Welcome to my blog – a site committed to finding the healthier, more vibrant and beautiful you! My goal is to explore all aspects of health; helping you discover your inner as well as your outer beauty. I'd like to invite you to join me and begin your own personal journey to health and wellness. Let’s learn together through sharing our own unique experiences; turning them into growth opportunities. You know, you truly can be all you ever dreamed of and more! It is right here waiting for you to attain, and so much easier when we join together as women and friends seeking the same ultimate goal. I welcome your comments and look forward to getting to know you. May God bless your journey... ~Susan~

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Skinny by Sunday ~ 3 Steps to Defeat the Diet Saga

Usually, by this time of year, a freeze has finished off the summer flowers; the trees are past their prime standing naked in my yard and you don’t leave home without a jacket. But not this year! There’s still a gorgeous array of colors, not only from the trees, but from the ever-blooming flowers. I still have red roses adding a nice accent to the autumn colors.

Because of our extended fall season, the days on the calendar have silently slipped by unnoticed. That is until a friend of mine declared that she was going to lose 20 lbs. by Christmas. That’s right~ Christmas!

And if Christmas is just on the horizon, we’re looking Thanksgiving right in the face. Which brings me full circle back to the “losing 20 lbs. by Christmas” comment.

How well I remember that mindset. I went through the scenario so many times that my adoring husband used to tease me about my being “Skinny by Sunday”. Even though my goals of a slim and trim body never came to fruition, I kept right on doing the same crazy things over and over again. After all, I just had to lose weight so I could:
v unabashedly wear a swimsuit by summer
v actually fit into a pair of shorts without humiliation
v wear a pair of “skinny” jeans again
v lose two dress sizes for “the” wedding event of the year
v be thin enough to graze my way through the holidays without reservation or guilt
Sadly, I spent many frosty months hiding under a bulky winter coat dreading the day I’d have to shed the thing and conceal the “real” me to the world. Diet fads came and went. Exercise programs bombed out. Holidays added extra pounds. You know the drill…

What’s even worse, I was exhausted and felt rotten most of the time. My joints ached and my face often looked like I’d been on a ten day drunk from the junk I ate the day before. I wasn’t old enough to feel like this and it wasn’t getting any better. Some days I didn’t have the energy to even shower and get ready for work. And that was just the beginning of my day! All those years of eating poorly and consuming enough sugar to kill me was taking its toll. Did you know that being overweight or obese causes inflammation in your body that leads to a wide variety of chronic diseases? Neither did I, until I was faced with potentially serious health issues.

The good news is you don’t have to live like that; never again. It will mean making a choice to drastically change your lifestyle for good and forever; a choice to live each and every day as healthy and active as possible. No more unrealistic and unattainable goals. No more ridiculously hard workout regimens. And, of utmost importantance, no more failures!

Step #1 ~ Exercise

Pick an exercise you enjoy, but don’t overdo. Gradually push yourself to the next level, while increasing your strength and stamina. If you really feel like you need to experience extreme workout regimens, spend a couple hours watching Biggest Loser.

I found that setting realistic goals and then broadcasting them to all of my friends and family kept me accountable. When I vowed to work out every day for a year, everyone heard about it. This probably was a stretch, but I was desperate (and fat) by this point. I wasn’t about to give up and have to admit failure, so I managed to survive 364 days of half hour workouts. Much to my dismay, I missed one day because I was just too sick to climb on the treadmill. I continued on to accomplish a year and a half straight of daily work outs. The best part of all was that this process created a habit of regular exercise and a desire to stay with it that I have maintained to this day.

Step #2 ~ Diet

Eat healthy and eat at home; eliminating fast food from your menu. Clear your house of processed foods that are lacking in nutrition and packed with calories. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables; organic if possible. You know your “trigger” foods – stay away from them like the plague. Eat in the dining area and leave when you’re done, so you’re not tempted to keep nibbling.

It’s all about portions, portions, portions. Count calories, log your food intake online, do Weight Watchers, but most importantly, do something!

Step #3 ~ Take Care of Yourself

Find ways to reduce your stress levels, as a round with high stress can lead to all sorts of bingeing episodes. You know how you hate yourself after going on one of those! My favorite reward was always brownies, but I could never stop at just one...

Reward yourself for your successes, but NOT with food. Trust me, that never works, and it can send you on a downward spiral to places you really don’t’ want to go.

Click here for a blog post that I wrote describing some helpful stress reduction techniques. Stress not only leads to overeating, it's the precursor to life-threatening chronic inflammation.

Life is too short not to live it to the fullest. Make the decision to live a healthy, active life enjoying every moment of your journey to Finding a More Healthy, Vibrant & Beautiful You!

Skinny jeans? Priceless J

May God bless your journey,


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Arriving at Autumn ~ A Portrait of Your Life

This week my husband and I took a drive to see the autumn colors in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The weather was perfect - a beautiful, warm fall day with a gentle breeze. The sun shimmered on the aspen leaves turning them into thousands of pieces of gold reflected against a bright blue sky.
Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn. ~Elizabeth Lawrence

Intermingled amongst the aspen were several types of evergreens and a variety of other trees; adding an array of shades of green, gold and orange to enhance the view. The aspen leaves glistened and danced as the wind rustled through their whisper-thin leaves; creating a marvelous musical serenade.

Just like the aspens in fall, I have come to the autumn of my life. I want this time to be just like those glittering gold aspen leaves. I’m going to enjoy my day in the sun; dancing and glowing with a song in my heart. I’ve earned all those bright and beautiful autumn colors that are splashed over the portrait of my life. I vow to be active, vibrant and alive until I breathe my last breath!
And you? Do you want to arrive at your “autumn” healthy, active and living life to the fullest? What kind of life portrait are you going to paint; are you ready to dance?

No matter what season of life you are in today, I pray you make the choice to begin your journey to A Healthier More Vibrant & Beautiful You.

May God bless your journey,

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.
~ Stanley Horowitz

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Going Beyond the Gingerbread Man...

This week I’ve added a ‘new-to-me’ vegetable to my healthy eating plan. It’s a twisted and inter-connected odd looking veggie that can be beige, white or red in color. It is the underground rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale – commonly known as ginger root.

Ginger root has been used for medicinal purposes for over 2000 years and also as a delicious cooking and baking spice. The extent of my culinary experience with ginger was baking gingerbread, the cookies ginger creams and gingersnaps (two of my all-time favorites) and, of course Gingerbread Men. I also drank ginger ale soda occasionally and, I would guess that I’ve often eaten Chinese food seasoned with ginger.
My knowledge of the broad health-related benefits of ginger root was nonexistent. While researching, I discovered that ginger is known for its extremely potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols and that these gingerols can obstruct the production of prostaglandins, perhaps more successfully than domethicin, an arthritis drug. Ginger extracts have been shown to have both antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects on cells.

Ginger root is known to be beneficial for:
v Motion sickness
v Pregnancy nausea and vomiting
v Gastrointestinal distress
v Muscular discomfort
v Arthritis pain
v Lower cholesterol
v Headaches & migraines
v Cancer of the skin, colon, breast and ovaries
v Lower blood pressure
v Menstrual pain
v Common cold and flu

How to add ginger to your diet
There are endless ways to incorporate ginger into your diet. I consume a lot of chicken salad, so I use my food processor to mince the ginger and add to the mixture to spice it up. I also drink two to three cups of hot ginger tea a day using the following preparation procedure:
Cut a 1 to 1 1/2" piece of fresh ginger root, peel and slice into a large mug
Add a few fresh mint leaves, a peppermint tea bag or some cinnamon flavored liquid stevia
Pour boiling water over the above and steep for at least 1/2 hour
Heat to taste and sweeten with liquid Stevia, if desired

Ginger root can also be added to your favorite juicing recipes to add some extra ‘zip’ to your drink’s flavor.

Buying fresh ginger root
You can purchase ginger at your local market, but you may need to check your health food store for ginger root that is grown organically and for a fresher product. Buying fresh ginger root will ensure superior flavor and higher levels of gingerol and the anti-inflammatory compound protease. Make sure you choose firm and mold-free ginger roots that are smooth skinned.

Preparing for consumption
Rinse before using and peel off the skin. You can store fresh, unpeeled ginger for up to three weeks in the refrigerator or up to six months in the freezer.

Varieties of ginger
·   Pickled Ginger - To make pickled ginger you need to marinate fresh ginger in a vinegar and rice brine until it is tender and pink in color. After slicing the pickled ginger in paper-thin slices, it is ready to serve. You will often find pickled ginger at sushi bars used to accent the flavor of fresh raw fish.

·   Powdered Ginger - A warm, fragrant and rich spice used in baking and cooking alike.

·   Preserved Ginger This is a sweet and tasty condiment, and sometimes accented with a bit of salt and licorice.

·   Dried Ginger – For the freshest quality of dried ginger root, buy at Chinese or Indian markets. Allow to bake out in the sun for about two weeks and then break the root in pieces and powder in a coffee grinder.

·   Crystallized Ginger – Candied ginger is a very delectable concoction that causes a slightly warming sensation to the palate. It is prepared by slow cooking ginger in sugar water until it crystallizes and then rolling the candy in sugar.

I would love to know if any of you cook or bake with ginger. Please feel free to comment and leave your recipes or tips.
May God bless your journey,