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~

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Slippery Slopes & the Leftovers' Lament

Have you ever found yourself intent on a mission to completely devour the Thanksgiving leftovers just so you can be done with them and return to a healthy diet routine? Well, last night we finished off the apple crumb pie and today we’re officially down to one piece of lemon pie and four homemade dinner rolls. The carton of ice cream has been sucked down, as well as the bowl of tangerine salad.

Tom turkey was a BIG bird so he might take a while yet, but I’m seriously pondering the thought of pitching the side dishes right along with all the fat and calories they contain.

Have you noticed how it’s so easy to lose track of your sanity and eat yourself right into oblivion?

Which I might add, is a very unpleasant and miserable place to be. Personally, I've never been able to stop once I started to slide down the slippery slope of calorie laden holiday foods. Before I knew what had happened, I was smack in the middle of January; no healthy food in sight and my exercise routine totally nonexistent. Sugar had become my best friend, even though it left me hurting and hankering for more.

All of that being said, I’ve decided “NOT EVER AGAIN!”

Our Christmas dinner will not be "king-sized". I vow to prepare just enough food to last two to three meals; no more. I’m going to explore ways to reduce the sugar level in my pies so they don’t skyrocket our blood sugar levels clear off the charts. I’ll make my own homemade, chemical-free whipped cream and sweeten with stevia for garnishing the pies. There’ll be a healthy bowl of fresh fruit, a tray of raw veggies and nuts instead of sweets. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s way past time for wise choices in my life when it comes to how I eat during the holidays...

I do not like the way this over indulgence makes me feel nor do I want to regain weight I worked hard to lose. Tomorrow I return to healthy eating and climb back on my treadmill for my daily workout. My new Omega masticating juicer arrives on Tuesday (my Jack LaLanne died last week) and I can’t wait to get back to juicing again. Since I’ve been drinking organic green juice every morning, I find that it not only completely satisfies all my cravings, but reduces my appetite as well. Combine that with my antioxidant cactus juice, and I feel better than I have in years. Believe me, it sure beats the stuffed, miserable, heartburn path I’ve been on for the last week, hands down. Not going there again!

Are you ready to make a change for the healthier more vibrant you? I welcome your comments and suggestions.

May God bless your journey,

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving - A Lesson to Be Learned From the Pain

To say that I really struggled with writing this Thanksgiving blog post is a gross understatement. Not wanting to pen the usual “food focused” article - turkey this/dressing that and “Oh My”, Where’s the sugar-laden pie. Or reiterate the, “What are you thankful for” theme for the thousandth time. And then there’s the Black Friday shopping thing, which is great if you're a bargain shopper, but I'm not. So what was there left to write about?

I Googled and searched the whole world-wide web to no avail. Writer’s block had knocked at my door and barged right in. I even entertained the idea of skipping the Thanksgiving theme altogether, but something just didn’t seem quite right about that. And then then the phone call came with the news…

Those were the days my friend. We thought they’d never end…

While growing up on the ranch, Thanksgiving was always a bountiful feast. My mother was beyond the best cook around – she was amazing! We ate until we were miserable; not once, but over and over again. Leftovers galore and warm cherry pie a la mode was my breakfast for as long as the pies lasted. Then I moved on to my next favorite pie. Sugar was my best friend and this was gluttony in its finest hour.
For many years, after my husband and I were married, we returned to the ranch for Thanksgiving. Dad was always at the front door grinning from ear to ear welcoming his kids and grandkids. Mom was busy in the kitchen where she’d been since 4 a.m. in the morning. With six offspring and all their children, it was a monumental task to feed the tribe. And my how noisy! - Kids whooping and tearing around and all the adults trying to talk at once.

But it was family and it was a crazy kind of wonderful that I will never forget…

Then those happy holiday family times came to an abrupt end, when my parents started going south for the winter (possibly to escape the chaos). My siblings and I began preparing holiday dinners and establishing our own family traditions.

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance…
But, as happens in all families, sometimes holidays don’t deliver happiness. Loved ones pass on leaving a huge void in our lives. The special day, once filled with laughter, produces nothing but an aching heart full of painfully fresh memories. It was like that the year Daddy died…

It can be tough feeling thankful, when you’ve just lost a loved one; divorce has devastated your family; you’re out of a job with no hope in sight; or tragedy has come into your life; an uninvited guest. What do you do when it’s your turn at the dinner table to share the things you’re thankful for, and the tears of pain puddle up in your eyes?

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God…”Romans 8:28

You pause and remember…

You pause and remember that when everything else in your life is turned upside down, God never changes. You can rest assured that He has a plan for you, even though you can’t see it in the midst of the storm. The day will come when the sun will shine again and happiness will return to your world. It will be a day of awareness that you’re now walking closer with Him; that there was a lesson to be learned from the pain. A peace in knowing that God’s divine goodness was there all the time. And for that you can be truly thankful.

This blog is dedicated to my friend Holly who was welcomed home last week by a host of angels after a long and courageous battle here on earth. May God wrap his loving arms around her family and hold them close.

May God bless your journey,

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Damning Effect of the "Food Focus"

Have you ever thought about how almost everything we do in life is centered on food? Think about it for a minute…No special celebration is complete without food. No holiday. No sport’s event. No church gathering. No office party…Where people are gathered there’s bound to be a plentiful amount of delectable, enticing foods.

To tell you the truth, I hadn’t given it much thought until I developed extensive food sensitivities. One of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to conquer is sitting and watching while others indulge. On second thought, having to prepare the food for a holiday meal may be an even worse scenario. You quickly come to realize how much tasting and testing went into all of the dinner’s preparation.

I wish I could say that I have this incredible amount of discipline that keeps my hands out of the food. But that’s not the case and I end up eating the forbidden knowing full well the agonizing muscle pain that will ensue for days. It’s an unending battle that takes its toll both physically and mentally.

And I’m not alone - There’s an alarming increase in the diagnosis of complex digestive disorders striking those of all ages.

You’ve probably heard of IBD (irritable bowel disease), IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and the list goes on and on. Some believe that autism and ADD (attention deficit disorder) can also be traced back to digestive issues. These are life-changing, painful conditions that have no quick fix; no easy answer.

Not nearly as appealing as the food that got them to this point, is it?
This is an endoscopy image taken of a section of the bowel called the sigmoid colon and shows what ulcerative colitis looks like. Note that the inside surface of the colon has a red blotchy appearance and has broken places.
It’s my belief, that toxins play a huge role as a precursor to chronic and painful intestinal disorders.
Combine the chemicals in our food with today’s poor dietary habits and you can find yourself on a fast track to serious digestive problems. Add over-the-counter and prescription meds to the mix and you now have a genuinely deadly combination.

Personally, I can attribute the intestinal damage I suffered to that of a doctor’s careless prescribing of massive amounts of antibiotics and the acid-blocker Prilosec; coupled with off-the-charts and ongoing stress. I already had a history of digestive issues and this ill-advised treatment only compounded my existing problems. Unfortunately, no advice was given me to be sure to follow up with quality probiotics (and I don’t mean yogurt) to replenish the good bacteria in my guts. In a relatively short amount of time, the situation was totally out of control.

The longer I live the less confidence I have in drugs and the greater is my confidence in the regulation and administration of diet and regimen. ~John Redman Coxe, 1800

You see, when you take antibiotics, they wipe out absolutely all the bacteria in your intestines - good and bad. My medical knowledge, at that point, was very limited and I didn’t even know there was such a thing as “good” and “bad” bacteria to be worried about. I, like many of you, obediently followed my doctor’s orders, not giving it a second thought.

Lesson learned: Always research the side effects before taking a prescription medication. In other words, do your homework. Ask for another opinion and if there are possible alternative options that might work just as well.

The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease. ~Thomas Edison

Another important thing to realize is that treating the symptoms of your condition does not make the cause go away. Today’s medical professionals are trained to focus predominately on addressing the symptoms instead of seeking out the source of the problem. Especially in the case of digestive disorders, the cause has to be addressed or your health will be further jeopardized. It’s just a matter of time.

What I’d like for you to take away from this blog post is this:

  • If your diet is fast food, processed foods and junk you could soon be going through my nightmare or even worse. And “Yes”, it can really happen to you. Plan a nutritious diet menu and get with the program.
  • If you’re already having symptoms of digestive problems, seek out a highly recommended professional nutritionist or functional health practitioner as soon as possible. Don’t procrastinate until your digestive issue has the opportunity to turn into a full-fledged auto-immune disorder.
  • Remember that you’re paying the doctor for his advice - this doesn’t mean you have to take it. Sometimes a good case of common sense applies.
  • Analyze your food habits and plan events that aren't focused on food. Replace bad eating habits with enjoyable activities that will work towards a healthier, more vibrant and beautiful you - not sabotage your efforts.

There’s truly no better preventative measure you can take against disease than to start living an active, healthy life. You’ll feel and look better than you have in years, while ensuring yourself a future free of unnecessary suffering and pain.

May God bless you on your journey,

Note: If you have a digestive disorder or disease, I welcome your comments and encourage your input.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

3 Steps to Achieving an Amazing Attitude

I gazed out my front door this morning to a blanket of fresh-fallen snow and a glistening world of white. That is, except for my beautiful purple petunia, hanging happily in my entryway still blooming away; rebelliously oblivious to the winter weather. She wasn’t withered or wilted; not even a bit. No cold weather was going to get the best of her – she was going to blossom where she was planted!

There are souls in this world which have the gift of finding joy everywhere and of leaving it behind them when they go. ~ Frederick Faber

How I wish I could be like that cheerful, blissfully content petunia; just blooming away weathering the storm no matter what the circumstances. Have you ever known someone like that? The one with the permanent smiley affixed to their face? The one who has a lilt to their voice and an obvious song in their heart?

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~ Herm Albright

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I even think they irritate me sometimes - a little jealousy factor appearing on the scene. Am I alone here? Deep down I believe we all want to be like that and just haven’t figured out how to recreate ourselves into a positively contented and happy human being.

It causes me to ponder why I have forever been such a negative person. I used to state, very adamantly I might add, that my outlook wasn't "negative", just very "realistic". It took me most of a lifetime, but I can now honestly and openly make the admission that my glass is most definitely half-empty, NOT half-full. 

Anywhere is paradise; it's up to you ~ Author Unknown

But it’s just plain work, isn’t it? - that cheerful and sunny outlook. Unfortunately, whatever does not “come naturally”, takes a lot of dedication, perseverance and hard work to put in place. We recoil at that thought, don’t we? Speaking for myself, retraining my behavior is about as appealing as vacationing in an igloo at the North Pole.

The soul does not absorb negativity by accident, always by choice ~ Dodinsky

It’s a tedious process to alter what’s been “stuck like glue” to your unique (and negative) personality for so long and it will require that you:

1)   Recognize that you do indeed have a negative-type outlook

2)   Pause and ponder choices for positive alternative behaviors

3)   Take immediate and definitive action for improvement

Sometimes life's Hell. But hey! Whatever gets the marshmallows toasty. ~ J. Andrew Helt

And it will all be worth it - for a positive and healthy state of mind can carry you through the worst of times; be like toasted marshmallows and candy on a yummy chocolate cupcake during the best of times; and make life a whole lot easier on those who are blessed with your presence. I guess it’s really true that “attitude is everything”...

Anyone game for an attitude adjustment? Your thoughts please?

May God bless your journey,