How about plant protein specifically, instead of what probably just came to your mind. Are you aware that the average American consumes almost twice the protein the body needs? The formula is: at least 10% of your daily calories, but not more than 35% of calories, from protein, according to the Institute of Medicine. Protein is essential, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Excess protein can’t be stored in the body, and is more difficult to eliminate. There are many health challenges that can occur because of excess protein over time. Excessive protein consumption has been linked to certain cancers, kidney disease, and osteoporosis. Consider deriving these protein needs from some plant based alternatives as opposed to meat and dairy forms. There are many alternative plant based protein forms. Since protein is made up of amino acids, they are considered essential and foundational for great health. Our skin, hair, nails, muscles, and much more are healthy (or not) because of the protein we take in. Some forms of protein come with unhealthy fats that, given our family medical history, we don’t need. Because of my family history of heart and stroke issues, I chose to reduce my animal proteins. I haven’t eliminated them, I just work hard to diversify my diet. I ask you to consider spending the next 30 days experimenting with various meal choices, where maybe 1-3 days per week you eat only plant based proteins. This isn’t an all or nothing experience. It’s about being aware that food is fuel and that nutrition is key to excellent health! Anything eaten in its whole form will be better for your health. Consider using whole grain bread for toast with almond butter, which packs a whopping 16 grams of protein in a ¼ cup. Or perhaps a smoothie with a ¼ cup of flax seeds ground into it, which provides 7 grams of protein. Proteins are very valuable, as they produce feeling of satiety as well as being good for your body. You will feel full longer. With cooler weather upon us, consider making a soup or chili, but use 4 kinds of beans instead of meat. Experiment and enjoy the process! Protein builds strong bodies!
I should clarify, I don’t mean you actually have a problem in your head. I am referring to what happens when you have “stinking thinking”, and it rolls out over everything in your life. Your mindset manifests in your entire body. Your attitude will be the cement that holds all the faulty thoughts and excuses together. There are some cliché sayings about (blank) my life. The negative words that get filled in grate on my last nerve because they reflect an unhealthy mindset. When you contaminate your thinking to a point where everything in your life references a negative circumstance, it is like you send a beacon for more negative circumstances to occur. You are calling it to you like a magnet. STOP! Clean up the space between your ears. Your brain continues to work on whatever you give it to work on. If you are focused on negativity, it continues to create and sustain that because your brain is a great worker. Unfortunately, it can’t decide on its own whether it is good or bad for you. Your brain controls every single aspect of your body. It tells your lungs to breathe, it keeps your blood circulating, and it also works to continue to keep flowing whatever good ideas or bad thoughts you choose to ruminate on. I am known to say “You only have control over two things: Your thoughts and your actions. Make good choices.”. What you think about determines your actions. More widely known is “What you think about you bring about“ (Earl Nightingale). For many people, the thoughts are simply excuses. These excuses determine the action or inaction. Some examples of how people differ in how they think about this sound like, “I can’t exercise because I have ____.” Or, “I exercise because I have _________, and exercise will improve my health.” This is a choice. You can insert any kind of ailment or impediment you want. One person will use it to make an excuse why they can’t, and the next person will use it for why they should. Insert a few things relevant for you into the sentence above, such as being 50 pounds overweight, blind, high blood pressure, diabetes, no legs, etc. Still don’t think you can do it? Look at Erik Weihenmayer as an example. As a blind man, he has climbed Mt. Everest and kayaked the entire Grand Canyon. He refuses to allow his blindness to be a reason why he cannot do something. He allows it to propel him to do ALL the things people can’t even imagine him doing or even wanting to do. He carefully controls the thoughts he entertains and aligns his actions to meet the greatness he sees and cultivates in his mind. He controls his mindset. Your greatest asset to a healthy life is keeping the space between your ears free of excuses, stinking thinking, and self-loathing, and fill it with positive, beautiful strong thoughts and images of you conquering every challenge that comes before you. Control your thoughts and actions because you can!
Who doesn’t love a great massage? If you think massage is the same everywhere, it’s just not true. There are many kinds of massage; Swedish, deep tissue, hot stone, aromatherapy, and others. Massage is a very valuable health asset. Massage increases blood flow, stimulates the nervous system, helps rid the body of toxins and is plain old relaxing for most people. Massage can also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Are you aware that there are many mobile massage therapists who come to your home, set up the massage table and let you slide like jello off the table afterward and head off to bed if you like? My husband and I love the option of this type of massage. In speaking with Karen Horath, LMT and owner of Because You Matter Mobile Massage, based in Springfield IL, there are many benefits to mobile massage aside from the massage. Karen shared that climate is essential for people’s comfort and finds that the home is where people are already comfortable, because they are more relaxed in their personal surroundings. She loves the flexibility of this type of massage as opposed to being in a brick and mortar setting. She also does massage at a local salon two days out of the week for those who prefer that setting. However, her passion lies in the mobile massage end of her business. She was motivated to pursue this type of business model for a very personal reason. Her husband is legally blind, and therefore would be unable to drive himself to a massage appointment. She thought about him and others who weren’t able to transport themselves. She saw a problem and a way to solve it. She also does events such as employee appreciation days, provide massage service at local hotels for guests, and has even do chair massages at a party. One of her favorite things is when she sees her clients roll off the table, relaxed, and knowing they won’t have to worry about the stress of getting into traffic or feeling too sleepy to drive. Mobile massage is a growing trend as we become busier in our daily lives and work long hours. Treat yourself to this amazing healthy option for relaxation and health benefit. If you are lucky like me, you can have one at home with your cat sitting on your feet. Karen just smiles and keeps on working her magic…
Many people stress over trying to figure out how they can “fit” exercise in to become more fit. Being fit and creating a healthy body isn’t about time. It’s all about mindset and commitment. We were made to thrive, not just survive. If you don’t commit the time, you may find that down the road the time you do have here on earth is spent enduring ailments and simply existing. The first step is to dispense with the thought(mindset) that you need to spend an hour every day. This is not true at all! Staying fit and becoming healthy is really accomplished in smaller increments, consistently. Walking daily at a semi brisk pace will strengthen your heart and reduce blood pressure. Walking can even improve mood, balance, and coordination, according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s kind of like eating an elephant one bite at a time. Start small in your planning. Maybe it’s 5 minutes of walking each day. Seriously, you could walk and eat a piece of fruit at breakfast or lunch time. Talk to a different friend each day for 10 minutes while you walk. You will catch up with them and they will be happy to hear from you and will contribute to you becoming a healthier you. If you are a social exerciser, find people who will commit to walking with you each day! STOP making it hard. Most of all, STOP making excuses. Don’t allow yourself to fall in to the category of people who find themselves with a health challenge they can no longer avoid or correct! Why wait until you can’t correct something? Let us be proactive in this quest. Be that person who says- yes I want to watch “XYZ” show but I haven’t walked my 10-30 mins for today yet so I need to do that first. That’s mindset and also why we have DVR’s! Hence- there is your commitment: we can all walk for exercise. Yes, we can even lift weights sitting on the couch or at our desk at work. We can ALL make excuses also. Life is all about choices- good and bad. Invest that 30 minutes a day to design a healthier body today. We simply want to make sure that what we do today creates the life we WANT to live tomorrow!
(Originally Published In The June 23rd Edition Of Exposure Magazine.)
The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?
Life is about choices. Often, we have a variety of choices. Other times, we aren’t so lucky and all the choices seem bad. This is typically where our friend/foe fear enters. Fear is a healthy tool and should be used for discernment. People can use fear as a means to ensure personal safety, which is healthy. However, I believe that we have become a society that uses fear as a containment tool, typically referred to as staying in your comfort zone, inside your box or mental paralysis. There have been many acronyms for fear such as: False Evidence Appearing Real, Forget Everything And Run, and so forth. While fear is a healthy indicator in a fight or flight circumstance, today many people have created personal mental prisons. They are unable to become fully engaged and enjoy life because of the unknown, having life not be totally planned out and scripted. I am here to shed some light on this. The prison is simply in your mind. The box is in your mind as well as the comfort zone. What you are missing is everything that is possible. Facts have nothing to do with these walls. What is on the other side of fear? Prosperity, abundance, confidence, and peace is very likely what you will find. Will it be worth it to you? Can you peek outside that comfort zone or box and actually see what is possible? Can you get out of your own head long enough to allow yourself to grow in the sunlight of possibility? I wish that for you more than anything. Embrace new challenges, and possibilities will multiply and create new futures and enlarge your vision for your life. We are designed for greatness and to live life fully. Break down the walls that fear keeps us so tightly sealed in. Be more! Do More, Expect more! If you don’t know where or how to start, simply ask the person in your life who seems the most daring and confident and bold. They likely don’t have these walls or have already gone through the process of knocking them down. We can’t let fear keep us from becoming the most beautiful version of ourselves. I encourage you this week to plan to do something you have never done. Go somewhere and step up to volunteer to do something you personally have never done. Together we can break down the walls of mediocrity. We will live large and conquer! This is what F.E.A.R. means to me:
Face Everything And Rise!
(Originally Published In The June 16th Edition Of Exposure Magazine.)
A couple weeks ago, we talked about how making your food with a variety of color tends to make it more attractive to eat. Interestingly enough, this week I learned that people are also affected by what vegetables or foods are named. Research suggests that similar thinking persists in young adults. In a research letter published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine Bradley Turnwald, Danielle Boles, and Alia Crum explain that people in a university cafeteria were much more likely to eat vegetables labeled with indulgent descriptions than vegetables labeled in a descriptive way or in a way that highlighted their health benefits. It definitely points to how much the brain is involved in our eating preferences. We are attracted by what it is called and also by what it looks like. I know this is true for me and for many others as well. When I am searching for a new recipe on Pinterest or a recipe site, I am always drawn to recipes that provide pictures and descriptions. Words are important. How it looks is great, but how it fuels your body is most important.
You can create a menu that looks, sounds, and tastes great, and still fuels your perfectly designed body. I encourage parents to use menu planning with their children. Help them understand that food is fuel, and should look appealing. Let your children create a fun and nutritious menu and encourage them to name the menu items. Discuss what the meal will look like, what vitamins are in certain foods, and when it comes time to choose a vegetable or fruit, ask them what they think would be a nice color and flavor to go with the rest of the meal. This kind of creative meal planning will help you avoid the starch laden, repetitious meals of chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, and corn. If you have young kids, a better way to teach is to simply have pictures. You can print, laminate, and attach a magnet to the back of each picture. You can sort the various food groups and help them pick the meal based on balanced nutrition, color and content. As part of their morning routine, post the pictures of what the nights meal will be on the refrigerator. When my three children were young, each family member was responsible for choosing a dinner menu for one day a week. We planned the whole months meals at one time and I wrote it all out by hand. It was always posted so that everyone knew what was coming. Grocery shopping was much easier and efficient. Each dinner had to have a main dish, a side dish and vegetable or fruit. We also always had to choose two out of three items on the menu that everyone liked. I was the master of the planning so we didn’t eat the same thing 3 times in a week. My husband and I chose last so we could provide variety. This was a truly joyful experience and one that helped our children learn about food pairing, balancing a meals nutrition, color and variety. If we had only known we could have named the meatloaf Marvelous Mouthwatering Meatloaf instead! I think we might have missed out on a bit of fun!
(Originally Published In The June 9th Edition Of Exposure Magazine.)
1 Peter 4:10
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
We are all graced with different abilities and gifts. When we share those gifts with others we feel good inside. Ask yourself where you may be of value. Pick something you are passionate about. Share a little bit of your time and talents by helping another without benefiting yourself. Serving others can provide the opportunity to feel good about helping someone in need. There are so many amazing opportunities to impact your community. Think about who you might like to spend time with. You can lend a hand in helping the elderly, children, pet shelter or community group. Do you have a talent to entertain with, mentoring capability, or you fundraise better than anyone? We are all graced with different ways to bless others. There is a Carnegie Mellon study that suggests that volunteering actually lowers your blood pressure. What could be better than a health benefit while serving others? Feeling good emotionally and receiving physical benefits also? Just say yes! It’s a definite win-win.
Another study in 2012 by Health Psychology suggested that as long as one volunteers regularly, with an altruistic intent, one will likely live longer. The ROI, return on investment, may be surprising. I encourage you to share a part of your life so you too can live a healthier and longer life filled with blessings!
(Originally in the June 2nd Edition of Exposure Magazine.)
Food is fuel, but most people eat strictly based on taste. We need to remember that it is important to make selections that are appealing to the eye as well as the palate. As we may get bored with eating the same meals over and over, we also tire of seeing the same mono chromatic color in our food as well. Even when we love the ingredients, we may not find it appealing if it’s all the same color.
The other night I was cooking dinner. I had cut up several small zucchini. I then added fresh garlic and green onions and a big handful of asparagus chopped in pieces. I sautéed them in coconut oil. While it smelled heavenly, it just didn’t make me happy looking at it. I added some seasoned chicken and still thought it wasn’t right. Color, that’s what it was missing. I threw in about a cup of steamed carrots slices. I literally laughed out loud! I thought “now it is perfect”! We have to spend some time in meal planning to make sure we are attracted to what we need to eat. Eating healthy isn’t a chore, but it does take some thought. I might have added some red pepper if I had one on hand. Color makes us happy and food is no exception. Your eyes don’t eat, but they do motivate you, so be sure to take some care with presentation. Think about the last time you had a green salad. Did you eat just lettuce or spinach? Did you create a masterpiece and add some tomato, shredded carrot or cranberries or blueberries? If two salads were put in front of you, and one had varied tiny bits of flavor and color and one was just green, which would you choose?
When creating your next meal, give some thought to how you can make your meal a piece of art, pleasing to the eye as well as your mouth!
(Originally posted in the May 28th Edition of Exposure Magazine. )
Sixty percent of our body is water. Do you realize that you “lose” water by breathing, exercising, urinating and even breast feeding? We are constantly depleting the water needed by our body to function properly. In helping people create a healthier lifestyle, I find low water intake to be the most problematic, yet easiest to fix.
Our bodies have a few ways to communicate dehydration. I will share three. The first sign for most people is feeling tired. Your body is encouraging you to conserve water by sleeping. Breathing will be shallower, less movement – all adds up to conserving water. If you feel fatigued, drink 16-24 ounces of water and reassess how you feel. The second common symptom of lack of water is headaches. Often you will find people have dehydration headaches. Your brain is literally yelling at you; it is thirsty! Once again, try 16-24 ounces of water intake. We do derive approximately twenty percent of the required water needed through our food. This doesn’t mean we should slack off in water intake because we ate spinach or watermelon. Drink first! The third symptom is constipation. This is no fun! There is a reason it’s called waste. Your body is done with it and it’s got to go. Without adequate hydration, it may not be able to. Constipation can impact your health in a variety of negative ways resulting in other health issues.
What is the magic number? Drinking less than fifty percent of what you weigh in pounds in ounces of water is too little. The actual percentage is about sixty-seven percent, according to Mayo Clinic. Factoring in what you derive from food- fifty percent of what you weigh leaves you with a pretty good balance. If you want top performance from your body, make water intake a daily goal. For most wanting to lose weight, a gallon a day is recommended.
Lastly, here are some tips to increase your intake. Measure it with a measuring cup or gallon jug! It’s the only way you can be sure. Flavor your water by adding slices of strawberry, cucumber, pineapple, apples, lemons and limes. Be creative! You will know you are drinking enough when your urine is light yellow to almost colorless. I start every day with a gallon pitcher full of water to make sure I reach my intake goal. Drink up my friends!
(Originally In The May 18th Edition of Exposure Magazine.)
As I hit my 50’s, I “created” a health crisis- Literally, I was sitting in a hospital on my 50th birthday. I say “created” because my own behavior led me to it. The journey to better health started out of necessity. Two years ago, I found myself over committed, overwhelmed and incredibly stressed. Like a lot of working moms and entrepreneurs, I felt I could handle it all. I had 3 jobs, countless volunteer jobs and was also a wife, mom, animal mom and much more. Something needed to give- and unfortunately it was my heart that yelled from the inside- “Hey, we protest this treatment!”.
I had to reassess the priorities in my life for my health. I found through this process I needed to focus on three core priorities. To do this right, I excused myself from many of the responsibilities that were dragging me down, eliminated the jobs I didn’t need, and refocused on my health. I want to share with you a bit about my journey and break down the three core goals I set for myself.
Restorative sleep- we need it. When you don’t sleep properly you will be heavier, unhappier and sometimes cranky. All three are undesirable, but common. Shut down and repower your brain. Some interruptions are unavoidable, like soothing a child or grandchild in the night, but the majority of us need to shut it down for seven to eight hours a night. Limit any light entering your brain 30 minutes before sleep. It signals your brain to slow down for restoration. No electronics- phone, television, Kindle, etc. Your sleep patterns, and ultimately your body, will thank you. I suggest quiet meditative time working on your I AM statements in the complete dark before bed. I AM Confident, I AM strong, I AM healthy, I AM a goal getter, etc. You choose your own I AM because you know where you are headed. Your brain continues to work on the tasks you give it before bed. Focus on what you want to manifest by repeating what you want to accomplish the next day! Intention and mindset is everything. One may find this weird, but I spoke to my heart every day during my health crisis, and still do today. I tell it I am grateful that it is healthy and happy and wonderfully made. When I find myself stressing, I tell my heart to be strong, work correctly and maintain balance. I am not able to control others so I focus on my own health and wellness. Healthy mindset = healthy body. I claim it. And I sleep to retain it.
The second core goal is exercise. No I am not a gym rat or a marathon runner. You don’t need to be either. Here is what you DO need to do… move. Exercise is about baby steps- or maybe upping the total number of steps. People become overwhelmed with the idea of exercise. Make it simple. If you love to watch TV, commit to planking for a commercial break, or doing 25 squats or 20 sit ups each break. Decide to walk the same number of minutes you choose to watch TV. Stop talking yourself out of exercising. Start small but be consistent. There are no excuses. Seriously, there is a modification for everything. If you are very overweight, then start with walking to the end of your driveway or the other end of your house. Increase the distance each time. Maybe you will be able to reach the end of the block next time. If you need to stop and catch your breath at any time, do so. Document your progress. Progress is the motivation that will keep you consistent and on task. The last and most important part of exercise- NEVER compare yourself to others and their journey. Run your own race!
Last and most important core goal. You cannot out train your diet! Yes, you are what you eat and drink. Figure out what you want your eating goals to be. Yes, it’s confusing, but you have to be able to maintain your plan, so it has to be able to be done as a lifestyle change rather than a fad diet plan. I prefer learning how to eat real food with a balanced consumption of nutrients while controlling sugar intake. Read labels and avoid excess sodium and packaged food. It’s convenient to eat packaged foods, but come with a cost, often an expanding waist line. There are lots of resources online to help you get a handle on the food intake part. I prefer the My Fitness Pal app, especially for beginners, as it helps you actually SEE what is happening when you eat certain foods. Nutrition is 80% of improving your health. Your water intake is critical. In helping people every day improve their health, it’s the one deficiency, I see most often. We have learned to use sugary soda, energy drinks and sugary snacks as a crutch for a quick boost of energy, at the expense of proper hydration and nutrition.
Of course, I love the occasional binge of barbecue ribs or lasagna! It only become a problem if this is your diet every day, even more so if you are the king or queen of seconds. Measure your portions until you are 100% sure what a portion is. No excuses.
These three core goals will not always be in perfect alignment. One day you may eat well, sleep poorly but walk 15,000 steps. Be kind to yourself and look at how you are progressing over time. It’s about the progress, not each individual day. Don’t micro-manage every tiny detail or you will fail at becoming a healthier you. Love yourself on your journey, run your own race. Focus on feeling good, being strong, creating inner happiness and living the life you deserve!
These are my older blog posts, which originally appeared in my Exposure Magazine Column, "Healthy Living."