Why I Do What I Do

If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that I post a lot of exercise videos, healthy school lunch options, or other wellness related topics. A friend recently told me that my posts were annoying. She thought I was vain and was just trying to bring attention to myself.

At first, I was taken back by this comment. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized she is absolutely correct. I am trying to bring attention to myself, but not exactly in the way she was thinking. The misunderstanding came about because I’ve never voiced why I do it. So I can’t blame her for feeling this way.

Long story short… I am trying to grow a business. I am an independent distributor for a company that sells exercise DVDs and supplements. When someone purchases directly from me, I earn commission. But I also do something else. I also mentor and guide my customers to complete the programs. I offer daily motivation to keep them going and achieve results. Through my daily Facebook posts, I’m not just trying to sell product. I’m also trying to lead by example. I want others to recognize that they can do this too. I want to inspire others to adopt healthy habits to last a lifetime.

I recently received my Health Coach Certification through ACE (American Council on Exercise). This is an accredited program designed to help coaches guide their clients to make weight-related behavioral changes through goal setting, education, motivation, programming, support, and referrals when necessary. My overall goal is to work for myself one day. I want to have financial freedom and the flexibility to be more “present” in every day life. I want to be a better Mother and a better Wife. I want to be able to pick my daughter up from school and attend all of her functions, without having to worry about my “job” getting in the way. I currently have a successful career selling medical devices, but it’s not my overall dream. I want to do something that truly makes a difference in the world. When I die, I want the tombstone to read.. “Mother, Wife, Mentor, Leader, Motivator”, not “Sold a lot of catheters”.  Do you see my point?

I recently read that more than 9 Million adolescents are considered overweight…. and I don’t doubt that number. Everywhere I look, I see fat kids. I’m not going to be politically correct here and say “chunky”… These kids are FAT… and so are their parents. The parents are making poor food choices and passing their wisdom down to their children. Diseases like diabetes and heart disease are on the uprise, and a lot of it has to do with obesity. You think our health insurance premiums are high now?  They will just continue to rise…. Unless we do something about it.

What if we can start to make an impact with kids who are middle school age? What if we can teach them about proper nutrition early on? What if we can help the entire family unit get healthy?  What if we can turn this obesity epidemic around? What if…

My vision is to help bring change to the community through education. The research has been done and the resources are there. The word just needs to be spread.

 

6 Reasons to Avoid Sugar

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Have you ever told yourself, “just one” spoonful of ice cream. But the next thing you know, the entire container is gone. Sound familiar?

We’ve all been told to reduce our daily sugar consumption. We know that people who consume more sugar are more likely to become overweight and develop serious diseases. To educate myself, I did some research to find out exactly why it is so harmful. The information I discovered is quite profound, and it’s made me think twice about what I put into my body. I hope it does the same for you.

Sugar is toxic. Similar to the effects of drugs like cocaine or amphetamines, sugar causes massive amounts of dopamine to be released into the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is associated with reward motivated behavior. Released during pleasurable situations, it stimulates a person to continuously seek out that same behavior or activity. This is why sugar can be very addictive and why we keep going for that next spoonful of ice cream.

Sugar is a natural substance derived from plants. But it’s what happens during the manufacturing process that makes it so toxic. Raw sugar is softened and dissolved in a process called refinement. During refinement, all fiber and plant nutrients are eliminated to produce the white, pure sugar we have come to know as “table sugar”. The three main types of refined sugar are granulated sugar (found in most homes.. used to sweeten coffee, tea, etc.), sanding sugar (used to add texture to desserts, cookies, cakes, etc.) and powdered sugar (used for desert toppings, donuts, icing, etc).

This “refined sugar” is quickly broken down into glucose and fructose. Every cell in the body can metabolize glucose. The increase in glucose spikes insulin and blood sugar levels. This is what gives us a “surge of energy”. If this “energy” is not used immediately, the body turns it into fat. On the other hand, fructose is not something the body needs, and it can only be metabolized in the liver. It prevents us from feeling full, because it is absorbed and digested all at once. This in turn, puts excess stress on the liver. When too much is stored in the liver, it will also turn to fat. Are you seeing the pattern here?

Obesity aside, increased sugar intake has many other health risks.

  1. There’s some talk that sugar may be responsible for HEART DISEASE. This is, in large part, due to fructose metabolism. When the liver is stressed out, it’s not as effective in eliminating toxins. This leads to increased triglyceride and LDL levels. It raises blood glucose and insulin levels and leads to abdominal obesity, which is a known major risk factor for heart disease.
  2. Sugar feeds the harmful bacteria in our mouth and can lead to TOOTH DECAY and GUM DISEASE.
  3. Overloading the liver with fructose can prevent the excretion of fat, which can lead to NON-ALCOHOLIC FATTY LIVER DISEASE.
  4. Insulin is a hormone in the body produced by the pancreas. It allows glucose to enter our cells from the bloodstream. It also tells our cells to start burning glucose instead of fat. When our bodies have too much glucose, the insulin stops working as it should and our cells become resistant to it. This is highly toxic and can lead to OBESITY, CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE and TYPE II DIABETES. Did you know, people who consume sweetened beverages have up to an 83% higher risk of developing Type II diabetes. In addition, children who consume a daily serving of a sugar sweetened beverage are associated with a 60% increased risk of obesity. This should be enough reason to put the soda and juice boxes down.
  5. Insulin is used by the body to regulate cell growth. When levels are elevated, insulin does not function as it should. This causes uncontrolled growth and multiplication, which in turn can lead to CANCER.
  6. Increased levels of fructose can also elevate blood levels of uric acid. This can lead to GOUT and ELEVATED BLOOD PRESSURE.

The World Health Organization wants us to reduce sugar intake to less than 10% of our daily calorie consumption. Our max should be no more than 25g/day. Cakes, candy, and soda are all obvious foods to avoid, but there are many other not so obvious foods with hidden sugar, including BBQ sauce, ketchup, fruit yogurt, canned soup, instant oatmeal, salad dressings and pasta sauce. Make a point to read food labels and learn the various names of sugar.

  • This Blog from Women’s Health Magazine talks about 56 different names that are used for sugar.
  • This Article from Every Day Health cites 8 foods you are probably eating every day that are loaded with sugar.

Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of this? There’s no need to be. Avoiding processed foods, and sticking with a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and whole grains, will help prevent diseases like heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. In addition, eating a nutritious diet will also increase energy and help you feel good.

You have a choice when it comes to your future. How will you choose to live?

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Weight Gain After 40

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What is it about turning 40? One day, you wake up, and suddenly grey hair appears in places it never did before. Tiny lines begin to form around your face when you smile, but they never seem to go away. A belly pooch develops out of nowhere or maybe you notice your booty starting to sag. Stress levels are at an all time high because of kids, career and finance, and a lot of women start to experience depression and anxiety. Your routine is still the same, yet all these changes are taking place. Why is this happening and what can we do about it?

After the age of 35, we begin to lose about 1% of bone mass per year. Our metabolism slows down by about 2% per decade and our muscle mass drops by roughly 6-7 pounds from what it was 10 years prior. When we lose muscle, our resting metabolism dips and we start to burn fewer calories. If we continue to eat the same foods as in our 20’s or 30’s, we will typically see a weight gain. The weight shifts from our hips and thighs into our abdomen, shoulders and chest. In addition, an increase in belly fat has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Let’s face it…. There are some things we can’t control. It just comes along with the aging process. Estrogen levels drop and things like night sweats and mood swings become a thing of the norm. Your thyroid may start to function less efficiently and you may experience constipation or an intolerance to temperatures. Obviously, these things should all be discussed with your physician. Routine test can be performed and medication given where necessary.

Then there are things we absolutely can control, however not enough women are doing anything about it. Things like smoking, physical activity and nutrition are all lifestyle choices that can make a huge impact on our quality of life. Strength training and weight bearing exercises can slow down bone loss. In our 40’s, fat burning requires a little more effort. Exercise can help you feel better by improving sleep and maintaining a healthy weight. It also has been shown to decrease stress levels, which in turn, will lower your chance of developing depression or anxiety.

It may be time to reanalyze the food you put into your body. Eating foods rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fiber and lean protein will help your body function at a more optimal level, supporting bone, heart and digestive health. Are you drinking enough water every day? Are you eating foods rich in water content? These are some things to ask yourself. Our cells need water and oxygen to survive. We need it to breakdown substances and eliminate waste. If waste is not eliminated, toxins build up and disease will ultimately happen.

I started noticing a few of these changes in my body around the age of 39, and I decided to take an in depth look at my daily routine. I realized that if I didn’t do something different with my nutrition and exercise program, I was going to end up as that frumpy 40 year old I didn’t want to be. The changes I made weren’t huge. In fact, I just tweaked a few things here and there. But I’ve found what works for me, and now, at the age of 42, I’m in the best shape of my life.

My mission moving forward is to help other women get in shape and stay in shape. It’s not just about looking good anymore. It’s about our overall health and longevity. It’s about having enough energy to play with our kids. It’s about decreasing the stress in our lives and living life to our fullest potential.

It is Love….

I wasn’t born to be ordinary.
I wasn’t born to be the same as you.
Embrace my differences.
Bask in the ray of light shining upon me.
Many different colors make up the rainbow.
And those colors are beautiful.
They may have a unique shade,
Which is different from what YOUR eyes may see.
But the core will always be the same.
For it is Love.
Hold onto that love.
Hold onto the pure spirit that resides within each one of us.
It is pure.
It is simple.
It is me.    

                                               

 

Conversations While Meditating

Polor expressI’ve been under a great deal of stress and anxiety over the past few months (or should I say years). To sum it up, I had a baby in 2009. Divorced my husband in 2010. Changed jobs in 2011. Purchased a house in 2012. Got fired in 2013. I guess you could say that’s a lot of change. On top of that, I have no family nearby. My closest relative is 3000 miles away. Hey…. I’ve got an excuse, right?

I realized I was losing my mind, and sought the help of both a life coach and therapist. They were amazing resources to have through this life changing journey. My homework, as always, to relax and clear my mind….. Yoga and Meditation.

I understand the concept of yoga. You do some poses, increase your flexibility and improve your overall health. But how was that supposed to make me relax? Before having a baby, I did Bikram yoga a few times a week. It was certainly a workout, but I never felt relaxed after class. I mean, you’re in a room, heated to 104 degrees for 90 minutes, holding poses for 60 seconds and sweating profusely. Heck, I never sweat that much in my life. The class was always crowded, which meant the person next to you was literally 6 inches away, and hat person was sweating too. The whole time, I’m hoping I don’t pass out or vomit.

The instructors are pretty strict. You only get designated water breaks, and God forbid should you wipe a drop of sweat from your eye. . “DON’T MOVE. CONCENTRATE ON YOURSELF. DON’T LOOK AROUND. REMEMBER TO BREATHE”. Yeah, right. How am I supposed to do that when the person to my right is bent like a pretzel, the person to my left ate a plate of garlic the night before while someone in front of me keeps farting. Who can breathe in a room like this…. let alone relax? I sure can’t.

I decided to try meditation. My therapist said to sit still and empty my mind. If thoughts or images come into my head, don’t analyze them. Dismiss and let go. Sounds pretty simple, right? First off, I have ADD. Try telling someone with ADD to sit still and not think. It doesn’t work. I don’t know how to sit still. That’s what brought me into therapy in the first place. My mind doesn’t stop. This can be a benefit at times, especially when I want to be creative, but it can also be very distracting. In the span of 5 minutes, I had about 20 conversations with myself. It went something like this:

“What am I going to make for dinner? Did I pay the mortgage? My boobs hurt. I think I’m getting my period. My eyebrows really need to be waxed. I wonder if I can get an appointment. Am I supposed to pick up my daughter from Preschool? Crap… What day is it? I think I smell a little. Did I put deodorant on today? Why am I trying to meditate? This is stupid. Oh yeah…. I’m trying to relax. OK now…. Concentrate. Maybe I should think of my chakras. What are chakras? Do I even have them? Perhaps I can focus on my 3rd eye and look for my spirit guide. Hello Spirit Guide… Where are you? Are you there? I can’t see a thing. Maybe I should light a candle. Maybe I should play music next time. Is 5 minutes up yet? This is taking too long. My hair needs to be colored. When will I have time to do it? I should probably call a plumber to fix my shower. Don’t forget to call the plumber when you’re finished.”

Just so you know… I forgot!

Obviously, meditation wasn’t helping. It was only stressing me out even more. Someone suggested to try Core Power Yoga. The class is only 60 minutes, the room is heated, but not too much, and they play music. Perfect! So, I bought a Groupon, tried a few classes and found out I really like it. The teacher had us meditate at the end of class yesterday. (Oh no…. Here we go again.) But this time, I decided to repeat a mantra. (Hey, it was only 2 minutes of meditation. I could do this.) I spoke to my father, who had passed away about 8 years ago from cancer. I said to myself, “Dad, I know that you look over me and protect me. Please show me a sign you are there”. I said this to myself over and over until the 2 minutes were up. Then I forgot about it.

This morning, my daughter wanted me to read her a book before preschool. She was watching a cartoon, so I turned it off to get her full attention. The book she chose was “The Polar Express”. If you haven’t read this book, it’s about a little boy who takes a train to the North Pole to see Santa. He is awarded the first gift of Christmas and chooses a bell off Santa’s sleigh. On Christmas morning, he rings the bell. It makes a beautiful sound, but can only be heard by the children. His parents cannot hear a thing and think it’s broken. The last page of the book reads like this…

“At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe.”

After we finished reading the book, I grabbed my daughter’s lunch box and started ushering her to the car. We were going to be late if we didn’t hurry up. All of a sudden, the TV turned back on by itself. The cartoon was still playing and it brought a big smile to my daughter’s face. I guess my Dad was listening after all.