Conquering the Markets of Hong Kong

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Just want to thank http://www.porthole.com for allowing me another great opportunity to write for their magazine.  It is so much fun to share my experiences with your readers.  I hope you enjoy this piece!

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This summer I had the unbelievable opportunity to visit the city of Hong Kong, China. What made the experience even more memorable was being able to take my ten-year-old daughter. She is an adventure-seeker, like me, so it was an easy sell despite the 19 hours we would spend on the plane. Within two weeks of finding out we were going, my daughter and I had booked our flights, packed our bags, and prepared to be awed by the world we would soon encounter.

Learning to Barter

Ladies Market

Hong Kong is full of so many wonderful treasures and sights, and one of my favorite memories was walking around and shopping in all the local markets. With a population of almost 8 million people, Hong Kong offers some of the best shopping opportunities from the ultra high-end to inexpensive trinkets and souvenirs. My daughter and I were staying at a hotel located in Mong Kok on the Kowloon Peninsula. This area of Hong Kong plays host to some of the best-known street markets in the city. Our first night, we experienced the famous Ladies Market, which was bustling with shoppers well into the late night hours. Stall after stall lined the narrow streets, selling anything from luggage to jewelry, and of course purses resembling certain designer labels. Here is where I experienced my first taste of bargaining with the locals. Most everyone spoke English, thankfully, and the more you bargained with the vendors, the better response you received. Better bargaining led to fun gifts to take home to the family! My daughter even got in the game and bargained herself a pretty decent deal on a few specialty souvenirs.

Not Your Typical Grocery Shopping

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The next market we conquered was one of the “wet markets” found around the city. Wet Markets are where locals go to buy their groceries. In the States, we are accustomed to going inside a large, well-lit building which houses everything we need to stock our kitchens and households. But the one-stop-shopping concept is completely different in Hong Kong. Our eyes were opened in fascination as we passed various store fronts which sold everything from locally grown vegetables, some I had never laid eyes on before in my life, to household cleaning supplies. Other shops dealt solely with meats, chickens, or seafood items. And when you shop the wet markets in Hong Kong, you only buy what you need for the next few meals because everything is fresh. Even the eggs are sitting out, unrefrigerated, because they were most likely gathered that morning. It was a foodie’s dream to meander down the aisles and see spices, dried goods, fruits, and vegetables to tempt anyone’s palate.

A Thousand Colors of Green

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The next market on our shopping adventure was the one and only Jade Market. Here you could purchase various kinds of Jade, from the deepest of greens to the earthy reds of what locals called “ancient jade.” Again, my daughter and I found ourselves bargaining and negotiating our way down the aisles, finding the most unique pieces for the best prices possible. The Jade Market, also located in Mong Kok, takes up two entire blocks, and the outside appearance is deceiving. You think at first you are walking into a run-down metal and wood building only to discover the rows and rows of various items for sale, many of which were beautifully hand-carved masterpieces by the booth owners themselves. It is a must-see if you visit Hong Kong, because here you can get exquisite, one-of-a-kind pieces while also emerging yourself fully in the culture.

The Many Markets of Hong Kong

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Our final day of shopping in Hong Kong found us at two places, which were in two totally different locations. PMQ, a modernist building located in Hong Kong’s “SOHO” district, once housed police quarters for married officers and their families. It is now using those rooms as individual storefronts. Local artists from around the Hong Kong area sell their pieces, which range from custom-made handbags and jewelry to tasteful varieties of tea leaves. If you want something unique and one-of-a-kind, the PMQ market needs to be on your to-do list. The close of our Hong Kong shopping adventure took place at the Temple Street Night Market. This market is also located on Kowloon and is one of the more well-known street markets in this area. Like the Ladies Market we visited a few evenings before, this market also sold many of the same items, but what makes this one so famous are the food vendors that set up shop here. Some families have been offering their cuisines to patrons for generations. The sights, sounds, and smells we encountered at the Temple Street Market truly resembled the culture and heritage of Hong Kong.

It’s easy to get accustomed to shopping in air-conditioned malls and shopping centers, but the luxury and convenience of those type of stores lack the individuality and character of the markets in Hong Kong. One of the best things about traveling is finding ways to immerse yourself in the culture, and visiting the markets in Hong Kong is a great way to achieve this. I hope one day you get to enjoy the same experiences my daughter and I did this summer.

 

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Maneuvering Through Food Label Mania

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I always like to tell those seeking healthy eating advice to read labels before purchasing a product.  But sometimes label-reading can be a little like figuring out a Rubik’s Cube.  So I thought it might be helpful to explain what some of the labels mean on the foods you decide to stick in your grocery cart.  I also do my research online from reputable sites.  One of my go-to’s is http://www.sustainabletable.org.  They have some of the latest news when it comes to the food industry.

  • Whole Grain:  This is not something new in today’s society.  You can find it on most “health” food items.  It means the food contains the entire grain and has not been refined in processing.
  • Non-GMO, GMO-Free, or No-GMO’s:  There could be an entire post done on this one.  So I am keeping it simple.  Foods with this label do not contain any genetically modified or genetically engineered products.  GMO means scientists have altered the state of an organism’s genetic make-up by taking a specific gene from one organism and sticking it into a plant or animal that has an entirely different genetic make-up.  Many crops today use GMO seeds to withstand pesticides during the farming process.
  • Free-Range:  This is used in the egg and poultry industry to indicate chickens that have access to the outdoors and are not restricted to chicken coups.  Be mindful because “free-range” is different that the term “pastured.”  Free-range chickens can still be limited to the amount of time they get to “freely” roam outside.  The USDA has set the standards for this classification and products may not always be cruelty-free or antibiotic-free.
  • Antibiotic-free and Hormone-free:  This one is pretty self-explanatory and means animals were not given any form of antibiotics or hormones during their life span.  By federal law, hogs and poultry are not allowed to be given hormones.  Of course, there is always room to dig with this topic….what you see or read may not be what you get.  Just be sure to check the company, even if the product is organic.  Not everyone abides by the same standards.
  • Grain-fed vs. Grass-fed:  When you buy your meats you definitely want to lean on the side of grass-fed.  Grass fed animals are allowed to eat from their own natural habitat, while grain-fed animals are given feed.  Here is where you have to really watch your labels.  If you purchase grain-fed products, be sure the label reads “100% Vegetarian Fed.”  Otherwise, producers could be putting animal by-product in their feed.  Yuck!
  • RBGH-free or RBST-free:  This simply means the animals were not injected with any hormones before going to slaughter.  You DEFINITELY want your meats to be free of these.  Some studies have linked these injections with increasing hormone development in children, especially girls.  Also, the hormones have been linked to different illnesses and cancers.  Do your investigation through reliable sources, or just avoid it if that is easier.  In my book, I just stay as clean as possible with what I put in my body, or the body of my kids.
  • Pasture-raised:  You will start to see more and more of this on food labels, and that is thanks to the huge movement from consumers demanding better quality food.  This is what I always look for when I buy my eggs at the supermarket.  Just because it says “cage-free” doesn’t mean it was allowed to roam around a farm and eat it’s natural food-source.  Remember, you are what you eat!
  • Healthy:  Many food companies will make the claim that their product is considered “healthy.”  WATCH YOUR FOOD LABELS!  If the ingredient lists contains a slew of words you can’t pronounce or they have a lot of numbers in them, place it back on the shelf.  Many people are floored when they realize what they thought was a healthy food to eat really wasn’t, especially when they could never figure out the cause behind weight gain or other health issues.  Labels are your best bet, not what is printed on the front of the package.

Buying good, quality food does not have to be a challenge.  You just need to educate yourself a bit and be proactive when it comes to purchasing.  We, alone, are the ones in charge of our well-being, and the habits we develop to become healthier will only funnel over into the next generation.  Maybe one day we will see the end of harmful preservatives and chemicals placed in our food supply.

For more information on healthy living ideas, visit my website at http://www.lifestylelistener.com or my Facebook page, @lifestylelistener for recipes and tips for a healthy lifestyle.

Happy shopping, and until next time,

Cheers

My Adventure with Wine

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A few months ago, I had the opportunity to submit an online article for Porthole Cruise magazine.  They were looking for individuals willing to share a story about their love of wine.  As another Father’s Day approaching without my Dad, I couldn’t imagine a better way to honor his memory than to tell the story of how he taught me to learn and love wine.  Luckily, they liked it enough to publish it!

Some of my wine knowledge I had to discover on my own, but the roots were planted early in my lifetime by my father.  What I now know is because of the precious time my dad took to teach me about something he absolutely loved.  Now that he is gone, I get to pass on this legacy with the wine he willed to me after his death.  I have the incredible privilege of sharing fabulous wine with friends and family I love.  I get to take my dad’s “wine hat” and teach others what my he taught me over the years.

Wine is not just about finding the perfect bottle or knowing if you have opened something “worthy” to drink.  It’s about creating memories and moments with people you love and enjoy being around.

I hope you enjoy this insight into how and why I fell in love with the world of wine.

Grape Destinations: From Burgundy to California; My Adventure with Wine

Until next time,

Cheers

Breaking Free

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I hate to generalize, but I will here for a bit. American culture can exude a propensity for living by the “work hard, play hard” mentality. Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t necessarily disagree with it. But I do find myself at times wondering why we spin our wheels so fast each and every day but fail to stop and take notice of the ground we are traveling on? Let me explain my meaning. During my program to become a health coach, there were consistent lectures given by some of the best and brightest in the health and wellness industry tackling this very notion. And to be honest, a lot of what they said made sense. We overcrowd our schedules with things we feel “need” to be accomplished and wonder why at the end of the day we crash and burn in a blaze of cranky attitudes and a failure to connect with those we love.

I often find myself chewing on the idea of “slowing down.” I am not talking about a vacation where you sit for a week and relax. I am talking about each and every day taking time to stop, let my brain rest and recharge, and not constantly go at Mach speed. It’s not an easy change, trust me. You feel lazy and unproductive because your mind is telling you, if you have a moment to spare, get something useful accomplished. But perhaps the things we need to get accomplished could be done more efficiently if we had a better “head space?”

If we can break free from the chains of expectations that bind us daily, we might be able to have healthier lives and more meaningful relationships. Of course, this way of thinking is so far from our norm, the change won’t happen overnight. It might happen in generations, if we are lucky. But I do truly feel we age ourselves, body and soul, because we fail to take in the simple beauties this world has to offer.

So what will your starting point be to create more space in your day for mental and physical rest? Today I chose to sit outside on my back porch and listen to the gentle roll of thunder and rain provided by a summer storm. And in that moment of time, my headspace became clearer and my attitude heightened.

I highly suggest you give it a try sooner than later.

Until next time,

Cheers

The Juxtaposition of Jesus’ Love

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Do you have a favorite wall in your house, apartment, room, or whatever?  A wall that displays pictures, paintings, or trinkets of some kind which hold value to you?  I have a favorite wall in my house.  It’s in my kitchen and I catch myself stopping to look at it every once in a while.  Adorning the wall are pictures of me with my parents, my kids, my husband, and his extended family.  It also has a framed collage of wine labels I have drunk with my dad in years past.  And to round it out is one of my favorite bible verses, Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”

I love this wall because I feel it describes me, the things I cherish in this world, and the memories I have to hold onto for the rest of my life.  As we are knee-deep in Holy Week, I have given thought to a lot of messages on the love of Jesus and how it is THE most important thing in this world.  And I completely agree with this-I know it to be true. Sometimes it is so hard for our human minds to even fathom that kind of love, but I am learning to trust in it and to follow it whole-heartedly.  I sometimes feel like my children, who learn religion in school every day.  I am taking faith one day at the time, learning to not overwhelm myself.  Not growing up in a house that attended church regularly, sometimes the concepts I hear coming from scripture boggle my gray matter.  So I do this; I journal and flesh things out on my laptop.

I have heard some preach before how things in this world are just that, things.  They are objects we can’t take with us to Heaven.  Spending too much time focusing on them separates us from Jesus because we open ourselves up to harboring love and adoration for simple objects.  And apparently the same can be said of the relationships we hold close with people.  They do not come before our relationship with Jesus Christ.  So as I look upon my favorite wall and gaze on those things I do hold dear in this world, I find myself wondering how am I supposed to separate those loves?  How do I distinguish between the love I have for Jesus and the love I have for my family?  Are they one in the same?  Am I loving one more than the other?  Do I feel Jesus gets angered when we extol love for those blessings He gives us?

No, I don’t think He gets upset, but I do find myself constantly thinking about how I am supposed to reflect upon this notion.  It becomes a cycle, much like the convection cycle my daughter is learning about in science class right now.

This process stirred last night in my head as I again passed by my favorite wall after cleaning up dinner.  And then I realized I am not being forced to choose here.  I am not being forced to love one over the other.  Instead, I am to know that my blessings bestowed on me are given BY Jesus.  It is my responsibility to acknowledge thanks and praise for the “objects,” it is my duty as a parent to raise my children in a Christ-centered home, and it is by grace that I have so many wonderful memories to smile fondly upon, especially when some of those people are no longer with me on earth.  The love of Jesus endures for me because of what He did this particular week.

As I tend to do, I get encompassed in thought and over-analyze myself.  It’s what made me so good at figuring out the meaning behind speeches, books, etc., in college.  But just when I get too close to the edge, something in me stirs and says to “Be still and know that I am God,” so don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.  You see now why that’s my favorite verse because it keeps me grounded, makes me stop and listen instead of barreling ahead with ideas and notions.

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If you are celebrating Holy Week this month, perhaps you can relate to this constant internal struggle when it comes to growing in faith and growing in knowing ourselves.  If not, this can certainly be applicable to other areas of spirituality.  Because, you see, we all have moments in life that make us stop and ponder, no matter what spiritual place we call home.  If we are really looking through the right lens of life, we should see our kismet, or destiny, a little bit clearer.

Until next time,
Cheers

Ruminate This!

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Do you ever have those nights when you wake up around 3 in the morning, your mind starts spinning, and suddenly you are mentally jotting down all the things you have to get accomplished for the next day?  This was me yesterday morning, and there was no going back to sleep.

I woke up and looked at my alarm clock, which read 3:30 AM. “Ugh,” I thought to myself. “Here we go.”  I knew what was going to happen in the next few moments because I had gone to bed thinking about something that was weighing on my heart. So the moment my eyeballs popped open, my mind went straight to that situation and the horses started sprinting for the finish line.  I tossed and turned until about 5 AM, then finally gave up and went downstairs to make coffee.

As I wrote in my journal that morning, I realized there is a repeat pattern here and I feel I am not the only one doing this sort of thing.  Psychology Today has a name for this sort of thing, called “rumination.”  Ruminating is basically when we have something on our mind, a problem or worry, and we continue to think about it until it winds up causing our minds to go into a tailspin of anxiety and depression.  Of course some situations are worse than others, but if you find yourself waking up constantly over a specific worry or concern, you could be setting yourself up for something worse than just a trip to the bathroom or a drink of water.

When I am out do dinner with my lady friends the topic of not sleeping seems to always come up among us.  I have consciously made a note of how many individuals do this sort of thing, and pretty much most of us are getting up at some point in the night.  This also means none of us are giving our bodies the rest they need.  I am not saying we all are suffering from anxiety or depression, but when you think about the typical stress levels we place upon ourselves on a daily basis, ruminating is likely to happen.  I recently listened to an audio lecture about dealing with stress and worry. The constant theme that came up in this series was how our stressed-out society never takes a break from what we place on ourselves, resulting in all sorts of health issues.  One of those issues is, of course, lack of sleep.

Sleep is one of the most important things we can do to keep our bodies and minds healthy, so when you don’t get enough, your entire system can get out of whack. Sounds awesome, right?  So do you find yourself constantly waking up at night stressed or worried about the next day or about a list of problems?  What can you do?

Well, there are several things you can try to help get your mind out of the “rumin-rut.”

One way you can break the cycle of worry and stress is to just try and laugh more during your day.  Stop taking yourself so seriously all the time and get some good guffaws in.  Think about a funny time, or look at pictures of fun memories.  It’s much better to have laughing wrinkles than frowning wrinkles!

Find someone you can talk to in confidence.  Getting things off your chest and out in the open is a great way to work through a problem or situation.  Keeping things bottled up inside will only cause the issue to fester and eat at your mind.

Find ways to relax, even if it’s just for five minutes.  Give your brain a chance to decompress and break up the monotony of your daily grind.  Meditate, go for a short walk, sit down and listen to calming music, take a coffee break and read a book. Whatever it is that gives you peace of mind, do it, and do it for at least five to ten minutes each day.

We are responsible for our own cognitive health, and that means taking the bull by the horns and finding ways to fix the stress we have in life.  Things may not go any slower for you, but you need to take care of your brain and get your rest.  Trust me, your mind and your body will thank you.

Until next time,

Cheers

Learning to “Fit Out”

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“The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone will usually find himself in places no one has ever been.” —Albert Einstein

We live in a wold that is constantly pushing us to “fit in.” We are told through television, social media, our peers, and the entertainment industry to look a certain way or own specific products. But have you ever thought about the notion of “fitting out?” I know, it seems pretty foreign to our über-narcissistic way of living, but just imagine how free and liberating it could be to simply “fit out.”

When I was going through my certification program to become a health coach, I was introduced to this concept early on by the program’s founder, Joshua Rosenthal. He gave a three minute speech on the importance of fitting out in the world instead of always trying to fit in. He brought to the audience’s attention to expect some backlash of fitting out, but then again, we are interested in weird food and far out concepts. So we get those looks anyway. But health coaches love what we do, so who cares what the world sees through their own rose-colored glasses! As coaches who choose to “fit out” in our industry, our community, and our world, we know we are making a difference one person at a time.

By choosing to fit out instead of fit in with what the world around you is doing, you are allowing yourself to experience personal growth on all levels. It could be with your relationships, spirituality, how you dress, or even how you choose to eat. And the best part is, you are accountable to no one but yourself. You are setting the tone of how you want to live your life and the good things you want to spread to others around you. No longer are you tied down to cookie-cutter concepts and expectations. You become the person you were destined to be, and others will stop and take notice of the change. They will see how you are able to handle situations, or see a new-found confidence in you that was not there before. And who knows, you could inspire them to start their own journey of “fitting out” in this world.

In 2017 I experienced a fitting out theme because not only did I grow spiritually in my relationship with Jesus, but I also learned more about my core values and how I wanted to live my life moving forward. It brought about a level of confidence I didn’t even know existed inside my soul. I don’t know if my own experience with fitting out was noticed by others, and really, I don’t put too much thought in that notion. What I also loved about learning to fit out was how my effort level dropped tremendously. I didn’t feel the need to keep up or stay on top of everything. I was able to let things go and walk away, or I could take disappointment in life, learn from that experience, and find a way to rise above it.

We all know that each day will bring new challenges for us. It will bring in new heartaches, disappointments, realizations, and elations. But just imagine how much stronger you could be in dealing with all those things when you are in the season of “fitting out.” So what risks are you willing to take to live the life you want? What ways can you start the process of learning to fit out in your own life and discover what wonderful things can unfold within your heart? That is my challenge for you this week, so start digging and start making those positive changes in your life.

Until next time,

Cheers

The Art of Oil Pulling

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The first time I ever tried oil pulling I thought I wasn’t going to make it.  I had used solid coconut oil, scooped out a heaping tablespoon of the substance, and then had to maneuver the chunks in my mouth until the heat of my saliva turned it into a liquid. But I persevered through it a few more times until I finally became used to the texture of the solid oil, and I tried a smaller amount so my mouth was not overtaken by coconuts.  Then, one day I was shopping and I found a good form of liquid coconut oil, and suddenly the practice of oil pulling became a part of my habitual routine.

What exactly is oil pulling anyway?  Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic practice (an ancient Indian principle that dates to around 3,000 years old).  It involves swishing about a tablespoon of oil, usually coconut, sesame, or sunflower, in your mouth for 20 minutes each day, preferably during your morning routine.  The benefits of oil pulling are numerous, believe it or not.  When you swish oil in your mouth, the antibacterial properties of the oil help to pull toxins out of your body.  Sounds crazy, right?  But it’s true, especially when you use a good quality oil.  Swishing and pulling the oil in your mouth can eliminate bacteria and fungus floating around on your teeth and gums (I know, gross, right?).  This happens because most of the stuff wafting around in our mouth consist of a single cell.  The oil coats these nasty particles, thus helping them stick to one another instead of on your gums or teeth.  So when you are finished with your pulling, you spit out all these little microorganisms, ridding your system of them completely.  Oil pulling also helps to whiten teeth, freshen breath, ease sensitive teeth, wipe out plaque, not to mention moisten the mouth, throat, and lips.

If you are not sure how to go about oil pulling, here are my own personal tips.  Start small your first few times, like five minutes, during the morning right before you brush your teeth.  Then, when you finish, you can simply spit the used oil out into your trash can.  For me, once I was able to get over my five minute mark, I started doing my oil pulling in the shower.  With hair washing, face washing, etc., that usually gives me a good 15 minutes to swish and swoosh my coconut oil.  Like I wrote earlier, I do like to use a liquid version of coconut oil to swish, but make sure it is a good grade, and organic.  The plus of using coconut oil instead of sesame or sunflower is coconut oil contains anti-microbial properties by way of lauric acid.

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And be sure to NOT SWALLOW the oil.  After it has been in your mouth, getting rid of all those repugnant particles, swallowing it would completely negate all the good you just accomplished. Lastly, when you are finished pulling, it is recommended you spit the used oil out in the trash can instead of down your sink.  The oil could possibly clog your drains after an extended period of time.  After you do your allotted time, finish up your routine with a good tooth brushing and flossing to remove any leftover particles from your pull.

So if you are in the market for whitening your teeth in a safe and natural way while protecting your gums and mouth from various dental diseases, then you should definitely give oil pulling a “swirl” during your everyday morning routine.  Who knew a simple tablespoon of oil could have so many benefits for your mouth!?! And if you are like me and enjoy drinking red wine, it can help ward off those irritating “wine teeth” stains that so lovingly go with one of my favorite adult beverages.

So go out there, pull some oil, and flash your pearly whites to the world with a smile!

Until next time,

Cheers

 

 

Discovering a New and Healthy You

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Do you ever think about the day after a holiday?  Like after Christmas or July 4th, and the stores have all the decorations reduced down.  It takes the wind out of my sail a bit when I see those lonely decorations, unused and unwanted on their shelf.  The day after Valentine’s Day is like that for me, not because all the pink and red heart decorations are left un-purchased.  No, for me February 15 marks the anniversary of my dad’s death.  But this year is a little different for me.  I am turning a day that is usually filled with sadness into something positive.  Today, I am officially putting myself out there in the world as a certified health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  And with that announcement comes my personal website that offers information on what I do and the various ways I can help people discover the healthiest, happiest version of themselves.

My journey to living a healthy lifestyle did not always start on an easy track. I have posted about my experience with battling an eating disorder in college, so I won’t go into excessive detail here. If you want to get that whole story, check out my post “The Shadow of Control.” It will be filed under February of 2017 on this blog, http://www.myglasstoshare.com. This piece basically lines out how I ended up where I am today in regards to healthy eating habits and beneficial lifestyle routines.

My passion for good nutrition and overall wellness practices started when I was in my twenties, continuing on and growing stronger as I entered my thirties. Now as I approach my forties, I feel so blessed and excited to have the knowledge I do under my belt so I can help others around me get on track with their own lives.

Health and nutrition, well, those can be tricky subjects. There is so much information out there about what the “correct” way to live should be, or who has the best diet to loose weight or detoxify your liver. But what I learned, and absolutely loved, about the certification program through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition was their belief that everyone is a bio-individual. What is considered one individual’s perfect diet plan may be completely toxic for another. Bio-individuality is the key when it comes to finding the perfect food plan to follow for your body.

Another important aspect to having a healthy lifestyle is finding balance in areas outside the kitchen. Relationships matter and have a huge impact on your overall well-being. A career that is stressful, or a lack of physical activity are other areas important to keep balanced when trying to be healthy and whole. My training program calls these things “Primary Foods.” We get so hung up on thinking diet is the way to a balanced life, we tend to forget the other things going on that can affect the “what” we eat and the “why” we eat.

It has taken myself a few years to figure out my own balance with my life, as well as with my diet regiment. And I feel my experiences, my knowledge, and my ability to just simply sit back and listen helps me put power back into YOUR hands. You will be the designer of this new pathway to balance and health. I will simply provide you the much needed support and tools to get you there. So stop trying the latest fad diet, or running yourself mentally into the ground with obligations and commitments. Let’s do this together because being healthy doesn’t have to be hard!

For more information and to contact me for a free consultation, visit http://www.lifestylelistener.com.

Seasons of Change

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I recently listened to someone talk on how life is very much like the seasons we experience during the year.  They change, and with those changes come good moments and hard moments.  As I sat there listening to this person speaking, I couldn’t help but think about the seasons of my own life and what I learned from each change.  I am about to honor a very tough season of my life, the season where I lost my father six years ago.  February 15 will never be the same for me because my life was altered so drastically.  I can’t honestly say I learned very much during the first few years of that “season.”  I was grieving for the loss of someone I loved dearly and relied heavily on for advice and guidance.  But now that season has passed, the pain has dimmed a bit, and now I can survive the day and smile when I think of all the awesome memories my father and I shared together.

I also thought about the season of entering a new decade.  As I approach 40, I get a little nostalgic about my thirties.  It has been an amazing decade, full of highs and lows that make up the river of life.  But I can honestly say, as I come upon the crest of  a new season, I lived life well in my thirties and I hope to continue to do the same during my forties.  I know the road will have potholes, but there will also be periods of smooth sailing.  It’s life, and not every season is going to be full of promises.

As I sat in my seat and continued to reminisce on days gone by, I felt challenged by my faith to ask myself how God has worked through me and in me during these various seasons.  Was there anything I learned to help others through their own seasons?  Did I find out a little more about myself?  Do I fully comprehend who I continue to evolve into as time marches on?  I may be none-the-wiser based on the triumphs and tribulations which have made up my life, but I do know my own seasons have molded me into the wife, the mother, the daughter, and the friend I am today.

I think we all need to stop and surmise about our life, how we are living it, and what we can do to change things we see wrong.  Let’s celebrate with others when they have successful seasons or shore up those whose seasons leave them crumpled on the floor.  It’s amazing what you can discover about yourself when you engage in a little self-reflection.  Sometimes the biggest epiphanies can happen when you stop and take in the season.

I remember what my father used to tell me growing up; he would say to me, “Sweetpea, life is full of choices.  So make sure before you make a choice you think about how you will feel when you look at yourself in the mirror.  If you can look your own self in the eye and be okay with what you see, then you must be doing something right.”  So, that is how I live each day, keeping myself in check with who I want to see staring back at me as I maneuver through life’s seasons.  What season are you experiencing right now and what are you learning from it?

Until next time,

Cheers