Friday, December 26, 2014

"You put your pills in here?"

So this might not be news to anyone out there, certainly not any major network breaking news, but I think I have figured out one of the main problems when trying to build and maintain relationships.

It hit me like a lead balloon recently while I was sitting at my gate in the Portland airport waiting to board a plane. An older couple was seated across from me and as the woman was rummaging through her carry on I heard her sharply ask her partner "You put your pills in here?" It was more of an accusation than a true question. His response to her was a grouchy "Well where was I suppose to put them?" Obviously annoyed, there was some huffing and puffing, a bit more muffled bickering back and forth, as each was determined to get their point across.

I started thinking about how easy life is when you spend it with your best friend. No bickering, lots of laughing, some sarcasm but more just good wit, tolerance, understanding and never ending support.  We make allowances for our best friends shortcomings and would gladly put their pills in our purse, or whatever else they might need us to carry for that matter. We give and take. True best friends don't keep score. The key to having a best friend is that we remain two very separate individuals, we are not trying to meld into one. There is no ownership involved. No "ball and chain." 

Two become one. How horrible really. Somewhat of a disappearing act. Why can't we be in a relationship, but still be two? We can take care of ourselves as far as packing our own suitcase, gassing up our own car, buying our own toiletries, can't we? We don't have to take care of each other's every need. It is impossible really. The idea of marriage is that we are expected to meld, or rather melt into the same pot. To blend perfectly, no curdling, no separating, hard to tell where one spice begins and the other ends. And while this might work in the culinary world, it does not translate as well when it involves two individuals. 

Observing many long-term couples, I see the bickering, the intolerance, the fade, the let-down of the happily ever after.  It has now become more of a working relationship, one which runs on autopilot. We become such a reflection of one another, our actions become their actions.  So we are always on top of things, making sure the other doesn't mess up, because it makes us look bad. There is no line in the sand anymore, no distinction between the two.

I guess it wasn't me who figured out one of the main problems with relationships ~ it seems other's figured it out long before I had my epiphany. From Khalil Gibran ~ exquisite and perfect ~

The Prophet on Marriage
by Khalil Gibran

Saturday, December 6, 2014

All the Little Big Things

There’s a well known quote that I’m sure you’ve all heard, “Enjoy the little things, for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things.”

Every time that quote crosses my mind it reminds me of how fortunate I am, in so many areas of my life. This morning as I turned on the running water to brush my teeth, it hit me how unbelievably blessed I am (we are) to have water at our immediate disposal. Whenever we want it. These things that we take for granted are things that are truly miraculous on some level. Most of us don’t give a second thought to having access to water, both hot and cold, to shower in, bathe in, to wash our clothes and dishes in, to cook with and to drink. But these “little things,” these little conveniences, really aren't that little. They are actually huge things.

How lucky are we?
We forget that things like running water are luxuries that many people and countries don’t have. There are nearly a billion people around the world that do not have access to clean water. And to get it, women in these countries will walk over 3 miles a day to fill up their jugs, come home, only to make the same trek the next day! This chore that is usually designated to the females, has kept the women from working, kept the girls from being able to attend school, and as I'm sure you can imagine, the heavy loads that they carry on their heads, end up causing them severe neck and spine damage over time. All of this for water. Water, that we can have at any time, just by turning on the tap.

The long trek for water 
When every thing we do requires water, from bathing to our actual survival, every single drop is precious. So, in honor of these women, of these people, the next time you turn on the faucet, think twice about letting it run. Think twice about how much we use and how we might want to try a little harder to conserve. 

This is just one of those “little” big things. Little things are everywhere, they are all around us, we just need to pay closer attention, be grateful and give them the big recognition that they deserve.

P.S. ~ Thank you, Anabella Funk, for sharing your story with us, for all of your hard work and dedication to this cause. You are amazing <3

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Batch and Freeze (aka leftovers)

One of the obstacles to healthy eating is not planning ahead, not having the right foods on hands and enough "ready to eat" items nearby. It's so easy to set good intentions. I know I do. I plan on packing a lunch or some healthy snacks to take with me as I head out the door, but somedays I find I'm rushed and don't take the time or  I don't have the necessary food in the house.

So, instead, I end up stopping at the nearby market, grabbing a coconut water, some "healthy" energy bar (okay, not really healthy, but I at least pick the one with the least sugar) and maybe an already prepared fruit salad or watermelon, if it's in season.  Not a balanced lunch at all.

So like the good ole' Boy Scouts, that "Be Prepared" motto of theirs is really good advice. There are many things that can help with this, like meal planning, for instance.  But sometimes it's not always practical or we might not want to figure out what were going to eat for the next week.

I have found one easy solution for this problem is to do what some people refer to as "batching" or as it was probably referred to in the "old days," making enough to have leftovers. Cooking once and eating twice (or many times). It takes approximately the same amount of time to bake one potato as it does to bake six, right? And now, with the fall and winter season upon us, we tend to spend more time in the kitchen anyway.

So many things lend themselves to "batch" cooking. All forms of potatoes, soups, stews, breakfast bars, oatmeal, roasted vegetables, rice, to name a few. Next time you steam some broccoli, cook a chicken breast and make some rice, double that recipe or plan on making enough for leftovers. Or find some batch and freeze friendly recipes here. Having all of these cooked and ready to eat items in the refrigerator makes it much easier to put something together for the next days lunch or tomorrow nights dinner.

And if you're like a lot of people that get bored eating the same thing day after day, go ahead and cook like you're cooking for a small army and then freeze it. There are so many different kinds of food that do well frozen, any kind of batter, mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower (one of my favorites) soups, stews and cooked vegetables  (if you're not sure a food item will freeze well, just Google it and you'll find the answer.)  Such a great time saver, great for your wallet and let's not forget, a real plus for your good health.

For more information about health coaching, click here to visit my website ~

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cut yourself some slack (and a small piece of pie)

While it is admirable to commit to a healthy diet and live a life of clean eating, it can also become an obsession with some. And obsessions of any kind can actually be unhealthy.

We've all heard of anorexia, but there is also an eating disorder called, "orthorexia" ~ this is an obsession with eating "pure." It actually starts out with the good intention of wanting to be healthier, but gets taken to an extreme.

When we have such strict rules and standards set for ourselves, we can become guilt-ridden if we get off track, we beat ourselves up, and consider ourselves failures. We basically become unbearable, and frankly, a bore to be around!  Our righteous obsession with eating "whole" can sometimes turn us into believing that we are "holier" than others around us, the ones who haven't quite joined the "only whole, unprocessed, real foods bandwagon."

Depriving yourself of all treats, sweets and foods that aren't necessarily the best for you, simply isn't sustainable. And the holiday season makes sticking to this way of eating even more challenging. If we can give ourselves some slack, and instead eat by the 80/20 rule, it is a much healthier, and sustainable approach to healthy eating and living, in general. The rule goes that you choose to eat healthy foods 80% of the time, leaving you 20% of the time to eat your favorite foods, family favorites or treats. This is especially important when holidays or special events are upon us, and we all know what a big part food plays in these festivities. You can then partake without feeling that you need to go to confession afterwards or spend the next few days on a water fast. (You don't have to overindulge, but it sure won't hurt to have a small piece of pumpkin pie.)

While it is good to have discipline and be able to stick to your guns, with fewer restrictions, it is much easier to implement long-term healthy changes and life can be just a little sweeter.

For more information about health coaching, click here to visit my website ~

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dear Sir, I write to you today concerning a large sum of money

Stress is one of the biggest factors when it comes to the state of our health. As I've said before, you can eat the healthiest diet, exercise regularly, but if your mind and body are being assaulted by stress, it is pretty much a guarantee that your health will be compromised.

In today's world with all of the gadgets, inventions and technology that we have, designed to make our lives easier, it sure can cause us to "lose it" when it isn't working properly. Like, for example, when your wifi goes down and you can't get online, or the garbage disposal backs up on Thanksgiving after the big meal, or heaven forbid, the cable TV goes down and the latest episode of House of Cards is about to start, and instead you spend hours on the phone with some customer service rep in another country.

But one of the things that can wreak havoc on our lives, and can be more than just a mere nuisance, is Spam. It can turn your life upside down.  And while it seems many of us are getting rather Spam savvy, a lot of us are still confused and scared by what shows up in our inbox. 

Spam is coming at us from all directions, our emails, on Craigslist, on home rental sites, just about everywhere. It seems that the Spammers can't really be monitored so the only solution I see is to educate ourselves. 

So, first and foremost, when you get ANYTHING from institutions like your bank, the IRS, credit card company, or PayPal via email stating that they need account info from you, or any other Urgent message, disregard it. If you look closely at any of these emails, something will be off.  Like their spelling. Or punctuation. If there is truly an account problem you will receive a phone call. And, if you think that possibly the email is valid, do not respond, but instead you should call whatever company is emailing you directly. And not to the number on the email, if there is one, but to the correct number that you have in your records or that you can locate legitimately. 

I mean seriously, are you kidding me? I keep getting this email from, what they would like me to believe, is PayPal. I love the use of the word "here" in the body of this email. But many people won't even see that ~ and they will panic and respond immediately to the Update Your Info button.

Your Account Will Be Limited.
Dear customer,
Your Account Will Be Limited , Until We Here From You . To Update Your Info . Simply click on the web address below (or copy and paste the link into your browser):
Update Your Info

So what I am asking all of you, is to look closely when you receive these types of things and share this information with others you know, especially older people who aren't quite as tech savvy and have a strong sense of "doing the right thing" ~ they are extremely vulnerable and the Spammers know it. Heaven knows, we don't need this kind of bulls*#t causing us any more stress in an already stressful world.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Holiday in May?

We all get hung-up on the rules occassionaly. And while many of them are worth following, it can be good, and also necessary, to break away from the pack sometimes. That lone drummer is at times worth following.

In today's world, with families being of a different configuration from families in years gone by, it can be difficult to navigate the holiday "come visit me"  plan ~ now people have Mom to visit, Dad to visit, their partner's mom and her new boyfriend, dad and his new wife, kids that are spread all across the country. For many, it's not the cozy  "let's all go to Grandma's house" and be one big happy family event anymore. There are lots of logistics, who went where last year, we want to stay home this year, and my oh my, we end up getting all stressed out about the whole thing. There is pressure involved, guilt, and things become more of an obligation than a celebration.

I had lunch with my good friend, Connie, the other day and I brought this up to her. Her suggestion was simple, yet for me, one I had never really entertained. She said to pick a different day to celebrate. Instead of doing without seeing our kids, or our parents, because the holiday falls on an inconvenient day (whether for work, other visitations or obligations), just pick a different day. She is from Holland and told me that there they have a tradition that you must throw yourself a 21st birthday party. And as long as you do it before you're 30, it's all good!  Her 24 year old son is just celebrating his 21st this year. I think that's brilliant!

Point is, you don't always have to follow the rules. If you can't be there on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day with your family, maybe you can on the 15th, the 28th, late May or whatever works. What we are really celebrating is connection, family, friends, whenever it can be arranged, and who can put a "must use by" date on that?

For more information on my health coaching services, please visit my website

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sometimes it's okay to be a control freak ~

Recently I posted about dangerous toxins and how they have invaded every part of our lives. Whether it is the toxins in food, household items, self-care products or even toxic people (we call them energy vampires, I believe) we need to find a way to rid ourselves of them.
Did you know there are thousands of ingredients that the FDA has approved for use, but no one has studied in over 3 decades, or for that matter, some not at all? And little to no studies have been done on the cumulative effect of all these industrial food-scientist-created ingredients in our food system. 

Many of these ingredients are created by substances contaminated with carcinogens, some make us addicted to non-food substances that are cheaper to produce than real food, and some are downright dangerous.
If you feel overwhelmed and are tired of all the conflicting reports and information out there, making you want to throw your hands up in the air, I have one suggestion. And it's simple. It will reduce your exposure to these toxic substances, at least in your food, and it's called, cook at home. 

“The most important thing you can do with your health is cook. Cooking is more powerful than any medication.” ~ Michael Pollan
But the key here is that you cook using whole foods, meaning food that is not processed, not from a box, and with ingredients you can pronounce and know what they are. Eat at least 15 meals a week at home using ingredients you buy (so you are in control of what you are consuming) and cook yourself.  Make it fun and  involve other family members. It is a great gift to teach your children to cook. 

That's 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 5 dinners. And these can be simple meals, you don't have to get all fancy with it. That leaves you 6 meals a week where you can be flexible to eat wherever you choose, dinner at a friends,  have a night of take-out, or at a restaurant.

Cooking at home is beneficial in so many ways; you save money, more time with family, you can flex your creativity, and of course, you know exactly what is being consumed by your body. You control the amount of salt, sugar, and fat you use, as well as being in charge of portion control. Another extremely important benefit that you will get from cooking at home is that you will nourish and ground your relationships, creating a loving and healthy environment for those around you. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Do you take sugar in your coffee? 1 teaspoon or 2?

I remember when I moved up to Olympia, Washington in 1987. There was this incredible and edgy new Coffee Roaster in town, Batdorf and Bronson. This was well before Starbucks became the rage and was situated on every street corner in America.

On my first visit I sat down at the counter and ordered some crazy (at the time) concoction. I think they called it an iced cappuccino, but really, it was anything but that. It came in a large glass, poured so that the espresso and 1/2 and 1/2 separated, creating these wonderful layers, almost too pretty to stir. It was one of the most delicious things I had ever tasted. It was like drinking an adult milkshake, without the guilt. I mean, come on, it was coffee.

Now, loving coffee like I do, I really appreciate the idea behind the coffee house. The gathering place where friends meet and conversation is cultivated. And for many years, it felt that way to me. It was a place geared towards adult and the adult beverage. But slowly it changed. Everything about it changed.

Starbucks and the other large chains became the place to bring your kids. It became the Ronald McDonald playland for the hip young moms and the grandmother's with their little grandchildren in tow. A place where they could get their "coffee" and buy the kids a little something as well. What's the problem with that, you might ask? Well, for starters, what we are now calling "coffee" is really just a major sugar high in disguise. Actually, it's not even in disguise, and it's not coffee. It's in a cup called a "Grande"~ it is filled with caramel, vanilla or chocolate syrups and topped with whipped cream and another helping of caramel, or . . . yes, yes, I know, everyone loves them.  And what's wrong with giving our kids a little treat?

Only about 15 tsps of sugar!
But they are not a special treat anymore, not a once in awhile delight.  They have become a part of our daily lives.  They say most people now average spending $90 a month on "coffee" ~ the drinks we buy outside the home. And the cost is much larger than the dollar amount we are spending.

Now I must admit, years ago, during the winter, I got into the habit of getting a Starbucks "tall, non-fat, 2-pump mocha" on my way to work, at least 4 times a week. Later in the summer, I would treat myself to a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Vanilla Blended. A small one. Oh, how much I loved them! I haven't had one in a long time and the other day I felt I wanted to treat myself. It was the first time I ever asked the barista how much sugar the small Vanilla Blended contained. He didn't know, so he went to look it up. He came back over and said "not too bad, it has about 44 grams of sugar." 44 grams! That comes out to about 10 teaspoons of sugar in that one small drink!  I ordered an iced coffee instead.

What we have started here is an awful habit and for some, addiction, in our young people. I see teens with these monstrous sugary "coffee" drinks and I can now see that it's no wonder we have such an obesity and early childhood diabetes problem in this country, and spreading quickly to many more I might add. We have got to get our sugar addiction under control, as consuming sugar only leads us to craving it more and more. (And just an FYI ~ Starbucks Grande Caramel Frappaccino comes in at a whopping 59 grams of sugar.)

I was really sad to learn about the sugar content in my favorite Iced Vanilla Blended. One more item on my "never to do" list. I don't see it though as deprivation, but more, a new found appreciation and dedication to my health. There are other ways to treat your taste buds and get that warm and cozy feeling without harming yourself in the process.You can recreate many of your favorites. For example, when this fall, Starbucks re-introduces their crowd pleasing, Pumpkin Spice latte, do yourself and the ones you love a favor, and make a healthier version of it at home.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Elimination "Diet"

Detoxing has become the new black as far as health and diet activists are concerned. It is something we do when we want to give our bodies a breather. But why detox, you ask,  is it really necessary? Since we live in a time with more toxins in our environment than ever, many say an occasional detox is a good idea. Whether you do a simple juice/water fast for a few days, a brief cleanse or an extended, restrictive food detox, they can be quite beneficial.

And toxins enter our bodies through much more than just the foods we eat. We also receive toxins regularly through the cleaning supplies, laundry detergents, lotions, deodorants perfumes, hair coloring and makeup that we use on a regular basis.  It would be best if we could minimize the use of these chemical based items and substitute natural and chemical free products where we can.

But I believe that what is just as important and necessary for many of us is a media detox for our mind, spirit and soul. One thing that has happened in the past 20 years or so is that we have become overloaded with activity with very little time left for rest, rejuvenation and relaxation. We are on call 24/7 and most of us are not ER doctors, nurses, or first responders. We have programmed our phones to let us know when we receive an email, a Facebook post, or a text message and these alerts come through at all hours of the day and night. For some reason, we feel that if we don’t find out immediately what is going on, we might be missing out on something.  The truth is, most of this information is far from an emergency that needs our immediate attention, and more than likely doesn’t require our attention at all. We are overfeeding ourselves ~ too much news, too much information, and it has created an overload that is clogging up our mind and starving our spirit.

I realize in this high-tech day and age, it is hard to let go of something that seems so vital to our existence.  But if you really look at things, do you need to be on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and every other social media site out there? It is exhausting to say the least. And what are the true benefits? You might want to ask yourself this question. What would benefit you more; adding another post or link on your Twitter account or using that time to do something like, read a book, spend time with a friend, relax in a chair and watch the clouds go by?

I have had to pull in the reins on my own social networking. I was told it was necessary to be involved in all of these if I was to become successful in my business. But after attempting it for only a short time I found that what I was doing wasn’t authentic ~ it wasn’t my true voice or serving my soul purpose. I was so busy trying to figure out what to tweet on Twitter, which hashtags to use on Instagram and finding recipes to share on my website, that I was falling behind on the things that really matter to me. So I eliminated what I could and settled on just a couple of the things that I like to do best; my blog, my business Facebook page, and spreading my message the good old fashioned way, by talking, by word of mouth.

If you are feeling what I am feeling, a bit overwhelmed, then my suggestion is to try a media detox for a short period of time. I can hear you screaming “Nooo” right about now. I realize it is asking a lot.  But if you can, take some baby steps here, and at least set some boundaries for yourself where you are “off limits” to the rest of the world ~ establish periods of time that you are available for work calls, phone calls, returning emails and the like. Try to spend the first hour or so of your morning without turning on your computer or the morning news. Set a time in the evening where you turn it all off and don’t recheck it again until morning. Stick to it for a little while and I have a feeling you might just end up sticking with it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sleeping our way to the top ~

It seems that sleep is a rare commodity for many ~ most of us are sleep deprived, myself included. Though I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, I don’t stay asleep for long. I wake several times a night. The reasons are always different, whether it is the train that goes by at all hours during the night and early morning, or the fights I have with the covers on my bed, or the one too many cups of tea that I have in the evening, it doesn’t matter the cause, the symptom is always the same. Not enough sleep.

Now, for some strange reason, for many of us in this society, we don’t like to admit to sleeping. We boast about our sleepless nights and how little sleep we need to survive on. Or the fact that we were up at 4:00 am working on our latest blog, or having closed the deal with clients on the east coast before most of us here in the west have even had our first cup of coffee. We wear this lack of sleep like a badge of honor. Like we are some kind of superhero.

It's as if we fear that by admitting to, or actually sleeping an 8 hour night, we might appear weak or unproductive. You know, the phone rings, it wakes you.  You answer with an obviously sleepy Brenda Vaccaro kind of  “Hello?” The person on the other end, “Oh I’m sorry, did I wake you?” And for some reason, even if we are in a dead sleep, we say “Oh no, I’m awake, I’ve been up for a while.” It’s like there is something embarrassing about being asleep.  We don’t want anyone to think that we either went to bed too early or that we are sleeping in too late.  A dead giveaway of a slacker, and heaven forbid we don’t want anyone to think of us as a slacker.

Why do we confuse and sometimes associate sleep with laziness?  I know highly successful people who take daily naps, power naps, as they are sometimes called.  There are cultures that take an entire 3 hour “lunch” break during the work week to catch up on perhaps, a nap or quick snooze.  It seems that if we want to be successful in whatever we do in life, we need to get our share of sleep. Sleep is what keeps us focused, fit and fueled.

There are so many health benefits to getting adequate sleep. It is when we sleep that our bodies heal and repair themselves. Sleep can help to keep our heart healthy, reduce stress, improve our memory and help to control our body weight.  So now that we know that, why don't we all just try to get a little more sleep.