
Peace, Love, & Fitness!

 

Mind Matters: Why What You Think Impacts Your Health

At some point in our lives, we’ve all either said or heard the phrase – “mind over matter.” It basically means your mind is more powerful than any situation you’re going through. So, if you put your mind on the right things, you can overcome your problems.

mindovermatter

Over the past few decades that mantra has evolved into a multi-billion dollar “self-help, power of positive thinking” industry.

Well, it’s not a con or a quick way to sell books or tickets to a conference. It turns out it’s really true. In fact, it’s scientific.

Recently, I had the privilege to hear a world-renowned neuroscientist speak about the neuroplasticity of the brain and the mind-body connection.

Dr. Caroline Leaf has spent the past 30 years researching the science of thought. In particular, how changes in thinking actually change the brain and can effect behavioral change.

At the end of her talk, I found myself incredibly enlightened, and convinced that these changes in thinking can definitely have a direct impact on health.

Actually, this isn’t so far removed from what I’ve believed for years. I subscribe to the belief that the mind, body, and spirit are interconnected and should be integrated when you’re trying to make any kind of significant life changes.

When you address the total person and not just the symptoms that have risen to the surface, it improves the likelihood of successful results. Most people don’t need a band-aid dressing to cure their ills, they need invasive surgery. Mind, body and spirit approaches offer that.

The health challenges we’re facing in our country require an intensive, comprehensive approach.

The Modern American Diet (MAD) should make you mad. It’s literally robbing so many people of their health and reducing their life span. Research shows that people are dying 25-50 years younger from preventable lifestyle diseases, the most common being obesity.

The obesity epidemic remains the biggest public health issue facing the country, and despite awareness of the need to get in shape, more than a third of the country is now obese. Consequently, the United States is the most obese major country in the world.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the obesity rate for American adults, aged 15 and over is 38.2%. What’s worse is they estimate the obesity rate will reach nearly 50% by 2030. That’s 1 out of 2 people AND that’s only 13 years from now.

That is STARTLING!

My intention is to incite a righteous indignation in you that inspires you to make the changes you need to live your healthiest life.

Let’s face it. Most Americans know what needs to be done to improve their health. Unfortunately, most are not motivated to do it. But if the statistics I’ve cited in this blog don’t motivate you, I’m not sure what will.

If you can change the way you think about food, you can put yourself on the path toward optimal health.

Here are some practical things you can do to get on the right course.

  • Look at food as energy. It’s intended to sustain you. So, learn to eat to live, don’t live to eat. I believe food should be enjoyed. But it shouldn’t be the crutch many have made it out to be. It’s too often used to overcome stress, loneliness, depression, etc.
  • Learn to listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs. If you’re feeling tired, replace the quick sugar fix with a more natural way to get the energy you need. Sugar fixes are temporary and have devastating effects in the long run. As an alternative, drink water instead of coke. Grab high protein snacks like almonds or walnuts to give you a boost of energy.
  • Also, pay attention to how your body responds to certain things. Do you feel sluggish after a high carb meal? Are you still tired after that donut? Did you feel more energized after a cup of green tea? Your body is always giving you clues to what it does and doesn’t like. Listen and then respond accordingly.
  • Constantly affirm and reaffirm your why. Remind yourself of the reason you’re on this journey. Is it to attain good health? To come off your high blood pressure or diabetes medications? To live long enough to see your grand-kids grow up? Whatever is your motivation, keep it before you. If it’s simply about fitting into a pair of size 6 jeans, that’s probably not enough incentive to sustain you for the long haul.
  • Include macro-nutrients in all of your meals. Every meal should include protein, healthy fat, and carbohydrates. Macro-nutrients provide energy when they are eaten in balance. Too much or too little of one will cause problems with energy levels and weight.
  • Eat your colors. When you have a balanced meal with the proper balance of proteins, carbs and veggies, it’s much healthier. Plant based and live foods like sweet potatoes, greens, carrots, and tomatoes tend to be very colorful. Processed foods tend to be nutrition deprived and bland colors – mostly white or brown.
  • Pay attention to portion sizes. When you begin to eat in a more balanced way, you’ll find you need less food to sustain you. Healthy fats like avocados and nuts are very sustaining. Add them to your regular diet and you’ll find you’re not as hungry throughout the day.

Obviously, I believe wholeheartedly in the vegan diet, but I also realize it’s not for everybody. There is no one size fits all approach to health and wellness. Having said that, research has proven that an increase in plant based foods and less meat intake contributes to significant improvements to health, including, reducing blood pressure, improving cardiovascular health, lowering cholesterol, weight loss, and more.

Finally, to complement your food choices, here are a few affirmations you can make each day to help you change your mind about your health: 

–          My body is a temple and I treat it as such.

–          I am in control of my life and my health.

–          I eat to live.

–          My food is my medicine, and my medicine is my food.

–          I am brilliant and I have a role to play that nobody else can play.

–          I am a good thing waiting to happen.

healthy

Remember, when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.

Until next time…

Peace, Love & Fitness!

References:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/06/18/the-rise-of-processed-and-fast-foods-and-the-ever-expanding-american-waistline/?utm_term=.f1ddb2bc684c

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-us-is-the-most-obese-nation-in-the-world-just-ahead-of-mexico-2017-05-19

Yes, You CAN – Eat Healthy on a Budget!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just remember – you’re WORTH it!

Until next time…

Peace, Love & Fitness

Journey to Better

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

Journey to Better

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…

Peace, Love & Fitness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste!