Life On Purpose

Day 19 : Overcoming Plateaus July 17, 2013

We all reach plateaus in our journey when we experience boredom, stagnation or stop getting results. I want to give you some ideas for breaking through these challenges.

1. Re-evaluate your fitness routine. Are you exercising too much and not nourishing your body enough to repair itself? Or maybe you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough during your workouts. Could you benefit from a new goal, a personal trainer or a new workout video?

2. Journal your diet. Every bite that goes into your mouth on paper or in an app. Then after a week, re-evaluate your nutrition habits. Are you eating late at night or skipping meals? Are you cheating more than you thought?

3. Drink two unprocessed, homemade protein shakes a day for 4 weeks as meal replacements. Over two or three weeks go back to solids but with a renewed focus on whole foods. This often jump starts weight loss.

4. Get an accountability partner or renew your commitment with the one you already have and establish weekly check ins for exercise and diet.

5. Revisit your understanding of “eating healthy”. You can’t expect to skip meals and gorge yourself with a big healthy dinner every night and see results. You MUST be consistent. Eat regularly, eat real food and have reasonable portions. Every day.

6. Drink 4 liters of water every day. Do NOT drink calories or even “diet” calories. It will sabotage your journey.

7. Stop weighing and measuring for 4 weeks. Maybe it’s in your head.

I hope this will help you when you are struggling! File this post for later or use it now if you need it.


Day 18 : Restock July 15, 2013

First of all, congratulations for making it through some of the hardest changes presented so far! If you’re still here with me, you are well on your way to a healthier life. But now your pantry is looking slim-so how do you restock? We’ve talked a lot about what NOT to eat. Now it’s time for establishing a repertoire of whole foods to nourish your body!

Remember what I said before: the bounty of your grocery cart should be from the perimeter of the store.

Buy organic as your budget allows and prioritize your dollars with this tool:
Dirty Dozen/Clean 15
-aim for a colorful variety
-most of your groceries should be produce
-try all different types of greens and rotate them

Whole Grain:
-ingredients will specify “whole (insert whatever grain here)”
-this shouldn’t make up more than 25% of what you eat

Grains to eat:
Quinoa (actually a seed)
Brown Rice

– Any pasture raised and grass fed meat is fine. Shouldn’t be more than 4 ounces or a palm size serving at each meal
-Check out the Farmer’s Market behind Geppetto’s in Morganton Saturdays 8-12 for good meat vendors (produce as well!)
-Fish should be as fresh as possible and wild caught, not farm raised. It will say on the package “wild caught.” Smaller fish have less mercury contamination.
-Ingles on Carbon City rd. has a fairly good selection for a chain grocery store. You can buy organic/antibiotic free chicken, grass fed beef, organic beef and ground bison there. Right now Aldi is carrying grass fed beef and antibiotic free chicken as well.

-Again, I recommend the Organic Valley brand: it is both organic and pastured! See sour cream, cottage cheese, milk, half n half, heavy cream & butter in this brand ALL available at Ingles on Carbon City!
-Whole milk is the least processed, use in moderation/Almond milk is a great alternative but I recommend Silk or Laura Lynn brand because they are carrageenan free.
-Aged, raw cheeses are best-NEVER buy shredded! Always shred your own. Most cheese is naturally white (it’s made from milk!) so avoid orange cheese because its usually highly processed and has something to color it. I suggest only buying at the grocery store because sometimes homemade cheese contains harmful bacteria (meaning if you aren’t sure your source is completely reputable, you probably shouldn’t buy it) and don’t buy raw if you are pregnant.

-Buy high quality, organic whole wheat flour. I have cut flour out completely as as a personal nutrition choice and use almond meal or quinoa flour for baking. You can also try coconut flour. Still, these are processed forms of whole foods and shouldn’t be the mainstays of your diet.

***Anything on the interior aisles should be scrutinized carefully for processed and GMO ingredients. Look for the USDA Organic Label pictured below.

-Substitute any oil other than butter with high quality coconut oil. Melt it in a microwave-safe dish for any baking and cooking needs. Here’s my favorite: Coconut Oil
Much cheaper online than in the grocery store!
-Sweeten with pure organic stevia, honey or pure maple syrup when at all possible.
Stevia -much cheaper online as well!
You can also buy powdered stevia.

-If you must use refined sugar in baking, buy organic/GMO-free when your budget allows. Remember, if it has the USDA organic seal it can’t contain GMOs.

Today’s challenge is to restock your fridge and pantry with whole foods!

A couple of little tips:
-Store nuts and flours in the fridge to keep fresh longer
-Meal plan around the produce that needs to be eaten sooner rather than later to avoid waste
-Turn sandwiches into salads. You can put a almost anything on a bed of greens! Store bought bread is usually not going to be nutritious enough to buy unless you fork out $6 per loaf.

As my friend Karen often says, you make your health choices at the grocery store.



Day 17 : Pantry Raid July 12, 2013

I saved this for a Friday because you will need time for this. It’s also likely going to require you to go to the grocery store to restock with whole foods. I’ll be extra nice on Monday-I promise!

I’ll make this short and sweet. Today’s challenge is going to be painful for many of you. This is a huge step to healthy living. It’s time to reject the SAD diet. Raid your pantry. Let’s keep this simple. We are going to focus on the two ingredients that I believe are probably the worst offenders of health: high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil.

Read each label in your pantry and fridge and throw out any item containing “high fructose corn syrup” or “hydrogenated” anywhere in the ingredient list. Hear your body shout for joy as it hits the trash! That’s where it belongs! Let yourself enjoy the excitement of a new beginning!


Day 16 : Back to Basics July 11, 2013

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The sad thing about the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) is it has robbed us if the knowledge and experience of cooking. It has effectively reduced “cooking” to adding water and a few processed ingredients and microwaving. We are losing the art of both cooking and the family table. Food has become about instant gratification and pleasure instead of true nourishment and fellowship.

Cooking can be made fairly simple and much less intimidating if you consider this: most cooking methods are the same every time you employ them no matter what food you are cooking. The variation will come were time and temperature are concerned (and in the Google age, no need to panic!). Here are some basic cooking methods to begin trying at home:

Pan sauté: use a healthy cooking fat in a pan on the stovetop, melt it usually over medium heat for produce or medium high for meat, add ingredient and cook to desired doneness. Stir any produce frequently to prevent burning and make sure to turn meat halfway through cooking. Stainless steel dishes are ideal for this type of cooking and always come clean-salt, baking soda @ blue dawn make a great cleaning agent for anything stuck on!

Steam: use a metal colander over a pot with two or so inches of water in the bottom of the pot (you don’t want the water touching the bottom of the colander) and put any veggie or fish down into the colander over the water, cover, bring water to boil and let steam to desired doneness. I did green beans yesterday and they took 20 minutes. Google your veggie for cooking time estimates.

Roast: line a baking sheet with foil or parchment, heat your oven to 350-400 degrees depending on your ingredient, melt butter or coconut oil and toss with ingredient and add seasoning according to your recipe or desired flavor. For example, I do this with asparagus using 1-2 TBS coconut oil and add salt and pepper. Spread ingredient on baking sheet and roast 15-30 minutes depending on desired doneness (remember your cooking assistant, Google!)

Grill: wet skewers and cut up fruits and veggies. Skewer them and grill them until just marked.

When cooking whole grains like rice or quinoa, use about 1 cup of uncooked grain to 2 cups water or liquid of your choice (try free range chicken stock -yum!). Bring liquid to boil, stir in grain, cover and reduce heat to low. Do not remove lid until liquid has been mostly absorbed. Then season to taste or recipe.

Each of these methods can be applied to whole foods like broccoli, greens of any kind, bell peppers, asparagus, green beans, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and on and on. You will want to invest in a cutting board for produce that is sturdy and a high quality chef’s knife. These will be your best friend as you prep whole foods. If your meals don’t require any washing or chopping, chances are you aren’t consuming whole foods. If you are intimidated by not knowing what temps and times to use, remember, your eyes and your mouth are a great tool for testing doneness.

For some of you this is nothing new. For others, this is scary new territory. These are just a few basics to get you started. Cooking cannot by any means be condensed into one blog post.

I challenge you to try to make food that must be washed and chopped. Just TRY. If you fail, I promise you will learn and the next time it will be easier. Pinterest and Google are the two best resources in my home for getting new ideas, tasty recipes and proper cooking times and temps. Get out of your cooking comfort zone and do your palate a favor: make something new!


Day 15 : Pay Now or Pay Later July 10, 2013

Take hold of the present. It is a gift. In my profession I’ve seen countless unsuspecting individuals suffer strokes, heart attacks and dramatic, dangerous, and sudden recognition of diabetes. We are no longer surprised by these things, but we should be! it is concerning to me the young ages at which people experience such health issues. Their effects last a lifetime. If survived, these things lead to a life of what you can and can’t do and what you can and can’t eat and pills that must be consumed. In fact, its statistically likely that you either have a family member or friend/acquaintance in this very predicament.

What you eat and how you live greatly determines your risk for chronic disease. What you do now determines your future quality of life. It is never too late to begin your life-changing journey to wellness!

Let us translate this to dollars. I’m going to be transparent so you can see how this really looks:

We used to spend $400 per month on groceries to feed a family of 4 (two small children). We now spend $550 per month on groceries to feed a family of 5 (3 small children/including one bottomless pit!). That’s reality. We made our health and wellness a higher priority. So what’s the alternative?

The average heart attack costs $1 million for one person. Swallow this: the average after-insurance-out-of-pocket cost of diabetes ( not counting any other care) per year per person is $7,900!!! That is $658 dollars out of pocket every month just for diabetes care alone.

I’m not trying to scare you as much as open your eyes. It is a MYTH that you can’t afford to eat healthy. The truth is: you cannot afford NOT to eat healthy. It is well worth the sacrifice.

Can you eat out less? Have a movie night at home instead of going to the theater? Get unlimited Netflix and turn off the satellite? Cancel that magazine subscription you never have time to read anyway? You weigh the cost and then decide what it will take. Do the best you can with what you have. If you just CAN’T up your grocery budget, figure out how you can buy more wisely with the money you have. Get active. Drink water. Get sunshine, and keep changing the little things you can! Next time you get a raise, why not use that money to invest in your health?

My challenge today is this: count the cost. The cost of eating well now versus the cost of a lifetime of disease…what’s your choice?



Day 14 : Cheaters are Winners July 6, 2013

Are you ready for a fun post? Me too!

This is real life: we all need a break. I eat well 90% of the time. But let’s just be real for a second:

I need a break! And you will need them too as you journey toward health and wellness. If we don’t take a break, we are more likely to give up.

Cheat day is the day you get to count your victories for the week and enjoy some of your favorite meals and treats. I usually cheat on the weekends- a little each on Saturday and Sunday. I try not to cheat more than 2 meals total. For me, it’s a slippery slope back into old habits. If you eat 21 meals per week, and only 2 of them are cheat meals, then you’ve eaten well greater than 85% of the week! That’s going to pay off if done consistently.

My challenge to you is this: eat well at least 19 meals per week! And enjoy the heck out of 2 more 🙂


Day 13 : Intensity Matters

What is the ideal workout? One that is short, burns fat and gets results, right? Is there such a thing?


It is called high intensity interval training (HIIT). The beauty of this type of workout is that it’s short and you can do it at home without buying any special equipment. As I have said before, I’ve been asked by a lot of people how I lost so much weight and got in shape. This is my story: HIIT 5 days a week + excellent nutrition!

The idea of HIIT is that your heart rate stays elevated throughout your workout while still performing strength-building exercises. It’s a triple threat: cardio, strength & intervals all in one. Three ingredients to effective exercise smashed into one workout. HIIT workouts burn fat for up to 2 days after your workout. Many HIIT workouts also incorporate plyometrics (jump training) which also boosts your fat burning for several hours after exercising. The anatomy of HIIT is usually a set of exercises done over a certain period of time and repeated as a circuit. For example:

50 seconds jumping jacks/10 seconds rest
50 seconds lunges/10 seconds rest
50 seconds push-ups/10 seconds rest
50 seconds squats/10 seconds rest

Repeat Circuit 3 times

Will 12 minutes really change your body? Yes. How do I know? It worked for me.

You can spend one hour at the gym or you can spend 15 minutes at home…yeah it seems like a no-brainer to me too! It isn’t easy. It is hard. it will challenge you. You will be dripping with sweat and short of breath. But it will change your body. And you will get stronger.

Some suggestions:

1. Modify to your level. Push-ups can be done from your knees, and you don’t need weight as a beginner. Also, jumps can be done as steps.

2. Try just one or two rounds as a beginner.

3. Check out the free interval timer app for iPhone if you want to do these workouts without following a video. The 7 minute workout or Sworkit apps are also great!

4. If something hurts your back or knees STOP!

Check out the daily hiit or Zuzka Light to get started!

I never expected to “like” these workouts, but as I gained strength and added weight, I found that I LOVED them! I hate missing my workouts now because I think they are FUN! Keep an open mind and try it. That’s my challenge to you.