If we practice gratitude and keep a thankful heart, we’ll automatically extend inspiration wherever we go.

Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in a nutshell

Another year is almost behind us and I'm thinking about what a rollercoaster year it's been.

This same time last year, we had a different address. January of this year found us without jobs. In March, we moved across country and away from friends and family to a new address. In August, we moved once again - another address! This time back with friends and family - home! Driving across the country, taking a new route, I enjoyed the beautiful mountains, visited with a dear friend who lives out of state and marveled at how my dog can sit for hours on end in the backseat of a car and never complain. In October I found gainful employment - thank you God! and in November the news of a new baby coming in May 2011! Christmas was spent with many friends and loved ones enjoying each other and the realization that this is truly

what it's all about.

The rollercoaster is what it is and I choose to focus on all the lessons, all the good that comes from life. Some days are much easier than others but at the end of the day I can always, always find things to be thankful for.

Tomorrow I'll start my Gratitude Journal and hope that it becomes contagious. I invite all who read this to post their daily thoughts of gratitude in the comments section. I truly hope to inspire many but honestly, if I only inspire myself...that too I will be grateful for.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Make The Best Of Everything You Have

A good friend shared this with me today so I thought I'd share it with you.

A group of graduates, well established in their careers, were talking at a
reunion and decided to go visit their old university professor, now retired.
During their visit, the conversation turned to complaints about stress in
their work and lives. Offering his guests hot chocolate, the professor went
into the kitchen and returned with a large pot of hot chocolate and an
assortment of cups - porcelain, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some
expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the hot

When they all had a cup of hot chocolate in hand, the professor said:
"Notice that all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken, leaving behind
the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best
for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. The cup that
you're drinking from adds nothing to the quality of the hot chocolate. In
most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we
drink. What all of you really wanted was hot chocolate, not the cup; but you
consciously went for the best cups... And then you began eyeing each other's

Now consider this: Life is the hot chocolate; your job, money and position
in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life. The
cup you have does not define, nor change the quality of life you have.
Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the hot
chocolate God has provided us. God makes the hot chocolate, man chooses the
cups. The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make
the best of everything that they have.

Live simply.

Love generously.

Care deeply.

Speak kindly.

And enjoy your hot chocolate.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Another year over, a new one just begun

There's a specific lyric in the song Happy Christmas by John Lennon that makes me stop in my tracks and do a bit of soul searching every time I hear it. "so this is Christmas, and what have you done? another year over, a new one just begun"

I always stop and contemplate...what HAVE I done? Have I given a little kindness, have I eased a little pain? Have I made a difference in the world?

I have made a commitment to myself that in 2011 I will leave something behind. I will become more active in my community, I will share of myself more freely and, I will Be The Change I Want To See In The World!

And so, this year, my commitment is to start an on-line Gratitude Journal. For years I have kept a gratitude journal by my bedside.Every night, before falling asleep, I leave a journal entry of 3-5 things that I am grateful for. Some nights these entries are very topical, sometimes deeply thought out, but always from my heart. It has kept me grounded. It reminds me on a daily basis, even in times of trial, when things seem to be going in a direction that I never planned I always have so much to be thankful for.

I look forward to a blissfully joyful, love filled, sometimes painful, ever changing new year filled with adventure. And at the end of every day - gratitude. Gratitude for being blessed with the opportunity to breathe in another day.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Change Begins With A Thought

I ran across this article and had to share it. I give full credit to the author - Vito LaFata at Fitness Evolution, Laguna Hills, CA

Change and transformation require energy. I’m not going to lie… it’s difficult to focus in a hyperactive world. But, if we are to succeed at creating outer change for our body and our life; it involves us changing inside as well at the mental and emotional level of our being.

There is always a period of inner work before evolving. The greater the outer change you wish to see happen, the greater the inner change that needs to take place first. You have to “BE” that thought, “DO” that action in order to “HAVE” the transformation you desire. You have to lead with serious intentions and a hunger and desire to evolve that requires you to dig in with your emotional motivation.

If you can focus your intentions, which is a subtle energy that attracts what you want, you can transform your goals into reality. Your decision to change begins with a thought. This is how behavior is modified, and change takes place. You are more likely to change your behavior by focusing on your intentions. If you can see the obstacles that get in your way, you can visualize getting past them to your goals.

My experience for success has always been to keep it simple.

Small incremental changes over time result in life-long rewards that are absolutely profound and worth the effort.

Share and communicate your plan of action and goals with others for added accountability and you will find yourself taking what was once a mere thought right into reality!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What motivates you?

I was asked today by another Life Coach, "What drives you?" "Is it good food, love, wealth,interesting people?"

Gosh, I hope this Life Coach has a bit more awareness of what some if not most of her clients are going through day to day. I hope that if she is aware, that she has more compassion and is readied to offer some sound coaching and motivational input.

Please understand, I love a good bottle of wine, I love...no, wait, I LOVE shoes, I love to shop. But with the economy the way it is, and hearing stories day after day from clients and friends who have lost their job, not able to make a mortgage payment, or taking lesser jobs, etc. That dose of reality does not have me or anyone else I know being motivated by good food, love, wealth or interesting people. Just being brutally honest here.

Here was my response;

The motivation to make a difference in this world, not only for me but others as well.

The challenges facing us all at this time are exactly what we don't want yet which give us a unique opportunity. An opportunity to look inside our hearts and ask, "If I am truly committed to having an outstanding, brilliant, fantastic life, one where I live and treasure each moment and share that with the rest of the world to contribute to it's magnificence, what would that look like, feel like, be like?"

Am I willing to rely on the government to make my life better? Am I willing to rely on outside forces or influences to make my life better? I ask myself this, "if not me, who?" "Who else is going to make MY world great and how can I expect anyone else to do something I'm not prepared to do myself?"

That's what motivates me every single day.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Simple (but you must commit) Secrets of Success

This simple routine can and will inspire greatness. And, don’t be surprised in what direction it may take you.

Take a piece of paper and on the top write the words 10 Goals along with today’s date.

Now ask yourself, if you could only accomplish one goal, but you would have to accomplish this goal within 24 hours, which one goal would have the greatest positive impact in your life?

Really think about the goal that would give you the greatest positive impact: it could be financial, it could be emotional. Trust me, that one goal will jump off the page at you.

Circle that goal, turn the paper over and write that goal at the top of that page, along with a deadline to achieve that goal.

Underneath that, write down anything and everything you’ll need to do in order to accomplish this goal. Do a mind dump; writing everything that immediately comes to mind in order to accomplish this.

Some of these may be obtaining a higher education, becoming certified in your desired field. Or these Must Do’s may be something more immediate such as signing up for a gym membership, or starting the process of putting your house up for sale.

Leave no Must Dos in your mind. Everything necessary to achieve this goal must be written down.

Then, every day do one thing necessary to getting you closer to achieving this goal. One thing, every single day.

You may have to work on one thing for days, or weeks, or even months - but commit to doing one thing every day to get you closer to your desired goal.

The key word is commit!

People begin to become great when they determine their purpose. In one year’s time you can look back at that paper and not only be astonished at where you are, and what you’ve achieved but you’ll have a great sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Your happiness is a gift

It is because the world is so full of suffering,
that your happiness is a gift.
It is because the world is so full of poverty,
that your wealth is a gift.
It is because the world is so unfriendly,
that your smile is a gift.
It is because the world is so full of war,
that your peace of mind is a gift.
It is because the world is in such despair,
that your hope and optimism is a gift.
It is because the world is so afraid,
that your love is a gift.

I found these words in an old article I was reading, I believe it's the vision statement of The Happiness Project UK. Read it slowly, let it sink in. Read it over and over and over again until the words penetrate your heart.

Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Power of Positive Thinking!

The story about the tiny frogs and the pole climbing contest

There once was a bunch of tiny frogs who arranged a pole climbing competition. The goal was to reach the top of a very high pole that was erected in the middle of the town square.

A big crowd had gathered around the pole to watch the race and cheer on the contestants. The race began, and honestly . . . there wasn’t a soul in the crowd who really believed any of these tiny frogs would reach the top of the pole.

But the whistle blew and the climbing began. From the audience you could hear: "Oh, way too difficult! No way they'll ever make it to the top." "Not a chance they're gonna get there."

Soon enough, a bunch of the tiny frogs started falling off the pole. But some kept climbing. Higher and higher.

The crowd continued to yell: "It’s too difficult! No one will make it!" “They’re too small, they can’t climb that high!”

And sure enough, more tiny frogs got tired and gave up.

And then there was one. One frog who continued to climb higher and higher and higher...

This one just wouldn't give up! He looked exhausted, and yet he continued to climb.

But . . . he made it! He won! Once back down from the top of the pole, all the tiny frogs gathered around him to ask him how he did it.

It turns out that this tiny little winning frog was deaf.

Of course the wisdom of this story is to never, ever listen to other people’s opinions and tendencies to be negative and pessimistic. People have their own opinions on what can and can’t be done. What can and can’t be accomplished. And, if you listen, if you allow those individuals to penetrate your thoughts, they will crush your dreams, they will suck the sunshine right out of you.

Being positive on a daily basis takes time, patience and practice, practice, practice.

Think about when you were just one year old and were starting to take your first steps. No one taught you how to walk. There were no guide books, no “How To Walk For Dummies” to take you step by step (no pun intended…but it’s pretty funny, right?) through the process.

There was just you with your sheer determination and a gaggle of loved ones cheering you on!

You got to a standing position, took one wobbly, drunken step and wham, fell on your face. You either cried, or you laughed but you got right back up and tried it again. Why? Determination! Persistence!

And because you didn’t think you couldn’t do it. There was not one negative thought in your head – not one! You didn’t mind failing, you didn’t mind the fact that you had to keep trying and trying and trying until you were successful.

As adults, we don’t have a cheering crowd continually telling us we can do it. Picture yourself at work faced with a presentation that seems overwhelming. You most likely don’t have a cheerleading section in the corner of your office cheering: “You can do it! This will be perfect, the clients are going to love this!

Or, maybe you’re toying with the idea of going the entrepreneurial route and opening up your own business. You probably don’t have that same cheerleading squad cheering, “You’ll get the loan, this business makes great, practical sense!” “This business will grow and thrive, it’s a fantastic business model and will be successful!

Or…..do we?

The fact is, we all do. We have the power of positive thinking. We can drown out any outside negative thoughts if we practice positive thinking on a continual basis. Wikipedia tells us (and if it’s in Wiki, it must be true) that the average human has 60,000 thoughts per day.

Don’t you start to wonder how many of those 60,000 are negative and how many are positive?

Positive thoughts came naturally as a child, but as an adult, the opposite seems to be true. Learning to identify negative thoughts and turning them into a positive takes time and effort but it can be done. Here are a few simple steps that can get you on the path to a more positive way of thinking:

1.Cultivate gratitude – keep a journal next to your bed and before you fall asleep at night, write down 10 things for that day that you’re grateful for. This can be as simple as ‘I found the best parking spot at the post office’ or as complex as ‘I am so grateful to have a partner who loves and appreciates me.’

2.Foster forgivenessthis one is tough! There are 5 steps to forgiveness. (a) Recall the hurt. (b) Empathize and try to understand the act from the other person’s point of view (you may be surprised at what you find) (c) Be altruistic, you may find a time in your life when you’ve done the same to someone else and you were forgiven (d) Commit to putting your forgiveness into words and (e) Try with all you have to hold on to that forgiveness.

3.Wake every morning saying to yourself, “I feel terrific, I feel terrific, I feel terrific”. My husband and I do this out loud and we end up in laughter every single morning before getting out of bed. I say this mantra in the car, I say it standing in line at the grocery store, I say it before making a phone call that I’ve been dreading to make. It just puts you in a better frame of mind.

The bottom line is that life is full of choices. You can decide whether you’re going to have a crappy day or whether you’re going to embrace whatever happens in that day and make the best of it.

I commit to having a fantastic day today, no matter what comes my way. How about you?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Let's Take An Energy Quotient Quiz

Fatigue accounts for 80% of all doctor visits.
20% of Americans claim to have fatigue so intense that it interferes with their ability to lead a normal life.
80% of women are expected to experience adrenal fatigue at some point in their lives.
50% of adults who seek medical treatment complain of feeling tired all of the time.


I found this quiz in one of my Vegan or Raw magazines and I think it’s fairly thorough. Let’s take a look.

1.Do you need caffeine to get you going in the morning?
2.Do you drink diet cola on a daily basis?
3.Do you experience that sluggish feeling mid-afternoon?
4.Do you have persistent aches, pains (your loved ones don’t count) or areas of inflammation?
5.Do you find yourself waking up un-refreshed in the morning, wishing you could sleep longer or hitting the snooze button?
6.Does fatigue prevent you from doing things you’d really like to do?
7.Does fatigue interfere with work or family life?
8.Did fatigue and other symptoms that trouble you begin after an acute illness, trauma, infection or emotional stress?
9.Do you frequently say no when you want to say yes to social engagements?
10.Do you get less than 7-8 hours of sleep each night?
11.Are you exposed to toxins on the job or at home (i.e., pesticides, chemicals, unfiltered water)?
12.Do you feel exhausted after exercise?
13.Do you have problems with short-term memory or difficulty with focus? Have you been under stress for a prolonged period of time?
14.Do you have dry or thin skin?
15.Do you have low body temperature, or are you cold when others are warm?
16.Do you experience premenstrual tension?
17.Are you frequently sad or depressed?
18.Do you have food allergies and sensitivities?
19.Do you crave sweets?
20.Have you noticed any heart palpitations?
21.Do you get headaches fairly often?
22.Are you frequently moody, nervous or easily irritable?
23.Do you overeat on a regular basis?
24.Have you experienced any of the following in the past 5 years?
•Death of a spouse or family member or loved one
•Marital separation
•Personal injury
•Loss of job
•Relocated/moved from one home to another

Count up all the YES answers and score yourself as follows:
0 points – Congratulations! You are full of energy and handle life with a positive attitude and outlook. 1-5 points – You’re likely experiencing a mild loss of energy. Optimizing your diet and removing the sunshine suckers in your life can help restore you and prevent you from ending up with a more serious fatigue problem down the road. 5-10 points – You’re likely experiencing a moderate degree of fatigue or loss of energy. Restoring balance to your body, mind and spirit through diet, lifestyle and spiritual proactices is a good idea to start restoring your energy reserves. 10+ points – You are showing signs of a sever loss of energy, burnout and fatigue. It would serve you well to begin to address the problem with a professional right away.

The reason I blogged about this issue is two-fold.
I’ve been exhausted lately due to stress. I was waking up tired, I felt exhausted after exercise and I wanted to hit the snooze button much longer than it would allow me to. The good news is I’ve found something that really aids in giving me the vitamins, nutrients and energy I need to get me through the day. Doctors are recommending it to their patients. You can go to http://shakeology.com/yourbestlife to see what doctors and customers alike are saying. You certainly don’t have to take my word for it but I will say that it has made a huge difference in my life. Hence the reason for sharing – my passion is motivating and inspiring others to life their best life yet! I hope you enjoy!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Amazing Women

I came home from a Woman’s Retreat this weekend tired but refreshed and inspired.

This retreat was up in the mountains of Arizona, 7000 feet. Driving up to the campus my ears kept popping and my sinus was confused and sometimes angry. I was constantly air chewing and yawning to keep the pressure in my ears from blowing! The air was crisp and clean, the sun glistened on the lakes, the trees smelled of pine. If I closed my eyes and forgot where I was, I would believe I was in Wisconsin. At night the stars appeared brilliantly in the sky, I was awestruck. Being away from the bright skyline of Las Vegas was welcoming.

I met many inspiring women. Women who have gone through trials and tribulations that you wouldn’t wish on anyone yet have come out stronger and more beautiful than they ever would have imagined. This wasn’t a retreat to pour your heart out and hope that someone was there to pick up the pieces. This was more a retreat to introduce yourself, to connect, to talk about what matters most to you and to share, if you were willing, your fears, your dreams, your aspirations.

The most awe inspiring of the weekend was the simple fact that these women have such a strong faith in God. A faith that is unwavering, a faith that is constant, neverending. Let me give you a few lines of a song that they sung, to give you a better idea of the level of their faith;

Nothing can separate, even if I ran away
Your love never fails
I know I still make mistakes but
You have new mercies for me every day
Your love never fails
You stay the same through the ages
Your love never changes
There may be pain in the night
But joy comes in the morning
And when the oceans rage, I don’t have to be afraid
Because I know that you love me
And your love never fails
‘Cause you make all things work together for my good

I have to be honest, I do not have a faith like this. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in God but I do not live at the level that these women do. They’re on a first name basis with God, they have daily conversations with God. They have devoured the Bible at Bible study classes. They put their hopes, their fears, their dreams in his hands and … let go.

I, on the other hand, am a continually reforming control freak. I, most times, feel that if I only did this…or if I would have done that…or, I can and will do this and it will fix that. It is exhausting! And, when things are going well, I can pat myself on the back and say “great job!” but with that thought process, when things are not going well I can beat myself up knowing that I must have done something wrong and only I can and will fix it NOW. What an ego! Seriously!!

I truly believe as women, mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, business professionals, we think we should have the answers for every situation that arises. Is the title we carry how we define ourselves? Why is this? Is this the way we were raised? I don’t have all the answers. All I know is that I honor and respect these marvelous women I spent a weekend with. I honor and respect them for who they are and the faith that they live by during good times and bad. I honor and respect them for the passion that lives inside them and keeps them going day after day after day. And I hope to call them friends.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ladies Weekend in Arizona

Love yourself - Take Time For You

My cousin has a wonderful ladies support system surrounding her. She works at a church as the AP/AR/HR/everything executive assistant. She is, by far, a woman of many talents.

This church is having a ladies weekend and I've been invited to join them. I am truly looking forward to spending quality time with such inspiring, spiritual, uplifting and thought provoking women! When women get together to share and explore, there are no limits to what can and will be accomplished.

I'll blog when I get back - have a wonderful weekend, and please, love yourself, take time for yourself!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Excellent Raw Potato Salad

Last night after doing a Kenpo X workout (which is one of my favorites) we needed to eat dinner. I was tooling through some of my raw recipes and found these awesome Raw Potato Salad and Dressing recipes that I've got to share. After you try them, let me know what you think. Or, if you've got a recipe for potato salad - PLEASE SHARE!

Potato Salad

2C diced jicama
1/4C diced yellow pepper
1/4C diced celery
1T minced fresh rosemary (I'm not a fan so I used dill)
2T minced green olives
1/4 avocado, mashed (I used 1/2 avocado)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (I diced mine)
parsley sprig

In a bowl, combine all ingredients except parsley sprigs, and set aside. If not eating right away, put in a container and store it in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, pour Potato Salad Dressing over salad and toss until well combined. Divide salad between two serving plates and garnish with parsley. SERVES 2 - we had leftovers which is perfect, I'll need something for lunch today.

Potato Salad Dressing

2T tahini
1/4t ground cumin
1 1/2T lemon juice
2T water
2t fresh parsley
1/4t nama shoyu
1/4t agave
sea salt and chili powder to taste

Blend all ingredients in a Vita-Mix or blender until smooth. It will be thick but once it's combined with the jicama, it will thin out.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

So, how do you handle stress?

Hey, I'd love to hear from my followers. What's going on in your lives? How are you handling everything that gets thrown at you??

What I'm doing to combat stress

The economy is still in the dumps, the real estate market isn't bouncing back any day/month/year soon and everywhere in the news you hear of more layoffs. Both my husband and I are currently unemployed and looking for creative ways to keep our home. The system is broken but I promise not to talk politics. Needless to say stress is inevitable but there are ways, healthy ways to combat it.

Nothing beats good old fashioned exercise as a stress-busting technique, not even chocolate or a good glass of wine.

If your day is high stress and sedentary, odds are good that your body and creative mind crave oxygen and motion. Life in general can leave you feeling lethargic, as stress sucks every ounce of sunshine out of you.

Stress uses a tremendous amount of your valuable energy. So instead of expending all of that energy in a non-productive way, like punching the couch or yelling at the driver next to you, try channeling it into proper exercise, be it a brisk walk, a run, a P90X workout, a bike ride or something as simple as opting to take the stairs.

Experts recommend that we exercise at a moderate intensity for a minimum of 30 minutes, 5-6 days of a week. Exercise not only improves health and reduces stress, it also relaxes tense muscles by getting your blood pumping to all the tight areas of your body. Exercise is also the best sleep aid off the shelf. Exertion causes the release of chemicals called endorphins into your bloodstream, making you feel relaxed and happy. As such, it can be a helpful tool in warding off and fighting depression and anxiety, as well as keeping you fit, reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke, managing high blood pressure, diabetes and back pain. Ladies, sex is also considered exercise, at least in my house it is!! All in all, people who exercise regularly are better able to handle the long-term effects of stress without suffering ill health.

If the word exercise scares you right out of your gym shoes and onto the couch, relax. Exercise should be fun! It’s always difficult to keep up with a regimented program that you don’t enjoy. Here are a few ways to keep your gym shoes on and your waistline trim

• Take the dog for a walk
• Turn up the music and dance in your kitchen
• Go fly a kite
• Put on some snow shoes and go shoeing
• Take a hike
• Go for a swim
• Try roller skating
• Weed your garden

Personally, my husband and I have started Beachbody and P90X workout. It's a fantastic workout routine but I can tell you it's not for the faint of heart. There are days when we finish and I want to cry like a baby, just kidding. The best thing about these workouts are they're on dvd. As Tony Horton says "Do your best and forget the rest." Which makes us feel so much better as we're hitting the pause button gasping for breath every few minutes.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Five Minutes to Happiness

Wow, yesterday I wallowed. Wallowed in self-pity so much that I almost drowned. You know it, it sounds something like this "Woe is me, I'll never find a job, we'll lose the house, what are we going to do, when is the economy going to turn around, blah, blah, blah."

And then I got a text from an old friend of mine. This friend of mine has always been a ray of sunshine. Always laughing, always smiling, always there with a positive outlook on life or a great joke to make you laugh so hard your belly hurts. I've known him since we were kids. We'd go out and play kick the can, ghost in the graveyard and other childhood street games until the street lights came on, then it was back in the house.

This friend had to have back surgery almost a year ago and has spent month after month after month living in a rehab center. Away from his family holiday after birthday after holiday. Here is the text he sent yesterday "I'm doing well. Getting a little stronger every week. I can walk about 1000 feet with a rolling walker." Through all of his and his family's adversity, he seems to be keeping a positive outlook. And then, this morning, I found this article:

Devoting time each day for happiness will change your day and change your brain chemistry.

A reason to smile~

It can be so easy to get caught up in the rigors of modern life that we tend to forget that happiness need not come with stipulations. Happiness becomes something we must schedule and strive for—a hard-won emotion—and then only when we have no worries to occupy our thoughts. In reality, overwhelming joy is not the exclusive province of those with unlimited time and no troubles to speak of. Many of the happiest people on earth are also those coping with the most serious challenges. They have learned to make time for those simple yet superb pleasures that can be enjoyed quickly and easily. Cultivating a happy heart takes no more than five minutes. The resultant delight will be neither complex nor complicated, but it will be profound and will serve as a reminder that there is always a reason to smile.

So much that is ecstasy-inducing can be accomplished in five minutes. Alone, we can enjoy an aromatic cup of our favorite tea, take a stroll through the garden we have created, write about the day's events in a journal, doodle while daydreaming, or breathe deeply while we listen to the silence around us. In the company of a good friend or treasured relative, we can share a few silly jokes, enjoy a waltz around the room, play a fast-paced hand of cards, or reconnect through lighthearted conversation. The key is to first identify what makes us dizzyingly happy. If we do only what we believe should bring us contentment, our five minutes will not be particularly satisfying. When we allow ourselves the freedom to do whatever brings us pleasure, five minutes out of 14 wakeful hours can brighten our lives immeasurably.

It is often when we have the least free time or energy to devote to joy that we need to unwind and enjoy ourselves the most. Making happiness a priority will help you find five minutes every day to indulge in the things that inspire elation within you. Eventually, your happiness breaks will become an established part of your routine. If you start by pursuing activities you already enjoy and then gradually think up new and different ways to fill your daily five minutes of happiness, you will never be without something to smile about.

You know...today is going to be a great day!

Friday, May 14, 2010

10 Foods You Should Eat

This is an article written by Steve Edwards I found on The Beachbody Website that bears repeating.

We've all heard about superfoods—consumables with mystical powers to cure whatever it is that ails you that will help you live forever. This list will be different. Today, we'll look at some common items that should be on your menu, even though you probably haven't heard them touted as the next great miracle cure. In fact, some of these you probably thought were bad for you.
I begin this list with a caveat; we're all different. One person's superfood is another's trip to the emergency room (soy comes to mind here). There are some nutritional factors we all share, such as the need to eat a certain amount of calories that come from fats, proteins, and carbohydrates to keep our bodies functioning as they should. Beyond this, our exact dietary needs begin to diverge.
There are some obvious reasons for this. Lifestyle and activity level are pretty easy to understand. That someone who is pregnant or training for an Ironman® needs more calories than a computer programmer who sits for 14 hours a day isn't difficult to fathom. Neither is the fact that a 90-pound ballerina uses less fuel than a 350-pound lineman. That we all eat a different number of calories and a different percentage of fats, proteins, and especially carbs is obvious, or at least should be, since the bigger you are and the harder you work, the more fuel your body needs to recharge itself.
What's more subtle are body type differences. These can be difficult to understand, and many people never figure them out. Blood type, heredity, and other factors come into play and make each of us unique individuals. When it comes to eating, most of us spend a fair portion of our lives figuring out just what we should be eating to maximize our life experience (which doesn't necessarily mean we choose the healthiest options). For this reason, there is no true "superfood." There are, however, helpful foods that are specific to each of us. By experimenting with our diets, we will all find a course of eating that makes us feel better than anything else.
To help you begin your self-experiment, here's a list of common foods that you'll want to try. Most of these are very healthy for almost everyone, even though some have been vilified by society. This doesn't mean that they'll transform you into an epitome of health, but they're certainly worth a try.
1.Peanut butter. I'm leading with this because I'm fairly certain peanut butter single-handedly kept me from getting chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) during the no-fat 1990s. In the early 1990s, the average amount of fat in our daily diets plummeted while the incidence of CFS skyrocketed (CFS is the colloquial veil for debilitating disorders marked by chronic mental and physical exhaustion.). This was particularly true among the otherwise healthy endurance sports sect. In the early 1990s, my body fat was once recorded at 2 percent. Sure, I was ripped. Healthy? Not so much. I'm pretty sure that only my adherence to peanut butter as a healthy fat source kept my athletic obsession intact. A bevy of modern studies now vindicates my opinion with science. Peanuts are high in both fat and calories, but their fat has been associated with decreased total cholesterol and lower LDL and triglyceride levels. It's also high on the satiation meter, meaning that a little can fill you up.
2.Cabbage. Every Asian culture, as well as European, eats more cabbage than we do, and it's time we thought about it more often than when we happen to splurge on P.F. Chang's®. Cabbage is absurdly low in calories and very high in nutrients. Among these is sulforaphane, which a Stanford University study showed as boosting cancer-fighting enzymes more than any other plant chemical.
3.Quinoa. This "grain" isn't technically a grain at all. It just tastes like one. It's actually a relative of spinach, beets, and Swiss chard. All of these are extremely healthy from a nutrient point of view, but quinoa is the only one that can fool you into thinking you're eating a starch. It's high in protein, minerals, vitamins, and fiber.
4.Spelt. This one is actually a grain, but its origin is slightly mysterious. Some claim it comes from wheat while others say it's a different species. Regardless, it has a high nutritional profile and can be eaten by many people with gluten intolerance, making it a good alternative to wheat products. Spelt can be found in many products, but as it's still considered a "health food," it's off the major processing radar. Unlike wheat, if spelt is on the ingredients list, it's probably good for you.
5.Walnuts. All nuts, really, but walnuts seem to be the king of the nut family. Used in Chinese medicine for centuries, walnuts are becoming more associated with Western health than ever before. A 2006 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that eating walnuts after a meal high in bad fat could reduce the damaging effects of the meal.
6.Avocado. Another villain in the old no-fat movement, avocados are now thought to be one of the healthiest fat sources available. Beyond this, they have very high amounts of cancer-fighting antioxidants, and recent research seems to indicate that avocados' phytonutrients may also help with the absorption of nutrients from other sources.
7.Mushrooms. The more we learn about phytonutrients—those that come in a small enough quantity to be missed on a food label (this is a layman's definition only)—the more we should admire ancient cultures. These culinary delights have been feuded over for decades until, for some reason, we'd decided they were pretty much empty calories. The study of phytonutrients has taught us that warring over fungi may have held some rationale after all. Mushrooms are loaded with antioxidants and are thought to boost the immune system, help ward off some cancers, and have high amounts of potassium. Furthermore, researchers at Penn State University have found that mushrooms may be the only food to contain an antioxidant called L-ergothioneine.
8.Tea. Despite a ton of positive press over the last, oh, century, tea and coffee are still the devil's brew in some circles. Perhaps even worse is how many coffee and tea restaurants have bastardized these natural brews into sugar- and fat-filled dessert items. Both tea and coffee, in their basic states, have no calories and many healthy benefits. Between the two, coffee is arguably more popular, most likely due to its higher caffeine content. But tea is probably healthier. Both have a high amount of antioxidants but stats on tea are almost off the charts. A recent study on calcium supplementation in elderly women, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that bone mineral density at the hip was 2.8 percent greater in tea drinkers than in non-tea drinkers.
9.Cinnamon. Maybe the novel Dune was more prescient than we've given it credit for. After all, the plot revolves around an entire solar system at war over a cinnamon-like spice. Nowadays, we think of this as little but the flavoring in a 1,100-calorie gut bomb we find at the mall. But Frank Herbert knew a thing or two about history, and cinnamon has long been the prized possession of the spice world. It has a host of benefits, but perhaps none more important than this one: USDA researchers recently found that people with type 2 diabetes who consumed one gram of cinnamon a day for 6 weeks significantly reduced their blood sugar, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol. "He who controls the spice controls the universe!"
10.Natto. This is on the list because, for one, it's one of the few foods I've eaten that I truly don't like. But mainly, it's here because we've really messed up the way we eat soy. Natto is fermented soybeans and very popular in Japan, which is where I had it. It's becoming more popular here, and this is most likely due to its health benefits. Nearly all the soy options we're offered in the U.S. are non-fermented. The list of health benefits of fermented soy is a mile long. It's associated with reducing the risk of cancer, minimizing the likelihood of blood clotting, aiding digestion, increasing blood circulation, an improved immune system, improving bone density, lessening the likelihood of heart attacks, more vibrant skin, and reducing the chance of balding. It also has strong antibiotic properties, among other things. So you might want to ditch the soy crisps, soy ice cream, and your iced soy mochas, and add some natto to your diet.

Now, let me ask you, my readers, who has eaten Natto? I've got to say that after some research on Natto, I'm not sure if I want to try it. It's gotten quite a bad rap. Quotes like "smells like dirty socks", "too gross for me to eat", and "disgusting" makes me want to run the other way. But hey, I'm willing to try anything once. I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Swallowing My Pride & A New Recipe!

I know I was supposed to make the Raw Banana Caramel cake a few days ago but there are a few ingredients I still don't have in the pantry so you'll have to give me a few days!

On another note, I'm aggressively looking for employment. I've taken a part time gig at a church for minimum wage (which is a huge pride crusher, I'm just being honest)helping them scan documents to disk. I worked 7 hours today and when I came home, I was starving. Starving because I left this morning without having my breakfast smoothie. At 10:30am my husband was kind enough to bring me one. Lunch hour came and went and I didn't stop to eat. When I came home, I grabbed an apple and then tried to do a P90X workout. Bad idea. My blood sugar was so low I didn't have enough energy to keep up with it. We got through about 75% of the workout and had to stop. But as Tony Horton says "do your best and forget the rest."

Looking for work after having a solid career history can be very tough on the ego. But one thing that always makes me feel better....A New Recipe!! Check it out, it's delicious.

Spicy Indian Hummus

2C chickpeas, soaked overnight (or canned, it's easier)
1/4C sesame seeds
3-4 garlic cloves
1T coriander powder
2tsp chili powder
1/2tsp garam masala
fresh squeezed lemon juice to taste
sea salt to taste

Blend everything in a blender or food processor. Let the spices marinate in the fridge for a few hours before eating with veggie chips. Mmmmm good!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Easy-to-Pack Healthy Snacks!

To avoid poor food choices when on the run, carry healthy snacks or mini-meals with you everywhere you go. I always try to keep a bag of unsalted almonds or raw trail mix in the car. This keeps me from buying that Grande Latte I like at Starbucks, and the protein and good fat keep me energetic and satisfied for hours. Here are a few more ideas:

1. Apples and bananas are great and don't even require a bag.
2. Plain or low-fat, low-sugar yogurt or cottage cheese is also great for a fast mini-meal. Easier than making a sandwich, you can keep ready-to-go portions in your fridge.
3. When I'm really organized, I pack a bag of baby carrots or celery. This is an easy way to add more veggies into your diet.
4. For protein, carry hard-boiled eggs or string cheese—like a mini-meal on the go, if you're not a raw foodie.

The more healthfully you snack, the more you will find yourself craving proper nutrition. Choices that used to seem boring will soon sound satisfying and tasty.

You'll be surprised at how soon your body adapts to the healthier choices.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Eating Raw

Eating raw for me can be challenging. Fresh fruits and veggies are easy enough to come by but I need variety or I get bored easily. I also need to have dessert every once in a while - I've got a huge sweet tooth!

I subscribe to Purely Delicious, a raw food lifestyle magazine. It comes quarterly and in it are wonderful articles about living raw, organic and as green as you can imagine. This issue, Spring 2010 has a few dessert recipes that I'm going to try. One of them I'm trying tonight. Here's the recipe;

Banana Caramel Cake
This cake is best described as "ooey gooey and downright fabulous!" ...I'll be the judge of that!

Fudge Cake
3C dry walnuts
2/3C raw cacao powder
1/4t sea salt
1 1/2C Medjool dates, pitted

Caramel Sauce
1/4C agave nectar
3/4C macadamia nuts
1 1/2T vanilla powder or liquid
4T almond milk
3T yacon syrup
4T cacao butter
1/8t salt

3C bananas, sliced

Combine the walnuts, cacao powder and salt in the food processor and process until mixed. Avoid over processing. Add the dates and pulse until mixed well. Pour one-half of mixture into a 8x8 dish and press lightly then add a layer of sliced bananas and set aside. To make the caramel sauce, blend all sauce ingredients in high-speed blender until smooth. Pour one half of the sauce over the bananas. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes. Remove from freezer and add the remaining cake mixture. Next, add another layer of sliced bananas and frost the top and sides. Place in the refrigerator for a few hours until firm. Enjoy!

I'll let you know how it goes. But to me, it sounds like heaven!

And on a side note, my husband and I did the p90x workout for shoulders and arms yesterday and after that we did the AbX workout. OMG, I never realized how out of shape my core is...I was grunting like some of the men do when lifting really heavy weights. It wasn't pretty but I survived another workout and I'm very proud of myself and my honey. Life is always better when you go through the tough stuff with someone you love, don't you agree?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ah Monday

I'm sluggish today. Over the past 5 weeks I've been eating a 90% raw food diet. Yesterday we celebrated Mother's Day with my cousin, her husband and their two daughters. Since they're not vegetarian, my husband and I made some typical dips (mayo, sour cream and spices) to share, along with chips and pretzels. We also made a pasta salad - I can't remember the last time I ate pasta! So, long story short, I feel bloated, tired and sluggish.

I had a bowl of fresh fruit for breakfast and I think I'll have a Shakeology Greenberry Shake for lunch. Here's my simple recipe; I add all these ingredients into a blender
*mango sun tea (I brew the tea outside in the sun)less calories than fruit juice
*1/2 frozen banana
*1/2 C frozen mango
*1 scoop Greenberry Shakeology

Blend for a few minutes and I have an instant pick-me-up lunch filled with 70 vitamins and nutrients and it doesn't weigh me down...thank goodness.

I'd better get back to basics for a few days to kick start me back into feeling light and healthy again.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day without my boys

Well, I just had my first Mother's Day since I've been a Mom, without my boys. It was strange.

Let me preface this by saying that my boys are grown. At least that's what people keep telling me, "they're grown, they have their own lives, they're adults" but I have to say that in my mind, they will always be my babies - that fact will never change. And, more importantly, I just adore all three of them. I love talking with them, learning more about them and their lives, spending quality time with them. So, experiencing a Mother's Day without them was a bit odd.

My husband and I moved to Las Vegas about 5 weeks ago. Two of my boys live in Chicago, and one is in his fourth year at an Illinois college. I always look forward to Mother's Day and having them over for dinner. Today, I looked forward to getting phone calls.

My boys are my greatest pride and joy. Mother's Day today was wonderful because all three of my boys are in my life, even if they're miles and miles away. I love you guys!!

Getting Into Shape

I can't believe I've finally done it! I've become a Beachbody coach and have started the P90X exercise workout. The P90X program is a 90 day program and we're on day 3 of week 3. It's kicking my butt and my husband's butt but we're thrilled to start the program.

I've always enjoyed working out and have tried for years to stay in shape. These past few years, I've just let everything go. I was still eating fairly healthy (sure, I love the occasional chocolate bar or a Heath Blizzard) but knew I should be working out more.

A friend mentioned Beachbody so I checked it out and now, I'm hooked! This blog will be about my adventure with getting into shape, the exercise program and my diet. I'll keep you posted on the ups and downs. I'll let you know how I'm feeling, if I'm sore, if I am sleeping any better (yep, that has been an issue of mine as well) and if I'm seeing results. I'll also keep you posted on my husband's results.

Come back every day and join me in my adventure to health and fitness!