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October 17, 2019

A Story with Heart

When considering our health, so many times we think about starting better habits on Monday, or after a big celebration, or at the beginning of a new y

October 10, 2019

Ever Get Mad at…You?

I recently saw a post from a wonderful lady we’ll call Ann. (This is not her real name, so you can insert any name you prefer to use here. Maybe you

October 2, 2019

Managing Inherited Behaviors

Ice cream is still my favorite food. It has been my favorite food my entire life, as far back as I can recall. I firmly believe that my fondness for i

September 29, 2019

Fresh fruits and veggies, fish, good fats make healthy eating delicious

(The following article first appeared in the February 14, 2018 issue of Get Healthy, a publication of The Northwest Indiana Times. Online version) T

September 26, 2019

Applause for Your Consistency

Today, I acknowledge and applaud you for your commitment to consistency. Whether you consistently make a conscious effort to consume more vegetables f

September 19, 2019

No Time? Quick Meal Ideas

No time. Can you relate? I’ve been feeling the crunch of more scheduled evening events—and I no longer have kids going back to school! As I sat lo

September 12, 2019

The Biggest Nutritional Challenge

When it comes to losing weight and improving nutrition, what is the #1 challenge? Go ahead, take a guess. If your answer is, “I don’t know what I

September 5, 2019

Mr. Non-Compliant Ate Gross Greens

Miracles do happen and life is full of surprises. If your loved one is not keen on eating as healthy as you’d like, keep the faith. I offer you a st

August 28, 2019

The Other 84% of Health

In last week’s blog, I mentioned water intake, slower eating, and increased movement. Did you pick up on the fact that I never suggested WHAT to eat

August 21, 2019

Back to School, Back to Basics

When we break it down, practicing healthy habits is rather elementary. It can also seem rather complicated. Since school is back in session, I figured

Celebrate Your Progress

We are nearly eight weeks into 2018. This means that if you began a “new you” program of any kind on New Year’s Day, you’ve been at it for a good amount of time.

Where are you today? I don’t mean geographically. I mean, where are you with whatever ideals, goals, plans, and resolutions that you made January 1? Have you made progress? Are you stuck? Has the fun of doing something new worn off? Are you moving along at a good pace?

Where are you today?

February can be a challenge for most of us. We may not be as excited as we wish we were about our new endeavors. Perhaps we think we SHOULD be making more progress or that there is such a small amount of improvement, it doesn’t matter.

It does matter. Everything matters. Every tiny bit of improvement you make adds up over time and leads to massive success! Congratulations for being here!

One of my goals this year is to meditate daily. When I look at my meditation tracker, the daily part did not happen. In fact, my focus on this habit has not been consistent at all. OOPS!

Here’s the good news: I have meditated more in the last two months than I probably did all last year. That is success and I feel as though I am making progress. Not only that, I am also practicing avoiding the SHOULDS. This means having the mindset that I look forward to meditating, instead of I SHOULD do this because it helps me focus, slows me down, and allows me to connect with the Divine. I’m experiencing more of “I feel like” instead of “I have to.” Progress. Slow. Progress.

In the world of food, it could go something like this: perhaps you are practicing eating more greens. You had a spinach salad almost everyday in January and now, you are growing weary of spinach salad. It feels like a SHOULD. Well, in a way it is because we should eat lots of vegetables for all the reasons you know to be true. Let’s face it; most of us know what we need to do—what we should do—to be healthier. Why don’t we do it? It is easier to revert back to our old habits when we get busy or stressed. Then it feels too hard to move forward. Hence, the vicious cycle. Lose the weight; gain the weight; rinse and repeat.

Today, think about whatever it is that you felt excited about doing January 1, 2018. Reflect on what you have been working on and what it is you’re doing that makes you feel good. Maybe you worked out twice a week as opposed to never. Maybe you have been cutting back on the cookies or the beer. Maybe you are simply noticing that you feel a bit more energy when you eat that spinach salad. Whatever it is, celebrate your success in some way that makes you smile. If there is more you would like to accomplish, make note of it and post it where you see it daily. Let’s move forward together and be a little bit better than we were last year!

“Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.”–James Bryant Conant

Connecting Body, Mind and Soul

Welcome to Lent, a time of fasting, almsgiving and prayer. For those of you who participate in this mystery, you’ll probably relate to some of my thoughts. For those of you who are not as familiar, hopefully you’ll learn something of interest today.

The forty days of Lent offer time to prepare for Easter, and springtime. It is representative of the forty days Jesus spent in the desert prior to his earthly ministry. Before he could go out and do the work, he had to go within. What a great lesson. How many times do we seek important answers to life outside ourselves, when the answers lie deep within the silence of our hearts?

When I think of fasting, I think of giving up ice cream or chocolate or meat on Fridays. I remember as a kid I’d give up green beans because I hated them. That never went over well. I’d get the “mom eye-roll” and was told that I could do better. Of course, I was missing the point entirely. Sometimes I still do.

I like to follow Matthew Kelly’s advice for Lent. He says we shouldn’t give up chocolate. Sweet! Instead, he suggests doing something that is life-changing; something that leads us to follow our dreams and become “the-very-best-version-of-ourselves.” This is awesome whether you are a Lent participant or not. Figure out what you could do between now and Easter that helps you be better than you are today. Boom!

Here are some ideas that may lead to your own unique plan. Oh, and like I suggest when you are practicing healthier food and fitness habits, choose only ONE thing in each category that will truly make a difference. Too many things distract us and don’t stick long term.

  • Most people I talk with have way more than they need. I’ve seen this idea presented in a number of ways and I’m jumping on board here. Choose one item a day. At the end of our desert time, you’ll have forty clothing items, books, household goods, food pantry donations, dollars, whatever, to give to your favorite organization that needs it more than you. Creative almsgiving. When we give, we open ourselves up to receive—and I don’t mean more stuff!
  • Instead of fasting from chocolate, would it do you good to stay off social media and have meaningful conversations with your friends and family face-to-face? We’re planning to connect with friends (in person!) we haven’t seen for a time because “life gets in the way.” If the news makes you crazy, what if you spend some time in quiet solitude each morning? Is mindless TV taking you away from reading a book of interest or pursuing your dream to learn a new skill? Fast in a way that serves your soul, and it will benefit your entire being.
  • Since our bodies are made to move, what if you used your exercise time to pray or mediate or feel gratitude, simultaneously? The time you spend on the treadmill or track gives you a bigger bang for your buck when you use it in a special way. I often think about my friends who are battling illness and offer up any physical discomfort I feel, for them. I know it’s not even close to what they are going through, yet it’s a form of prayer. How many people do you know that would LOVE to be able to go for a walk, but they are too ill to get out of bed? (I’m grateful I overcame the flu bug and feel alive again!)

Living in a way that leads to fulfilling our dreams is what God, our Creator, Spirit, a Higher Power, calls us to do. What can YOU do for the next forty days that will be life-changing in some way?

 “We can become so preoccupied with what we have and what we do that we lose sight of who we are and who we are becoming.” –Matthew Kelly, “Perfectly Yourself”

Fat Tuesday, St. Valentine and Lent

In the midst of this extremely cold and snowy February comes the arrival of not one, but two feasting frenzy opportunities.

Next week we will celebrate Mardi Gras, which is French for Fat Tuesday. Celebrations occur  and rich foods are traditionally eaten (yes, yet another excuse to stray), before the Christian Lenten fast that begins on Ash Wednesday, AND Valentine’s Day this year. The last time this occurred was in 1945. Now, the double holiday may present a bit of a quandary for those who follow the rules of fasting for the beginning of Lent. Catholics typically eat only one full meal and abstain from meat. This means surf without the turf—did I get that right? Anyway, no steak with your sweetheart is what that means.

Seems a bit unfair to St. Valentine, so the Church recommends this solution: do double celebrating on February 13. It’s a two-fer! In case any of you Catholics missed the fine print, we are advised to celebrate our love for our sweetheart on Fat Tuesday and move into our fasting as we begin our Lenten journey with the Lord on Wednesday. Those of you who follow another religion may be able to split up your caloric intake—and have your surf AND turf. (Please don’t be offended if you have special rules that I neglect to mention. I’m doing well to get these straight!)

The Paczki, (POHNCH-kee), is the traditional Polish donut that is eaten to celebrate Fat Tuesday and–SURPRISE—is not the healthiest of foods. One of these offers somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 calories and about 20 fat grams, give or take–just ask My Fitness Pal. If you decide to indulge, it had better be AMAZING!

One year I had the fun of being in New Orleans during Mardi Gras celebrations, which occur for about two weeks before Lent begins. New Orleans is the American city most known for its “Carnival” and parties. There were lots of parades, costumes, beads, delicious food, and celebrating. No, I did not do anything crazy to get those beads! The people on the floats throw them like Hoosiers throw candy. It’s all big fun. Fat Tuesday has been a legal holiday in Louisiana since 1875. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season leading up to Easter, which is April 1 this year. No fooling.

And in case you’ve wondered, Easter Sunday is celebrated on the first Sunday after the ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or soonest after March 21, but calculations vary. This is the reason the date for Easter varies from year to year. Ash Wednesday is 46 days before Easter to allow for 40 weekdays of fasting and penance, which is a very good thing if you overindulged on the Paczki.

However you celebrate next week, remember to eat a few extra vegetables. It won’t hurt!  

You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.” –Jodi Picoult, “My Sister’s Keeper”

Celebrating the Birth Month

This is my favorite blog post of the year. Celebrating the Birth Month. I write it in February because…yes, you guessed it. February, which happens to be the shortest month, is my Birth Month.

Celebrating my Birth Month has been my mantra for over a decade. I will be 59 years young, and one day of celebrating is simply not enough. Let’s face it– friends lose track of dates and then feel bad because their birthday greeting is belated. Please, do everyone a favor and join me in the Birth Month celebration.

When I turned 50 and my husband threw me a surprise party (and yes, I was moved-to-tears surprised), the question came up as to how the Birth Month time frame was calculated. Is it 30 days before, after, or the month in which the actual day falls? Well, since February got a bad deal, even on a Leap Year, I chose wisely. Short answer, “Yes.”

Some folks thought that was cheating. I think not. Besides, I made up the game; I figure I can make up the rules.

I know there are people who deny birthdays and their age. However, I think it is fun to enjoy coconut cake with a fellow Birth Month friend, celebrate lunch with others, blow out candles, wish good things, and get more Facebook messages than I can keep up with. Last year my wonderful, non-compliant husband baked me a birthday cake FROM SCRATCH! It was amazing, and yes, I ate it.

How does one manage eating through so many Birth Month festivities? Once again, it goes back to balance and making choices that keep me feeling not as old as 59 sounds: keep my workout dates at the gym, where I see lots of my friends and we are not eating; drink plenty of water; remember to eat more vegetables and fruits than coconut cake; eat slowly, savor every bite, and enjoy the company; save half of whatever I order to take home so I have another fun lunch the next day. I love to eat spinach salads with chicken, so it’s not that tough. Oh, and when you celebrate over about 60 days, you can space out those lunch dates so you aren’t feeling like a stuffed turkey at Thanksgiving.

The other cool thing about enjoying the Birth Month is that there is plenty of time to reflect. Am I spending my time on what truly matters to me today? If I am, perfect. If not, then I have this moment to make adjustments. With each Birth Month celebration comes a calm sense of urgency. Having a finite number of these forces me to Live Large now.

Thanks for reading. I hope you have a fabulous February and consider joining me in the Birth Month mantra when it’s your time. Try it, you’ll like it. By the time 60 rolls around, I’ll probably be all about the Birth Year. In fact, I think I’ll begin today.

“Life is short; I wanna live it well.” —Switchfoot