Saturday, January 21, 2012

31 Days to Better Health - Day 21

Aren’t weekends always the best part of every week?  I don’t even mind that our weather is icky.  I hope you are having an equally upbeat weekend too.

This morning we woke up to a light blanket of snow. I would guess we got about an inch of frozen precipitation, mostly snow. It was just enough to be pretty but not cause any serious problems.  However there was also freezing rain in the mix so we still opted to stay home since we knew the bridges would be slippery and many of the sidewalks in the neighborhood would not have been cleared.  Tomorrow the temperatures are supposed to climb so all the white stuff will be gone.

Speaking of white stuff, I heard from Christine at the marina this morning and she wanted me to know that she and Tim had shoveled our pier and specifically the smaller finger pier leading to our boat just in case we came to the marina today. Wasn’t that incredibly thoughtful of them?  It is good to remember that there are a lot of nice people in the world.  It really is a shame that the people that most of us focus on are the jerks.  *shakes head*

What have you thought of the posts so far this month? Do you have any favorites yet? The reason I am asking is so that I know what topics you would like me to write about in future posts.  For those of you who are just joining us here is the recap of what we have accomplished so far to remind us all of how much we have covered during the first 20 days of January:

Day 1 – Defined Success and What is/was Holding Us Back
Day 2 – Determined our Purpose and Looked at Passion
Day 3 – Listed Our Goals for January
Day 4 – Listed the Things We Have Needed to Work on for a While
Day 5 – Looked at Optimism vs. Pessimism and Fear vs. Intuition
Day 6 – Practiced Conscious Eating
Day 7 – Hara Hachi Bu
Day 8 – Taking the Stress Out of Meal Time
Day 9 – Acknowledgments
Day 10 – No Excuses, Do it Anyway
Day 11 – Is it True?
Day 12 – Have You Really Connected With Someone Today?
Day 13 – Motivation is a Decision
Day 14 - Successfully Navigating Dinner at an Unfamiliar Restaurant
Day 15 - What Do You Want, Have You Asked?
Day 16 – Treating Others as You Wish to be Treated
Day 17 – Food as a Budget
Day 18 – Silence Your Inner Critic
Day 19 – Replace I Have to With I Want to
Day 20 – Identifying Your Rituals

Did the post yesterday help you to identify your unhealthy rituals? I used to have many unhealthy rituals back in the bad old days.  I hope seeing all the things that I used to do wrong gives you hope that you can change too.  Sometimes I get the feeling that many of you think I came out of the womb healthy and nothing could be further from the truth. I used to be the average American just like you.  If you ever have any questions about my transition to a healthy plant-based whole food diet please ask. I am happy to help you any way that I can.

Face Your Fears:

We all have things that we are afraid of and that is good because fear is also what helps to keep us alive. If we didn’t have fear we would do stupid things like walk alone in bad neighborhoods or picking up strangers who were hitchhiking. Fear definitely serves a healthy purpose in life.  However as useful as fear is it can also limit our growth if it stops us from trying new things. I am going to use my life as an example so that you can learn from things I have done, both right and wrong. 

About a year ago I signed up for a nutrition program which was very different from anything that I ever thought I would do.  In case you hadn’t noticed I am extremely analytical (probably partly due to my education in finance).  Attending a program which was holistic was the last thing that I ever thought I would do and actually I was afraid to do it.  My husband knows me well and encouraged me to break out of my tight little analytical box.  He knows just what to say to me to get me to move.  His words of advice, “What is the worst that could happen that you don’t learn anything?”   Okay so I couldn’t actually argue with that logic so I signed up 2 days before the session started in January 2011.   In early December 2011, just before all the medical chaos starting swirling, I graduated from the Institute for IntegrativeNutrition (IIN) and now I am a health coach. What am I going to do with this?  Actually that is not fully defined yet but I am working on the specifics each day and when I know I will let you know.  But one thing I do know is that I am more convinced now than ever that I want to help people improve their health.  I know that here in the US we need to make serious lifestyle changes and if I can help anyone to improve their help I will be thrilled!

Earlier this week I signed up for Robbins-Madanes Strategic Intervention Training (  I decided to do this because I believe that where people need help making lifestyle changes isn’t as much with the specific dos and don’ts but it is putting those strategies and rules into practice.  Like I have said on the blog many times I think we all have a general idea what we need to do but we don’t know how to make it happen.  This was also something that Dan had to push me to do because again I wasn’t sure given how different this is from anything that I have ever studied before that this was going to work for me.  Are you starting to see the fear pattern in me?

Signing up for both IIN and RMT was way outside my comfort zone. To say that I was afraid to do this was an understatement. However I also realized that if I didn’t do I would remain afraid of doing things that were different from my experience to date.

These are not the only examples of things that I have been afraid to do there are many more these are just fairly recent.  When we first made the jump into veganism I was also afraid.  How would I know what to make for us to eat?  Would be get enough protein?  What do you vegans eat?  Will our friends think we have lost our last marble?  Will be ever be able to dine out again?  The funny thing is that other than learning to cook like this everything has been fine.  Now that I can make healthy food as easily as unhealthy food we have no difficulty eating at home or in a restaurant.  Sure our friends think we have gone over the edge but I am okay with that.  All I need to know is that we both feel good and other than the recent emergent medical event everything has been going well for us health wise. I still chuckle at the idea that I ever worried about getting enough protein.  I swear that we have all been brainwashed into thinking we need to consume animal products.  I often wonder if the beef or dairy council is behind it.

Every time I changed jobs in the past I was afraid.  What if I hated my new boss?  Maybe the staff I was inheriting would all quit to follow their prior boss.  What if things were too messed up for me to fix?  As you can tell I was very good at making stuff up?  Why do humans do things like this to themselves?

Many years ago I was afraid to get into a relationship with Dan. What if he was like my ex-husband and I ended up hurt again?  It took both of us years to actually commit to each other, we lived together but we didn’t marry because we were both afraid that this marriage would end poorly like both of our first marriages had.  In retrospect I can’t imagine my life with anyone other than Dan and I have no idea why it took me so long to stop being afraid of commitment the second time. But this is a great example of the problem with fear.  Had I never taken the risk I wouldn’t be married to my best friend today.

Do you see how fear can limit your choices if you let it?  Like I said earlier, fear definitely has a purpose but most of the time it isn’t our friend because it stops us from taking any risks even ones that can be good for us.  If we want to move forward in life, to continue to grow and learn we have to be willing to take the risk and face our fears.

What I want you to start thinking about is what are you afraid of?  I know there is at least one thing (probably many more) that you want to do but that fear is holding you back because to be afraid is human nature.  I have designed some questions to help you figure out what you want to do and why you aren’t doing it.  I will answer them too to give you an idea of what I am trying to get you to think about.

Today’s exercises are:

1.       What is something that you have wanted to do for a long time that you haven’t done because you are afraid of a possible bad outcome?  Maybe you want to lose weight but you think you have tried everything, except a diet like ours, and you know that you can’t do that because it is too limiting for you.  (Are you sure it is true? – you may want to reread day 11 of this series) 

Since I began taking courses at IIN I have been talking starting a business helping people to improve their health. As you all know health is something that I am extremely passionate about so this seems like a natural fit for me. But fear of not being perfect has been holding me back.  Today I decided to tell you all what is going on in my head in the hope that it will inspire you to break through your fear too.  Believe me when I tell you that sharing this part of me on the blog is definitely scary and now that is it “out there” all of you can, and hopefully will, hold me accountable.  *eek*  ;-)

2.       Describe at least 3 other times that you pushed through the fear that the situation turned out well.  If you want to describe more than 3 even better. The purpose to remind yourself that the little voice (the fear) is frequently wrong. Don’t let fear hold you back from becoming the best you possible.  You can use a lot more detail than I did I was just showing you some examples of things I was afraid of that worked out well.

·         Marrying Dan – that is an obvious one and I can’t imagine what life would be like now if I had not done this.  *shakes head*

·         Leaving healthcare finance – This was terrifying when I did it but one of the best decisions that I ever made.  Now I have no idea why I waited 2 decades to do it.

·         Starting the blog – Yes I was even afraid to start the blog initially.  I am not tech savvy like my husband so I felt like a fish out of water. Also I couldn’t imagine that anyone would want to read a blog about healthy cooking, particularly healthy vegan cooking.  I am very glad that I was wrong on all counts.

·         Taking course at e-Cornell, IIN and Robbins-Madanes – I can’t speak for the last one yet but I am happy that I did the other two.  Part of me thought I was too old to learn new things and I am happy that this was not true.  Additionally taking the first two courses clarified for me that I really do have a very good grasp of nutrition and that was huge for me.  Not to mention that IIN is pushing me out of my comfort zone and into business which I know that I will love once I break through my fears.

3.       How would your life be different if you pushed through the fear and did what scares you?

Darn I hate this question!  Since I have thought about this so much I can tell you all the possible pit falls and many of the benefits.  However since it does no good to continue to focus on the negatives I am only going to look at the potential upside which is:

·         I could help people improve their health and I can think of nothing that would be more meaningful to me.

·         I would be able to show people that they can eat a very healthy diet, inexpensively and easily and could tell them first-hand about the health benefits of such a change.

·         Knowing that I was helping others to avoid cancer, heart disease and diabetes through lifestyle change would make me feel as though I was making a positive impact on the world.  After all none of us want to think that our time on earth is for nothing.

·         I would like to be an active financial contributor to the family again.  Most of our relationship I made as much or more income than Dan so not contributing has been rough on my self-esteem.  I don’t think anyone wants to feel like they are a net drain.

·         I believe that I am fairly good at helping people to identify what is holding them back from making change and I think this is at least as important as giving them recipes, menus or lists of things to eat and to avoid.

·         I would feel better about myself if I knew I was helping people. Although I think that I am helping people with the blog without the interaction I am never certain.  It would be nice to have the one-on-one contact with people and to see and hear about their progress.

4.       Whatever you identified in item 1 above now you need to commit to taking the first step.  In order to hold yourself accountable I want you to tell someone what you have committed to do and when you will do it. 

·         I have been working on a separate website for my new business. I will be sharing that link with you on February 10th.  That will force me to get it finished and to put it out there for everyone.  I had originally planned to share it with you on February 1 but with all the time I am putting into writing the 31 days to better health series I don’t know that I can get if finished and be happy with it.  Wish me luck on this one.  With starting classes at RMT I have no idea how much time I will have.  Can you tell I am feeling pressure already?  LOL

Are you ready to tackle one of the things that you have been avoiding because of fear?  Just pick one thing that has been on your list for a while and jump in.  As my husband would say “what is the worst thing that could happen?”  In my mind the worst thing is always failure, but I am working hard to see that mistakes are nothing more than learning experiences and when we stop learning we also stop growing.

Good luck on taking your first step to breaking through something that scares you. I know you can do it.  If you want to share here what you are committing to do I think that would be fabulous. 

Progress on my goals:

1.       Newsletters – Friday was another productive day for me which feels great.  I love being able to see the progress that I am making.  *woo hoo*

2.       Body Bugg – I continue to wear my bugg and I have gotten back into using the way I had intended when I purchased it.  Go me!  J

3.       Date with Dan – The hubby and I have spent a lot of time together this week.  I am always surprised that after more than 2 decades we never run out of things to talk about.

4.        Measuring calorie dense food – I am making a little progress on this but I really need to focus on it with every veggie meal to help my body absorb the fat soluble vitamins.

5.       Working on my business – I spent a little time on my other website yesterday. I am making progress on it but I know that I need to just let it go as is at some point and stop trying for perfection which isn’t possible.

How are you feeling about your progress so far?  I always feel like my progress is slower than I would like it to be. However I trying to focus on the fact that there is progress and that Rome wasn’t built in a day.  ;-)  Are you starting to see how my little inner perfectionist creeps into every facet of my life? 

Random Thoughts:

I am always surprised by some of the Google searches that bring people to the blog. One that I saw last night seemed particularly relevant so I wanted to write a little something about it.  The search was “how long after going vegan do you see results”.  Since I am not certain which specific results this person was wondering about I will simply tell you about our experience.

We made the transition from omnivore to vegan but it wasn’t vegan like we are now. Initially when we went vegan we still ate oil (but in moderation), salt (again in moderation) and we consumed a lot of starchy carbs like pasta, bread, etc.  Even with this less healthy diet there were tremendous results in three weeks.  My husband total cholesterol dropped from approximately 260 to 160 in literally three weeks.  I would have thought this was a fluke but Dan’s cholesterol has remained at this level or lower ever since.

In addition to the rapid drop in cholesterol there were other changes which we experienced these included:  blood pressure reduction, elimination of seasonal allergies, weight loss and dramatic improvement in our gastrointestinal health and all of them happened in a matter of weeks not months.  The first couple of weeks there were headaches and an increase in skin problems (rashes and acne) but those went away in less than a month. None of these side effects were bad enough that I wouldn’t go through them again.  The headaches were mild and did not impact my ability to function.  I am not certain but I suspect the headaches and skin problems were how my body was eliminating accumulated toxins.  I hope that gives you an idea about what you can expect from dietary change like ours.


Have you made any progress writing acknowledgements?  I hope are working on this exercise. I find that it helps me stay positive and recognize the things that I do every day.  Here are my acknowledgements:

·         Friday was productive at my house and that felt good.  I got a little cooking done which was nice.  I also spend some time studying and I love to do that so it was a very good day all around for me.

·         Yesterday (Friday) was the first day Dan was out of my sight other than when he was sleeping at the hospital and I was home.  I was surprised that I was able to stay as calm as I did. Apparently my meditation has more of a calming influence over me than I ever expected.

·         I was very happy to see the comment from Susan yesterday about sticking with her healthy eating goals this year.  I love to hear that people are making progress and I am thrilled to play a small part in that progress. Thanks for sharing that with us Susan. You can expect me to write a post about cheese very soon just for you.  ;-)  I used to ADORE cheese and considered myself a “cheese-aholic” so I can definitely relate to your dilemma.  Trust me you can give up cheese as impossible at that seems.  I never thought that I could and I have gotten to the point that I not only don’t miss it but I wouldn’t eat it unless there was literally no other food on earth.  How is that for a turnaround? There really is hope for you too.  J

·         I made smoky mushrooms yesterday without an indoor smoker and they turned out fine. I love it when I take a recipe and simply the method so anyone can make it.  Go me!

·         It is wonderful to know that we have a big jar (literally 64 ounces) of split pea soup in the refrigerator.  There is nothing more comforting that bean soup on a cold snowy winter day.  Yay me for planning!


Breakfast for Dan was his favorite smoothie with frozen banana, frozen cherries, raw kale, walnuts, ground flaxseeds, cocoa, cinnamon, stevia and enough water for it to process. As cold as it was outside I was surprised the he wanted this but he did.

I made myself a salad that was very similar to the pasta dish we had for dinner the night before. The salad included:  baby spinach, shredded carrot, walnut sauce with sriracha, and cilantro. 

Lunch for me was leftover veggie sushi which Dan brought home from Jesse Wong’s.  My hubby knows how much I love veggie sushi so he brought it for me even though he didn’t know that I wanted it.  Dan is a good husband.  J

Before dinner Dan and I went for a nice walk through the neighborhood. It was great to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.  I always enjoy how different the neighborhood looks by foot instead of by car.  Here in America I don’t think that most of us spend enough time walking.

Dinner for us was a very simple meal of whole wheat pasta, frozen organic veggies (corn, carrots, peas and green beans), topped with tomato mushroom sauce and finished with pine nuts. This meal came together in the time it took to cook the pasta. Sometimes even I am not in the mood to cook.  ;-)

Happy thoughts:

Have you gotten into the habit of writing your happy thoughts?  I find it helpful to remind myself how often things go well and that I shouldn’t take these things for granted.  Here are my happy thoughts:

·         Dan’s temperature is still normal and he continues to feel more like himself.    He was even out shoveling the sidewalk this morning after our overnight “snow event”.  Things are definitely returning to normal around here. When he came in from shoveling I did make him a triple earl grey green tea with fresh orange juice to help him warm up.  I wanted to go outside and do the shoveling but he wouldn’t let me.  Sometimes my hubby can be as stubborn as me.  ;-)

·         Dan really had a good time with Dan Jr. at lunch.  The boys are going to try to get together for lunch at least once a month going forward which I think sounds great. 

·         I am also happy for sushi for lunch yesterday.  It wasn’t only because I love sushi but because my husband proactively thought to bring me sushi.  I really did marry the right guy for me didn’t I?

·         I have been enjoying the first four videos on the RMT training. They are definitely outside my comfort zone but I think that is great.  I was telling Dan last night that I will need to watch them a few more times so that I can “embody” what they are trying to teach me. However I love to learn so I don’t mind a bit.

·         I am also looking forward to part 2 of the IIN training starting in March.  Yes I will be doing two programs at once (RMT and IIN Immersion), daily exercise, daily meditation, daily uplifting reading, staying current with nutrition research, starting a business, continuing to work with my current clients, taking care of my family (Dan, fur children and my parents), working on the blog, developing new recipes and getting in some much needed boat time for R&R. You did know that I was a glutton for punishment didn’t you?  If anyone tells you that retirement is boring don’t believe them!  I have heard it said before that if you are bored it is because you are boring and I think there is a measure of truth to that.   I hope that seeing what I do every day will inspire a few of you to get into the kitchen and cook a little more often.  While I may not have a “traditional’ 9-5 job I am definitely not lounging around either. 

·         Dan is going to work on putting together a walking desk for me so that I can study and get exercise. Isn’t he a sweetie pie?  I really do have the best husband in the entire world.  Of course I am not the least bit biased.  LOL

Signing Out:

 I love how snow makes everything look so clean and bright.  Snow is really beautiful especially when you can enjoy it from inside the comfort of your warm house.  I thought we weren’t going to get any measurable snow this winter so I was happy to see it finally arrive.  Winters here are always late.  We tend to get most of our snow in February so there is still time for us to get a little more.  I would like to see that happen but I would prefer it to happen on the weekend so that I didn’t need to worry about hubby trying back and forth to work in it. 

If any of you have any questions about IIN be sure to ask.  You can send me an email at or you can comment here.  It would probably be easier for us to talk by phone so that you can get all your questions answered if that works for you. Send me an email so that we can exchange phone numbers and set up a time to chat.

For now I have to run, I have lots to do.  It is time for me to get productive. As you now know I have many things on my to-do list and there never seems to be enough time in the day to get to all of them the way that I would like to.  I think there is truth to the saying that if you need something done give it to the busy person since they always find time for things. 

Enjoy the rest of your Saturday!  If you have anything fun planned I would love to hear about it.  My weekend will be a lot of work.  Talk with you again soon!

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