Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Every now and then, something interferes with our training. Schedules, work, to-do lists, illness.....injuries. Nobody is exempt from interruptions. I have one now :(  Last week, I hurt myself in a class.....recovery is on the horizon, but it has forced me to be a non-exerciser for a few weeks.  This is new to me.  
Living life without an elevated heart rate or tender muscles is new terrain.

Setbacks happen.  It's not "how can we avoid them" but rather 

Sometimes, God allows these things in our lives to teach us lessons or give us perspective.  It might be that we need to discover empathy for others who have had similar occurrences. It could be that we need to feel supported and cared for by others; or maybe they are being encouraged (by our mishap) to show their love for us! Or perhaps we need to have a few days/weeks/months of rest and downtime. Whatever the case may be, there are many blessings behind setbacks if you look past the surface of it all.

There was a time, while working at a health club years ago, that I knew a man named John. John was a 67 year-old retired teacher who worked out consistently, Monday through Friday, at 3:00 in the afternoon.  He put more miles on "his" treadmill than anyone else in that club.  His upbeat, perky, jolly personality was contagious to all who knew him. He was always smiling, always had a funny story to tell, and rarely missed a workout even if it had snowed a foot outside.  
When John walked in the front door, it was as if the day was deemed normal.

One day, John didn't show up.  And that followed by a second day....and a third. Until finally we decided to call and check on him. His sweet wife answered the phone and calmly explained that John had not felt well and went to the doctor only to quickly discover that he needed a triple by-pass ASAP. Stunned. Not JOHN! He was so healthy and vibrant and alive!!! The news traveled fast as meal calendars were set up and flowers sent to his home.  Several weeks passed and still no word from John or his family.  The likelihood of his return seemed slim and 3 p.m. had a slightly empty feeling. 
We began to wonder if we would ever see John again.

At about the eight-week mark, John's beat up old pick-up pulled into a stall and he walked in with his gym bag slung over his shoulder (as usual) and he paused at the front desk for his traditional, "How ya doin', Ladies?" greeting.  AHHHHH! JOHN!!! Whaaaaa???????

The regulars gathered around and welcomed him back, and we asked him for some details and insight to his time away.  John set down his bag and took a seat on a nearby stool. One member said to him, "John, of all people, I would have never expected to hear you had a heart problem. It was shocking. I guess all that working out didn't really do you much good, huh?"

John laughed and replied, "Oh, quite the contrary, my dear friend.  My team of doctors told me that it was because I exercised so much that I wasn't dead 15 years ago."  Gulp. He went on.
"This little incident was just a test of the 'ol ticker. Gave me and the wife a chance to spend some time together and plan our next vacation!  It was a welcome break in the routine of things. A little time to get my thoughts in order and take stock in how things were going, ya know?" Silence.

Man. No bitterness? No frustration? No self-pity?  No, an example, that's what it was.  John represented an attitude about life that was enlightening and motivating.  He did not consider his health issue a setback. 
He considered it a blessing.

John briskly picked up his bag, purchased a water, and scurried on back to the locker room to change just like he always did.  Fifteen minutes later, I glanced down the hallway and saw him on that treadmill. He was smiling. He was sweating. He was healthy and renewed. And he was grateful.

For every setback, there is a comeback.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thanksgiving (nope....not about food).

 Read this today and thought it was special. Enjoy.

By: Anne Lamott
Counting Our Blessings

No matter how you say it, grace can transform an ordinary meal into a celebration—of family, love, and gratitude.

We didn't say grace at our house when I was growing up because my parents were atheists. I knew even as a little girl that everyone at every table needed blessing and encouragement, but my family didn't ask for it. Instead, my parents raised glasses of wine to the chef: Cheers. Dig in. But I had a terrible secret, which was that I believed in God, a divine presence who heard me when I prayed, who stayed close to me in the dark. So at 6 years old I began to infiltrate religious families like a spy—Mata Hari in plaid sneakers.

One of my best friends was a Catholic girl. Her boisterous family bowed its collective head and said, "Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts. …" I was so hungry for these words; it was like a cool breeze, a polite thank-you note to God, the silky magnetic energy of gratitude. I still love that line.

I believed that if your family said grace, it meant you were a happy family, all evidence to the contrary. But I saw at certain tables that an improvised grace could cause friction or discomfort. My friend Mark reports that at his big southern childhood Thanksgivings, someone always managed to say something that made poor Granny feel half dead. "It would be along the lines of ‘And Lord, we are just glad you have seen fit to keep Mama with us for one more year.' We would all strain to see Granny giving him the fisheye."

I noticed some families shortened the pro forma blessing so they could get right to the meal. If there were more males than females, it was a boy chant, said as one word: "GodisgreatGodisgoodletusthankHimforourfoodAmen." I also noticed that grace usually wasn't said if the kids were eating in front of the TV, as if God refused to listen over the sound of it.

And we've all been held hostage by grace sayers who use the opportunity to work the room, like the Church Lady. But more often, people simply say thank you—we understand how far short we must fall, how selfish we can be, how self-righteous, what brats. And yet God has given us this marvelous meal.

It turns out that my two brothers and I all grew up to be middle-aged believers. I've been a member of the same Presbyterian church for 27 years. My older brother became a born-again Christian—but don't ask him to give the blessing, as it can last forever. I adore him, but your food will grow cold. My younger brother is an unconfirmed but freelance Catholic.

So now someone at our holiday tables always ends up saying grace. I think we're in it for the pause, the quiet thanks for love and for our blessings, before the shoveling begins. For a minute, our stations are tuned to a broader, richer radius. We're acknowledging that this food didn't just magically appear: Someone grew it, ground it, bought it, baked it; wow.

We say thank you for the miracle that we have stuck together all these years, in spite of it all; that we have each other's backs, and hilarious companionship. We say thank you for the plentiful and outrageous food: Kathy's lox, Robby's bûche de Noël. We pray to be mindful of the needs of others. We savor these moments out of time, when we are conscious of love's presence, of Someone's great abiding generosity to our dear and motley family, these holy moments of gratitude. And that is grace.

May your month be filled with unending Thanksgiving.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Must address the obvious.......

Cold and flu season is upon us, Friends.  A few tips to help us stay healthy and well through the next few months:

1. Get plenty of rest.  We heal when we sleep, so make sure you are getting the required 7 - 9 hours of sleep per night (but no more than that just because the bed is cozy and the rain is tapping on the window:)

2. Get REGULAR exercise. I have said it before, and I will say it again - - - - you must schedule it in each week or it will be the first thing to get the boot when the days fill up.  Studies show that people who get moderate and regular exercise each week (think: 3 - 4 times a week) get fewer colds and flus each year. Even if you do work out regularly and still get the crud, you will likely fight it and recover faster than someone who does not exercise regularly.

3.  Eat a wide variety of fruits and veggies high in phytochemicals which are ideal for helping your body play defense to infection. Stock your kitchen with a few of these infection-fighting superfoods such as kale, tomatoes, berries, grapes, grapefruits, pomegranates, sweet potatoes, mangos and spinach.

4. Manage stress.  I almost typed "reduce stress" but every time I read that, I snicker because you really can't eliminate a lot of stressors in your life. Especially "good" stress - Christmas, a new baby, a big celebration, a new home, landing a big account, etc.  And we certainly know we can't dodge all "distress" either - a job loss, an illness, grocery store temper tantrums, a hectic day.  So I like to say MANAGE stress effectively.  #'s 1, 2, and 3 above this will instantly help with that. Another way is to find 10 - 15 minutes a day to be still and let your mind go blank. Drink a cup of tea, watch a favorite t.v. program, get on Pinterest :), chat with a friend without multi-tasking, or even take a quick nap. 

5. Drink plenty of water.  Think of water as that internal bath that washes away toxins and yuck. Flush out what might have gotten inside all day long with plenty (remember....half your body weight in ounces) of good clean water.

A note about illness and exercise:
I am often asked if someone can work out if they aren't feeling 100%.  Here's a rule of thumb: if you are feeling ill from the throat "up" you can try to do what feels comfortable.  If you're symptoms are from the chest "down" (chest, cough, stomach issues) it's best to pass until you feel better.  Also, any type of fever would indicate chicken soup and sleep over a workout.  Some say you can ward off a head cold if you catch it right at the start by giving your body a great cardio workout.  I have found this to be true for myself sometimes.  At the end of the day, you must listen to your body and rest when it should rest BUT not use a little sniffle as an excuse not to train :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

7-Card Stud Workout

In need of a fun way to train lower body? Welcome to 7 Card Stud~

Here's how ya do it:
Get a set of weights appropriate for lower body.
Get a watch or stop watch.
Get a deck of cards. Shuffle.
Warm up for 10 minutes - preferably break a sweat and increase core body temperature.
Randomly draw 7 cards and lay them out in front of you.
Then, refer to this list of lower body exercises. Do each one you draw per the instructions below.
Once you've done your first set, put that group of 7 cards away and draw another 7 cards.
Repeat this for a total of FIVE sets (35 cards/exercises).

Cool down with a stretch and............ you.are.done.

Have fun!


Monday, October 1, 2012

Things that make you go, "hmmmmmmmmmm........"

When determining what good High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) does for the body, consider this (physical) difference:

Think back to the Olympics this summer. Side by side, visually compare a long-distance runner's body type with a sprinters body type.  Whaaaaa? See what I mean?  I'm not saying that long-distance running isn't good (it's terrific) but I am saying that if we were to judge HIIT simply on appearance, this is proof - As this is how sprinters train.  But there's more than just how it makes us look - click on the link below that explains this very well. Bottom line: in order to complete the fitness "pie" we have to incorporate both endurance and high intensity training.

8 Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

And why it needs to be part of your regular workout routine.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) describes any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest. For example, a good starter workout is running as fast as you can for 1 minute and then walking for 2 minutes. Repeat that 3-minute interval five times for a 15-minute, fat-blasting workout. It sounds too simple to be effective, but science doesn't stretch the truth. Read on for eight proven benefits of this powerful workout:


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Don't be upset by the results 
you didn't see because of the workout 
you didn't do.

Can someone say, "whoaaaaaaaa.................?"

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Time to Re-boot!

Happy September, Friends!

It always happens this time of year. Summer passes the baton to cooler mornings and "school bus" air. The crispness makes me want to light a candle and pull out my sweaters and boots (although, I won't complain about 80 degrees in Washington for the last 50+ days!) No matter what the weather, the standard I-gotta-get-back-in-shape undertone rings loudly within many of us.  It's not uncommon to have allowed summer to steal our workouts and conscious eating, but it IS time to tighten it up and get back to working toward better health.  We start.....now.

My plan is to begin posting regularly so that those who want/need motivation and encouragement can find it here - myself included!!  I hope to see many faces back at B2B this week as we kick off the Fall Schedule tomorrow morning (5:15 and 9:30 class times).

If you're feeling like there's a lot of ground to make up for, or that the mountain in front of you just seems very high, join the club.  There's a lot of us feeling that way.  But we begin by taking one day at a time - one meal at a time - one workout at a time, and before we know it, we're three weeks in and new habits are developing. 

Plan your meals and plan your exercise. These things get the boot when life gets busy.  The best of luck this season!!!!  Looking forward to reaching new goals together! 
God Bless.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Water ~ Your constant companion

Drink Water ... and a lot of it.
Many of us, each day, are functioning on a mildly dehydrated level. This inadequacy of fluid can cause overeating, eating foods that are high in sugar (to wake us up), blood sugar fluctuations, lightheadedness, and most of all, fatigue (the #1 reason for daytime sleepiness is mild dehydration.) 

Additionally, water acts to aid in appetite as we often mistake hunger pains for general thirst. Adequate water intake helps to keep overeating and binging at bay. Water acts as an internal bath, helping to remove waste and toxins our body does not need!  Added bonus - your skin will love love love it!

How much do you need?
You've probably heard the standard "64 ounces" rule.  This is general figure. I like to use this one:


A 100 lb person would drink 50 oz of water. A 200 lb person would drink 100 oz of water, etc.

And remember to try to drink it from glass and not plastic water bottles.

**Note - if drinking adequate water is new for you, you may find that you notice a "bloating" feeling for a week or so. Not to worry - this will dissipate as your body adjusts to the increase of fluid......keep on drinkin' !

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Should I be taking vitamins?

Why? No matter how diligent we are in eating whole, natural, non-processed, non-toxic, healthy foods, we are incapable of getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals our bodies require for optimal health. Environmental factors and food/farming practices deplete our bodies of vital nutrients that we must make up for in supplementation. There is a gap between “adequate” and “optimal” nutrition - which accounts for Americans being 80% nutrient-deficient. This is where high-quality supplementation assists. 
Optimal vitamin supplementation can do the following:

Enhance Immune System

Reduce free radicals
Support healthy brain function
Protect cardiovascular system
Lessen joint pain and enhance health of your bones and joints
Promote radiant skin and prevent wrinkling
Increase metabolism and help stabilize blood sugar

Not all vitamins are created equal. The rule of thumb ~ cheap vitamins = cheap vitamins.  You will get what yoy pay for.  You don’t have do go broke, but you do have to do your homework. Below is a list of suggested pharmaceutical-grade vitamin companies (Note: these are not the ONLY high-quality companies on the market. You may do your own research and fine ones you prefer. These are just suggestions).
USANA (www.usana.com)
Emerson Ecologics (www.emersonecologics.com)
Dr. Andrew Weil - Vitamin Advisor (www.drweil.com)
Dr. Julian Whitaker (www.drwhitaker.com)
Nordic Naturals - available at Super Supplements
Country Life - available at Super Supplements
The primary supplements recommended (per the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, a world renowned research center on the science of micronutrients), we should be supplementing our diet with:
Vitamin D - 2000 IU per day
EPA and DHA Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 1 g
Pharmaceutical Grade Multi-Vitamin which includes:
Biotin - 30 mcg
Folic Acid - 400 mcg
Niacin20 mg
Pantothenic Acid - 5 mg
Riboflavin - 1.7 mg
Thiamine - 1.5 mg
Vit A - 2,500 IU
Vit B6 - 2 mg
Copper - 900 mcg
Iron - 18 mg
Magnesium - 320 mg (women) 420 mg (men)
Vit B12 - 30 mcg
Vit C - 400 mg
Vit D - 2, 000 IU
Vit E - 200 IU
Vit K - 10 - 20 mcg
Zinc - 15 mg
Selenium - 70 mcg
Chromium - 60 - 120 mcg
Potassium - 4.7 g
Calcium - 1,000 - 1,200 mg

**As always, you should check with your physician or healthcare provider before taking some vitamins that may interact with certain medications.**

Bottom line - - - with proper diet that is supported by quality vitamins and minerals, we should feel confident we're doing all we can to guide our health and walk closer toward Optimal Wellness.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Truth About Plastics

We shouldn't discuss the topic of toxins in our food without addressing a big culprit in the equation, and that is the packaging and storage for our food.  Here are some facts about the plastics in the U.S.

* The plastics industry is the third largest manufacturing industry in the U.S. - get out!!
* The U.S. plastic industry creates more than $341 billion in annual shipments - big money!
* There are over 16,632 plastic facilities in the U.S. - what?!?!?

Plastic has become so prevalent in every day life, we don't even notice it any more. However, as the increase in plastic usage goes up, our health simultaneously has declined (not to mention the whole environmental issue with this compound that does not break down!!) Is there a link?  Could this be a small chip in the disharmony within our bodies?  Read on.

Convenience is synonymous with plastic.  Think about how much food comes in plastic packaging!  Just open your refrigerator or cupboards and see for yourself.  Some of you may have heard reports about the affects of certain compounds in plastic that "aren't good for you."  But we had the luxury of listening to Dixie, a loyal B2Ber and (lucky for us) one who worked in the food and beverage container industry for 10 years as an Environmental Engineer. She shared with us more insight.  Dixie openly offered some suggestions regarding the use of plastics ~ and the reality of the dangers they cause to our health.  Here is what we learned last week:

1. ALL plastics breakdown and release chemicals, especially when heated or stressed (by microwaves, dishwashers, rubbing, denting, everyday use, etc.)

2. The chemicals released include BPA and pthalates and they mimic our hormones, specifically estrogen in women and testosterone in men, and upset how the hormones behave in our bodies. (YIKES!)

3. "BPA Free" does not mean that the plastic is free of chemicals that affect hormonal activity. Some are even more dangerous than BPA. (EEK! Why do we not hear of this?)

4. Generally...the higher the recycling number on the bottom of the plastic, the harder the plastic and the harder it is to leach chemicals. However, the higher the number, the more toxic the chemicals are that were used in that product.  (Hmmmm. Catch 22.)

5. Aluminum and steel containers are coated with an epoxy resin that contains BPA and can chip easily if metal is dented and degrade over time. (So.....gotta use them wisely)

When we say "plastic" we are talking about:
Saran Wrap, water bottles, plastic baggies, Ziploc Take-a-Longs, plastic dishes, storage containers, "steamer" veggies in a bag, quick & easy microwave meals, baby bottles and nipples, and a plethora of other products. You really have to watch for it. Heck, I bought pre-cooked organic brown rice the other day and the directions told me to make a cut in the plastic covering and nuke it in the plastic bowl for two minutes.  Grrr.  Good thing I had just heard Dixie....so I transferred it to glass first.

Do not to heat any food in plastic in the microwave.

Always allow food to completely cool before using plastic storage.

Never put plastics in the dishwasher.  Wash them in luke warm water with very little soap.

Glass is the best option for food storage, especially liquids and fatty foods.  

For your daily water bottle, choose glass. Here is a link for one brand:  www.lifefactory.com

Be extra careful with babies and children; think bottles, pacifiers, plastic toys, etc.  Their little bodies are still developing.

Do not buy cans that are dented - it breaks the seal inside and allows chemicals to leak into the food. And do not store food in an opened can in the fridge....transfer to glass.

Replace any BPA-Free products regularly - six months to a year - as they have broken down at that point.

Once again, we fall back to time and the need to save it in our hectic lives.  Glass = more washing.  Glass = less convenient.  Glass = more $. But it also = less waste, less exposure to possible health problems, and more thought about our meals and environment.

We can't avoid plastic all of the time, so adopt the 80/20 rule.....80% "plastic free"....20% "because I had to." It's all good stuff, Folks!  Just more tools for your journey toward Optimal Health!

Friday, January 27, 2012

The "Dirty Dozen"

Here is a list of food that would be best if they were organic.
Because when tested, these foods routinely contained the highest levels of pesticides or chemicals on them (at least 30 different kinds - eeeh ghads!!)

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Grapes
  • Bell Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Meat Products, Dairy Products & Egg Products  (double whammy on these because of both pesticides AND hormones/steroids/antibiotics. Ick)
Interesting little video that might help convince you :)
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exBEFCiWyW0&feature=youtube_gdata_player

And ALL produce, organic or not, should be thoroughly cleaned with a non-toxic wash. This is the one I prefer, available at many local stores ( I get mine at Fred Meyer in the Organic section or Trader Joe's)

Envirrone Vegetable Wash..........Love it.
However, even a great washing can't remove the yuck from food, so it's best to go organic with them.  If you've got the extra cash, these would be next - better safe than sorry:

  • Onions
  • Avocados
  • Pineapple
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Bananas
  • Asparagus
  • Corn
  • Mangoes

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Now what??

So what does it mean to be "Organic?" This is a great punch list, straight off Organic Valley's website. I think it simply sums it up

1. Nutrient density
Organic farmers nourish the soil that feeds our food. Research shows that organically-produced foods are higher in antioxidants and other nutrients than their conventional counterparts.

2. No persistent pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.

Designed by intent to kill living organisms, persistent pesticides can be harmful to wildlife and human health, especially as they contaminate our food, air and water or accumulate in our cells. Synthetic fertilizers require large quantities of fossil fuels to produce, and contribute to soil degradation and ocean dead zones.

3. No synthetic growth or breeding hormones.

Avoiding synthetic hormones (which are frequently given to conventional dairy and meat animals to alter reproductive cycles and speed up growth) means less stress for animals, and reduced human exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

4. No antibiotics.

Overuse of antibiotics in farm animals leads to the development of dangerous antibiotic-resistant infections. Organic farmers instead rely on natural measures to promote and maintain animal health.

5. No GMOs.

Genetically engineered crops are a relatively recent technology with potentially devastating impacts on ecosystems and human and animal health. Organic regulations forbid the use of genetically engineered seeds or animals (including clones).

6. Animal care.

Organic philosophy means raising animals in harmony with nature. Quality animal care keeps animals healthy and productive, naturally. As we like to say, happy cows make the best milk!

Here's the next argument.........
"Organic costs too much!"

I know. Not news to me, folks. Yes, it is more expensive. But here's my justification (and this is coming from a fixed/single-income home where my sweet husband does not climb any sort of corporate ladder. The small income I do contribute goes largely to our food budget) :

I'm not willing to risk it. I am willing to sacrifice in other areas of our lives in order to spend a little more on high quality food. I'm going to try whatever is in my power to strive toward Optimal Health.  And truth be told, I find the higher quality of food we eat, the less we really need to feel satisfied! (We know our portion sizes are out of control in this country and going organic helped us to fix that problem quickly ~ win/win!)

I don't want to ingest controllable chemicals, drugs, or artificial garbage. There are many toxins I can't avoid, so why not do something about the ones I can?

On the $ end of it - Ever heard of supply and demand? If we consumers begin demanding more organic choices (you vote every time you buy something) the supply will go up, companies will begin to compete and guess what? Yup.  We will drive the cost down. This could take some time, but I am already seeing more and more organic products on the shelves of my fav stores and when they go on sale, they are NO MORE expensive than non-organic products. Herein lies the hardest part - you gotta take the time to watch the ads and shop smart!! In our fast-paced, fast-food, quick & easy, eat-on-the-run, culture, meal planning is a thing of the past, but it pays off, I promise. (NOTE*** If you see a great buy - PLEASE POST IT on this blog for all to hear :)

Feeling a bit like this????

DO NOT, I repeat, DOT NOT flip out and feel you need to trade out your entire kitchen right this second.  This, as I've said, takes time. You can toss if you want, but the best way to do this is in a three step process:

1) Decide on the biggest and easiest changes you want to make right away. My recommendation is to focus on Dairy and Meat products (you are getting both the drugs and the pesticides since they eat from the pastures treated with that gunk).  Meal plan it out and then start shopping around for the best buys on these products.  Get used to this for a couple of weeks.

2) Then, inventory the rest of your kitchen and write down the staple items you will replace with higher quality.  The next time you make your shopping list, refer to those notes.

3) Slowly begin replacing most items in your kitchen. Note that not all items will be organic. There ARE companies out there that don't use a ton of the no-no's - but you have to take the time to read and do some homework. Sometimes we just have to go with the cleanest version possible.  I get that and I practice it.

No need to point out that eating out is much harder when trying to rid ourselves of toxins, right?  Restaurants have to provide the "nutritional" content in food, but they don't have to provide the ingredients.  Face it  - eating at home becomes the norm and THAT JUST FEELS BETTER!!!!

The final point I want to make is that I am a realist. I do not eat 100% organic or 100% clean every single meal of every single day.  Some people do, and I admire that so much. But I have a husband, three active kids, and a business.....you know, a life. So while I encourage and support everything mentioned so far, I also feel completely at peace ordering a pizza or dining out for a meal. I do not obsess about it nor do I rid myself with guilt.  I make a point to choose nutritious foods and avoid toxic foods the majority of the time, but know that when I do indulge....it's okay.  At least I'm aware of what I'm eating, and that, friends, is our biggest concern. 

definition of majority: obsolete - the quality or state of being greater

Besides, healthy folks have a bit more wiggle room. :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Do I Need to Go Organic?

How does one avoid these processed food ingredients?

Whole foods and/or try organic.

"Do I have to?"
This is the single most common question I get asked each week.  Let me preface this by saying that there will be opposition to my opinion and I expect it. After all, we're talking the livelihood of many in the conventional farming industry.  But this is my opinion - you feel free to make yours.

We have to rewind a little bit to get the full picture.      

Since the 1940's, farming has drastically changed. During this time the agriculture industry has been authorized to use man-made products to assist their crops and give animals a boost in their growth and production. Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, growth hormones, steroids, and antibiotics are all routinely used on crops and with farm animals. What's the big deal, right?  Well......not so fast. 

Many people assume that, since they are legal, these products must be "safe." Unfortunately, there's lack of research on how these things affect our health, and the toxicity levels that do exist is not adequately communicated to consumers. Just because it has a label from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not mean it is safe. 

Case in point: When my school district sprays the playground with any sort of chemical, they are required by law to inform me.  Why?  Because it's safe?  Noooo......  Listen, would you allow your child eat their PB & J in a field after it's been sprayed?  I would hope not.  It's common sense. THESE CHEMICALS WERE MEANT TO KILL....weeds, fungus, pests. What makes us think they don't do damage to the human body?

On to the crud injected into animals......seriously.....EEK!  Growth hormones and antibiotics in our meat means hormones and antibiotics in our BODIES.  No coincidence that a number of hormone-related illness and disease are on the rise!!! We wonder why our young girls are starting to menstruate as early as the 4th grade!? We wonder why we have antibiotic resistance!? We wonder why our infertility problems have skyrocketed!? We wonder why so many people have Thyroid Disorder? We wonder why we have estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA imbalances?  Can anyone say PMS? Menopause nightmares?  Hormone-related cancers of all kinds???? 
Let us not be ignorant.
It just makes sense, doesn't it?  The timeline, for me, definitely indicates a correlation between the systematic changes in our food production and the rise of human illness and disease. It might not be the sole cause, but seriously..............just spend 15 minutes on Google if this didn't raise your eyebrows.
Consumer consumption of these harmful products promotes disharmony within our bodies.  Disharmony is a breeding ground for illness and disease.  We mess with the God-given design of our foods and we have opened up a whole lotta health issues.  And looking at the big 'ol picture has me pretty convinced there's a strong connection with the toxins in our foods and environment and the poor quality of our health and wellness.

You will hear arguments on the other side of this opinion. I respect that.  However,
unless and until an unbiased study is done to tell me that ingesting these things causes NO damage.
Don't take the stance, "What I don't know won't hurt me." In this case, it sure might. 
Why not be safer than sorry?

Please don't be misled - we cannot control getting certain illnesses or diseases, or even colds and flu's, all of the time.  Bad things happen even to people with the best of intentions. But should we be that person who is unfortunately diagnosed with a bummer of a problem, don't we want our bodies to be prepared to fight it?  Should we not give our immune systems the opportunity to reach their full potential? I just heard of an acquaintance who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Do you know who one of her very first appointments was with after her diagnosis?  A NUTRITIONIST.  Yup. Okay, NOW they're telling her how to help her body with food - - - -whaddaya know?? And then guess what they said............yes........."make sure you're exercising."  No way, really?  Wonderful advice and I am so happy to hear they credit these things with helping a body in distress, but we need to take note and help it  BEFORE we are diagnosed, or it could be too late.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"E" - Eating for Wellness

Okey Dokey, Folks.  So here you are.

Here's the good news. You don't have to leap into this journey with both feet.....just your head.  We will start with the basics...baby steps...one rung at a time.  You know how it works if you bite off too much of something (no pun intended.)  So, we break it down s-l-o-w-l-y.

We move on to the "E" in Getting R.E.A.L. which stands for Eating for Wellness.  The hot topic  this time of year, for sure.  (I said hot topic, not Hot Pocket ~ don't get excited.)  Here we go.

Instead of laying out some complicated calorie counting plan, weighing and measuring portion sizes, or paying top dollar for some mass-marketed food system, we begin new eating patterns simply by removing foods and/or ingredients that are not only not nutritious, but downright toxic.  Trust me, this is huge. 

As a country, we have become super duper lazy in our food preparation. Blame it on hectic schedules, stress, convenience, or simply lack of knowledge.  But we eat A TON of junk that is not mean for human consumption. The body absorbs it in ways that are detrimental to our health and it usually comes from a package. The first step is to reduce our consumption of these foods (called "processed") and eat more WHOLE FOODS.  How do you know if it's whole?  Ask yourself these two questions: 1) Did it have a mother, or 2) Did it come from the ground? (Thanks to Jillian Michaels for that incredible guide.)  If the answer is no, then you have to make a decision about eating it. (Whole foods don't have ingredients lists....makes eating a heck-of-a-lot easier). If you choose to eat it, then you move on..........

It's our instinctive nature when trying to "eat better" to flip our packages over and read the little box that tells us the Calories, Fat, Cholesterol, Sodium, Sugar, etc. 
I get it....that's what they tell us to do.  But here's the deal - - - - we're starting in the wrong place. 

That section just below the box labeled "Ingredients" is where we start.  Because here's the truth - if we start paying serious close attention to that section, it often takes care of the the stuff at the top. Waa Laa!

The fewer ingredients as possible, the better. And the healthier the ingredients, the better.  This one above? Not good.  Loaded with yuck.  Loaded with chemicals, additives, preservatives.  Essentially, full of potential for ill health. 

HERE ME NOW: EVEN IF, it says "low in calories" or contains "minimal Fat" or "high in fiber" doesn't mean it's NUTRITIOUS!!!!!  It just means that they've found a way to make it appear healthier for you. Horrid ingredients negate any marketing pitch instantly. In fact, much of this garbage has documented research proving their ill-effects on our health, mainly the Big C - Cancer.

Below is a list of ingredients that are known to wreak havoc on our health.  Most are food additives.  I encourage you to print this list and take it to the grocery store with you. Inventory your kitchen and just see what products contain these no-no's. You can decide if you're going to toss them or just finish them off :)

First, when you see "Artificial blah blah blah"......it's a no.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Glutamates, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Fats and Oils
Sodium Nitrate and Nitrites; in general
Artificial Sweeteners, such as Aspartame, Splena, saccharin, sucralose, ec.
Sodium Benzoate, Benzoic acid
Food colorings  - especially Red #40 and Yellow # 5 & 6
Propyl Gallate
Potassium Bromate

This is a short list, but a solid place to start. Here are some sites for your own eyes:


Oh....and the shock factor is b.i.g.  Don't flip out.....almost everything you like has a healthier alternative.  This is going to take some getting used to, Friends.......don't get discouraged.  Over time, you will get in the habit of eating certain products and you won't have to read them every time.

Happy reading!   

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Most of us can place ourselves in one of the following categories.  Here's a little help in deciding where to check the box:

Optimally Well:
WHO (World Health Organization) defines health as: “A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Got that??? They're saying that just because we're not sick, doesn't mean we are well.  There's far more to great health than standing on a little machine waiting for the LED to light up your body weight. Being Optimally Well is reachable, doable, and worth it. It's just a little hard work up front!

So...you're within normal weight range, you don't smoke, you watch your alcohol intake, you aren't too stressed out, you enjoy life, eat your veggies, get good sleep, and see your doctor regularly.  So what's wrong then?  Maybe something you just can't put your finger on....something nudging you that whispers, "there's more."  And there is......

Unhealthy, but not sick:
You know if you are in this category.  You probably have some bad habits.....and you've been lucky enough to escape serious illness (so far). Deep down, you might fear you'll be dealing will some  issues someday, but for now..........this is where you are comfortable. You might have the "I'll deal with it when/if it happens" mentality.  You might have a tendency to turn the other cheek or justify your situation? If you're a yo-yo dieter and exerciser, this could be you.

Suffering from Chronic Illness and/or Disease:
Here's your scenario...you might have:
High blood pressure, Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Allergies, Asthma, Premenstrual Problems & Irregularity,  MS, Reproductive Disorders, Anxiety, Fibromyalgia, Headaches, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, ADD/ADHD, Elevated Cholesterol, Infertility, Neurological Disorders, IBS, Arthritis, Sleep Apnea, Thyroid Disorder, Chronic Fatigue, Migraine, Skin Disorders, Developmental Problems,  Autoimmune Disorders, Aggravated Menopause Symptoms, Seizures, Depression, or Cancer......and this is the short list. 
Feel free to add your diagnosis to it.
Terminally ill:
Perhaps you've been given a grim diagnosis or one that will shorten your life here on earth.  I pray that you are able to use your experiences to influence others who might still be able to detour from unhealthy lifestyles. Maybe you were living in Optimal Wellness and still.......became ill.  We all know there are no guarantees and all of our days are numbered. That reality is not a good reason to live a mediocre life.  One thing is true, we will all leave this earth at some point. 
Live fully while we have this precious time

Be honest and place yourself in one (maybe one and a half) categories.  Now, I ask you (as we did at B2B - we physically stood in a category located in our room).......what is keeping you from being at the top in Optimally Well?  After the B2Bers placed themselves, they were given a sheet of paper and a pencil. Then, they were asked to write down a reason (or more :) that is keeping them from being OW.  Here's an example of what was anonymously recorded:
  • I am an "emotional eater"
  • My spouse does not support a better lifestyle
  • I don't get enough sleep, so I'm always tired
  • Stressful work life
  • I eat too much sugar and processed foods
  • I have pre-diabetes
  • I eat junk food after a workout
  • I love night-time snacking
  • I am on too many meds
  • I'm so busy with my kids
  • Unhappy marriage - I'm depressed
  • I love Diet Soda
  • I travel a lot and have to eat out
  • Addicted to coffee
  • Can't put my finger on it
  • My wife is a great baker - if I don't eat her treats, she's upset
  • I don't really enjoy exercise
  • I drink too much alcohol (mainly beer)
  • I've always been heavy. Don't know what healthy feels like
  • It might take the fun out of life
See? We're not alone. Take a while and think about your lifestyle. What's holding you back?

winds of change

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"R" - Realizing our current health quality and Getting R.E.A.L.

Getting R.E.A.L. in 2012

Are we making things harder than they ought to be?  Are we relentless in trying new ways to eat, trendy forms of exercise, subscribing to quick-fix gimmicks, starving ourselves, etc. only to find ourselves right back where we started from...or worse.
Here are some startling facts about the state of health in America:

* CBS News reported that  (in 2008) Americans spend 2.3 trillion dollars a year on "health care."  That is twice as much as European countries (Rueters.com).  Given that fact, we should be a glowing example of health for the rest of the world, right?  Other countries should be nodding and saying to one another, "Those Americans have it going ON! They are doing something right, by golly! Spending that much money on health care is sure paying off!"
Sadly, they're not.
In fact, we are actually twice as sick. Do the math, folks......TWICE AS SICK???  We should, statistically, be the one of the healthiest countries on earth, but we're not. And it's getting worse.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out something is seriously wrong. I'm still scratching my head trying to understand how we call what we have a "health care system" when really, it appears to be a "sick care" system. After all, we aren't making people healthy, we are simply treating people who are sick. (NOTE: I am not into politics what-so-ever regarding Health care Reform and have no intention of debating it.  I am coming strictly from a firm belief in preventing illness and disease whenever possible.)

Need more jaw dropping stats? K.

*  In the United States, spending for prescription drugs was $234.1 billion in 2008, which was more than double what was spent in 1999.  Nearly half of all Americans take at least one prescription drug per month; nearly one-third of Americans take more than two prescription drugs per month. And GET THIS - one out of 10 Americans take more than FIVE (5!) prescription drugs each month. (CDC - Centers for Disease Control; Number 42, 2010)  **Again, I am not against medications - at all. In fact I am grateful we have pharmaceuticals for times when we really need them.  However, I am concerned with the amount of Americans taking regular medications for conditions that are preventable, and we should all be really concerned with that $234 billion figure. **

* Consider this: Right now, some 75% of health care costs are accounted for by heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and obesity.  What these five diseases and conditions have in common is that they are largely preventable and even reversible by changes in nutrition, physical activity, and lifestyle.

The first part of the year is going to be dedicated to getting R.E.A.L.  REAL is an acronym used to outline the most important areas regarding our health and wellness.
the breakdown:
R - Realizing and Recognizing Our Current Health Quality
E - Eating for Optimal Wellness
A - Assessing Activity Level
L - Lifestyle ~ Living Intentionally

 We can't very well reach any destination without first knowing our starting point.  So below is a quick, informal quiz that touches the basics of Optimal Health.  Go ahead - take it!  It's not scientific, but it is baseline information.  We start with the "R" in Getting R.E.A.L. = Realizing and Recognizing our current health quality. Ready, set, go.............


Wellness Quiz

Answer True or False for each question.
1. I regularly get 7 - 8 hours of sleep per night.

2. I avoid soda, including diet soda.

3. I know what HFCS is.

4. I am not on more than two regular prescription drugs.

5. I do not drink more than two cups of coffee per day

(one cup = 8 oz).

6. I consume at least 64 oz of water each day.

7. Most of the food I consume either:

a) has a “mother“, or b) comes from the ground.

8. I get at least 4 hours a week of moderate to vigorous exercise.

9. I eat breakfast every single day (coffee does not count!)

10. I take a daily multi-vitamin to supplement the lack of nutrients in my food.

11. I rarely feel moody, fatigued, depressed, or anxious.

12. I can confidently say I get fewer than 2 colds or flu’s per year.

If you answered “false” to more than two questions, you have room for improvement!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Let's start at the beginning

Happy New Year!!!
I hope Christmas was blessed and you feel energized for 2012.

It's that time of year, right? When we vow to clean up our act after the holidays. We allowed indulgence. We skipped exercise. We took some time "off" because we were either, a) too busy, or b) felt we deserved it. 
And then, we made resolutions or set some goals.....
Lose weight.
Get in shape.
Quit doing this.
Stop eating that.
I know the drill, and I've done it myself. But we know this cycle doesn't work. There's far more to getting healthy than fitting into your skinny jeans, running a 10k, or getting back to the weight you were in high school. Becoming healthy takes intentional effort and hard work....two things we just "don't have time for" anymore.  Becoming healthy is boring and entails too much sacrifice.  Becoming healthy takes the fun out of things. Am I getting close?

For the last few months, I have had some honest-to-goodness "ah-ha!" moments in terms of health and fitness.  I have done some research (that, quite honestly, I avoided because I didn't want to face some truths) and in doing so, light bulbs ~of all watts~ illuminated in my naive little brain. To list all of my revelations would take days, but the bottom line is this:

My wake up call, I believe, is not meant to merely better my own health and fitness levels.  No, it has been laid on my heart to share what I believe to be true. God is using me and stretching me, and I am so humbled by that fact. He has shown me that in order to serve Him, I must take care of my health. I only hope I can offer the same insights He has so freely offered to me. So, having the amazing folks at Back-To-Basics (B2B) as a built-in audience, I am sharing. I hope you feel inspired to read on and adopt what you feel best suits your situation. And most of all, I hope you read something that gives you an "ah-ha!" as well.

I am not a nutritionist, dietitian, or physician. I have no decorated degrees in chemistry or anatomy/physiology, nor have I trained or worked with elite specialists in the field of Wellness.  But having been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years, I finally realized that there's more to this than our vanity or personal agendas. 

As a whole, we are unwell. We are living under par. Our eyes are fixed on an end result built on no solid, fundamental foundation. Culture's emphasis is not on how healthy we are, but on how healthy we LOOK, and we buy in; many times, at the expense of our health.  I truly believe that if we learn to care for our inside health first....getting as healthy as our individual makeup allows......we won't have to obsess about our physical appearance any longer.  It will take care of itself ~ the way God intended it to be.  We don't decorate a home before the walls are up.....yet we spend crazy amounts of energy trying to reach exterior physical goals without any awareness of our foundation.

What if....what if....we tried it the other way around?  What if we started from the inside out and reaped aaaaaalll the benefits: healthy hearts, robust cells, brilliant brains, strong muscles, exceptional lab work, and also, yes....a slimmer body. We must break this crazy concept that a scale or a pant size determines our overall health.  That's like saying, "there's blue sky, so it must be hot outside." No, we've gotten away from the truth and that's why we've found ourselves here.

I believe we can reach true health and become Optimally Well. I believe we can feel better, look better, and live better.  And I believe we are responsible for feeling our best. It starts with an "ah-ha" and not with trips to the doctor and certainly not drug companies. Sadly, many of us don't know what our best is, but I'd sure like to find out. You?

I have nowhere near mastered what I hope to accomplish in the months and years to come. But with dedication, patience, and continued learning, I hope to reach new levels of wellness I have never known.  And, friends, I wish the same for you. 

Let's do this.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


A New Year and a new blog!  There are many people inspired to get healthy this year, so we collectively decided to start a new way of communicating to those in B2B or who to anyone just wants to stay motivated!

I encourage this blog to be read one post at a time. There's a lot of information and it takes time to digest if this is new to you. 

Feel free to use this blog to share ideas, concerns, recipes, challenges, revelations, or anything related to overall health and fitness!  Encouraging, positive, and inspiring comments only, please :)

Welcome aboard the journey toward Optimal Wellness.