What’s the BEST Workout?

As a Certified Personal Trainer, I have been asked this question numerous times. Especially with all the “new” ways one can exercise.

Should you buy a fancy treadmill, rower, or bike? You know the kind with the near-cult-like following.

Should you join a gym? And if so, which one? One of the premier, high-end, fancy gyms with the smoothie bars, pulse-pounding classes, tanning booths, massages, swimming pools, and more, or a $10 a month one where you can run through a simple 30-minute circuit, or do cardio all day?

Should you buy the latest in home workout tech? A mirror that hangs on the wall perhaps, or machines with cables and pulleys, or resistance arms, or that vibrate while you use them?

Should you buy ALL the toys? You know, the barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, benches, BOSU, stability balls, resistance bands, bumper plates, straps that come down from the ceiling, weighted balls, ankle weights, punching bags, heavy battle ropes, yoga blocks, weighted bars, sandbags, hex bars, landmines, boxes, bars with sand or water inside, giant weighted clubs, etc. etc. etc.

Should you sign up for an app that allows you to take classes remotely? Or where you can follow a workout on your own time?

Should you hire a trainer???

Here’s the TRUTH!

The only workout that works, is the one you will consistently DO!

It’s as simple as that.

Have you ever heard this: “Find something that you love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life?”

The idea there is that what you do for a living should not be something you dread, or hate, or even just do because it pays the bills. In a perfect world, you want to have a job that is meaningful to you, you enjoy, or even love.

The same sort of principle applies to working out and exercise. If you absolutely HATE exercising, then you are most likely doing the wrong type or doing it in the wrong way, or with the wrong motivation.

Some things to ask yourself:

What do you find to be enjoyable? Dancing, lifting weights, boxing, running, biking, skiing, tennis, swimming, yoga, Pilates, Zumba, HIIT, basketball, walking, etc.

Do you like to be alone or with others when you work out?

Do you want to work out at home or in a public space?

Do you prefer to be indoors or outdoors?

How much time do you really have each day, and how many days per week?

Would you prefer one long workout, or to break it up over 2 or 3 shorter sessions throughout the day?

Would you actually prefer just to move more throughout your day and not have a formal workout session at all?

What equipment do you like to use, or would like to learn how to use?

What do you NOT enjoy?

And WHY do you want to work out? Is it because you feel you “Should” or “Have To?” Or is it for a deeper, more profound and personal reason? Finding your WHY is incredibly important.

You see, feeling like you HAVE TO workout in a way that is intimidating, or simply not fun, is demotivating. I want you to make fitness and movement a part of your lifestyle, not something you check off 2-3 times per week. Seeing a workout session on your calendar shouldn’t make you feel the same way you do when you have a dentist appointment. (No offense to the dentists out there. You are so needed, yet no one really enjoys getting their teeth worked on, do they?)

Of course, there will be days when you just don’t feel like working out, even if you generally love how you work out. That happens to everyone. But, when you think about getting some fitness in, on most days, it should be something you look forward to. Whether that means you love the actual workout or just the way you feel during or after, you need positive motivation to keep you consistent.

And consistency is the KEY!

You really can’t expect results from working out occasionally, or in ways that don’t challenge your body from week to week. Dabbling in exercise won’t get you anywhere. You might have to try out many, MANY avenues of fitness before you find what you enjoy, and that’s fine! Just find something you enjoy!

I had a client finally find her THING! Since I am no longer training in my home studio, most of my clients are now on an app where I create programming for them. But a few clients preferred to find classes or other workouts because working out from an app wasn’t for them. (Exactly the point of this blog post!) When my client “Nikki” (name changed to protect the innocent, haha) texted me the other day and said, “OMG, Kim! My Broadway Cardio class was so much fun! I have never liked cardio this much in my life. I can’t wait to do it again!!” my heart exploded in happiness for her!! She finally found HER THING!!

THIS is what you want to feel like when you exercise.

Maybe you’re not working out because you haven’t found YOUR THING. I’d like to encourage you to give it some thought. Ask yourself the questions I mentioned earlier in this post. And don’t be afraid to try new things.

Is there an indoor trampoline place you’d like to try? Or maybe a hiking group that meets in a nearby park? Or maybe you used to love golf back in the day. Dust off those clubs and get back out there.

Don’t be afraid to have FUN! You can have a blast while getting fit. It doesn’t have to feel like torture or punishment, I promise!

You can start with just 10 minutes a day to get in the groove. Then, aim for a minimum of 30 minutes per day 5 days per week. When that becomes pretty easy to do, up it to one hour per day. Again, this can be all at once, or broken up throughout the day. This can also be a mixture of activities. For example: 2 times per week you could lift weights if that’s something you enjoy and are knowledgeable in. 3 days per week you could do a mixture of biking, hiking, and tennis. Or you could walk 30 minutes a day, 5 days per week, and then a couple other days take a cardio-kickboxing class, a yoga class, and go out dancing on date night.

Now get to thinking, and then planning, and after that…DOING! Once you get those feel-good endorphins flowing, moving your body will become something you crave, in the healthiest way possible.

Don’t give up just because you didn’t find your thing yet….it’s out there, I promise!

P.S If you need help getting your workout on, I can help! Reach out here, and let’s talk!

https://fitness-inreallife.godaddysites.com/

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I’m Bored, BORED, BOOOORRREEED!

We are only 3 weeks into winter and I am SO OVER IT!. I am one of those people who has way too much energy for their own good. I am concerned about this because, as I am getting older, hello 50!, my body can’t seem to keep up with the energy I have and need to expend in order to stay sane. I am not sure what is going to happen to me mentally when I get too old to get all my energy out physically. Anyway, that’s for another blog post. But, what I’m saying is that I am having trouble wearing myself out because I am inside the house almost all day, every day.

I mean, it’s not as if I don’t have anything to do, of course. It’s just that I prefer to be outside, but with these blustery, bitter cold days I don’t get out of doors very much, which leaves me inside too much, and therefore BORED. And again, it’s not like I couldn’t find plenty to do. It’s just that I just don’t want to. (What a cry-baby, eh?)

As a kid I hated being inside doing housework. I wanted to be outside, preferably with my dad, doing what he deemed “guy” stuff. I happily volunteered to clean the goat pen or help with firewood. I would have loved to mow the yard, or help work on the car or truck, but between my dad and two brothers, those chores were taken. My dad often sent me back into the house to go help my mom, and I was never happy about that. Not that I didn’t love my mom, it’s just that I wanted to be outside!

Apparently, though I’m clearly all grown up, not much has changed. I love cooking and baking, and I enjoy having a clean house, but I just don’t want that to be how I spend ALL day EVERY day. When we had our little hobby farm it created the perfect ratio of inside to outside work. Where we live now, I simply don’t have enough to do outside during the winter to keep me busy, or moving enough to keep me warm and tire me out!

Here’s how I generally spend my time out of doors these days:

Most days our Border Collie, Luna, and I wander about picking up sticks. Well, I pick them up, she mostly just crunches them like pretzels rods. I continue to try to teach her to carry them to the burn pile, but so far, all she understands is the word, “STICK.” As Border Collies are the most intelligent of all the dog breeds, the fault must clearly be on me. (If you ever drive past my house and see me on all fours, crawling about with a stick in my mouth, you’ll know why.)

After this, I do the dog-poop scoop. It’s the grossest, prize-less (not a real word) truffle-style hunt ever, but it must be done, and since I am most desperate to be outdoors, I volunteer to take this task on.

Next up, we meander past all the sleeping raspberry canes, the ghost-shaped, garbage-bag-wrapped fig tree, then to the garden in its respite just waiting to be stirred from slumber in about 8 more weeks, on past the deer-gnawed strawberry patch, and finally around to the dried-up flower beds which sit patiently in shades of beige and brown until the warmth of spring comes to reinvigorate them.

I take a moment to envision what areas need expansion, which plants need to be relocated, and I am still trying to find a spot not too visible from the road, yet not too in the shade of all the trees, where I can install a laundry line. I am a weird one, perhaps, but to me, one of the most satisfying chores is hanging laundry outside! (Honestly, I’d be happy with one of those old-fashioned wringer washing machines outside, as well. Or maybe I’ll get a wash board and do laundry down by the creek….ok, now I might be going a bit too far.)

Then once a week I clean out the little chicken coop, which takes all of 10 minutes. The most difficult part of this task is not slipping and sliding down the hill as I walk the contents of the coop across the entire yard and dump it in the woods.

And that’s about it! After those chores are finished, or I’m frozen, whichever comes first, back inside I (we) go.

Once I am back indoors, it’s not the actual chores that bore me, it’s just that they are not as satisfying as the outdoor work. I cook, clean, and wash things, and seriously, 5 minutes later, with all of us now at home ALL day, it starts all over again. But the outside chores are creating life, and magic. Raising chickens, growing food, and creating gorgeous flower beds is just SO satisfying!

But, alas, there’s nothing that can be done. It’s winter, in Southeastern Pennsylvania. It’s damp. It’s cold. It’s usually cloudy, windy, and we get more cold rain than snow it seems. So, I just have to be patient for spring, and in the meantime, like it or not, take care of the inside work that needs to be done.

I can’t spend every day baking, I suppose, which is my preferred way of biding my time. So, I guess I had better get up and get moving. There’s laundry, and dishes, and bathrooms in need of cleaning….but also seeds to be ordered and a garden bed to plan out on grid paper….and a Paleo vanilla cake to bake which will help warm up the kitchen.

And windows to be stared out of as my imagination wanders back outside and on into spring….

I may be beyond help, you know?!

Though, I suppose being a bit bored isn’t really the worst thing in life. And I suppose, better yet, would be for me to work on shifting my mindset to one of gratitude for having a beautiful, warm, and comfortable home filled with family, plenty of food, clothing, warmth, and love. My life is overflowing with blessings, and whether I am inside, or outside, there’s more to be thankful for than there is to complain about! So, with that, as I can now hear the cold front blowing in, it’s time to get some chores done. Inside.

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19 Degrees, Fahrenheit!

When it’s 19 degrees outside, here in Southeastern Pennsylvania, there are strange happenings at my place.

First of all, unlike this “free stock photo” above, there is no snow. We had about 3 inches a few days ago, but it melted pretty quickly. However, the creek at the back of our property is partly frozen. That doesn’t happen very often! But I just feel, as a general rule, if we must endure temperatures this low, there should at least be snow!

I cooled a cake outside on the balcony today. I made a rich black cocoa cake with black cocoa cream cheese frosting. I am impatient when it comes to dessert, (heck, let’s be honest, I am impatient about most things) so I didn’t want to wait hours to cool this beauty off. Sitting it out on the balcony for a bit did the trick, hastening the cool down process as well as the ability to swirl a layer of fudgy goodness across the top!

Every few hours in this kind of cold I need to go out and bring more warm water to the chickens. Not only because I like to spoil them, but also because they really don’t drink slushy, icy water. And because they truly are pampered girls, I put warm water inside their coop, and one outside in the run….just in case they venture out. There’s a fun swap that happens throughout the day. As one set of waterers freeze, I bring them into the house to thaw, and exchange them for another set. Keeping two of each kind of waterer is a must in this weather, unless you are fortunate enough to have electricity by your coop and can therefore plug in electric warmers for your waterers. (Alas, we are not that fortunate.)

When it’s this cold, I also must check for eggs more often because when eggs freeze, they burst. Bet you didn’t know that! And eggs are a precious commodity in the winter!

Simply venturing out on this hilly property is a fun time. There’s no way to get to the coop without risking life and limb on steep hills that while there’s no snow, they are still slippery as the grass is coated in frozen dew. It’s not so bad walking down, honestly. I just turn my feet sideways and walk that way. It’s trying to get back up the hill that’s the most challenging. Usually, I try to make a run for it, but then there’s this moment when I just about crest the hill where gravity and ice try to slide me backwards. There’s a flapping of the arms and a holding of the breath as I wait to see if gravity or forward momentum win. I have yet to fall or slide backwards….but give it time. It’s bound to happen!

I can feel the warmth of the golden sun on my skin at the same time tiny ice picks are pecking away at my face. The cold seems to prefer attacking anything with moisture first: eye balls, inside of the nose, lips. Is it possible for one’s nostrils to freeze shut? Plus, cold this deep and this sharp hurt my sensitive teeth. I am not a particularly quiet person, but in this weather, I tend to keep my mouth SHUT!

With the wind-chill BELOW zero, I think I shall limit my treks today to just quick jaunts to and from the chicken coop and that’s about it. Besides, it’s Pennsylvania. Tomorrow it will be in the 40’s! Too warm to cool cake in 15 minutes, and too warm for frozen chicken water, but just right for picking up downed branches and walking just a little more slowly in the sunshine. There will be no worries of frozen nostrils, or achy teeth, or frozen eggs, at least for tomorrow anyway.

But who knows what the next day’s weather will bring.

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Light, Fluffy, Crispy Gluten-Free Belgian Waffles!

When I found out that I can no longer eat gluten, which I had long suspected, I had already created and collected quite a lot of gluten-free recipes. Knowing that I would never again eat “real” pizza or a hoagie ( aka: a sub sandwich. Meat and cheese on a long soft roll. Outside Philadelphia, we call these hoagies.) meant I at least had to make sure other favorites could be safely enjoyed.

And I love waffles. Belgian waffles. (In the list of breakfast “breads” the order goes like this: Belgian Waffles first, French Toast second, and pancakes a distant third.) I even bought one of those fancy “hotel-type” waffle makers where you pour the batter in, and then flip the whole griddle over. It has copper plates that are removable so they can be properly washed, too. Genius!

Anyway, I couldn’t fathom not ever again enjoying fluffy-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside, light as a feather waffles. I had perfected a sourdough recipe that was IN-CREDIBLE! So, now I set to work perfecting a gluten-free recipe, and here it is! Warning! As incredible as these are, you might not want to eat them every day due to the calorie count. BUT on a cold, snowy weekend, have at it with some fresh fruit and a drizzle of real maple syrup with a steaming hot cup of tea on the side. Delish! (And of course, shoveling snow and sledding all count as exercise to burn these babies off!)

I don’t want to bore you with any more details. Instead, let’s get right to the recipe, shall we? You’re welcome!

Gluten-Free Belgian Waffles (not a low-calorie food)

Makes 4 plate-sized, THICK waffles.

1.5 C Gluten free flour (I use Bob’s 1:1 Baking Flour)

1/2 C blanched fine almond flour (can sub any fine nut flour, like cashew or pecan)

1 Tbsp. Baking Powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 Tbsp. sugar (I use raw organic cane sugar or maple sugar)

2 Eggs SEPARATED

1 3/4 C milk (or 1/4 cup yogurt mixed with water to make 1 3/4 cup) Dairy-free works as well

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 stick melted butter (or 1/2 stick melted butter and 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce)

Spray and preheat the waffle iron

Mix all dry ingredients

Mix egg yolks, milk (or yogurt water blend) vanilla, butter (and applesauce if using)

Beat until well mixed.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form (do not over beat)

Blend wet ingredients into dry just until mixed through and smooth.

Using a rubber spatula gently fold in egg whites until no white streaks are left.

Pour about 3/4 cup of batter into hot iron. Cook until steam stops billowing out of the iron and waffles are golden and crisp. (Mine takes about 5 minutes!)

Enjoy!

Each waffle made with 1/4 C butter, 1/4 C unsweetened applesauce and 2% milk: 498 kcal, 22.6 g fat, 61 g carbs, 1.2 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 12.6 g protein. (Add 100 more kcal per serving if using 1 stick of butter.)

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CHOCOLATE!

I used to have a magnet on my refrigerator that said, “Chocolate comes from beans and beans are a vegetable. Eat more vegetables!” or something to that effect.

Technically, chocolate is a fruit. It comes from the Theobroma Cacao tree where it grows in a pod which contains about 40 seeds (or beans) each. These seeds are then dried, fermented, and roasted.

I absolutely ADORE chocolate. I have several different types in my house including raw cacao powder, raw cacao nibs, black cocoa powder (which I just discovered!) as well as regular Dutch process cocoa powder and a variety of chocolate chips.

I often add a nice Tbsp of raw cacao powder to a smoothie or a bowl of oatmeal. This new black cocoa powder is not only supposed to be even higher in antioxidants, but make everything you put it in taste like Oreos. I’m all for that!!

A History of Chocolate:

Chocolate can be traced back to the Olmecs of Mexico as well as to the Mayans. The word “cacao” actually comes from the Olmec word “ka-ka-w.”

It was a revered, but, unlike chocolate as we know it, bitter beverage.

The Theobroma Cacao tree is native to Central and South America, though more than 80% of cacao today comes from West Africa.

The Olmecs may have used cacao as a ceremonial drink as early as 1500 B.C. It is believed they passed their knowledge on to the Mayans who revered chocolate. They used chocolate drinks in celebrations as well as to finalize important transactions. According to History.com, “Despite chocolate’s importance in Mayan culture, it wasn’t reserved for the wealthy and powerful but readily available to almost everyone. In many Mayan households, chocolate was enjoyed with every meal. Mayan chocolate was thick and frothy and often combined with chili peppers, honey or water.” (Raise your hand if you want to drink chocolate with every meal!!)

The Aztecs believed cacao was given to them by the gods and they enjoyed it similarly to the Mayans. They also used used cacao beans as currency and as such they were considered more valuable than gold. In their culture, chocolate was more an upper-class extravagance, but lower classes occasionally enjoyed it at celebrations, such as weddings.

Probably the most famous Aztec chocolate-lover was the ruler Montezuma II who supposedly drank gallons of it a day!

Chocolate may have arrived in Europe by way of Spain. Christopher Columbus intercepted a trade ship on one of his journeys to the Americas and he discovered cacao beans on board. He brought these back to Spain in 1502.

Other history tells of friars or other Spanish Conquistadors such a Hernan Cortes bringing chocolate back to Spain.

But, no matter how it got there, by the late 1500’s chocolate was a much loved indulgence in Spain and they began importing it in 1585.

After that, other European countries such as France and Italy also began importing it as well.

Chocolate-mania began to sweep over Europe and soon chocolate plantations were up and running, often being worked by thousands of slaves, unfortunately. Wealthy Europeans began to sweeten and spice their chocolate beverages by adding cane sugar and other flavorings.

In 1641 chocolate arrived in Florida by way of a Spanish ship. Cacao beans were a major American colony import by 1773 and chocolate was enjoyed by people of all classes.

In 1828 a Dutch chemist named Coenraad Johannes van Houten discovered a way to treat cocoa beans with alkaline salts. This enabled him to make powdered chocolate that was easier to mix with water. This is known as Dutch processing. (If you buy cocoa powder today it is often referred to as Dutch process cocoa powder.) Also, either he or his father invented the chocolate press which separated cocoa butter from roasted cocoa beans. This allowed cocoa powder to be made easily and inexpensively. Both Dutch processing and pressing helped to make chocolate affordable to everyone and opened the door to mass-production. (Why is there no Coenraad Johannes van Houten Day??)

In 1847 J.S Fry and Sons, a British chocolatier, created the first chocolate bar. (He should have his own holiday, don’t you think??)
And Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter is generally credited for adding dry milk powder to create milk chocolate in 1876. (Again, where’s the recognition??)

A few years later, he and his friend Henri Nestle worked together to create the Nestle Company. (That’s a name we all know!)

In 1879 Rudolph Lindt (yes, THAT Lindt!), another famous Swiss chocolatier invented the conch machine which mixed and aerated the chocolate giving it a smooth and melt-in-your-mouth feel. Up until then, chocolate was hard and difficult to chew. (Sounds to me like that tootsie roll you find at the bottom of your purse about a year after Halloween!)

By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Cadbury, Mars, Nestle, and Hershey were mass-producing a variety of chocolate confections as demand for the sweet treats grew.

Modern-day chocolate production unfortunately can come at a cost, however. Many cocoa farmers turn to low-wage, slave, and/or child labor in order to be able to make ends meet.

Look for FAIR-TRADE, ORGANIC chocolate in order to give fair wages to the farmers and their workers.

Health Benefits of Chocolate:

Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants! It is one of the very best sources of antioxidants on the planet!! (Higher than blueberries, and even acai.)

It can be quite heart healthy due to the wide variety of antioxidants such as polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins. These antioxidants can help lower LDL (bad cholesterol,) raise HDL (good cholesterol) and reduce insulin resistance. They can also help keep calcified plaque from forming on the inside of arteries, possibly reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The flavanols can help relax arteries which improves blood flow which in turn can help lower blood pressure. It can also improve blood flow to the skin and the brain. Increasing blood flow to the brain can help improve cognitive function.

Stimulants in chocolate like caffeine and theobromine may be the key reasons for the improved brain function.

Mental Health Benefits of Chocolate:

In addition to the increased blood flow to the brain, eating chocolate releases happy-hormones called endorphins. These pleasure hormones not only make you feel good, they are natural pain relievers!

How to Enjoy Healthy Chocolate:

Look for 70% or higher cocoa content, fair-trade/organic chocolate.

Avoid milk chocolate which is high in sugar, fat, and calories. And skip white chocolate which is actually not chocolate at all!

The higher the cocoa content, usually the lower the sugar content.

100 grams (which is a ridiculous amount)of 70-85% cocoa contains:

600 kcal!!!

Plus, 11 grams fiber, 67% DV (daily value) of iron, 58% DV of magnesium, 89% DV of copper, 98% DV of manganese, plus good amounts of phosphorus, zinc, selenium, and potassium.

However, 1 ounce per day is considered a safe and healthy amount!

How to ADD chocolate into your day:

The best way would be to add raw, fair-trade/organic cacao powder to your smoothies, warm milk, or oatmeal. This way you can control the amount, plus add your own sweetener.

You could try sprinkling cacao nibs (rather than chocolate chips) on your yogurt or oatmeal. While they do contain 175 kcal/28 grams (about 1 oz) they also pack a whopping 5 grams of fiber and only 1 gram sugar.

And of course, you can enjoy an ounce of a 70-90% dark fair-trade/organic chocolate bar per day.

Brownie Recipe:

I’ll share one of my favorite recipes for gluten-free brownies that are full of healthy chocolate, plus good fats from almonds. This recipe is NOT low-fat or low-sugar. It is a TREAT that I make on occasion. My gluten-eating family LOVES these brownies. I hope you do, too!

5 Tbsp. (grass-fed if possible) butter or ghee, melted

1 C sugar ( raw, organic if possible) plus 1/2 tsp monk fruit powder (no erythritol.) Or another 1/2 C sugar. (TBH, I think I only use about 3/4 C sugar plus the monk fruit, but my taste buds are used to eating limited sweets.)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 C DARK cocoa powder (or raw cacao)

1/2 C Dutch processed cocoa powder

3 eggs

1.5 C fine almond flour

1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease an 8X8 square or 9″ pie plate.

Combine all the ingredients except almond flour and baking powder. Mix well.

Add in the almond flour and baking powder just until combined.

Pour into prepared pan and place in preheated oven.

Bake 35-38 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely and cut into 12 pieces.

Nutrition as prepared with 1 C sugar and monk fruit:

239 kcal, 12 g fat, 19 g sugar, 6.4 g protein, 1.5 g fiber

Enjoy!

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The Joys of Sharing a Household…

Or, Pet Peeves, Grievances, and things that make me go, “Why?? Just, “Why?”

I LOVE it when the recycling bin in the slide-out under-cabinet vehicle is so full that I have to wrestle it open like it’s a small planet getting sucked into a black hole. All because someone decided they could shove down ONE MORE ITEM and then quickly slide the bin back inside the cabinet before said item springs back up into its non-compressed size, jamming the entire bin inside.

I positively ADORE whomever butters, jam-ifies, or cream-cheeses their toast, bagel, or sandwich directly on the countertop, as if plates have yet to be invented.

I also ADORE whomever double dips their butter knife leaving behind bits of blackened crumbs in the stick of butter. (Being gluten-free, this requires me to have my own butter in my separate dish.) Kudos to this same person for leaving behind bits of bread in the peanut butter and the jelly, or the honey, as well.

It positively MAKES MY NIGHT to have my toilet turned into a surprise bidet by sitting myself down in the blackness only to discover the lids are up! Thank you for that, dear sir!

I am THRILLED when I nearly trip and fall in the night due to getting my feet tangled up in the clothing on the floor on a certain side of the bed, which is the side of the bed my dresser is on, though not the side I sleep on. Some people are afraid of the monster UNDER the bed but this monster is on the side, attempting to trip me up and bring me crashing to the floor, like I have been wrapped up by a bola!

Bola above. Throw it and it wraps itself around the feet or legs, dropping the target to the ground.

It’s my FAVORITE when I buy little organizers for on top of the countertops in the bathrooms which are to house all the little bottles, brushes, razors, makeup, etc. so that when it’s time to clean, all the items can be picked up in one fell swoop. And yet, I find the organizers all but empty with nearly every item still spread about the countertops like a toddler has just thrown a violent tantrum.

It AMAZES me how everyone else is seemingly blind to the items in need of being relocated upstairs that have been placed on the steps or landing. Or perhaps these items house some sort of cloaking device that doesn’t work on moms because the amount of trips past them that household members make (besides me) while they remain unseen is simply astonishing!

I love playing games, but would rather not be a participant in the household SCAVENGER HUNT I never signed up for. While I truly do appreciate that the dishwasher occasionally gets unloaded by other members of the household, if you don’t know where something goes, please, leave it on the counter. Don’t relegate it to a new home that makes some sort of sense to you.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not OCD or overly strict about keeping a perfect house. Believe me. And I am sure if you ask my family members about things I do that drive them nuts, they’d have their own list.

Sharing a home, and sharing life with others is a balance of acceptance, assertiveness, politeness, expectation, and surrender. There are times when something is so frustrating or unacceptable that you’ve got to say something and ask for change. There are other times when you simply throw your hands up in surrender because it really is just who they are. We all need to learn to live together creating the best version of harmony we can. No task, chore, expectation, or want is more important than the relationship. It took me a long time to learn that.

I can’t have everything my way, and neither can they. We need to work together, love each other remembering “love covers a multitude of sins.” This means, as long as they are not doing these things out of malice and it’s just oversight or having different priorities, love compels me to forgive and move on. Just as they forgive me, and allow me to be myself, creating my own little set of pet peeves, grievances, and things that make them say, “Why?” Just, “Why??”

Do you have your own stories like this to share? Feel free to comment! Let’s have some laughs together. I feel this is such a universal subject that we can all relate to.

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Why So Serious?

(I don’t even have a picture to put at the top!)

Looking back over my recent blog posts, I realize how serious, or at least, not amusing or entertaining, my writings have been. If I look back a lot further, you know, P.P (Pre-Pandemic) I had a lot of little stories which contained nuggets of humor. And even when I wasn’t trying to be a little cheeky, I was at least writing with some depth. Now it seems my blogs are mostly lists, and how-tos and information-sharing rather than story-telling.

Maybe because I have no stories to tell….

I mean, what DO I do with my day that isn’t immensely boring, usual, or repetitive?

Stories well up from inside a soul that is inspired or at least challenged. When the soul then speaks to the mind, the words flow through the pen (or in this case, the keyboard) and a story is born. As I scour the depths of my soul for the spark of life, the embryo of a tale, I find only an empty womb.

I long to initiate, develop and grow, then birth a story. One with an actual beginning, middle, and end. With emotion and feelings, interesting characters, excitement and humor. Where’s the whimsy like in “Spatial-Relations Skills and the Challenges of Mowing,” from summers of yore. Or “Oh, Stanley,” a tribute to the 24-hours we shared with our first, and last, rooster. (You can go go back through my older posts to find those, by the way!)

Farm life easily lent itself to inspiring story-telling. With animal shenanigans, weather challenges, and experiments in gardening, there was always some source of inspiration going on. My soul and my mind were in near-constant communication. I remember days where I was mowing, probably around hour number 3, and since thoughts and word-pictures apparently best develop while the body is hunched over the steering wheel of a John Deere, I had to stop the mower, jump off and run quickly to the house to write. At that moment. It couldn’t wait, because just like a dream evaporates upon waking, so would my thoughts and stories disappear as soon as distraction or exhaustion took over.

I’ve certainly never been a fabulous writer. Probably couldn’t make a living at it, though many friends and family members have tried to tell me otherwise, but at least it was something I enjoyed. And it came easily to me. I never spent more than 30 minutes or so tapping out the mostly correct order of letters on the keyboard. The words would flow. The story would almost tell itself.

Now? I can spend hours writing, editing, re-reading, re-writing, doubting, scrunching up my face and squinting my eyes trying to force out one more blog post onto the screen. One that isn’t just another 10 steps to blah blah blah, or a recipe, or rehashing current events.

I’m not saying those are bad topics to share. This blog is more than just stories. As a Fitness and Health Coach, I WANT to share the steps, how-tos, recipes, and inspiration to lead healthier, happier lives. My struggle is that I am in desperate WANT of inspiration once again. The barren womb of my soul needs MORE. More time outside. More connection with human beings (besides just the three I currently share home with.) and God. More nature. And definitely more adventure.

I am probably experiencing a bit of the Winter Blue’s, hence my previous post regarding my excitement surrounding the Seed Catalog, but even that isn’t much of a STORY. Heck, I couldn’t even help sharing info on “phytonutrients” in that one!

Dear Reader, my hope is that my blogs won’t bore you to death!

Anyway, why so serious became Why Still Serious?! Sorry about that. I’ll continue working on this. I guess the title of my next blog post could be 10 Steps to Finding Inspiration in Life.

Step one. Get out there for some inspiration!!

Step two…and step three… ha! That’s all the humor I’ve got for you today.

Until next time, friends. Stay inspired!

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The Adult Version of the Sears Christmas Catalog

aka: The Seed Catalog

*Catalog is from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. My FAVORITE seeds!!

I may have just “dated” myself by this title. I grew up in the two BEST decades: the 1970’s and 1980’s. Of course, at the time I had no idea how lucky I was to be born in ’71 and become an adult during such a fun and transformative two decades. I mean we were “free-range” kids, or just “kids” as we were called then. We lived out in the country and rode our bikes to our friends’ houses, ate wholesome food because GMO’s weren’t readily available yet, and sat down at night to watch truly “family-friendly” television at 8:00 pm with our parents. And of course, the two greatest things about this time period were Saturday morning cartoons and the much-anticipated Sears Christmas Catalog!

Every late fall this enormous phonebook sized glossy book (oh my, do you even know what giant phone books were like?) arrived in our mailbox. My brothers and I would each get our turn poring over every page…multiple times, dreaming and making a wish-list. We were not a financially wealthy household since there were 3 kids (and my dad supported 2 more kids from his first marriage) on a concrete layer’s paycheck. My mom was a housewife. But the two of them knew how to stretch a dollar and they always made sure Christmas was special.

Somewhere in the early 1980’s I remember one particular catalog. It contained two items I thought were completely out of reach: A white and avocado green Barbie Kitchen and a cast metal (silver) set of doll dishes. (I just found the actual catalog from 1982 online but I can’t download the pages!)

This picture above is an actual photo I found online of the kitchen set! Though mine had green dishes, so this could be the 1978 version. Turns out, mine was from 1982.

And the silver dishes? Oh my! They were ornately decorated plates, goblets, a punch bowl with ladle and mugs, bowls, serving dishes, carving platter, lidded chafing dishes, two candelabras with tiny plastic candles, coffee pot with mugs, salt and pepper shakers, coffee creamer and sugar bowl, gravy boat, carving knife and fork, and silverware. (I still have most of this set somewhere!)

These were pricey (back then) and I thought it only a dream that my parents would buy them for me, so that Christmas when I opened my gifts and they were there?? Oh my word!! I can’t even describe my shock and surprise….and joy! And to top it off, my mom crocheted my doll the most beautiful wedding dress. (Barbie had come out with a bride doll but she was too expensive, so my mom knew just what to do! I still have this dress packed away somewhere as well.)

So, anyway, if you were not lucky enough to have ever held and perused and dreamed over the pages of the Sears Christmas Catalog, first of all let me give you my condolences, but you might not be able to quite grasp the excitement I now have when the Seed Catalog arrives each winter. It truly is the adult version of the Christmas Catalog for me!

Winter in Pennsylvania isn’t particularly long, but with so many damp, gray, cold and drizzly days it sure feels like it. If we would just get cold and snow and then cold with bright blue skies, I wouldn’t mind it so much. But even 2-3 months of the chill-you-to-the-bone dampness and lack of sunlight is almost more than I can stand. (My husband of 30 years just informed me that every December I get it in my head….and share with him…how it’s time to move to some place warm.)

But, one of the bright spots for me, and many garden enthusiasts, is the arrival of this precious catalog. Page after glossy page of the most perfect, glorious, colorful fruits, vegetables, and flowers sit before me just waiting to be studied, or drooled over. I make a nice cup of tea, and these days don my reading glasses, grab several sheets of paper and a pen and begin to make my wish-list.

Every year I reassure my husband that, “We don’t need much.” Especially since I always have a lot of seeds left from the previous year. But THIS year I got the BIG catalog, and before I knew it, I had three pages of seeds I’d like to try.

There are so many interesting varieties I have never even heard of. Plants with intriguing names like “Bull’s Blood” beets and “Dragon Tongue” beans. I saw purple “noodle beans” that grow to a foot-and-a-half long! There are leafy greens that are bitter and ones that are sweet, hailing from exotic places such as Okinawa, Japan. And to think that some of these heirlooms date back hundreds of years, were grown by royalty or presidents, and come from all around the world, makes it even more exciting!

You see, at the grocery store, we only get a tiny sampling of what’s available. There’s “market” produce which is uniform and ships well, and is typically BORING, then there’s everything else. I am most interested in the “everything else!!” (Did you know there are more than 300 types of bananas and more than 4,000 types of potatoes? We are lucky if we get two or three varieties at most stores.)

So, I have this massive list of medicinal and edible flowers and herb, fun fruits such as mini melons and squashes that grow on bushes or on very short vines, plus a variety of vegetables of interesting and unusual colors (black tomatoes, anyone?) I even saw corn (ornamental or for popping) that looks like glass beads. I had no idea this heirloom variety from the Cherokee exists, much less I could try to grow it here where I live!

(As someone intensely interested in health, I also think about all the phytonutrients in the myriad colors of produce and flowers. Why eat only orange carrots, when you could try red, yellow, white, purple, or almost black? And who knew dandelion came in not only yellow, but pink and white as well! Not only do the colors make for an interesting presentation on the table, each color has its own unique taste and nutrition. You’ve got your carotenoids from the orange and yellow pigments, chlorophyll from green, flavones or anthoxanthins in white, and anthocyanins or betalains from red, blue, black, and purple. Plant compounds are Nature’s Pharmacy, so eating a wide variety is essential. But, since many of these nutrients are fat soluble, make sure to throw a little butter on them or eat them with some fat to extract the most out of them.)

But back to the catalog….

I hope you can get a little bit of understanding about just how excited I am to have this 500-plus page book sitting on my kitchen table. It’s a harbinger of Spring, which is getting closer every day. I mean, I can start some seeds inside in about 4 weeks!! And in just about 8 weeks I can move some frost hardy plants and seeds out to the garden. I have my hoop tunnels all ready to go!

Winter has it’s place, you know, the shorter days are supposed to help us rest and reset, but nothing excites me like the promise of spring and the beginning of the growing season. If we ever build a greenhouse? I don’t know if I could take it!! The idea that I could get my hands in dirt and grow beautiful, nutrition-packed plants ALL YEAR? Holy smokes, that would be a bit of heaven to me!

I’m sure I’ll be adding some pictures to the blog as the seasons progress. Until then, I’ll just be sitting here with my cup of tea and my catalog, wishing, dreaming, and planning!

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Watch Out!!

We are just a week into 2022 and I am already seeing hype about "detox diets" to start off your new year "right." Insert eye-roll here as well as increase in blood-pressure.

As a Holistic Health Coach, Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, and as a health-information addict to be honest, this nonsense sets me off every dang time I see it.

You DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT need to “detox.” Your body does this all on its own. You sweat, you pee, you poo, your liver and kidneys filter out toxins. You don’t need to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on juicing programs, pills, powders, or any other marketing scheme that makes some company a ton of money while doing virtually nothing to improve your health. Actually, many times these plans and products are potentially harmful.

Take juicing for an example. Hey, I am all for juicing, when done intelligently. Juicing is a big part of my diet, and when I use the word “diet” here I am talking about my way of eating, not a weight-loss plan. Juicing is a great way to get more vegetables and fruits into our day, and if you have a compromised digestive system like I do, stripping out the fiber can help the GI tract absorb nutrients more quickly and efficiently.

However, taking away fiber also starves our microbiome (those billions if not trillions of little bugs and bacteria living in our digestive system) which can wreak havoc on our health. By taking away fiber you essentially starve the microbiota of their food. Once you completely wipe out a strain of bacteria, you can’t get it back! So we need to give them all the love, support, and food they need. After all, our GI tract is home to most of our immune system plus all kinds of mood enhancing and regulating chemicals are made there. More so than in our brain! A healthy digestive system is paramount to physical and mental health.

In addition, when done incorrectly, you can cause blood sugar imbalances due to juicing too many high-sugar fruits and vegetables, especially if you drink ONLY juice and don’t ingest fat and protein with it. It’s also extremely difficult to extract and absorb fat soluble vitamins, like vitamin A, from fruits and vegetables when you don’t ingest fat with them. And to top it off, you are pretty much guaranteed to not get nearly enough calories with only juicing all day.

When you juice exclusively for too long (more than a day or two, in my opinion) it’s very hard for the body, especially the GI tract, to revert back to normal eating. These extremes are NOT healthy, and I never advise my clients to adhere to anything extreme.

Another example would be to suddenly go keto or strictly Paleo. Just because certain indigenous cultures survive off of a diet of 80% fat doesn’t mean you should. And as for Paleo, its coming to light that as the remains of primitive bodies are being studied, scientists are finding evidence of grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds in their stomachs, intestines, and teeth. These diets are also difficult to maintain and have not been proven to be safe, healthy, or effective for most people over the long-haul. And anything you can’t maintain for many years or a lifetime probably isn’t a good idea.

It’s confusing to your body when we make harsh and sudden changes. Changing our diets changes our gut microbiome. It affects mood and energy balance. In addition, it can impact how we socialize, how and where we shop, how much time we spend preparing our meals, and so much more. Even going from a standard Western diet which is a diet of highly processed “foods,” too much sugar and flour, along with too much dairy, protein and caffeine/alcohol while lacking in whole plant foods to a healthy and nutritious whole-food, high plant-based diet can cause some unpleasant side-effects. You can go through sugar or caffeine withdrawal similar to going off of drugs; your GI tract can be shocked by the sudden and sharp increase in fiber which could cause gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, just as two examples. (Your body will eventually adjust and you’ll know when you are eating correctly for you because you will feel amazing!) But, taking things more slowly is often the gentler and less-stressful way to implement changes.

How do you know if what is being advertised is sketchy at best, and dangerous at worst? Here are some questions to ask before you buy.

  1. Do they use hype words like “miraculous” or “astonishing” or claim their proprietary product contains ancient, secret, or magical ingredients, especially from exotic locations, plants, produce, or cultures?
  2. Are their “before” and “after” photos too good to be true? Did you know it is not illegal for companies to buy before and after photos and claim them as their own clients? You can’t believe what you see.
  3. Is there some celebrity or pseudo-doctor peddling them? Please remember, I could have a Ph.D in basket-weaving and call myself a “doctor.” Always research credentials. And that means going so far as to see exactly what “school” they got their MEDICAL degree from!
  4. Is the diet or detox extreme? Does it requite eliminating entire healthy food categories?
  5. Does the diet or detox require you to buy exclusive products from them? As in shakes, bars, powders, cereals, strange sugar substitutes, supplements, and the like?
  6. Are you expected to withhold exercise during the plan?
  7. Are outlandish promises being made like, “You will lose 20 pounds and 18 inches in the first two weeks without exercise; You’ll never feel deprived, your skin will glow, you’ll sleep like a baby, and the sun and moon will set on you every day!”
  8. Is it over-priced?
  9. Are the ingredients impossible or extremely difficult to discover?
  10. Do they use emotion or fear to get you to buy in?
  11. Do they have meritorious scientific studies to back up their claims?
  12. Is this something you can safely adhere to for years to come, or a life-time?

Please, PLEASE do not get swindled by clever marketing that over-promises, and gets you to buy by getting to your emotions. This is manipulation. If something has merit, there is no need to manipulate you into doing it.

I don’t twist my clients arms, or coerce them in any way to get them to make positive changes in their lives. I don’t over-sell or under-deliver because what I teach is a lifestyle, not hype. Which also means it isn’t the sexiest sell. My clients know you have to do the dirty and sometimes ugly work of getting rid of the garbage food in the house and instead fill their fridge, freezer, and pantry with nutritious choices. There’s no excuse making, but there’s also no expectation of perfection. We do the 80/20 rule so 80% of the time they stick to their eating plan and 20% of the time they have some indulgences.

There’s no magic! You do the work by fueling your body right and exercising, and over time, sometimes A LOT of time, your weight and your health start to shift in positive ways.

That’s how it works if you want it to last.

Don’t fall for the HYPE! Watch out, be smart, and realize that anything worth having is worth the work it takes to get there. Health is for a lifetime. You have to be patient, consistent, and dedicated, but not so strict that you don’t have any fun, or you don’t enjoy the journey. Promises of quick fixes make for great marketing plus make companies tons and tons of money…at the expense of the buyer. Don’t fall for any of it! They do not care about you. They don’t care if what they are selling actually works, is sustainable, or is healthy.

So the next time you see an ad with a celebrity of “doctor” selling some “detox” plan, quick weight loss without effort program, grossly expensive plan of “food” products to buy, or “miracle” product….walk or better yet, RUN AWAY because now you know, it’s almost 100% a scam.

Happy 2022 everyone!

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New Year’s Revolutions!

You read that right. I said “Revolutions” not “Resolutions.” And I meant it!

What’s a “Resolution” anyway? At its core, it’s just words. It’s “a promise” you make, and typically break soon after. It’s not automatically actionable, but it could be. It’s Potentially actionable.

Typical New Year’s resolutions include plans to lose weight, eat better, make more time for yourself, look for a new job, or start/end a relationship. These are somewhat vague ideas usually built on a framework of good-intentions, but without concrete plans and actionable steps, they often just fall by the wayside quickly.

How many years have you made New Year’s resolutions followed up by the phrase, “This time I am going to stick with this…” only to forget all about it or give up on it a few days, weeks, or if you’re really committed at first, months later?

And how many fitness centers, coaches, and health products companies profit off selling you the gizmos, gadgets, shakes, supplements and magic potions, that promise to help you fulfill your resolutions THIS TIME??

This is why it’s time to make the switch from “Resolution” to “Revolution!” It’s time to REVOLUTIONIZE your health, your goals, your LIFE!

Starting a revolution rather than just making resolutions means you take ACTION! After all, you can’t have a revolution on paper only. If that was the case, our country would still be ruled by England. If those who rose up against the red-coats only wrote out on paper what they proposed to do, and then never did anything, well, that would have been simply ridiculous, right? (I guess that would have been the Resolutionary War…. HA!) And yet, this is exactly what so many well-intentioned people do every January 1st.

It’s time to stop the broken cycle and make a change! Revolutionize your life by DOING. Don’t just talk about it. Don’t just research it. Don’t just write it down, or make a list, formulate a plan, or even tell a friend. That’s just the potential to change. Like in physics, you want to go from potential to kinetic. From the possibility of change, to the motion of it.

How do you do that? Well, how do you best operate? Remember, it doesn’t matter what works for anyone else, only what works for YOU!

Start by asking yourself if you are you intrinsically or extrinsically motivated?

In other words, are you someone who prides themselves in getting the job done, and done well and that’s enough for you, or do you need outside motivation as in accountability, recognition, or reward? For example, what inspires you to begin and accomplish a job, task, or hobby? Is the reward simply that you set your mind to it and got it done? Or was there a pay-off like earning a prize, or getting recognition? Is feeling better enough of a reward for losing weight or do you thrive on compliments from your loved ones? Figure out what works for you so you set yourself up for success.

Next, take IMMEDIATE action. I’m not saying just be impulsive. Do your research and make a plan if that’s what you need to do. But then DO IT!!! Right away. You don’t need to wait until a Monday. Or the first of the month. Or a full moon, or after that party, or when your friends approve or whatever. Just GO FOR IT!

You are a Revolutionary! Bucking the usual systems and going against the grain is inevitable for this to work. To have a revolution you can’t just do what everyone else is doing. Revolting means you are fighting against the systems or powers or habits in place.

So, you’re used to hitting that coffee and doughnut shop on the way to work so you can have your sugary fancy coffee drink and a treat? STOP!! Either pick up a healthier option or skip it all-together. Make coffee at home, get up fifteen minutes earlier and have breakfast, stop at the juice place and grab a green drink. Just DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!

No time to exercise? Pack your clothes, sneakers, some resistance bands or dumbbells in the car and get outside during lunch. Or hit the gym on your way home. You know if you go home first, you’re not going back out. Set yourself up to win!

What do you want 2022 to look like? What needs to change in order for you to be healthy, happy, and prosperous? Only you can answer those questions. Embrace your uniqueness. That’s part of being Revolutionary. You aren’t like everyone else!

2022 can be the first year of your Revolution! Fight against what hasn’t worked, and fight for what does! You are worth the fight! You only have one life to live, and one body to live in. Don’t allow another year to pass you by where you make promises only to not follow through with them.

You have all the potential, now make it happen. Go, you Revolutionary, Go!!!

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