Designers in front of a blackboard

YOUR HEALTH AND CREATIVITY

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A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.” – Proverbs 15:30

 

A quick story

One morning I was leaving my neighborhood and happened to drive past a neighbor who lives a street over from me. As I passed by, I gave a friendly wave and smile that was undeniably visible. To my surprise, my neighbor didn’t respond back. In fact, the neighbor looked quite perturbed by my happiness. At first, I was mad because we’ve lived in the same neighborhood for more than 14 years and I see this person on a daily basis driving in and out of the same street. As I continued my drive to work, I pondered why some people don’t like to wave when they know it’s a nice thing to do?

 

That same day, I arrived at one of my corporate client’s offices to begin my day at work, but first had to take an elevator up 23 floors. There was one other person in the elevator who made no eye contact with me for the entire ride while looking at their phone. No “Good day, ” or “Hello.” Just utter silence 23 floors up. Can you imagine if we got stuck? It would’ve been complete torture for the other person, because I would’ve pushed the whole “Hello” issue and they would’ve had no choice but to cave.

 

Once I arrived at the office, I began my day. I noticed many people in the halls didn’t make much eye contact with one another, nor did many have friendly conversations. A large majority of people today seem rather disengaged emotionally and angry about life. I notice this not only in offices, but in many public places as well. Why do you think this is? 

 

Something’s missing

I know stress is a major contributor. People aren’t sleeping enough or eating the right healthy foods. But, besides these obvious reasons that I speak and write about often, there’s one thing that has stood out to me when getting to know hard-working, smart people. What is it you ask?  I believe millions of people in the United States with corporate desk jobs who are sitting at computers all day long in small spaces and working long hours are being denied their CREATIVITY. Yes, I said creativity.

 

I believe, by nature, humans were made to be passionate and creative. When people are suppressed or denied the right to creativity and passion on a daily basis, this can lead to anger and resentment. If we harbor these rightfully negative feelings over a long period of time, we may manifest symptoms of being sick, age faster and eventually acquire a major disease. We also run the risk of taking those negative feelings out on the people we love. It’s an energy and it needs to go somewhere doesn’t it? If this energy isn’t used in a healthy manner, I believe sickness isn’t limited to your body, but your mind and spirit can become sick as well.

 

This can lead to a dependence on some sort of addiction. Whether drugs, alcohol, bad relationships, overspending, overeating or even overworking. I’ve even noticed people becoming addicted to being sick. Their sickness becomes a comforter and a barrier to them not seeing the truth of what they need to change about their situation. I think a lot of it is fear based as well. People are afraid to make changes and some are too lazy to change. Some people really don’t know how to put one foot forward in making that leap into having creativity and passion in their lives. Some may feel paralyzed and numb to even the idea of it. Can you relate to what I’m saying for yourself or someone you know?

 

Infuse some creativity into your life

I listen hard to what people tell me and I hear their daily struggles. I work with people of all different ages, sexes and races. Some are single and some are married. Most have a lot of stress! Some are in jobs by circumstance because it pays the bills and others have jobs that they went to school for and are now bombarded by really heavy workloads that are meant for two people. Some have jobs that have become so mundane they pose no real challenge intellectually. Some careers have put restrictions on people allowing them to share their own ideas and opinions, which in fact produces an environment of not wanting to rock the boat. This can manifest a learned behavior of fear in a workplace.

 

Since I’ve gotten to speak to people over the years, I always ask them what they would want to do for a living if money wasn’t a priority. Some of the answers have been a dog day care, art studio, coffee shop, dance studio, farm, charter fishing or travel companies, vintage clothing line, soap maker, designer, children’s book author, park ranger and flower shop owner. Everyone who responded had either a master’s degree, and some even a PhD. The career changes they mentioned were all jobs that either required them to be outside or have contact with people. And, all were jobs that required CREATIVITY. Even though society has a faster pace and technology is faster than ever before, humans still crave simplicity, nature and other people. Even as mean and angry some people appear today, we all crave the same things. Isn’t that enlightening? If we realize this, it’s kind of hard to be mad at that person that didn’t wave to you isn’t it? (Side note to myself.)

 

Think about this: Have you ever noticed a football coach on television screaming and yelling with great passion at his players? Have you ever watched a ballroom dancing competition and the intensity of the dancers’ body language? Have you ever watched HGTV and observed some of the home designers, working on a project for hours without tiring? Have you ever watched the eyes of a musician or famous singer performing their hearts out? Have you ever visited a zoo and watched the excitement of the people working there? Have you ever taken the time to drive out to the country and visit a small farm and speak to the owners? Have you ever watched a fishing show where two men are fishing all day on the end of a boat under the beautiful blue sky? I know for some of you these sound like dream jobs and aren’t realistic, but I think you get my point.  What can we do to bring out that creativity and passion that was given to us? I think all of us can change up our Groundhog Day weeks by adding in a few positive elements to our lives to do your soul good as well as your health. I know it does for me. 

 

Remember, a cheerful heart will produce a lot of good fruit in your life as well as others. See where you can apply one, or two of these suggestions and let me know your thoughts.

 

Make time for fun and creativity

  1. Take one or two days a month during the week to see a sunset.
  2. Download your favorite stand-up comedian and listen to it on your way to work.

Download a list of songs that you listened to in high school or a time in the past that you enjoyed. Listen on your drive home from work.

  1. Take one, or two, lunch breaks a week outside to look at nature.
  2. Prepare a recipe once a week from a different culture that interests you.
  3. Write a love letter to someone you care about.
  4. Sign up for a dance class a few times a month.
  5. Register for a different language class online, or at a meet-up group in your town.
  6. Find a local farm to visit and walk around.
  7. Take a trip to your city zoo.
  8. Start a journal of the best memories of your life and share them with a friend.
  9. Invite friends over for a conversation night of wine and pick a topic of history to converse about.
  10. Find a piece of furniture in your house that needs to be repainted. Take it outside and work on it slowly.
  11. Take a new workout class at your gym that challenges you.
  12. Go to the library and take out books that you’re passionate about.
  13. Plan a small weekend trip to a place of history, or somewhere that challenges your mind.
  14. Volunteer at a dog shelter, or at an assisted living home.
  15. Sign up for an art class.
  16. Learn to play chess.
  17. Take a cooking class.
  18. Walk the beach after work, or walk a nature trail.
  19. Make something simple for your house.
  20. Work on old family photos, or a family genealogy.
  21. Plant new flowers, or start a small garden.
  22. Make a list of possible new job prospects that require less stress.
  23. Redo your budget to spend less on bills and more on fun.
  24. Watch less television and pick out movies that challenge your brain to have more conversation.
  25. Meet new people outside of your usual friends. 
  26. Get to know the older people in your family. 
  27. Try daily prayer for insight of personal change.

 

God Bless!

 

 

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Dating made me fat. Marriage made it worse.

In the past when I would go out to eat every now and then, I would meet up with my brother for dinner. We would find ourselves at a mom-and-pop restaurant, or some sushi place to catch up on our week and talk about life in general. I would always look forward to this time together.

Usually, our conversations would start out about work, politics and family. After all the seriousness wore off, we would somehow always end up regressing back as if we were 14 years old – talking about dating and people watching. If you’ve ever watched Seinfeld, my brother is Jerry and I am Elaine. Sometimes meaningless conversations about anything and nothing can take up three hours of our time.

When people watching at a restaurant, it was easy to distinguish couples on first dates from those who have been married for a long time. Have you ever done that? It’s interesting to watch, if you’re in a crowded restaurant with many different couples. New couples come in dressed up with big smiles on their faces, and are usually engaged more in conversation with one another with strong eye contact. The man is usually more physically attentive and the female appears to laugh more. When they order, they order smaller meals and both almost never finish their whole meal. In my mind as a female, I gather women don’t like to feel bloated when they’re on a date and they for certain don’t want any man to know they can probably eat him under the table anytime with a good dose of PMS! But, I don’t want to get off topic here. I think you understand what I’m trying to say.

The couples that appeared to be together longer had a much different dining experience. Usually, they’re not dressed up as much as the new couples. When they get to the table, the conversation seems limited and they both appear a little more worn out and eager to order quickly. They seem to order appetizers more often and they both finish all of their food. Dessert is almost never missed with these couples. I know this could sound biased, but I’m going by the majority of what I witnessed over the years.

Combined that with the fact that, as a longtime massage therapist, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know people on a very intimate level through deep conversations. Most of my female clients that are out of shape express their weight concerns and mention that if they could take a break from their boyfriend or spouse for a few months they would be able to lose weight. A complaint they share is that one person in the relationship likes to eat healthy and the other doesn’t, or one eats too fast and causes the other to eat more than they typically would.

From my own experience in relationships, and from what I witness in others, it doesn’t always start out this way. When you’re single, most people will tend to focus on eating smaller meals and cooking tends to be healthier because you’re trying to attract the opposite sex. Once people start to date, the first activity they participate in is dining out often. I see it on Facebook with friends who start dating new people. They almost always start out leaner and looking their best when they first meet. As they continue to date, and more dates add up to more meals eating out, and the pounds begin to slowly creep up.

The same thing happens when people get married if they’re not in tune with exercise, or don’t have strict eating habits. They will both lose weight prior to the wedding and after the wedding it all goes the opposite direction, which can end up with two unhappy people who are now 25 to 40 pounds heavier than when they first met.

Eating has always been a social experience throughout history in this country and abroad. All cultures gather and celebrate with food – it brings people together. But centuries ago, and even 60 years ago, food was a lot healthier to eat. Even the junk food 30 years ago was healthier. If you’ve been following my last two blog posts we discussed GMO foods, genetically engineered foods, that have been altered and sprayed with very dangerous herbicides and pesticides. They are making people very sick today with all kinds of digestion issues and weight problems.

If you’re someone who does go out to eat, it’s really hard to avoid these poisons in your food, unless you pick an establishment that supports organic, non-GMO foods. I know that this can be really difficult when trying to date or even be social. It can be a challenge when you want to just hang out at home with your significant other and eat a large bowl of popcorn and not care where it came from. Sadly, we have to know where stuff comes from today and how it’s processed. You should want to know, especially if you want to live a full healthy life.

People are always happier and in better moods when they feel better about themselves, especially when they’re in relationships. I always feel better when I fit perfectly into my lean jeans and my stomach doesn’t feel bloated. I treat people better when I don’t feel fatigued and cranky. Eating out can be fun, but eating out today comes with a price. I understand you work all week and there are times you don’t want to have to go home and make a meal. So what can you do to modify your dining experience if you find yourself out with a date? What can you do if you want to enjoy a romantic dinner with your spouse? What if dating and marriage didn’t make you fatter like some people are experiencing? What if you set the ground rules for yourself by making better choices? What would be the result for yourself and your relationships? Think on that….

13 tips for making better choices when dining out

  • Before you leave your house, make some organic hot tea. Green, jasmine, and even chai are all good varieties with antioxidants. Warm tea will help suppress your cravings before you get to the restaurant.
  • Research healthy organic restaurants in the local area if you’re able to pick the place to eat beforehand. Even if the restaurant isn’t organic, some will offer gluten-free options, grass-fed beef and wild fish. A lot of restaurants also offer organic GMO-free beer and organic wines.
  • Stick to restaurants that don’t serve a lot of pasta or dishes that use a lot of fried foods and wheat, for example standard Italian, fast food, Mexican and Chinese chains.
  • Before you dine, look up the menu online to make a healthy choice easier before you arrive.
  • Refrain from drinking during dinner. Drinking anything while eating interrupts digestion and the enzymes in your body. Reserve drinking for after you’ve eaten.
  • Pick a restaurant that has low lighting and soft music, which actually helps you eat fewer calories. A recent study showed that when they took rats and fed them food under low lights and soft music, they ate way fewer calories compared to the other rats who had bright lights and louder music.
  • Choose fresh as much as possible. When ordering appetizers, stay clear of fried and raw foods, as well as foods with dairy and wheat.  If you order seafood, have shrimp and clams steamed to avoid parasites that can wreak havoc on your liver and digestion.
  • When ordering salads, avoid all house dressings and ask for balsamic vinegar, or apple cider vinegar with olive oil to be brought to the table. Most dressing mixes are high in sugar and have gluten in them. Stay clear of Caesar salads.
  • Avoid all bread and butter brought to the table.
  • Ask for veggies with a main course to be steamed without butter and request olive oil is drizzled over them.
  • When picking carbs for a side dish, I always ask for the baked potato with a side dish of scallions and lemon, or vinegar brought to the table to mash into the potato. I avoid all pasta, rice and French fries.
  • When picking your meat, choose wild fish, wild turkey if they have it, lamb or grassfed beef. Avoid Lobster unless it’s from a private fisherman, since commercial lobsters have chemicals in their tanks. Also, although lobster is high in protein, it’s typically higher in cholesterol.
  • Desserts are really hard to consume without having a lot of sugar. Try to order a fruit of some sort, or anything with dark chocolate. Avoid cheesecakes and desserts with a lot of sugary sauces with dairy. I will usually just take a spoonful of a dark chocolate piece of cake and have a hot tea at the end.

I hope these tips help when you’re dining out under pressure for your next outing. Remember, most of all corn, soy, sugar beets and wheat fields are genetically engineered. Glyphosate is used as a very toxic herbicide that contaminates the food that makes its way to most restaurants in the United States. Keep this in the back of your mind anytime you choose to eat outside of cooking organic, GMO-free food at home. It will save your life. I say this with love and concern to all of my readers. God bless!

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I eat the same foods as cockroaches?

Those of you who live in the South know that sometimes it’s hard to avoid bugs. Especially, when the summer months come around and the rains start. I live in Florida and we have our share of critters all year round, to say the least, with our most common bug being the cockroach, or palmetto bug. Living close to a wildlife preserve in Florida during the hot summer months seems to get them going – I swear they have a Gold’s Gym in the woods behind my house. These suckers can get rather big. I saw one carrying a fresh macaroni over his back in my kitchen one night all dressed up in the colors of the Italian flag, I couldn’t believe my eyes! 😉

Before I started using natural ways to keep these misfits on their side of the woods, and out of my house, I used Raid. I would grab a nice-sized bottle and chase them down while screaming my head off. I was never able to get a full spray on these suckers because they were way too fast – I would get a small spray hitting only a portion of their backside and they still would continue running around laughing at me. Yes, my cockroaches laugh. At least in my eyes they do.

The small hit of Raid would slow them down, but not fully kill them. Sometimes it took several hits to finally succeed in my war against them. Even though Raid was so toxic, I noticed that a little spray never fully killed them right away unless I had a full blast on them. I thought about this concept and how it relates to when we eat foods that have been sprayed with herbicides, or pesticides, we slow down in many ways but we never die right away. The toxins slowly accumulate in the tissues of the body over time to a point where we slow down, little by little. Our digestion is usually the first sign, with many other ailments that follow.

The other day, while at one of the corporate offices I serve as a wellness practitioner, I walked in on a close friend (and client) heating up her lunch in the microwave. Like most people today, everyone is on tight schedules all day with meetings and deadlines. Lunch for a lot of people consists of a quick drive through at some fast food restaurant or heating up a frozen meal. Usually, when I walk into a break room, people run out very quickly because they know I’m going to check on what they’re eating!

My lovely friend is a married woman in her 30s, has kids at home and a full time job. Her time is limited and cooking a healthy meal to bring to work on a consistent basis isn’t always at the top of her priority list. But, I’m sure she would agree, her energy level and long-term health is of importance to her family. My friend stood in the break room heating up a frozen meal that day consisting of a meat, potatoes and corn. I reached into the garbage with a smile to grab the box out and read her all the ingredients that she was about to eat and ingest. I explained what it would do to her, where it came from and how it was processed. She agreed that it was pretty bad and even laughed as she said it. She mentioned how good it tasted, despite all the chemicals in the ingredients. I went as far to tell her that she was about to eat the same thing that a cockroach is sprayed with. She really laughed at that and said, “At least it will keep cockroaches off me.” She then took her “dead” food back to her desk and ate it quickly.

I’ve had this interaction many times with similar responses. Everyone that consumes these types of quick foods have all complained of digestive problems, headaches, metabolism issues and fatigue. But, they still don’t want to believe that what they’re eating isn’t real … and is actually killing them just like the cockroaches – very slowly. 

In an earlier post, I shared what GMO foods are and mentioned glyphosate – the active ingredient in Monsanto’s broad spectrum herbicide Roundup, which is generously doused on genetically modified crops (mostly corn, wheat and soy in which most packaged foods have today). According to the National Pesticide Information Center, glyphosate is an herbicide applied to the leaves of plants and grasses. Its sodium salt form is used to regulate plant growth and ripen fruits quickly, and it is the most widely used herbicide in the United States while being banned in many other countries across the globe.

Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide, meaning it prevents plants from making certain proteins that are needed for growth, and it also kills a specific enzyme pathway in plants. It’s so toxic that it will kill enzymes in your human body as well. Genetically engineered crops can withstand very high levels of Roundup sprayed on them without perishing along with the weed, but glyphosate doesn’t ever wash out of your food once it makes it to your table. 

In some of my research I came across a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) research scientist, Dr. Seneff, who reveals how glyphosate wrecks human health through many nutritional deficiencies and systemic toxicity. Dr. Seneff believes that it is “the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic disease and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized Societies including: autism, allergies, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, gastrointestinal disease, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhea, colitis and Crohn’s disease, infertility, multiple sclerosis, obesity, depression, Alzheimer’s and ALS. The commonly consumed foods in the United States, or Western diet that all have glyphosate residue is found in include genetically engineered sugar, corn, soy and wheat.”

I also came across Dr. Nancy Swanson, a U.S. Navy scientist with a Ph.D. in physics, who became very sick from consuming genetically engineered foods. She switched her whole diet to organic foods and made herself well again. Read her story

Glyphosate causes extreme disruption in our bodies. For every cell in your body, you have 10 microbes of various kinds. Bacteria in your body outnumbers your cells 10 to 1, so you need good bacteria in your gut to fight off disease in your body. Glyphosate affects beneficial bacteria which allows pathogens to overgrow and take over. Once chronic inflammation sets in, you’re on your way toward chronic and potentially debilitating disease.

Microbes in your body will breakdown glyphosate, which is good. However, a byproduct of this action is ammonia. High levels of ammonia are hard on the liver and kidneys, especially if you eat high protein and shower in chlorinated water. Once in the bloodstream, it can cause encephalitis (brain inflammation). Another unfortunate agent from consuming genetically engineered corn is the prevalence of formaldehyde. The levels found in the GE corn were 200 times the amount found in animal studies determined to be toxic to animals. Formaldehyde destroys DNA and can also cause cancer.

I hope you understand the importance of consistently choosing organic food after learning about the toxic effects of chemicals in GMO foods, including glyphosate. Your body will thank you!

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The benefits of eating organic. Yes, you.

As I was standing in line at a health food store one day, unloading some of my produce, the gentleman behind me asked me if I was feeding a goat at home or if I was juicing. I asked him why he would ask that? He said, “Well, I’ve never seen anyone buy that much produce.” With one head of Swiss chard, a head of cabbage, some carrots and a small assortment of fresh berries on the belt, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was serious. When I’m grocery shipping, I notice a lot of fast-paced shopping, boxed foods in carts and a lot of grabbing items without reading labels. Looking around at everyone else’s carts, I guess I looked odd since my cart contents weren’t in line with the majority.

Are you a part of the majority when it comes to food habits? Do you find yourself buying the same boxed items or making the same meals over and over? Do you feel like you’re in the dark about what is healthy and unhealthy? If I wasn’t in the business of wellness I think I be would, too. There’s so much information out there that it can be rather intimidating. In a previous post, I spoke about GMO foods. Now, I want to turn your attention to organic food. I’m sure you’ve seen organic labels in your produce and meat section. I’m also sure you’ve noticed the price difference compared to conventional GMO foods. Some people that I’ve spoken to have switched to a few organic items, for example eggs and milk, which makes for a great start! It’s how I got started, too.

So what is organic food, anyway? According to the USDA of Organic Agriculture, organic farming takes extreme measures to avoid most synthetic materials, such as herbicides, pesticides and antibiotics. The people and the farmers who process organic food adhere to a strict, defined set of standards to produce it. The certifications and the process that these farmers go through to achieve quality food is no easy task. The soil itself has to be prepped for a minimum of three years, and be free of any toxins on their list to meet organic soil standards requirements.

Farmers use many methods to keep their farms free from toxins and from being cross-pollinated by GMO farms. Congress described organic principles in the Organic Foods Production Act, and the USDA defines specific standards. These standards cover the product from farm to table and include soil and water quality, pest control, livestock practices and rules for food additives. All farms and businesses that grow, handle or process organic products must be certified. This strict certification allows you to call your product “organic” and to use the USDA organic seal indicating that the food, or agricultural products, have been produced through approved methods. Approved methods integrate cultural, biological and mechanical practices promoting ecological balance and conserving biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation and genetic engineering may not be used.

It’s important, and critically vital, to have these types of methods and processing while growing and handling your food. If your goal is to avoid sickness and disease, than organic food is for you! It’s really easy to look for that seal when shopping and buying your staple foods. Check out the USDA Organic Agricultural website to review labeling laws. Here are a couple of facts from their site:

  • According to data released recently from the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), there were 19,474 certified organic producers in the United States and 27,814 certified organic operations around the world at the end of 2014.
  • In one year, the number of U.S. certified organic operations increased by more than five percent and, since the count began in 2002, the number of domestic organic operations increased by over 250 percent.

So with organic becoming more accessible, what foods can you start with when beginning your switch? I began with a process of elimination. I started with meat and eggs first, and noticed the taste was so much better. As my palate began to change, I switched veggies and fruits one by one, until I was eating organic all the time – almost 10 years now.

In that time, I’ve noticed many changes in my physical appearance and inner health. My skin became brighter, aches and pains from work disappeared, my PMS symptoms lessened every year, my hair became thicker, energy level increased, weight was more stable, moods were leveled and my digestion and bowel elimination were really healthy. I felt like I was getting younger and yet I was chronologically older. Crazy, but so true. I read a while back that if you ate a conventional non-organic apple today, it would take you eating five of those apples to get the same nutrients that you would get from an apple back in 1920. It’s no wonder!

If you’re not convinced, than I invite you to take the organic challenge. Give yourself three months. Drop all your boxed foods and replace them with fresh organic fruits and veggies, eat less meat (and when you do make it only organic meats and wild fish), and add in some organic beans and nuts. You can do it! Use this small starter list to replace your boxed foods with organic fruits, keep reading and look for recipes on my site if you’re already feeling adventurous.

Organic Fruit Starter List

  • Fresh or frozen blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Low on the glycemic scale, berries are loaded with antioxidants, and raspberries have more fiber than cabbage! Note: Frozen are less expensive and can be thawed out for a sweet desert or smoothie. If you buy berries in the produce section, they will cost more.
  • Great for a quick snack on the road, at school or in the office, apples are great for whitening your teeth and are loaded with enzymes for good digestion. Note: Usually not that pricey, they can be found in the produce section.
  • Plums and peaches. These colon-healers are so sweet when in season that they are tastier than cookies (okay, maybe you won’t think so at first, but you will over time)!
  • Bananas. These have to be the easiest fruit to eat, and work great just before you go to the gym. Bananas are loaded with potassium (save the peel if you have a hemorrhoid – more to come on that).
  • Loaded with magnesium and fun to eat while watching a movie, these happen to be one of my favorite fruits right now. Note: Buy frozen or find them fresh in the produce section.
  • Very affordable, this fruit goes a long way and is a great to start your morning as it’s loaded with vitamin C and also has vitamin A.

There you have it – my simple fruit starter list. I hope you will continue on your path to better health once you incorporate this step. Use my blogs as a guide and feel free to email me with any questions. I’m here to help you along this journey. God Bless!

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A Sicilian family story


Ragusa, Sicily
In Brooklyn, New York, in 1936, my grandmother was around 10 years old. Her parents came from Sicily, like a lot of families did in that area of the city at that time and – upon their arrival – they stepped onto U.S. soil with many hopes, traditions and a love of good food (who doesn’t love good food, right?). Back then, a lot of families centered their whole lives around meals and church. Everything was about the meal, especially, if you were Italian!

My great grandfather worked very hard when he settled here in America, opening a small grocery store with beautiful fresh produce, Italian meats and different, tasty cheeses. My great grandmother spent many hours in the kitchen cooking fresh sauce and healthy meals for the family that included a lot of garlic and beans. From what I’m told, the aroma of the house was always filled with the smell of fresh basil and garlic. She spent many hours teaching my then 10-year-old grandmother how to cook and sew. Thankfully, her traditions stayed alive and have been passed all the way down to me.

My great grandparents had a beautiful garden in their backyard, and my grandmother used to tell me how fresh the tomatoes were. On Sundays, they would all gather and eat outside on a large farm table, eating fresh Italian bread with homemade sauce made from tomatoes in their garden. I have many pictures of my great grandfather playing the mandolin as smiling relatives drank red wine. They each had a laugh that could be heard for miles. I can feel myself sitting there with them now, as I share this with you. Oh, how I wish I was alive than! These were happier times for my family – before the war and when life was simpler. I think it was simpler for a lot of folks at that time no matter what culture you were from.

One family member brings to mind a story that my grandmother would share with me when I was a kid. A four-legged, furry member named Trixie – the family dog. I don’t know if Trixie was Italian, but from what I hear he sure acted like he was! Attitude and all. I think he barked Italian. Trixie was white and stood about knee high with floppy ears. From the old pictures, he had a contagious smile and a sparkle in his eyes.

Back then, Brooklyn looked more like the country. Trixie, in all his smartness, had free run of his domain around the outer parts of my family’s home. One day in the spring, my great grandmother was in the kitchen cooking up a fresh pot of sauce and my great grandfather was working happily in his garden. Trixie was soaking up the sun and enjoying another lazy day of bird watching, and looking forward to dinner. Like all dogs, he knew the schedule of the day, and always anticipated those extra scraps that great grandpa would toss under the table behind my great grandmother’s back. But, this day Trixie wasn’t going to settle for scraps – he had high hopes for something better.

My family had a neighbor a few houses down with chickens freely grazing on their property. They enjoyed fresh eggs every morning. Trixie knew the chickens well, and always had his eyes and his ears on them. The chickens knew him well too, and they were always ready for any of his tricks. Trixie was feeling daring this particular day. As my great grandfather kept his back turned and tended to his garden, Trixie decided to take a little walk over to the neighbor’s house. Within minutes, my great grandpa heard a gunshot. He turned around and Trixie was gone. Was it his Trixie?! He frantically stood up and looked around. He couldn’t see anything. He called for Trixie, yelling his name louder and louder. All of a sudden Trixie came running through the tall grass with a large object in his mouth. My grandpa had a sigh of relief that Trixie was alive, but didn’t expect the sudden surprise when he walked over and placed a very nice sized, fresh and organic chicken at his feet.

My grandpa was shocked, yet proud, of the catch Trixie made. He picked the chicken up and shook his head with a smile. He noticed poor Trixie was bleeding on the side of his hip, so he quickly picked him up and saw a bullet on his side. Not wanting to worry my great grandmother, or ruin Sunday dinner, he quickly took Trixie into his toolshed and performed a Sicilian operation – using his own tools to pull the bullet out, sow and clean him up, get both Trixie and the chicken all ready for dinner within minutes.

My great grandma never knew a thing and that Sunday dinner was special. Not a word was said about the day’s event, not even an Italian bark. No scraps for Trixie this night, he was getting the real deal that he worked for. Fresh, organic chicken served.

Do you have a Trixie grocery shopping for you? I wish I did! While food and the environment have changed, the need of nutritious tasty food hasn’t. In my next post, I’m going to share how you can shop (safer than Trixie!) for the wholesome food your body craves. Stay tuned!

 

 

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My favorite “EATS” in Denver.

True Food Kitchen in Denver has to be my favorite place to eat by far!  Anytime I travel, I always try and eat at places that cater to quality taste, healthy menu choices and a cool vibe! True Kitchen provided just that!  They offered Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wild Fish, Grass Fed Meats and they use all organic produce.  They have an awesome open kitchen to watch your food being made too.  Take your time drinking some organic tea, or cider while you wait!
 
 As True Kitchen quotes from their site….”The basis for an anti inflammatory diet isn’t meant to deprive a healthy body of great flavors, it’s meant to take popular trends in cuisine and pair them with healthy living.”  I love that!
 
Check out their restaurant in Denver and other places in California and Arizona!!  You won’t regret it!
My True Food Kitchen experience…….
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The evils of conventional (GMO) foods

I’m taking you back to 1989. I was a freshman in high school, hair bands were in and The Gap was selling comfortable, cool styles. Gas prices were $0.97 per gallon and the average rent was $420 a month. Recently, my mother pulled out old checks showing she was able to grocery shop for four people for under $65. Wow – I would love to see those days come back!

For most of grade school, and through my senior year, we hardly had any sick kids in school. By sick, I mean we hardly had any kids that were overweight, underweight, had allergies, autism, digestive issues, depression or any major social disorders. Today, it seems to be a completely different arena when speaking to parents about their kid’s issues. It seems most kids, and adults, today have some ailment or disease that affects their short- and long-term health.

In the many years I’ve spent as a massage therapist and personal trainer, I’ve interacted with folks to see where some of their behaviors and choices are coming from. I witness lack of time, laziness and ignorance as the main drivers for poor decision making. That’s why making the right food choices is a good place to start.

As a health coach and organic cook, I’ve spent many hours over the years in different grocery stores. In Florida, and other areas of the country, there are well-known stores as well as many small chain stores that specialize in natural and organic foods, with more and more supporting local farmers. When I was a kid, we didn’t have as many choices as we do now. So, how do you know what food choices are the right ones to make for your family? What is the difference between conventional, GMO, locally grown and organic food?

I’m here to help you with a quick brief summary of the types of foods that you can choose from. Use this as a guide to learn more in this blog post and those that come. Let’s get started on some definitions to know when shopping and looking at food labels.

Question: What does GMO mean?

Answer: GMO stands for genetically-modified organisms. They can be defined or broken down into plants, microorganisms or animals where the DNA has been changed in a special way that isn’t natural by mating. This is done by biotech companies and is known as modern biotechnology, gene technology and genetic engineering. It takes selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, and also between non-related species (also known as gene splicing).

Question: What is the purpose of GMO foods and why are they so bad?

Answer: This type of farming is very toxic to our environment and uses unnatural ways to create a species. They use heavy pesticides and an herbicide chemical known as glyphosate to dry wheat faster and kill weeds. This chemical is also killing the nutrients in your food, and doesn’t come off your food once it’s settled. It’s not safe for consumption. Drones are used to farm these types of crops and covered suits are worn for worker protection while farming your food! This is all done to achieve a faster turnover of crops and cheaper prices. But, how cheap are you willing to go for cancer?

Question: I’ve been eating GMOs and conventional food my whole life, along with most of my friends and family. I have a lot of digestive issues and battle weight problems, as well as a lot of friends that have cancer and different diseases related to inflammation. Would GMOs contribute to this?

Answer: Eating pesticides and consuming glyphosate isn’t healthy, and there’s plenty of research online that’s proven how toxic it is. You can look at the cancer statistics, the dramatic rise of autoimmune diseases and the alarming rate of digestive and thyroid issues in the United States to see that GMOs are not contributing to better health. If food is your medicine, than this isn’t good medicine.

 Question: What foods have GMOs?

Answer: Most foods at high risk for GMOs include:

  • Soy (94% of U.S crops since 2011)
  • Corn (88% of U.S crops since 2011)
  • Sugar beets (95% OF U.S crops since 2011)
  • Alfalfa (First planting since 2011)
  • Canola (90% OF U.S crops since 2011)
  • Cotton (90% OF U.S. crops since 2011)
  • Zucchini and yellow summer squash (approx. 25,000 acres)

Less risk, but known to have GMOs:

  • Chard
  • Siberian Kale
  • Bok Choy
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Turnip
  • Squash
  • Flax
  • Rice
  • Wheat

Question: Where are most of these GMO foods hiding?

 Answer: All packaged foods that are not organic. You will also find them in most, if not all restaurants, unless it’s an all-organic and non-GMO supported establishment. This also includes food found at locations such as hospitals, schools, airplanes, hotels, theme parks, movie theaters, food trucks, catered businesses, nursing homes, daycares, work and church socials.

Some of the most common derived ingredients from GMO crops include: yeast products, xanthan gum, non-organic GMO vitamins, sucrose, vegetable protein, monosodium glutamate, maltodextrins, lactic acid, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, high fructose corn syrup, amino acids, aspartame, ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, vitamin C (non-organic and GMO), citric acid, sodium citrate, ethanol and flavorings (natural and artificial).

Question: How long have GMOs been in our Food Supply?

Answer: GMOs hit our grocery stores in 1994. In 1999, there were over 100 million acres worldwide planted with genetically modified seeds. After 1999, most of our main supply of conventional, non-organic crops have dominated our stores.

Question: How can I avoid GMOs?

Answer: There are many ways to avoid GMOs in your meals. Here are some guidelines:

  • Plan meals ahead.
  • Avoid going out to eat.
  • Avoid purchasing conventional foods.
  • Avoid packaged foods.
  • Avoid non-organic alcohol and wine.
  • Pack your lunches.
  • Buy mostly organic if possible.
  • Avoid non-organic vitamins.
  • Avoid all sodas.
  • Avoid using non-organic cotton on your face.
  • Choose European beers that label “non-GMO” since a lot of countries don’t allow GMOs in their food supply (even some restaurants and pubs now offer them).
  • If you dine out:
    • Choose foods that are not from the high-risk list.
    • Decline salad dressings at restaurants and use apple cider vinegar, if possible.
    • Order wild caught seafood and avoid most beef, chicken and pork unless organic. 13.
    • Get creative and google organic restaurants or health food stores in your area and while traveling. Think ahead and step out of the box.
  • If you’re in a long meeting, traveling or in a rush try to always have an organic, raw GMO- and gluten-free protein bar with you or pack organic plums, peaches, bananas and nuts.

Question: What are some possible symptoms of consuming toxic food over long periods of time?

Answer: Eating and consuming anything can have an instant, or cumulative, effect on the body, and can cause acute and chronic issues if toxic. Spanning the last 20 years, I gathered the below list of symptoms from people who consume non-organic foods on a regular basis.

Common related symptoms (when eating toxic foods) include: high estrogen levels, fatigue or brain fog, slow metabolism, slow digestion, liver problems, acne, headaches, depressed immune system, bad breath, joint inflammation, foul stools and constipation, cold sores, lower sex drive, depression, anger, thinning hair, cysts, fibroids, gallbladder problems, high glucose levels, early menopause, terrible PMS, exhaustion, poor sleep, inflamed or hardened abdomen, increased anxiety, liver spots, high blood pressure, back pain, kidney stones, skin tags, cellulite, flaccid or itchy skin and high cholesterol.

Question: I have some of the symptoms listed above. What happens if I don’t change my diet to start eating cleaner foods?

Answer: The final outcome varies based on your genes and how long you’ve been eating bad foods. Some people are willing to continue feeling less than healthy. They’ve submitted to taking prescription drugs to mask the warning signs, however, eventually the immune system will hit a wall and be open to various types of diseases related to the symptoms above.

Below is a complete list of diseases that I’ve seen repeatedly with my clients, and have increased in the last 10 years. I don’t think I go one week without hearing of someone having one of these listed below – it’s rather eye opening. When your immunity is low and you’re inflamed, you’re open to becoming a victim of many diseases.

Think how many people you know that have one or two people in their families with one of the following: lupus, thyroid cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, endometriosis, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, fibromyalgia, liver disease, Lyme disease, bipolar disease, arthritis, autism, multiple sclerosis, leukemia, allergies, heart disease, helicobacter pylori, sleep apnea, degenerative discs, peptic ulcers, obesity or lymphatic cancer.

Have your eyes been opened by this information? Do GMO and conventional foods scare you as much as they do me? Are you willing to power yourself up and make some changes? You can do this! It’s really simple.

You’ve read all this so far and have gained a little bit more knowledge … which is power. Doesn’t it feel good?! In my next blog post, we’ll look into what organic foods are. I can’t wait for you to learn more and wish I could grocery shop and cook with all of you. God bless!

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Combating Toxic Overload

When we’re healthy all of our body systems function in harmony. We have energy, sleep well, go to the bathroom easily, have a stable weight, good posture, upbeat attitude and are truly at peace. This is homeostasis.

When we become injured, or sick, the body becomes inflamed – working hard to repair itself and get back into balance. We begin to feel fatigued, constipated, overweight, grumpy, smelly, depressed and sick. If our tissues, digestive system, liver or immune system are all toxic and lacking nutrients, we will be prone to disease or bacteria, fungus and parasites. So, how do our bodies become overloaded with toxins? Through our food, the environment, poor cleansing and stress.

For the next four to twelve weeks , we’ll dive into how toxic overload occurs in the body. We’ll break down some of the contributing factors by exploring organic versus conventional (GMO*) foods, stress, water, alcohol and caffeine, heavy metals, prescription drugs, vitamins, synthetic versus organic (non-GMO) marijuana, parasites and mold/fungus/yeast.

We hope you stick with us on this journey to better health!

*Genetically-modified organisms.

 

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So glad you’re here!

 

 

Traffic, bills, work deadlines, screaming kids, a dirty house, long grocery lines, no sleep, tighter pants, back pain and no peace of mind…sound familiar? Do you need a moment to yourself? Do you want to scream, “Help!” 

Are you getting enough sleep and eating what you should? Who or what is taking you away from being the best you? How long would it take to clear your mind, clean your whole house, get in the best shape of your life, and take a long enough vacation where rest and fun was your only priority? How long would it take to catch up on work or those long lost friendships that you’re too busy to foster? When was the last time you spent hours just laughing and not thinking about where you had to be and what you had to do?

I know how you feel!

We have so many conveniences today, yet our to-do lists are longer than ever. Our bodies are fragile. Many different factors contribute to the stress and poor health that’s so common today, and the responsibilities of life can take a toll on all of us over time.

With more than 25 years of experience in the health and wellness industry, I’ve applied my passion and knowledge in a way that holistically helps people like you feel better. With a heart for helping those in need, I have dedicated my life to caring for and enabling people to increase their overall wellness through nutrition management, physical activity and massage therapy.

My expertise spans many important components of overall health and includes teaching group fitness classes and personal training; massage specialization in sports and Swedish massage, reflexology, myofascial release and trigger point therapy; organic cooking and nutrition management.

As your personal wellness partner, I invite you to learn how to be your own natural pharmacy right in your kitchen, get rid of pain, sleep better, maintain a healthy weight, lift depression from your mind, balance your hormones, have more energy and live a fuller life.

On a daily basis, I see and hear about various ailments and disease from people on my massage table. This blog shares information about foods that help heal and prevent inflammation, exercise tips on how to stay strong as you age, advice on food shopping and how stress impacts your body’s homeostasis.

You’ll also find resources such as my favorite articles along with guidance on how you can prevent health challenges from creeping up on you. My hope is that by keeping an open mind about new food, exercise, routines and ways of thinking, you’ll embrace these ideas. They will plant many good seeds in your life and, little by little, you’ll adopt a new way of living.

Hopefully, you’ll be as energized by my guidance as I am by sharing it with you. I dedicate this blog to you – for all of the things you will do as you become more educated and aware of the healthier life choices you can make. Please allow me to join you on your journey to wellness.

God bless and enjoy!