I’ve never been one to hide my age. It’s just a number and our age really doesn’t define us in our abilities to achieve whatever we want. I turned 46 years of age this last June and to be quite honest, I don’t know what 46 is suppose to feel like, but I feel fricking great! The past 2 ½ years has been a huge transitional time in my life. I adapted a whole foods and plant-based lifestyle, I went vegan, I started a new business, I overcame some chronic health issues, and my perception of life and the reason why I’m here has become more clear to me now than it ever was.
When I was in my 20’s, the thought of turning age ‘40’, meant to me that is was the middle of the road, my metabolism would slow down, premenopausal symptoms would appear, and it was time to start thinking about taking it easy. Well, I have to admit, I am moving FULL SPEED AHEAD! My energy level has sky rocketed, in fact, I get up earlier now than what I did 10 years ago, and I get more accomplished in a day with the absence of caffeine (I’ve actually never tried coffee -LOL!). I don’t worry about the future (even though I do prepare for it) and my life goals have shaped me to be a more compassionate person. So where did all of this ‘so called’ energy come from and why now after 20+ years of trying to get a sculpted body that it has become so much easier to achieve with less exercise? It’s not what you think. There’s no magic diet (never been on a diet), no fad fitness program, and no counting calories. In fact, I don’t remember being so happy and focused. Here’s my secret.
I took up meditation almost 10 years ago. I was working in a corporate job and even though I made good money, I had no life, I felt stressed every day, and I dreaded going to work every day. I knew a woman who for several years was trying to get me to meditate. You see, the internal chatter in my head would not turn off. I wasn’t sleeping, my health was going downhill, the stress was mounting, and I felt like my life was spiraling out of control until I made the decision to try meditating. I have to be honest with you, it wasn’t instant success. In fact, I remember the first session I had with this women, I was sitting on a couch in her office with the both of us meditating together. I opened my eyes and as I watched her, I thought to myself, ‘who sits for this long without doing or thinking anything?’ Relaxing is not my forte so I knew I had a big challenge ahead of me. I did six sessions with her and even though my stress didn’t go away instantly I did feel much more relaxed after each session, happier, and slept better.
Sometimes our bodies can self heal through self-repair. It’s these self-repair mechanisms within our bodies that have broken down due to stress that many of us experience in every day life. When we counter balance the relaxation technique of meditation by fighting illnesses and disease, the body can learn to heal itself. Finding 20 minutes in my day to meditate is my priority, even over my workouts.
It might sound as a cliché but meditation has truly changed my life. I constantly had that internal chatter going on in my head and no matter how hard I tried make it disappear, it always found a way to come back. Meditation has calmed that chatter but it also helped me deal with any anxiety I was experiencing. My sleep improved significantly, and I use meditation as a tool to answer questions of how I wanted to move forward in my life. Today, it provides me with clarity that I never had before.
When I went through some health issues a couple of years ago, I faced some tough questions. How could I be sick when I thought I was so physically fit? I dug deep to find the answers and realized that the power of the mind can really have a positive influence on our bodies and the outcome on our health. We train our bodies through exercise to strengthen our cardiovascular system, muscles, bones, ligaments, etc. We train our brain to strengthen our consciousness, sub-consciousness, and our most complex muscle, the brain. The two go hand in hand. Meditation is not a replacement for physical exercise but rather a supplement.
Some people might think that not eating meat, dairy, eggs, and cheese is extreme, but the thought of eating a dead animal, wearing a dead animal, or watching an animal in a zoo or circus for my own selfish reasons is beyond comprehension. I’ve realized that all species on this planet are here for one reason, to live their lives free and peacefully. We can all exist on this planet together but we just haven’t learned how to do that yet and I am hopeful that it will happen.
I want to be honest with my feelings in this blog post but I have to tell you that being vegan is emotionally exhausting. You deal with grief on a daily basis both off-line and on-line by being challenged, questioned by others, laughed at, yelled at, and being told that you will never change the world. Some days it gets to you but for the most part, you learn to move on and just let it go. It didn’t happen at first but after about a year, I felt this insatiable need to do more and being vegan just wasn’t enough. I knew this was part of my calling.
Becoming vegan has created a purpose for me. Sometimes we wait to see what are calling is in life, but I believe that we have more than one calling, multiple purposes that make us feel whole and complete. I’ve realized that the greatest gift we can give to ourselves, is to give back to others. Forcing my beliefs upon others is not my intention but rather taking the opportunity to educate people on how their actions can better the planet for all species and their own health. Every day I feel so proud to not only make people healthier, but save the lives of innocent animals, and make the world a better place solely through my own actions. This feeling alone can’t measure up to any amount of money, power, or stature. These things don’t define who we are but rather the change we bring upon in this world in a positive manner.
Going vegan and living green go hand in hand. If you have seen the vegan slogan, ‘Compassion, non-violence, for the people, for the planet, for the animals,’ it represents everything in this world that matters to me. You see, we are all here for one sole purpose; to live our lives freely and happy just like every other species. Our choices in life not only affect other people but they affect the lives of all living creatures and our planet. I can’t be responsible for the choices other people make but I can lead by example in how I live my life every day.
I’m very diligent of not only what I put into my body what I put on it. I ensure that all the products that I use are vegan, and environmentally friendly. If I don’t understand an ingredient in a product, I do the research, and I ask the questions to ensure that it’s the best choice not just for myself, but the planet. Art and I are working hard at reducing waste and are currently putting out trash once every three months with trying to extend it to 6 months. We are currently looking into solar panels, electric car, and looking into a greenhouse down the road to grow our own food all-year long. We use rain-water to water our gardens, take shorter showers, hang our clothes on a clothesline, and are growing more food in our garden each and ever year. It may sound like baby steps, but they are steps in the right direction.
I believe if we all share ideas and work together of how we can help each other out, the world will be a much better place for generations to come.
Whole & Plant-Based Foods
By far, this has had the most impact on my life in terms of my health. I suffered from chronic IBS for over 20 years, I developed GERD, and then I had my cervix removed with a potential hysterectomy before I put a stop with it. My transition to a whole and plant-based foods lifestyle has been that of a slow one but impactful at that. After being hospitalized for GERD (I had no idea I had it), I had a doctor told me that giving up meat (I wasn’t eating that much of it to begin with) and processed foods would significantly alter the symptoms in a positive way. Not only did the GERD never come back but my IBS symptoms almost disappeared.
Then we made the transition to be vegan, not just for our health, but the for the animals, and the planet. Giving up the food I was so accustomed to was easy knowing that I was no longer responsible for the pain and suffering of innocent animals. What I didn’t know is the significant impact it would have on my health. My IBS symptoms completely disappeared and giving up dairy ended any potential of major surgery. Today, Art and I spend much of our time focusing on our 3000 square foot organic vegetable garden. I can’t say we are experts on gardening but we are enjoying the process of learning more about growing our own food and living off of our land. Our hopes are that someday we will be living entirely off of what we grow all year long.
Exercise to Move, Not to Lose
I was taught in school a long time ago that calories in equals calories out. Science today proves that theory wrong. We still need to exercise but not all calories are equal. What I mean by this is that nutrient dense food such as whole foods serve a purpose to our body to help fight disease, energize us, and keep us youthful. When you put processed, refined and animal products into our bodies, there is no value to our health by consuming them. These foods only weaken us, make us sick, and destroy our planet.
Today I exercise to challenge myself. I only do cardio for 30 minutes/fives times a week unless I’m training for a race. I incorporate weight training into my schedule for half of the year to build up some muscle mass and spend the other half of the year maintaining it. You see, I don’t want to spend a lot of time exercising as I have busy life just like everyone else. However, I maximize my time with my workouts by spending less time on cardio by balancing out my workouts with fun, creativity, and challenging exercises.
Being outdoors is more important now than it was before. I can’t wait to go for a hike with my dog, paddle a kayak or canoe with my husband or step on a SUP board and do a mini-workout. Sure I want to keep my weight in check, but I realize the importance of food and it’s role in my weight. If you want to quantify and measure the effects of weight loss, I have to tell you, my body fat and weight have dropped significantly after adapting a whole foods and plant-based lifestyle. I have dropped two dress sizes, and I workout less than I did 10, 15, 20, 25 years ago and the weight stays off.
The Power of Food!
Living the Simple Life
Since my move to the country almost five years ago, my life has truly slowed down. I have decluttered my life to fill it with things that really matter like time with my husband, my dogs, my family, my friends, being active outdoors, or simply just taking time to sit back with a glass of wine and reflect without the distractions of possessions. People who visit our home may think it’s small compared to most homes these days, but it’s enough for the two of us. I’d rather share a small space with the people I love instead of having wasted space in my home that never gets used. I like to keep my life simple. So what does the simple life really mean? Today I want to share with you on what it means to me.
- Letting go of something you love for one month to see whether you need it or want it as there is a difference. Early we went to basic cable and I realized how much time I wasted watching the lives of fictional characters. We eventually went back to a package but I rarely watch tv now. Instead I will watch documentaries and get educated.
- I get up earlier in the morning. I’m still not a morning person but now I schedule in time to meditate and write in my journal. It’s such a great way to start my day.
- Not shopping for therapy or boredom. I actually dislike clothes shopping now (I honestly don’t know anything about fashion —-I wish I did) and have for several years. I only replace clothing in my closet if it’s something that is very worn.
- Eat whole and plant-based foods. They do taste great and it is a pleasure to eat these foods when they are scarce in many parts of the world.
- Date day/night! We’re not fans of going to the movies or eating out. We like to stay active so we always try to find something that involves being active or we cook together in the kitchen. It’s about spending time together not spending lots of money.
- Getting active outdoors. Going for a nature hike, bike ride, or just walking on the beach somewhere. Getting back to nature to appreciate the great outdoors and everything it has to offer us.
- Buying things to make you happy. We have very little ‘stuff’ in our home. I don’t collect anything but memories. I only purchase what is necessary.
- Using the good china for a special occasion. Shouldn’t every day you’re alive be a special occasion? I have one set of china and I use it every day. Today is just as important as my birthday and Christmas.
- Overcommitting. Learning to say ‘no’ to others can be very difficult sometimes. We want to please everyone but we take away a part of ourselves by taking on too much. Give up the coaching, extra jobs you don’t really need, and instead spend time with the people you love. Money can’t buy happiness and time. You can never get back time.
- One day a week where you have an unstructured day. I’m a big planner but every Sunday, I don’t plan anything. I don’t go on social media, and I don’t check emails. Sometimes I watch a movie, sometimes I cook all day in my kitchen, and other times I go out for the day. It’s my ‘ME’ day. Monday morning I feel so refreshed after letting go the day before.
As I get older, I realize the importance of time. It’s our most precious commodity. Things that were important to me five years ago, no longer serve a purpose to myself. I don’t waste time. Muhammad Ali has a quote ‘Don’t count the days, make the days count.’ We are always waiting for tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year to complete a task, finish a course, or stay at a job that no longer serves us. Instead, we should embrace the journey and learn the lesson of where we are in the moment.
Being and feeling young is about feeling great about yourself and knowing that you are doing the right thing not just for yourself but everyone around you. I’m so looking forward to all the new possibilities coming my way to make the world a better place for all living creatures. Bring on 50!
Eat Clean & Live Green!
Your Compassionate Coach,