A Healthy Balanced Gut is the Key to Great Health! (or) My 5 Day Health Fast

From my business site BeeWell.com

One of the biggest health issues affecting American’s is having and unhealthy and unbalanced gut. This issue, and my journey to solve it, it partially what led me into health coaching. So, in this blog post, I invite you into a bit of my story.

In early 2016, right before I turned 50, I began to experience crazy health issues. I woke one morning to rash covering my face, neck and arms, and had no idea what caused it. The months that followed became increasingly worse with giant hives appearing over most of my body, joints aching for no reason, and waves of deep fatigue. I did elimination diets over and over, finding that many foods made it worse-gluten, artificial sweeteners, and added colors and flavors. I began to cut foods from my diet, while visiting doctors to help me find a solution.

Doctors were puzzled. They Googled my symptoms, and wrote me dozens of prescriptions for steroids, antibiotics, and creams. All of my symptoms got worse. I demanded allergy tests, and was denied for months. Finally, after almost a year, I took the tests, and my only allergies were fragrance and shellac-not a single food allergy! My symptoms continued to get worse, and absolutely no doctor could find a reason or a solution. I switched doctors several times, and even joined a very pricey integrative health program to get more focused and personal attention. I was extremely upset, unable to be in the sun, unable to workout or be outside because sweat made it worse, and because I was completely covered in rash and huge red welts, I stopped seeing friends or going out into public situations.  At one point, I was given a prescription to stop the itching, and it only gave me hallucinations and made me hysterical for 3 hours. I gave up on medical doctors at that point, and started my intense research into finding the answer.

I spent a total of 4 years dealing with this. It affected every single aspect of my life, and consumed most of my free time. I Googled, read medical journals, took supplements, eliminated most foods from my diet, read every single food label, wrote down every bite of food-it was exhausting. Some days, I thought things were getting better, and that I had finally found the answer, but within a few days, my symptoms were back with a vengeance. Finally, in 2018, I did a diet reset program with a few friends to drop a few pounds, and for 3 weeks, my issues subsided. Once again, I looked to food intolerances to see what exactly the trigger was, and cut out more foods. The symptoms returned however, even worse. I was now experiencing severe brain fog, so bad that it made me feel dizzy, weak, and unbalanced. I walked into walls, tripped over my own feet, and could not focus on anything that I did.

In the fall of 2019, a lot of “crazy” entered my life-my new beach house flooded after a plumber forgot to hook up my washer correctly…the restoration process had my walls and ceilings ripped out, and on Thanksgiving, I had a squirrel enter my house thru a broken dryer hose and drop in to antagonize me and my dog (I cannot make this stuff up, I promise you!!) I dealt with all of this by spending time on my sunny deck, drinking the wine given to me by contractors and friends, as my house was slowly put back into order. My health took a huge dive, and my life became absolutely unbearable. I was completely covered in huge red, itching welts, ran fevers, had chills, ached all over, and could not sleep due to the pain and itching. I spent hours searching the internet for answers, in tears, feeling as though I just could not take another minute of this issue. I saw an acupuncturist 3 times a week, took handfuls of supplements and allergy meds, and was down to only 7 foods that I felt were safe to eat. Nothing helped.

Finally, as I reached the end of hope, I stumbled across an article about fasting to heal “leaky gut”. I spoke to my doctor, and was told that “leaky gut” was not real. She suggested more steroids. I declined, and returned to my research from a “wellness” perspective, not a “medical” perspective. After several days of taking many notes, and placing many orders on Amazon, I had a plan in place. I journeyed back into total seclusion at our beach house in early February 2020, and spent three very long, very cold and rainy days, on a VERY strict fast that consisted of only homemade bone broth, water, and mega-doses of gut healing supplements. My issues got worst as I fasted, but I continued on, desperate for relief.

I completed my fast after 78 hours, and woke up the next morning with almost no hives. I noticed that my joint aches had subsided, and I felt healthier and clearer headed than I had in years.  I ended my fast with steamed veggies and chicken, cut back on my supplements, and continued with lots of water. 2 days later, I had no symptoms at all. Not a single hive, no rashes, no eczema, no fatigue, no flu-like symptoms, no brain fog…I felt like a new person!

I continued my diet of veggies, clean protein, and water for 2 weeks, while tapering off my high doses of gut healing supplements. I experienced NO symptoms. I had hope again! I was feeling fabulous, but also very worried that it was gong to come back as I began to add new foods. As days and weeks passed, I added fruits, dairy, and even some gluten free grains to my daily diet with success. As pandemic began to cross the country, and lockdowns started to send everyone into their homes, I ate my first gluten in 4 years, and even enjoyed a glass of wine with NO reactions.

As 2020 reared it’s incredibly ugly head, sending almost everyone into a state of isolation, panic, and confusion, I found myself sitting on a sunny deck, smelling the salt water from the ocean 2 blocks away, feeling as though I had conquered my world. I enjoyed ALL the foods, was able to take long sweaty beach walks without reactions, and felt better than I had in years. It was then that I decided to take my nutrition and wellness degree to the next level and become a certified health coach.

I did not have another reaction. I spent 2020 feeling fabulous, completeting my certification classes and exams, listening to other’s complain about being isolated, and thinking about how I’d already spent 4 years completely isolated from life. I had cured my 4 year health crisis.

Fast forward to the last few weeks of 2020, and early 2021…I had been thinking I should do a “reset” fast as a gut “tune up”, but had not made plans to do so. A recent weeklong trip to my main house with my husband and youngest son led to me eating things I don’t normally eat when I’m alone at the beach house-mainly sugar. My son made it his job to bring home poundcake (4 times!!!), candy, cookies, and pizza, which we snacked on while watching football playoffs and waiting for the rain to subside. After 8 days, I returned to the beach, and almost couldn’t make it up the 2 flights of stairs. My joints ached, my head was clouded, and I was exhausted. I spent 3 days monitoring my health, feeling as though I had aged 30 years overnight. My face was puffy, I was dozing off several times a day, my sleep was terrible, my skin was pale and dry, and my eyes were sunken in and surrounded by black circles. My stomach was bloated, and my digestion was very off, and finally, I realized my brain fog was coming back hard. I decided it was time for a new fast!

I kept track of my thoughts during what is now 113 hours of fasting, and if you are interested, it is at the end of this blog. In the end, I am feeling like a completely different person. I feel fabulous, ageless, full of energy and good health.

But first, a few facts about fasting for gut health.

Our gut contains over 100 million nerve endings, and is considered to be another “brain” within the body, referred to as enteric nervous system (ENS). Bacteria in our gut works to keep the gut balanced and healthy, but this is easily affected by stress, foods, coffee, alcohol, medicines, and lifestyle. When the gut becomes unbalanced and unhealthy, the nerve endings send signals to our hormones and organs, and they become greatly affected. An unbalanced gut can lead to many, many issues including mood disorders and changes, hormonal imbalances, autoimmune disorders, learning issues, brain fog, food intolerances and allergies, and skin issues like hives, eczema, and rashes.

Fasting gives the gut a chance to reset and heal itself. My fast included bone broth, which has many nutrients and healing properties for the gut, and coconut oil with MCT, which added healthy fats to my diet for healing and a feeling of satiety to keep me from feeling hungry. I also included several gut healing supplements like l-glutamine and turmeric. If you choose to fast, please speak to a health professional before doing so if you have any medical issues, and monitor your health closely while doing so. If you feel dizzy, ill, or have other odd reactions, please stop your fast and seek out information. If you’d like to discuss fasting, gut health, hormonal imbalances, or other health goals, please feel free to reach out to me to discuss your goals.

And now, my 5 day journey of fasting and getting my gut health and energy reset!

Day 1,  10am, feeling quite foggy headed and very tired, I decide that it’s time to do another bone broth fast. I ponder it for 2 hours, while fighting with my cloudy head to post a few graphics on IG. At noon, my dog and I jump into the jeep to go to the grocery store. I’ve decided on store bought bone broth for this fast, because I don’t like the smell when I make my own.

1pm  My exhausted and foggy head tries to put together my new phone tripod, while my stomach grumbles to be filled. I’m already 15 hours into this fast, and I want to go live on my Facebook group to hold myself accountable. I give up on the tripod, and open my laptop only to find that Facebook has changed everything about going live….I grab my phone, prop it up with a yoga block on my kitchen counter, and hit record. As soon as I finish my video, I grab a mug and drink down a cup of broth, not much liking the taste, but it’s in my belly, and I can move on with my day. I watch my live video and realize I look tired, pale, and aloof. I really hope this works.

3pm I’m feeling a bit more awake, I’ve hit my step goal, and done the laundry. It’s time to take in some more bone broth, but first, I take my l-glutamine supplement in a glass of warm water. This really fixes my gut, as proven several times before. I wait a bit, drink down another cup of broth, and take my dog for a quick walk to the beach, wishing the sun was out.

5:30pm  Feeling pretty good, my stomach is rumbling, so, time for more broth. I down a full bottle of water-my 4th today, and heat up my broth. I decide to put a tablespoon of coconut oil/MCT into my broth just to bulk up my calories with healthy fats, and satiate my hunger a bit. The coconut oil gets on my fingers, than onto my glasses-so I spend the next hour trying to get my glasses clean and end up with a banging headache.

8:30 pm still have a headache, but my energy is high. I down one more cup of broth with coconut oil, put on my pjs, and turn my bed into a big nest of pillows.  I’m ready to rest.

After some Netflix, still having a headache, I think I fell asleep around 9:45, and slept deeper than I have in months. Vivid but calm dreams, little waking. Huge success for this chronic insomniac!

Day 2 I woke at 6:30am, with NO pain in my joints at ALL. For the last 2 weeks I woke up and thought I had aged quickly overnight. My head was clear, and I felt great. I got in my daily morning 3K steps, had coffee with coconut oil, showered and headed out for a massage in the pouring rain.

My massage was just what I needed. My shoulders and neck were super tight. Halfway through the massage, I felt a light switching on in my head-like I just “woke up”, everything became super vivid and super clear-EVERYTHING. I left the massage feeling even better, ran a few errands, and headed back to the house.

I had no hunger pains, so I didn’t even think about broth, but had a giant bottle of Smart water to flush my body from released toxins from the deep tissue massage.

2pm, more bone broth , followed by a scoop of collagen powder for added protein, still feeling awesome…So awesome in fact, I march out 10K steps while finishing a movie

4pm, more bone broth. Did I mention??  DO NOT like bone broth. It makes me think of my mother’s burnt roast beef. I guzzle it-no sipping for me. More water as well. On to a nice walk with my dog at the beach-the rain has stopped, and the sun and  moon are showing themselves this early evening. It’s spectacular! Halfway through my walk, I realize-I feel like a new person. I run with Sadie for a bit, stop and smell the fresh sea air, and remark to myself that this was a fantastic decision. I feel incredible!

Back at the house at 6pm, my energy is now so SO high, I feel almost ADHD-like I can’t control all of the thoughts and energy, like I can’t sit still. I have now hit 21K steps with little effort. I have more bone broth and coconut oil, and hope that my energy level is met with clarity soon. It’s now been 44 hours.

I finish my evening with more broth, and an early bedtime. I’m hoping day 3 is better.

Day 3  I wake to another cold and very windy day. I feel pretty good, but realize I have some after affects from my massage, which is expected and normal.  I decide to spend the day in a mostly restful state, getting work done. I drink my broth, add coconut oil during the day, and still have no hunger pains. At this point, I start thinking about how I will end my fast, and what I will do after it to keep my gut healthy and balanced, and my body free of toxins. The day flew by quickly with no issues to remark on.  I end this day with a somewhat self-induced hypnosis to relax, and sleep for a solid 8 uninterrupted hours. This was definitely a much better day!

Day 4 I woke intending to end my fast. I made my grocery list and did the shopping, ran errands, had 2 meetings, and cleaned my entire house while dancing to some very loud Taylor Swift. My energy is super high, my focus is clear, and I’m super chill. I feel no hunger, I have no aches, my skin is clearer and brighter. I post a new video to my Facebook group, and friends remark how much better I appear to be.

At 4 pm I realize I have not ended my fast, and decide to take it to the next morning. A walk to the beach makes me realize that my mind is super clear-I see the beach daily-but today, I am overwhelmed at the beauty and the colors that seem so very bright and intense. I have an incredible sense of well being and calm. I have broth and coconut oil for the rest of the day, but on this night, I am hungry! My stomach is rumbling, and I really just want to CHEW on something. I do a relaxation meditation, and fall asleep rather quickly.

Day 5 OK! I wake up to more sun, and feel really fabulous. I have coffee with coconut oil, and sit in the sun for an hour just feeling it on my face. I can’t wait for spring.

I’m very calm, very content. I down a bottle of water and my supplements, and look in the mirror. My skin is super clear, my eyes are bright, and I have no dark circles. The scale shows a drop of 4 pounds, but that was not the reason for this fast. I have no stomach or digestive issues, no gas, no bloating, no indigestion, no inflammation or pain in my joints. My mind is clear and calm, and I feel well rested. This fast was a success! After 113 hours, I am now preparing to end my fast with a non-dairy smoothie, followed by several days of lean meats, non-starchy veggies, and berries.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you think you are experience gut issues, hormonal imbalances, or have other goals for your health, diet, or well being. I’d love to discuss a plan for you to get back to optimal health and happiness. If you’d like to be a part of my health centered, fun, Facebook group, please drop me a note.

A Few Non-Food Tips for Losing Weight

It’s brand new year, and a lot of us are thinking about making some changes for the better. Many of us spent the last year binging Netflix, wearing comfy sweats, and perhaps munching a bit too much on our favorite comfort foods, and why not? After all, we spent a ton of time at home, rarely had to be at anything social, and well….2020. So, now that we are looking at a brand new year, and hopefully a little bit more normalcy in our lives soon, it’s only natural to think about getting our diets cleaned up and hopefully drop a few of those pandemic pounds!

As we look to change our habits, keep in mind-it takes 21 days to FORM a habit, but usually around 60 days for it to become routine in our lives. Small steps, when done routinely, can add up to huge changes over a period of time, so-think of small attainable goals that will eventually add up to big goals. This will keep you focused and happy with your progress.

Today I’d like to give you some small steps to start now that will add up to those big changes that you want to see later. Pick one or two a week, or a month, and build them into habits, then into routine, as you slowly add in more. Several small goals add up to a much bigger picture in the end!

Find Your Why!

Just claiming that you want to drop 15 pounds/eat cleaner/work out is not enough to motivate you to do the things you need to do in order to accomplish that goal. The clearest way to get your motivation in gear is to declare your WHY. Why do you want to drop those pounds? Why do you want to eat cleaner? Why do you want to workout? What are the things you envision in your life when you DO accomplish these things? Take a few minutes and really think about what you will “gain” by hitting the goal you want to hit. Make a list of those things. Perhaps you want to wear certain clothes, or feel more youthful and fit, or maybe it’s because you want the energy to lay with your kids or grandkids. Maybe you want to walk your dog without being out of breath, or maybe you’re hoping to take up an activity this spring that needs you to be more in shape. Perhaps you want to get off of medications, or see your blood pressure drop to a normal level. Write these things down, envision your life as it will be at that point, and consider how you will feel about accomplishing that. That, my friend, is your WHY.

Focus on ADDING things, not SUBTRACTING things!

Often, when we make changes in our lives to be healthier, we find that we feel restricted, or that we are losing out on things. Change your mindset! Instead of saying “I can’t eat cookies”, say to yourself, “look at all these amazing fruits I get to eat from the local farmers market”. Instead of thinking, “I have to get up and exercise”, think, “Wow, I get to go for a long walk/jog and really enjoy feeling healthy in my soul!” or, “It feels so good to have a few minutes of quiet time to just enjoy how it feels to work my body.” In addition, ADD new foods to your diet, add new recipes! The addition of these things is far more important and lasting than subtracting things from your goals! Try looking at what you GET to do, instead of what you cannot do. Change your mindset.

Lose the Idea of Perfection!

This is a big one! How many times have you started a healthy eating plan only to give up on it after eating the “wrong” foods? This is, after all, why people are always “starting” diets. Think of it this way-instead of beating yourself up for not finishing a workout, praise yourself for trying. Instead of giving up on your healthy eating plan because you had a few cookies, congratulate yourself for only having a few. Again, it’s the mindset that changes your patterns. Attempting perfection only sets you up for failure, because, hey! Who’s perfect anyway? Nothing is ever going to be perfect, accept the imperfections and find the small accomplishments that have been made. Give yourself a break. It’s all part of the process!

Get some Sleep; Rest your Mind, Find Moments of Peace

Lack of quality sleep affects SO much of your health journey. Lack of sleep creates stress, and stress releases hormones that affect your metabolism negatively. Lack of sleep keeps your body from achieving recovery mode, which results in exhaustion, poor muscle strength, the possibility of making poor choices, and increased appetite. Make your sleep a priority-set bedtime and wake time routines, turn off electronics, reduce blue light time in the evening, cool the temperature of your bedroom, and make your bed a comfortable and peaceful place. To aid in proper sleep, but sure to get adequate sunlight into your life during the daytime hours, and try to not indulge in alcohol or heavy meals before bedtime.

Make You and Your Health a Priority SELF LOVE

Honor your body, honor your goals, and honor your meals. Practice honor in all aspects of your journey and the respect you give will pay you back. Nutrition is the best medicine you can give your body. What you put into your body is what you get in return. Show your body love in all that you do, and beyond that-show yourself LOVE. Spend time doing the things that bring you joy, take up a new hobby or rediscover something that you have long given up. By bringing yourself joy, you remove stress and create a whole new peace and calm in which to live. Meditate, practice gratitude, spend time focusing on your breath. Love yourself enough to put yourself first, and the rewards of good health with come to you.

Find New Ways to Measure Success

I hate when I see images of scales on posts about dieting or healthy eating! The scale is a truly poor measurement of diet success! There’s an image that gets passed around on the internet often depicting several women, all the same weight, each with a completely different body. Personally, when I gave up on the number I saw on the scale, I quickly realized that “volume” or “weight” simply did not give a full picture of my body. Look at it this way-a tall skinny 5 pound box weighs the same as a small circular sphere that weighs 5 pounds. They are completely different though! So many factors play into weight on a scale-muscle build, bone density, how much water you drank, whether you’ve used the restroom, even having long hair! Many people find that when they are in their ideal fit shape, their weight is actually HIGHER than the goal weight they hoped for. Learn to measure your success in other ways: how do your clothes fit? How do you look in the mirror? Are you feeling lighter? Is there a spring in your step? Are you getting through workouts without breathing as heavy? Are people remarking on your success? Learn to look at how you feel and what you see instead of those numbers on that scale!

Find a Fellow Motivator!

How about a bestie that encourages you to succeed? Someone you admire that cheers you on and adds positive motivation and support to your daily life? Surround yourself with the people who have the same goals as you, people that have accomplished those goals and live them every day. These are the people that will inspire you and excite you. Find your tribe of fellow goal seekers, fellow health seekers, and follow the journey together. You can, of course, also find yourself a Health and Wellness Coach that will guide you, motivate you, cheerlead you, and help you set those goals, break them down into small steps, and reach them. You know where to find me;)

Shared from my website BeeWell.com Now offering 20% off all Health and Wellness Packages with promo code HEALTH20

Ending the Year with a Little TLC

As I write this, I sit looking out over the Atlantic on a warm, but slightly gray, gloomy day. I sit, searching the waves for the whale that has been teasing my island coastline for the last few weeks, but there’s no sign of him. I came to my beach today hoping to find some energy, a spark of inspiration, anything to bring me out of a week-long funk. But, there’s no sign of that here either. I’m very…tired? Unfocused? I can’t put my finger on the exact word, but I’m feeling very out of sorts.

I imagine others are feeling the same way as the holidays approach, and others have reported feeling this way for months, as this year of 2020 rolls out our patience, plays with our emotions, and leaves many of us feeling exhausted, helpless, and anxious. 2020 has been the year of needing self-care. Like no other year we’ve experienced, this year required an absolute sink or swim grounding, just to pass the days and weeks away. Early on, I watched social media as people baked bread, colored their sidewalks, and created ways to connect and lift others into some small ray of happiness. As weeks turned into months, people got busy figuring out, and carrying on, their “new normal”; schooling at home, working at home, balancing too much. And now, as winter and the long dark nights await us, we also face new or continued restrictions to round out a full year. Many people are exhausted.

I preach self care constantly to my clients, to my friends, to my family, and I practice it often to keep myself in a positive and balanced mood. I also approach my relationships, social media, and daily conversations as upbeat and positive as possible because I truly believe that it breeds more positivity-something much needed in 2020. So, when I found myself in a complete funk most of last week and this week, I was confused. Nothing I did helped. I slept more, checked my nutrition, dragged myself out for long walks, took days off of work to recharge, and even treated myself to a massage. My dark funk only deepened. I knew I needed to take some time to really evaluate what was going on, because I’ve been able to shake this off in the past with just a little rest and self care. So, I sit on this beach as the wind picks up around me, watch the waves, and just allow myself to think.

I realize that I’ve placed huge burdens on myself this year. I allowed myself to be the life-raft, if you will, to many, many people. I tried to be the beacon of hope, the ray of sunshine, the person who always listened and lifted those who were not handling things well. And, perhaps, in turn, It helped me to see through the confusion, uncertainty, and worries that this year has laid at our feet. It gave me purpose, and kept me focused as we all simply woke up each day and put one foot in front of the other. But, I think at some point, I just hit a wall. As a HUGE holiday person, I sat quietly and watched Halloween pass by with no children at the door…Thanksgiving brought only one of my four adult children to my table…And the idea of this “new normal” Christmas is rather tiring. I truly think my funk started with attempting to decorate the tree-I mean, who will even see it?? Now, as I write, I realize “I” will see it! And now that it’s up, the sight of it each dark evening really does make my heart full. And that, THAT is a little self love!

I also realize that, although I am a “strong” person who likes to project positivity and resilience to others, I am, indeed, also very sensitive, as well as quite human, and it’s OK to let my guard down on occasion. It’s OK to say, “Hey, I’m not OK!” It’s healthy to ask for help and simply say to the world, “I hit the wall, I’m in a funk. I need you to carry me for just a bit.” And, I prove this to be true simply by writing this blog post. 🙂

If you have found yourself feeling out of sorts as this crazy year draws to a close, I encourage you to take some time for extra self care. Treat yourself to a guilty pleasure, say “no” to the things that don’t bring you joy, be a little easier on yourself, cozy up and nap, binge watch, or read. Tell yourself that you deserve it-because you DO…Because-2020. Give yourself a break, allow yourself to feel your feelings and recognize them for what they are. Take care of yourself as needed, and don’t be afraid to say, “Hey, I need a little help over here!”

The mental health industry has coined this “pandemic fatigue”. The symptoms are anxiety, depression, sadness, and fatigue or exhaustion. Anxiety is the result of losing control, and feeling as though things we hold dear have been changed or even threatened. Depression can be a response to a feeling of loss-lost time, lost money, lost relationships, lost traditions. We have all experienced loss this year, to some degree, some greater than others. Fatigue or exhaustion can be derived from many sources this year-overworking, home educating, isolation, balancing out the constant stream of news and responsibilites that just seem never-ending. It’s important to have support, and also to know when it’s time to ask for help. Please, if you find that you are in need of serious help, contact a health professional.

Early on this year I read a beautifully written article about “what we were feeling”. In short, it summed it up as being grief. Grief over losses, grief over change, grief over lost control of many facets of our lives. With grief, comes many emotions, and you’ve likely seen them played out on social media this year: Shock, denial, anger, depression…The final stage of grief is acceptance. Perhaps, that is the stage we all need to allow ourselves to embrace as 2020 falls away from our calendars. Accept, and be able to move on, to a better year, full of possibilities and hope. Acceptance may be the best first step in your self care toolbox right now.

Other self care tools to help you work through the end of this year: breathing, meditation, a little extra sleep, being kinder to yourself with less expectations, spoiling yourself a bit, giving yourself a break, making sure your nutrition is balanced, getting some movement and fresh air into your day, and finding a bit more support in your life. To help with that, I invite you to join my little Facebook group for just this purpose. It’s free, there’s no sales, and it offers support while also offering self care techniques, food facts, recipes, and fun conversation. I’d love to have you join us as we enter into this brand new year. You can join HERE or search BeeWell Healthy Hive on Facebook.

It’s been a hell of a year. I think back to last New Years, with it’s fireworks and dancing, champagne bottle popping on the boardwalk, and a video of me, almost in tears of joy, anticipating the year to come with elation. I think back to mid-march, explaining to one of my out-of-touch-with-current-news children what might possibly happen in the weeks going forward (and realize now, I couldn’t have even imagined the reality that followed). I think back to all of the incredible challenges that were thrown into our lives this year without much warning, without much time to prepare. And I think every one of us deserves a huge pat on the back, a huge “well done”, and a huge BREAK. We actually made it. Here’s to a New Year!

You Deserve It!

The last couple of weeks have been exhausting! I completed classes, did the legalities for my business, set up my website, spoke with clients, made a bunch of fun graphics for social media, had photo sessions, and wrote a ton of articles. In keeping with my own health journey, I also logged a consistent 20K+ daily steps on my Fitbit, did Piyo and yoga, prepped food, and tried to spend as much time outside in the waning last days of warm weather here in beautiful southeast North Carolina. Sunday, at noon, I just crashed. I found myself looking at my pile of notes, my books, picking up my computer only to put it right back down in exhaustion. I gave myself permission to rest, feeling a bit guilty, and turned on the football game-only to doze off. It was really clear-I needed a day off.

For many of us, it’s really easy to just check out and take a day or weekend completely off of life and responsibilities. I’ve seen people spend endless hours binge watching a series, or just napping the day away blissfully. For others, it is not so easy. I’ve known people that simply never stop. They work on vacation, they carry a running list of what they need to do with them at all times, they use their breaks to switch up projects, and they never stop moving. I realized, as I sat, Sunday evening, writing this blog article after promising myself a day off-I am usually that person.

Often, when we begin a new journey in our lives, we get so excited, our energy is boundless, and we just want to keep moving, perhaps for fear of losing momentum. This is particularly true when we become focused on our health; that post workout euphoria, that site of the numbers moving on the scale, the sense of our body getting stronger and healthier. Hitting 10 thousand steps each day on your Fitbit was such an accomplishment-why not aim for 15? Adding 10 reps to your weight routine was exhilarating, so why not go for 20? It’s very easy for many to get pulled into the concept of one-upping ourselves, but, inevitably, over time, it wears us down. Everything, when overdone, only leads us to exhaustion.

If you are one of those people, you may have a hard time giving yourself a break. I know that I do! I’ve never been much of a “do nothing” kind of person, but it’s SO important to give our bodies and our minds a break. I take time each day to mediate, but I have to really force myself to just do “nothing at all”. Maybe it’s linked to a sense of accomplishment, maybe it’s about being obsessive, maybe it’s just something in our personal make up that leads us to be so goal focused, we can’t slow down. But “rest” and “doing nothing” is crucial to our health.

Rest, or down time, gives both our body and mind permission to recover, to rejuvenate, to prepare for a fresh start. Resting the body gives our muscles a chance to repair, gives our joints a break, and gives our mind a chance to wander outside the box of checklists and schedules. Often, simply taking a break leads us to see things clearer, and to be able to find the solution to problems and challenges much easier. Often, a well-deserved break gives us a new lease on focusing on our goals, and the ability to begin again, fresh and inspired.

I started this post on Sunday evening after feeling guilty of not getting much done in my haze of exhaustion, but three paragraphs in, the process of confronting my own inability to take a guilty free break worked, and I closed my computer and climbed into bed with a new show to binge watch and soon fell asleep. I awoke much more refreshed and clear-headed, ready to get some major projects completed on Monday morning. So….Rest worked!

If you find yourself being a goal chaser, like me, and having a hard time “turning it off”, take a few minutes today and examine that. Why is it hard to rest and relax? What can you do to make sure that you do make rest and recovery an important part of your life? What are some things you can do to make this process easier?

One thing that I have decided to do, being so “goal oriented” is to actually set a goal for what I will call “pamper time”. My pampering won’t be bubble baths or spa treatments, but simply time to not focus so much on my many lists. Time I will spend simply NOT focused on work, or chores, but on being lazy and enjoying some guilty pleasures of a Netflix series, or simply sitting on the beach watching the waves (in contrast to seeing how many steps I can get). I’m putting this on my schedule-actual scheduled time to do NOTHING, so that my mind will think it’s a requirement, and I can check it off!

If you are feeling run down, tired, unfocused, or exhausted, I strongly encourage you to plan some time to decompress and renew. This has been a monumentally difficult year for many, and the struggles have been very real even to those of us who were blessed enough to be about to handle it well. We all deserve a break, a really good break! I hope that you will take some time to take care of yourself in a fun and relaxing, pampering, guilt free manner, and know that while you NEED it, you also DESERVE it. Schedule some “me” time for yourself right now-it’s as important as anything else you have on that schedule!

reposted from my website BeeWell.com

So, What Exactly is Health Coaching Anyway?

From my site BeeWell.com

This is a popular question that I hear all the time! Health Coaching is a relatively new field that many people have no knowledge of. It’s an amazing concept, and it fits right in to our current pandemic world because it can be done virtually in the safe comfort of your home. A health coach can be so helpful, in so many ways, and can literally change your life with some guidance, support, knowledge, and motivation.

Over the last few years, I’ve worked with many people that contacted me asking for advice, knowing that I had a degree in nutrition, and had taking many classes in wellness and mindfulness practices. After helping those people find the guidance and motivation they needed, they always encouraged me to take my knowledge and passion to the next level, and start my own business, which is exactly what I did-I became certified in my field, and absolutely love what I do! Helping people find the tools to help themselves is a blessing. 

So, what is Health Coaching? It can be many things, because it is uniquely tailored to the needs of each person. Health Coaching is about discovering the personal health goals of each individual, and putting the knowledge and steps into place to reach those goals. Its about personal attention, open conversation, and lot’s of motivation. It’s about discovering the things that often block us from our ultimate goal, and pushing those blocks out of the way. It’s also about dealing with our health from a proactive and holistic starting point to avoid, or reverse, issues that concern us.

Some health coaches specialize in specific fields, while others use their varied education and experience to help with a variety of goals and needs. My passion leads me to many areas of health coaching, and I’d like to share some of the successes I’ve helped people achieve.

“I’m so stressed out, I can’t make a decision, and my nerves are making me crazy!”  A huge life decision had this person unable to think clearly, and the anxiety of the “what ifs” was keeping them up at night and almost on the verge of tears for days. Big life choices are extremely stressful, and stress can make us physically sick, so the first thing we did was focus on some breathing exercises, followed by some guided journaling and mediation which soon led to calm clarity, and the choice soon became obvious. The ultimate choice ended up being the absolute best choice, and all the stress involved dissipated quickly.

“Everything I eat seems to go right through me, I’m unfocused, tired, and not sure what to do.” This is a common complaint that I hear, and more than often, it comes down to a food intolerance. This client, a young athlete, had been working with me to increase his speed and strength through nutrition, but wasn’t seeing results because of embarrassing stomach issues. When we got to the root of the problem, an elimination diet along with some serious nutritional education revealed that dairy was the culprit. 3 weeks later, this client reported a 15 pound drop in weight, razor sharp focus in school, better strength and workout intensity, deeper sleep, clearer skin, and the stomach issues were completely gone. Nutrition is now a focus in his life, and the physical and mental gains have been life changing.

“I had a baby, and I cannot drop the weight…and that baby is now 10!” Losing that baby weight is HARD. I’ve done it 4 times. It’s HARD! As a mom, you are so busy, so tired, and in a constant state of giving yourself to others, the struggle is REAL. I’ve guided many through this life changing part of life and provided the support and tools needed to drop the weight, gain control of daily schedules, and find a bit of time for some self-care and self love. Learning that it’s ok to take care of your self is the quickest way to getting all that chaos of motherhood to fall neatly into place.

“I’m putting the work in at the gym, wearing out my Fibit with steps, but not seeing the results I want.” The famous saying, “Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym” is very true! I’ve worked with athletes and gym rats that spent hours sweating in the gym only to see results slow down after a few months. Working with them to balance their macros to fit their goals, whether it is weight loss, muscle gain, speed, energy, or focus, correct nutrition is what helped them reach their goal.

Fifty sucks! My hormones are crazy, I can’t sleep, I crave sugar, I can’t lose weight, I can’t sleep, and I feel like I’m losing my mind!” Oh, those lovely hormone changes that greet us as we enter a new chapter of life..! I’ve been there my friend, and I did, indeed, think I was going to lose my mind. I found the keys though, and in a matter of weeks, I was feeling so much better! In a few months, I had forgotten that it ever happened. For me, it was done without hormone therapy or meds-completely through changes to my nutrition, my exercise, and my habits. This is a common issue, and I’ve shared this with lovely ladies that have managed to regain their sense of youth and feel happy and sane again! This chapter of life CAN be as awesome as you want it to be!

“We are living on fast food! Our schedules are so crazy, we are running nonstop, and we need to eat healthier, but life is so crazy!” This was a popular issue pre-Covid for most of my friends with busy families. Grabbing takeout was the easiest way to get everyone fed, even if it meant eating unhealthy and spending too much money-it got the job done, but in a less than desired manner. The solution was clear-MEAL PREP! I’m a bit of a meal prep queen-it got me through 22 years of homeschooling, working, four kids in soccer, football, basketball, art/dance/guitar/karate/co-op…etc! Meal prepping, when done right, not only provides quick, healthy, nutritious meals on the go, but saves you money, time, and sanity! I’d love to show you how this can be done!

“2020 has been unbearable to me. I’m anxious, angry, agitated, stressed and foggy headed.” It’s been a rough year, and, from the looks of it, it’s not ending anytime soon. I’ve worked with several people this year, giving them the tools to find calm in their lives, to gain perspective on making the best of their situation, and seek out the positives-no matter how small-in order to become more grateful and mindful during this seemingly never ending crisis. Helping them boost their immunity, find creative outlets, and focusing on meditative and mindfulness skills has led to them feeling empowered, less anxious, and even setting out to accomplish goals and hobbies they always dreamed about. I’ve enjoyed watching these special people make a complete 180 with their attitudes and spirits this year!

“My doctor said I can’t have (insert foods) while taking this medication.” Or, “my doctor said I need to change my diet for (reason) and I don’t know where to start.” Or, “My doctor said if I don’t change my lifestyle I could be at risk for (insert illness) Where do I begin?” These are red flag statements telling me that change is not only needed, but crucial. Navigating health and lifestyle changes when faced with possible serious future health issues is scary and daunting. As a health coach, I can work with your doctor’s orders to make them easy for you to understand, and help you make the many, usually small but important, changes to your nutrition and lifestyle that will ultimately make a huge difference.

“I’m dealing with crazy symptoms, but no diagnoses. Eczema, hives, fatigue, brain fog, food insensitivities …I don’t know what to do next.” This is my own story, and it was 4 years of no answers, many meds that made it worse, reactions to many foods with no positive allergy test. I was miserable, covered in burning hives, tired all the time, and doctors were no help-literally Googling my symptoms and having no answers. The problem is a common one, yet very ignored and often misdiagnosed. Other symptoms can include inflammation, bowel discomfort, headaches, joint pain, and weight gain or loss. Finding the solution to this took years of research, elimination diets, and supplements, but ultimately, when the answer was found, the problem completely went away-and stayed away. Nutrition and lifestyle was the absolute key, and my quality of life improved 100%.

So, as you can see, the answer to the question, “What is a Health Coach?” leads to many answers and situations. In short, as a health coach, I provide strategy, accountability and support to achieve goals and objectives to help people solve problems and live better, healthier, lives. I do this with personal attention and care, and with upmost concern for your well being and happiness. I am not a sales person, I do not push potions or products, and my only goal is helping you live your best life. I keep my fees low and manageable, and take great joy in seeing the changes that my clients make on their journey.

I’d love to help you on your journey, and if you are interested in discussing how we can best work together to reach your health goals, please feel free to reach out to me at sami@beewell.com  Let’s DO this!

“I Just Don’t Have Time to Exercise!”

I had a few friends check in with me recently after seeing me announce my business and my new website. “You look so well!” They proclaimed, and went on to talk about my photos and living life at the beach. I told them about my walks, my biking, and how nice it was that it was pretty much still warm here all the time. Then, they admitted that they “had to do something” because COVID restrictions had led them to become out of shape and not feeling their best. “I don’t feel safe at my gym” one said, as the other person spoke of feeling unmotivated and down. Another simply said, “I just don’t have time to workout.” Welcome to life in 2020, where just about everything seems harder than it should be. But, it doesn’t have to be that way!

The benefits of exercise are enormous-and many of those benefits can be a real game changer to “life in 2020”. Feeling depressed and unfocused? Exercise can help with that! Feeling as though you’ve lost muscle or strength? Feeling tired and run down? Not able to sleep as soundly as you did in 2019? The answer, my friends, is EXERCISE!

Now, I know, I know…if you’re tired and depressed, or not sleeping well, thinking about exercise just make you more tired and more depressed. But if you can get your mind moving in the right direction, and just take a little bit of motivation from this blog post, maybe taking a few small steps towards the goal of more movement is just the way to get you headed in the right direction.

SEX….Ok, now I may have your attention!!!! Did you know that regular exercise helps boost and improve your sex life?? Exercise gets your cardiovascular system going, pumps more blood to the “important” areas of your body, tones your muscles, increases your flexibility, and increases your stamina and drive. Exercise helps with erectile dysfunction, and can increase libido no matter your age. Maybe THAT’S the benefit that may appeal to many of my readers the most!!;) So, get moving you hottie!

Most of us associate working out to diet and weight goals, whether it’s to lose weight, or gain muscle mass. Exercise, of course, is a major factor in changing our bodies and becoming healthier. Aerobic (cardio) exercise increases our calorie burn, making weight loss a bit easier, and works even better when paired with some resistance or weight training. Adding this type of movement to your life a few times a week can also help burn that stubborn belly fat that seems to sneak on after a certain age. And, the best part? Each time you get some regular exercise, you boost your energy level just a bit more-giving you more energy for the next workout and for life in general!

Other benefits of regular exercise are: better sleep, more enjoyable rest days, decreased anxiety and depression, a reduced risk of chronic illness, better brain function, stronger bones and muscles (especially as we age), and healthier, less aged, skin. The hormones released during exercise increase wellness throughout the ENTIRE body system! So, let’s do this!!

PLAY BALL Win the Game with Food Focus

It’s been a long year of lockdowns and quarantine, and many of our favorite activities have been postponed or cancelled. BUT, sports are back, and if you are like me, that’s something to celebrate and enjoy. In my family, there’s almost always a sports program on the tv, and when the big games are on, it becomes a real party. Pizza shows up at the door, bags of snacks get piled onto the counters, and depending on the game, there’s usually some wine or beer. Some of our favorite family memories start out this way!

Watching televised sports has become one of our biggest pastimes, as well as a huge social event for many. Friends and families gather and build traditions around watching their favorite sports teams and EATING. This can lead to some huge challenges for those of us that aspire to live and eat healthy. The typical foods found at most sports parties, and even most stadium venues, are mostly high in fat and calories, and low in actual nutrients. The most popular “sports” foods, according to a quick Google search, are pizza, wings, nachos, chips, dessert foods, and of course, beer and soda. After taking into consideration that the average male needs about 2000 calories a day, and the average female needs about 1600, let’s take a look at what the “average” person might find themselves munching on as they cheer on their favorite teams for several hours each week:

  • 2 slices of pepperoni pizza
  • 6 wings
  • Nachos with cheese and toppings
  • Endless amounts various chips (but let’s say 2 servings)
  • 4 cookies
  • 2 beers (only 2!)
  • 2 sodas

Does that sound about right? Have you found yourself eating this way? I know this happens in my house!

This, my friend, is 2800 calories worth of food-with a whopping 100 grams of FAT. Add a loss by your favorite team, and you might find you had a really bad day!!

Fortunately, there are lots of easy and fun ways to combat this sort of pattern of “sports” eating. Offering healthier options, making it a point to get up and move during the game, and drinking more water can all help curb this crazy intake of calories and fat, and even add some fun to the day.

Sports can get pretty emotional, (I threw a vacuum cleaner down the steps after a bad playoff game once-and my dad broke the bathroom door off the hinges after a bad play when I was a kid…) Sports can also be mind numbingly tedious when nothing really happens inning and inning, quarter after quarter. The emotions, the boredom, the excitement, all lead to mindless eating. Have you ever finished off an entire bag or chips or cookies while engrossed in a tv show? All the sudden, the bag is empty, and you have little memory of even tasting it! This is a huge issue when watching sports. Recognize that, acknowledge it, and make that thought part of your watching plan. 

Some tips for making better choices during your sports and party viewing:

always have healthy options available. Veggie and fruit trays with hummus or lower fat dip are a great start.

choose mustard over mayo on your sandwich or hotdog, and consider skipping the cheese.

cheese or veggie pizza instead of pepperoni or fatty meats, and stick to one slice for a very healthy change.

use a smaller plate for your choices, eat slowly, and don’t eat out of giant bowls or packages.

make the decision to only eat at a certain point of the day perhaps at halftime, or during the 7 inning stretch.

instead of pizza, hotdogs or hamburgers, try some grilled kebabs with lean meats, veggies and fruits. 

if you choose to drink, set a limit to 2 drinks, and have a full glass of water before drinking each one. Alcohol and water intake should always be equal!

do a search for some healthy game day snack recipes (there are TONS) and try a new one out each week.

Now, to add some fun to your day! Let’s get up and move, and get everyone involved with fun and exercise!

make some bets with your family and friends, with crazy exercise as the consequence. Your team scores-they have to do pushups, their team scores-you have to do jumping jacks. This can be done with all aspect of the game, even down to ref calls and uniform choices!

get up and move during commercial breaks, long replay decisions, halftime and the 7th inning stretch. March around the house, step outside for some fresh air and take a quick walk around the yard, or even put on some music and dance for a few minutes.

have a themed “party game” available during game breaks-shoot hoops into a wastepaper basket, throw the ball around in the front yard, be creative and have some fun with it!

Above all, remember that this time is for having fun, relaxing with family and friends, and socializing. The food and drinks are just an added attraction to the day, and partaking in a huge feast of food is not a requirement or expectation. Focus on your family and friends, and your team, and have a great and healthy time!

From my website BeeWell.com

Self Love for the Win!

You’ve got you meals all planned out, your water bottle filled, and your exercise schedule is going really great. This time around, you’re really going to make those changes and reach the goals you’ve dreamt about for so long! But, a few days or weeks into your healthy lifestyle change, you find yourself tired, losing motivation, and stressed. It’s happened to all of us; we start out so focused, on the top of the world, so determined, so proud of each little accomplishment, but than reality sets in, and we slowly find ourselves sliding downward, into bad habits and just simply lose our momentum. But, there’s a fix for that, and it’s called self-love, or, self care. 

The average adult is TIRED. Family, work, and responsibilities-all fill almost every second of our day, and for many, especially women, finding and taking any amount of time for ourselves is so difficult. Everyone NEEDS something from you, all the time, and saying no, or taking a step out for your own self can seem selfish, right?

WRONG! It’s not selfish at all. Think about the process of preparing to fly; the flight attendant tells you all of the emergency procedures, and the most important one is to put your oxygen mask on FIRST. Without taking care of yourself first, it may be impossible to take care of those you love when needed. This applies to your entire life! Without taking care of YOU first, there is little energy to take care of others properly.

Now, I know-you say you are too busy. A work project is due, dinner has not been planned, the kids are climbing up your leg, your husband can’t find his keys, your phone is buzzing, and the dog just peed on the floor-WHAT THE HECK IS SELF LOVE???

I’ve been there; I’ve SO been there, and I honestly didn’t find time for self-love. I woke early to find four kids needing every second of my day, a house to constantly clean, homeschool lessons to be done, and a schedule so full of soccer, football, basketball, art class, co-op, and music lessons, there was simply not a single half hour block left in my planner. I was tired, stressed, and not the most patient person. My energy levels were spent by 2pm, and I found myself moving from one activity to the next without really noticing what was going on around me. Life became one long to do checklist.

In 2006, I suddenly became a single mom of four, determined to continue homeschooling, looking for a job and a place to live, completely and totally stressed to the max. Surely, the idea of self-love was not anywhere in my thoughts. This was a mountain to climb, and I had no clue how high it was going to be. But then a friend took my kids for a few hours-I’d never had a sitter (11 years, no sitter!) and I had a few hours to myself. For the first time in 11 years, I sat on my front porch, alone in silence, and did absolutely nothing. It was absolutely awe-inspiring! A few months later, my children started spending weekends with friends and their dad, and I found myself able to spend more time on myself, reading, writing, planning, and daydreaming. My patience level went up, my sleep got better, and my energy level improved. Although I was now working more than fulltime, still homeschooling, and doing 100% of the child rearing, my life was suddenly better that any moment before. I began to blossom into a new person, a happy person, a calm person. I had found some self love. 

So, what IS self-love, or self-care? Self-love is doing things deliberately and regularly for your physical, emotional, and mental well being. The most important word in that definition is “deliberately”; one needs to be absolutely aware of one’s well being in order to achieve a true sense of self-love. Being aware leads us to a sense of clarity and acknowledgment to the fact that we are, indeed, taking care of ourselves. It leads to a super healthy relationship with your own self, at which point, it easily translates to those around you. In short-you become the best version of YOU, and those around you benefit from your energy, happiness and joy. 

There’s so many things that we can do for ourselves to begin a journey of self-love and care, the important thing is that start with something small, and begin that journey now. How can you begin the journey? Here are some ideas:

*The Power of “NO”

One of the biggest changes I ever made in my life was learning to say, “no.” “No” is a complete sentence; it does not require details or excuses, or even an apology. 

As a young mom, I wanted to be accepted, admired, and liked. I took charge of everything-and I mean EVERYTHING. I ran classes, wrote curriculum, hosted activities in my tiny house, coached sports, brought the snacks, rallied the other parents to help…until one day when I realized that my hand was subconsciously going up in the air all by itself-even before the person asking for help even finished their request! At that point, I was already known as the “do it all” lady, and I did upset a few people with my first action of saying “no.” I moved to a new state soon after, and used “no” quite easily once the expectation was gone. I only said “yes” to those things I truly wanted to be involved in, and in return, was able to enjoy things far more easily. Instead of running things or “working”, I was able to build new relationships and be more truly in the moment of what I was involved in. 

Learn the word “NO.” Again, it is a life changing complete sentence!

*Make Your Physical Health a Top Priority

Exercise is a love/hate thing with most people. We love it and do it, or we hate it and don’t do it. Or, in many cases, we do it, find we love it, and still find times when we hate the idea of it. When we find time to do it, we find that we love the way we feel when we are done. We feel accomplished, strong, and healthy. But, for most, that feeling is short lived, and getting the inspiration to do it again is not so easy. 

Find some form of exercise that you LOVE. Something that makes you want to move, something that makes you happy. Maybe it’s dancing while you clean, or taking a long walk each day before the family wakes up. Maybe it’s a team sport, or a line dancing class where you can socialize. Find something-anything-and, as Nike says, just do it! Exercise gives us more energy, helps our blood pressure, clears our heads, and gives us body confidence. Just do it!

*Sleep is Your Friend

The Sleep Foundation reports that 35% of Americans rate their quality of sleep as “poor”, and 20% of Americans stated that they had not woken up refreshed a single day for the last 7 days. Sleep is not friendly for many, many people. Poor sleep leads to a myriad of physical and mental issues including obesity, depression, anxiety, heart disease, and more. Some of the culprits for lack of sleep are: using screens before bed, caffeine or alcohol use, eating heavy meals before bed, lack of exercise, worry, and poor health in general. It’s important to look at the factors that may be keeping you from getting the rest you need, and take action to make change. 

*Be Grateful!

It’s time to change your mindset and start looking at what it is that makes your glass more than “half full”. Negative thoughts weigh us down, create depression and anxiety, and even make us eat more and exercise less. 2020 has been an enormously emotional year, and people have handled in in very different ways. HOW they approached this crazy year’s ups and downs is what seemed to make all of the difference.

I did an informal poll in a Facebook group comprised of mostly women, asking them how they handled the pandemic. 500 people responded almost immediately, and added comments about their personal situations. 

~21% said that their experience of lockdown has been awesome, and they were doing really well. Commenters spoke of enjoying their time with family, working out more, spending more time with children while home educating, and taking up new hobbies. 

~50% responded that they had been “up and down, and in survival mode” Reasons included uncertainty about jobs and difficulties with home education.

~23% stated that they were either essential workers or had already worked from home, and they did not experience much of a change.

~3% said their lives had changed quite a bit, and they were still working on living within those changes.

~3% were not shy to report that they simply were not doing great and had pretty much “lost their minds”.

There’s a lot of factors that play into this scenario, of course, but after reading the comments, it seemed that those that did really well were the people that took some self love into consideration, and really made themselves conscious of making sure they were doing ok. They found new ways to enjoy their family, made home education more creative, got more exercise, and developed new hobbies to fill the extra free time they had in recent months. This is “being grateful”. “Grateful” beats out anger, boredom, frustration, and uncertainty, and it leaves us with a feeling of joy, instead of despair or defeat.

These are just a few things you can start to focus on in your journey to find you wealth of self-love/care. Self-love is a deeply personal endeavor, and holds great rewards, and what works for one person, may not work at all for another. Find things that inspire you, excite you, and make you feel alive, and then be sure to take the time to be present for them. Make a commitment to yourself, just as you do for others, and then show up for your own self. Go, and live your best life!

from my site BeeWell.com

That Simple Word for 2020

2020 has brought us a new year, a new decade, and an entirely new slate to write our lives upon! In embracing this wealth of new beginnings, there comes the typical conversation about resolutions: the new diet, the new exercise program, the kicking of a bad habit…But, often these resolutions fall quickly by the wayside, as our mouths fill with treats, our treadmill becomes a storage shelf, and those old habits continue to mindlessly find their way into our busy lives.

Instead of resolutions, I’ve taken to having a word for the year. After carefully examining all the “resolutions” I want to set, I look for the deeper picture. Last year, as 2019 came into view, I knew I needed to remove toxic people from my life, as well as find more “me” time to focus on the things that made me healthy and happy. Putting these thoughts into actual resolutions was difficult, because it was simply too vast to break down. I decided to pick an encompassing word: BOUNDARIES.

Boundaries became my mantra. Whenever I was put into a situation that felt toxic, or felt like it was against my need for “me”, I looked for the boundary that was not clear, quickly locked it into place without emotion, and found myself moving directly past the guilt or exhaustion that often came with those situations. This worked with my adult children, my employees, and with “friends” that were probably not truly friends. It also put the final nail in some past relationships that I had been desperately trying to remove myself from for years.

As I walked toward 2020, I pondered many words to express my new beginning and the days to come. My newly found “me” time had led me to a new part time home at the beach, a renewed love for painting, writing, inspiring, and a chance to once again find the person that had gotten silenced during 22 years of raising and home educating children. I was yearning to delve deeper into my journey, into my passions, and I wanted a word to reflect that. I considered several: creativity, passion, art, vision…But, being the always complex, multi-tasking type of person I am, I realized those words, right now, would only lead me to brain fog and exhaustion as they were simply, for now, too focused.

I realized that my new lifestyle-traveling from one home to another-had me living as an “on vacation, me time, undistracted” person for a period of time, only to quickly return to being a caregiver, homemaker, business person who had little time or energy for the things I loved. Week to week, month to month, my life was a little scattered and exhausting. Projects lost their vision, passion quickly got forgotten, and it was tiring.

So, I needed a word, a mantra, to grasp ALL of these feelings, to pull them together, and to make sense of all those thoughts and ideas bouncing in my mind…And I found it. BALANCE!

BALANCE will be the word that I repeat in my head when I’m making my schedules, when I’m journaling my goals, when my heart is pulling me to a new creative project, a new travel adventure, a new marketing idea for my business. BALANCE encompasses ALL I hope to accomplish-the writing, the beach walks, the exercise programs, the mentoring and inspiring of followers….BALANCE makes it all seem possible.

As you, the reader, enters this new awakening of a year, a decade, beginning, search your heart and mind for all the things you want to see in your life, and find that encompassing word that holds them together…Then repeat it. Every day, every time you have a choice to make-for life is so many choices-repeat that word, use it to lead you, to teach you, to hold you to your goals.

Blessed New Year. Make this the year of YOU!

Healthy Holiday Habits

IMG_9628.pngThe Holidays are upon us, and with them comes parties, dinners, baking, busy schedules, and all the general “cheery” chaos that can knock our fitness and nutrition plans right out of whack. This year, instead of giving up, or giving in, and thinking, “Hey, I’ll start back after New Years…” Let’s make a solid plan for success!  After all, different studies have shown that the average person can gain 5-10 pounds during this festive season-and who want’s that???

*SCHEDULE and PLAN! Holidays get our routines out of whack, so your current routine may be completely impossible right now. Take a few minutes-right now-to look at how your schedule is going, and how you can better plan your exercise, water, and meals. Schedule those needed changes! Put it on your calendar or reminders!

*Be prepared for those big dinners and social events.

**Here’s a crazy fact:
The Calorie Control Council says you may consume up to 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat in total during any one of your holiday gatherings. While the majority of this comes from the meal itself, you can expect to eat nearly 1,500 calories in appetizers and drinks! Don’t find yourself in a situation where the food and environment send you into a nutritional spiral-have a plan of action!

*Don’t skip meals thinking it will help in your calorie intake; this can easily backfire and leave you starving and unable to control your appetite. Instead, focus on small meals and snacks of lean protein and fruits and veggies. Eating a small, healthy snack before your event can help you avoid overindulging.

*Many people ask their guests to “bring something” to a holiday event. Instead of baking a huge tray of grandmas famous butter cookies, or dumping some marshmallows into those healthy sweet potatoes and delivering it to the table, take something you can add that you KNOW can fill your belly without, well, “adding to your belly”
For me, this is a beautifully done platter of fresh cut veggies and fruit. I like to fill my belly with THAT, and then sample small amounts of the other foods-while making my protein the base of the meal. And a big glass of water before joining the table!

*Choose you splurges carefully. Look over the offered foods and plan your plate. Sample small amounts of your holiday favorites instead of filling up on foods you eat year round. Enjoy your splurge foods, eat slowly and taste them. Prepare yourself for “food pushers”! Food pushers are thse loving friends and family member that don’t take “No” for an answer. It may be your grandmother with her famous pie, or your best friend with a bottle or two of wine. I’ve seen lots of ways to “explain” the WHY behind saying “No thank you!” to the food pushers…cute ways to inform people that you are dieting-“no thank you, I’m allergic, if I eat that my thighs will break out…” or putting the responsibility on your doctor or nutritionist-“My doctor says I can’t have….” Personally, I find that just saying, “That looks truly delicious, but no thank you” works nicely Stand firm, and don’t feel the need to explain yourself. The last thing anyone wants to do at a gathering is spend time explaining your food choices, whether it be for diet reasons, allergies, or otherwise; not to mention, all of the opinions that will surely follow. *As always-enjoy the people and social aspect of your event. Have a few great conversation starters to keep your socializing active, and try to be social away from buffet and snack tables. And hav

* Exercise during the holidays can be super difficult. For some, the weather is nasty, there’s lots of travel, busy schedules, and guests. This can make sticking to an exercise schedule HARD!
Again, it’s all in the planning. Think “family fun” and schedule in some family activity: Ice skating, skiing, hikes, walks. Enjoy some social time while getting some movement. Consider wearing your exercise footwear while cleaning, cooking, shopping-and take small breaks to march-or even dance-for short bursts of calorie burn. If doing some crazy Black Friday shopping, take a few laps around the mall. If you find yourself traveling, walk the airport while waiting for flights. If driving, stop for small breaks and take a few laps around a gas station or convenience store parking lot.
 If you are staying in a hotel or with friends, ask about exercise equipment that might be available. Or, pack some resistance bands or your yoga mat to get a short workout in.

*Set up your current environment for success! If you are visiting family, or traveling, or just running around getting things done-make your surroundings successful. Keep a cooler of water and healthy snacks in your car, or in the room where you might be visiting. Throw your sneakers in the car and get some extra steps in the parking lot of the mall. Take a break from decorating, wrapping, or cooking, and march for 10 minutes.

*Practice SELF CARE! (So hard this time of year!) take a minute before meals to breathe and set yourself up for mindful eating, get the rest that you need, take some times for yourself each day to look around, breathe, look at the beauty of your family and friends, and take in the lights, decorations and music of the season. All of this will help avoid stress.

*FIND SUPPORT! Find an accountability partner; ask a friend or family member to join you on your journey

*If you do succumb to a bad day, or even week, pull your self together! Do not feel guilty! We are all human, and this happens! Feeling guilty can lead to even worse behavior-so pick your self up and brush yourself off! Plan to make your next meals balanced! Check your portion sizes, focus on lean proteins, and lots of fiber filled veggies. Avoid those processed foods, drink that water, and get up and get some movement in.