Keeping warm and stress free

When the weather turns colder and the north wind starts to blow, my focus turns to baking. Baking is a stress reliever for me. I love to try new recipes and re-do recipes into a healthier version. I don’t necessarily like to eat all the baked goods – a nibble here and there – but I do like the stress relief of following a recipe, making up a new recipe and sharing – the most important part of baking – with family, friends and co-workers.

Stress, as I’ve talked about before, manifests itself in many different ways in your body. It can make you achy and tired. It can make you angry and frustrated. It can make you sad and depressed. It can cause a host of health issues that are discovered many years later after the stress has built up in your body and never released.

As the weather turns colder, we are faced with many different holidays, that come with family obligations. Sometimes this is a stress producer for some whereas it is a stress reliever to others. Cold weather and darker days may also be a trigger for stress in some people, whereas others embrace the cold days and the outdoor activities that they are now able to take part in. Still others, enjoy the darker, colder days as a chance to do things indoors that they’ve not had time for in the warmer months.

Whatever season you enjoy, whatever activities you do that keep you stress free and healthy, are important to continue each week. One of my favorite activities that helps keep stress at bay is yoga and meditation. Even for 10 minutes a day, the results are amazing! I encourage you to try it if you’ve not already. And I encourage you to put yourself first and always find time for the things that help you maintain balance and peace in your life.

And of course, baking is another way that I keep stress at bay. A special cake recipe that I enjoy making for my family is below. Feel free to change it up however you want. I use greek yogurt for the sour cream and egg whites for whole eggs. I also have put in bananas and almond flour to make it healthier….but not every time! I hope you enjoy sharing this recipe with your family and friends as much as I do!

Sour Cream Bundt Cake
1 and 1/4 cups of sugar (I tend to lower this amount)
2 sticks butter, softened
2 eggs (or 4 egg whites)
1 8 oz carton of sour cream (or Greek Yogurt)
2 cups flour (or 1.5 cups of flour and .5 cups of Almond flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350
Grease a bundt cake pan
Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (I add crushed pecans in the bottom for a crunchy topping)
Mix butter and sugar together until creamy
Add eggs and sour cream
Add Flour
Stir in baking soda and vanilla until mixed well
Pour HALF the batter into the bundt cake pan
Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (I add mini chocolate chips here)
Spoon the rest of the batter into the pan
Bake 45 minutes. Allow to cool (lol – right?)

Below is another recipe book that I like to use with some really good recipes!

Remember wherever you are, whatever you do – find something that keeps you sane, happy and stress free. Peace.

Rocking your way to health

Did you know?
In 1955, former US president John F Kennedy was prescribed a rocking chair by his doctor to alleviate his chronic back pain. JFK found it so effective that he took one on Air Force One, used one at Camp David and also on his family estate. JFK’s doctor was on to something, because research shows rocking has some surprising benefits for both physical and mental health. In terms of physical benefits, the action engages the thigh and abdominal muscles to provide a mild form of exercise, increases circulation and improves knee strength and flexibility. But it’s the effects of the rhythmic motion that offer the most interesting benefits.

**Sitting in a rocking chair is relaxing, rejuvenating and calming all at once, and there’s science to prove it.

**A two-year study from the University of Rochester in the US found that the repetitive action of using a rocking chair helped ease anxiety and depression, improve balance and reduce the need for pain medication.

**Rocking chair therapy has been used for easing lower back pain, constipation, abdominal pain from C-sections and bowel dysfunction following surgery.

**Sufferers of vertigo and bouts of dizziness may also benefit from time in a rocking chair.

**The light exercise that occurs when using a rocking chair burns calories, improves knee extension and strengthens hand muscles.

Now would I say to give up your regular exercise and rock your way to fitness? Not at certain ages – but what I WILL say is ANYTHING that is able to help you with stress and anxiety, with low back pain and pain in general, or with balance or recovering from surgery is something you should try! I’m sold on the benefits of rocking, not only for adults but for children as well. Check out some wonderful rockers for all below. Have a wonderful day. I’m going to go rock while I read. Peace.

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YOUR Growth Mindset

May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. Wouldn’t it be lovely if life was always wonderful and positivity was embedded into your daily life?

You know – it CAN be. It just depends on how you view your life. We choose how we view ourselves, our days, our weeks, our year, our friends, our work, our interactions with strangers. WE choose our reactions to all of this. Approaching life positively will build more positivity throughout your interactions with others AND yourself and allow you to GROW in ways you can’t even imagine right now. You can’t be positive about life and you can’t grow if you don’t start with you. You need to choose to put yourself first and do what you need to do in order to have the road rise up to meet YOU and the wind always at YOUR back and the sun shining warm on YOUR face and the rain falling softly on YOUR fields.

Where do you start if you’re not there yet? How do you change and grow to get to THERE? What do you want to do? Provide for yourself and your family? Become healthy? Exercise for strength and independence? What do you need to do to get there? What obstacles are in your path? How can you remove them? Could your MIND be the obstacle?

Many time the obstacles we face are ones we’ve created for ourselves in our minds. We make excuses on a daily basis as to why we can’t do something…..why we can’t achieve what we want….why we have to stay in the job we are doing…..why we can’t get healthy……why we don’t eat nutritious foods……why we get mad, sad, upsert, etc…..we get into a mindset that brings us down instead of encouraging us to reach for the stars. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do – focus on what you can do and start engaging your mind in a GROWTH mindset. You have to believe in your abilities and believe each and every day that you can develop those abilities and strengthen them through dedication and hard work. Brains and talent = your starting point but what you DO with those is the beginning of YOUR growth mindset.

So how do you develop this type of mindset that will take you to positivity and growth and opportunities that you can’t even imagine yet?

1. Acknowledge and embrace imperfections.
Hiding from your weaknesses means you’ll never overcome them.

2. View challenges as opportunities.
Having a growth mindset means relishing opportunities for self-improvement.

3. Try different learning tactics.
There’s no one-size-fits-all model for learning. What works for one person may not work for you. Learn about learning strategies.

4. Follow the research on brain plasticity.
The brain isn’t fixed; the mind shouldn’t be either.

5. Replace the word “failing” with the word “learning.”
When you make a mistake or fall short of a goal, you haven’t failed; you’ve learned.

6. Stop seeking approval.
When you prioritise approval over learning, you sacrifice your own potential for growth.

7. Value the process over the end result.
Intelligent people enjoy the learning process, and don’t mind when it continues beyond an expected time frame.

8. Cultivate a sense of purpose.
Keep the big picture in mind.

9. Celebrate growth with others.
If you truly appreciate growth, you’ll want to share your progress with others.

10. Emphasise growth over speed.
Learning fast isn’t the same as learning well, and learning well sometimes requires allowing time for mistakes.

11. Reward actions, not traits.
Tell yourself when you are doing something smart, not just being smart.

12. Redefine “genius.”
The myth’s been busted: genius requires hard work, not talent alone.

13. Portray criticism as positive.
You don’t have to use that hackneyed term, “constructive criticism,” but you do have to believe in the concept.

14. Disassociate improvement from failure.
Stop assuming that “room for improvement” translates into failure.

15. Provide regular opportunities for reflection.
Reflect on your learning at least once a day.

16. Place effort before talent.
Hard work should always be rewarded before inherent skill.

17. Highlight the relationship between learning and “brain training.”
The brain is like a muscle that needs to be worked out, just like the body.

18. Cultivate grit.
Students with that extra bit of determination will be more likely to seek approval from themselves rather than others.

19. Abandon the image.
“Naturally smart” sounds just about as believable as “spontaneous generation.” You won’t achieve the image if you’re not ready for the work.

20. Use the word “yet.”
Whenever you are struggling with a task, tell yourself you haven’t mastered it yet.

21. Learn from other people’s mistakes.
It’s not always wise to compare yourself to others, but it is important to realise that humans share the same weaknesses.

22. Make a new goal for every goal accomplished.
You’ll never be done learning. Growth-minded people know how to constantly create new goals to keep themselves stimulated.

23. Take risks in the company of others.
Stop trying to save face all the time and just let yourself goof up now and then. It will make it easier to take risks in the future.

24. Think realistically about time and effort.
It takes time to learn. Don’t expect to master every topic under the sun in one sitting.

25. Take ownership over your attitude.
Once you develop a growth mindset, own it. Acknowledge yourself as someone who possesses a growth mentality and be proud to let it guide you throughout your educational career.

It’s not about how good you ARE – it’s about how good you WANT to BE! Start your journey. Peace.

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May your day be touched
by a bit of Irish luck,
brightened by a song in your heart,
and warmed by the smiles
of the people you love.

September Swan Song


September always reminds me of that old Frank Sinatra song called September Song. “Oh, it’s a long, long way from May to December but the days grow short, when you reach September….” and boy do they!

It usually hits me mid September. All of the sudden the dark night comes sooner, the temperatures drop and the leaves start falling. And I always think back to May – when it seems like the whole entire summer, with sunny days and hot nights – was spread out ahead of me – like a sparkly fan filled with warmth, sun, sand, water and relaxation. Working during the summer never feels like work because the sky is blue and the weather is warm. I always enjoy it no matter what I am doing. But then September hits. A beautiful month but one that signals the end of summer and the beginning of the march towards WINTER!

Each year I try and steel myself for the inevitable cold that will start. I seriously do not like the cold. -40 below with the wind chill is never fun. BUT even though I don’t like to be OUT in the elements I still find joy in the season. For instance, I love cooking in the crock pot – something I do not do in the warmer months. I love going to the apple orchard and bringing home my favorite apples to store and eat through November. I love baking bread and cakes. I love trying new recipes for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. I love making hot wassail cider – see my favorite recipe here: I love having my children visit. I love putting up Christmas decorations. I love sitting and reading while hearing the cold wind outside. I love the first snowfall. I love making snow angels in the snow. I love wearing cozy clothes and warm boots.

So really, for all the things I dislike about the winter season – basically the cold and darkness – there is so much MORE I like about it. It seems that’s the way with life. We can get caught up in the negatives of what we don’t like about a season, a situation, a job, a relationship, really anything – that we fail to step back and think about what we REALLY like about it. So this is my challenge for you. When you get caught up in the negatives of life, realize that the stress of the negatives impacts your health and in order for you to take charge of your health – you need to think about positives that are within that negative situation. Take a moment and write down what you like about the situation you are in – even if it’s only ONE thing that you like – it’s still a positive and one that can help you change your mindset about something that was negative to something that IS positive. By doing this you embrace the positives of life in any situation and become less stressed and more thankful; less depressed and more hopeful; less dependent and more independent. Take charge of your life and look at the positives. Peace.


I never thought I would…..

fitness 2

I never thought I would write a post about doing LESS exercise but it’s happening. There is a time and place for everything. We need to make sure that we are listening to our bodies and interpreting the signs and signals that its sending us for optimal health and fitness.

Remember what it feels like when you have a cold coming on? You feel a tickle in the back of your throat. You maybe have a slight headache or start sneezing more. You connect the dots and realize that you are coming down with a cold and you make adjustments to take it easy and slow down so your body can recover. Same with the flu or other viruses that we are exposed to. We tend to slow down when we feel those symptoms come on but that’s not what we do when we are healthy and exercising. In fact, I’d argue that sometimes we push ourselves so we are more susceptible to those germs that will put us on the sideline for awhile. And, if the truth be told, we tend to keep our level of activities going throughout each decade, never changing our rhythm, ignoring our body signals that are trying to tell us to take a break and eventually, having a health moment that puts us out of commission for awhile.

Have you ever continuing running through that pain in your knee or quad? Have you pushed yourself to finish an aerobics class even when you feel that cold coming on? Do you tell yourself just one more rep before you collapse on the floor?

If that’s you then it’s time to think about what your body is telling you for optimal health. Many times we push ourselves beyond what we should and end up depleting our energy reserves and increasing our chances for sickness, muscle strains and tears and a variety of injuries that could have been avoided. I encourage you to think of functional fitness and re-think your fitness activities to train your body for optimal health and fitness in each decade of your life. What do you need to be able to do? Reaching, squatting, lifting, holding, walking, etc….are all activities we need to be able to continue to do. Working our muscles with our own body weight is an excellent way to get in shape and stay in shape. Overdoing with heavy weights can increase your chances of muscle tears and strains that weaken the ligaments and place you in harms way for future injuries.

So as you go into Fall, the upcoming Holidays, the cold winter months (if you live somewhere cold) and back to school if you are a student or teacher – remember to listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs. It will tell you when to stop. It will tell you when to rest. It will tell you when to push yourself. Listen. Be smart. Be healthy. Be fit. Peace.

The Life vs Time Issue

This post is for all ages who are stuck in a mindset of what they should do or where they should be at certain time in their lives. We all read about it, hear about it, live it on a daily basis – plan, plan, plan for retirement! Plan for health insurance! Plan for horrible things that COULD happen! And sometimes those alarming headlines make us feel stressed, anxious, stuck in a never ending pattern of going to the same job every day in order to collect the paycheck that will help us towards retirement, help us pay for health insurance,and help us deal with horrible things that COULD happen. BUT at what cost is this never ending barrage of headlines doing to our minds, our bodies, our lives?

Who has ever said or thought about going somewhere, doing something, buying something, only to think I will do it later when I have more money? Money is a means to an end. It helps us pay daily bills but when it bogs us down by infringing on our TIME and when we allow it to be in charge of our TIME – that’s when health issues can occur because of stress and anxiety about money!

We need to take back our TIME and be in charge of the ONE life we have. That life is made up of seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years. Are we making the most of the time we have? We can always find ways to make a little extra money – whether that is cutting back on unnecessary expenses, finding a part time job, downsizing from a larger house to a smaller house, consolidating autos down to one instead of two, wearing an extra sweater and turning down the heat…..lots of things that can be down to find a little extra money BUT we can’t find TIME again. We can’t get the TIME back that we’ve used. We have no do overs in life. This is your life. This is the ONLY one you get. Make the most of it physically, mentally, socially and most importantly, presently – be present, enjoy your time, be in control of your time and live your ONE and only life to the fullest. Peace.

Is your personality causing health issues?

I’ve worn a lot of hats in my work life. I am or have been an exercise instructor, yoga instructor, personal trainer, children’s program coordinator, senior exercise instructor, Title III program coordinator, English as a Second Language teacher, health endorsement trainer, University adjunct professor and of course, mom!

With all of those hats, throughout my life, I’ve striven to give everything 110% and, as my family tells me, I’m a bit of a Type A personality. What are the different types of personality? And what are you? And how does that impact your health?

Type A tends to be aggressive, ambitious, controlling, competitive, a workaholic and lacks patience. Type A personalities may be at risk for heart issues and stress related illness.

Type B tends to be relaxed, less stressed, flexible, emotional and expressive, and have a laid-back attitude. Type B personalities do not run the risk of stress related illnesses or risk factors connected to coronary due to personality.

I am definitely a workaholic but that is because there always seems to be something to do to make tomorrow easier. I used to always bring work home. I was working until 9 or later just to get a head start on the next day. I always thought that doing this would make me less stressed and even more productive the next day. But you know what? It doesn’t matter if you do everything in advance – there is ALWAYS something to do tomorrow. In all my years of working, all the preparations for school, all the meetings, book studies, classes for renewal of licenses, etc….I would work extra hard to keep ahead of everything only to find out that there was still just as much to do the next day, even though I’d pushed myself the previous day – stressed myself out – to get more done.

The moral of my story here is that if you are driven, if you are a Type A personality, you might want to take a page from Type B’s book. Pushing yourself to do more, be more, work more, etc….can push you over the edge and into a negative health event.

We only have one life. Make it the best one. Give yourself a gift and slow down, enjoy the ride, take breaks, and know that work will be there tomorrow and the next day and the next. Don’t bring work with you on your breaks, vacations, evenings. It’s important for your health to give yourself downtime and allow your mind to think of other things besides work. Put yourself first – not your job.

Here’s to a work week that is productive but not overpowering. Here’s to a weekend that is slow and easy and here’s to a life that is stress free and empowering. Peace.

Taking it all on…..!

Have you ever taken on someone else’s stress under the guise of helping them? A friend asks for help and you jump onboard, hoping to help alleviate their stress but unintentionally taking it all on? Sound familiar? Are you one of the helpers? One of the yes people who continually say yes to other people’s dilemmas thinking you can figure it all out, save them and have it all wrapped up and tied with a bow, happy feelings all around?

Stress is a killer – no matter if it’s your own stress or stress that you are taking on for someone else. Stress comes in many forms and can happen in many places – home, work, friend circles, finances, you name it – stress can rear its ugly head anywhere and anytime.

So you need to pick your stresses carefully. You need to help when you can but know when to back off for your own health. You want to make sure you are supportive but also protective of your own mental and physical health – because let’s be honest – stress can impact your ENTIRE body in one way or another.

Whenever you feel stress I would ask that you step back, sit down, take a deep breathe and:
1) Identify where the stress is coming from. Is it from outside forces or inside? Is it your stress or someone else’s stress?
2) Build strong relationships so you have outlets to talk about your stress or to deal with others’ stresses.
3) Exercise! Exercise has a positive effect on stress levels in the body – regardless if it’s your stress or someone else’s stress that you are carrying around.
4) Sleep. Sleep is restorative. Sleep heals. Sleep allows the body to reset after each and every day – stressful or not. Make sure you are getting your 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
5) If all else fails and you have stress that is inhibiting the life you want to lead – get help. It’s important to reach out and look for help when you need it.

Whatever your stress and where ever it is coming from….learn to manage it, learn to let go of stresses that impact your health and learn to say no when you need less stress in your life. Don’t take on everyone else’s stress. Be a positive force in other’s lives but most importantly, be a positive force in your own and live the health, happy life that you are destined to live. Peace.





Home is where the workout is……

I used to be a gym rat. For hours at a time. I’d go into the gym and I’d teach multiple hours of aerobics classes or step aerobics and then I’d put in a couple of hours lifting weights and preparing for a bodybuilding competition. I felt like I LIVED at the gym. My life revolved around teaching classes, cardio workouts, weight workouts, prepping food for the right grams of carbs, fats and proteins for optimum muscle development and retention and of course, working out with others, spotting them and asking them to spot me so I wouldn’t hurt myself when lifting super heavy.

Then I had children. And each and every one of them CHANGED. MY. LIFE. For the better. When my kids were little and they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always told them the truth. When I was little, I wanted to be a MOM when I grew up. Of course, I did go to college and I did get multiple degrees and I managed to be employable all these years BUT what I truly wanted to be, what I felt that I was put on this earth to be, was a MOM. And I am so grateful that I am one. And that changed my outlook on life and how I wanted to spend my time. Which brings me to this post. I DID NOT want to keep going to the gym for multiple hours a day. All I wanted to do was be with my children. I had three in three years. What a riot having them all so close together and being immersed in all things little for so long. I was and am blessed. But to get back to this post…..I had to find a way to stay in shape without spending hours at the gym. I was able to find jobs teaching community fitness classes that did not take me away from my children for more than an hour a day but I needed more. So I bought a treadmill. And then I bought an elliptical. And then I bought a roman chair. And then I bought a recumbent bike. And then I bought a rower. And then I bought weights. And then I thought I should stop. Because I had outfitted a home gym. I could workout whenever the kids were sleeping. It was so freeing. I didn’t have to try and figure out when to get to the gym. I didn’t need to work around their school or sleep schedules. I didn’t need to go out in the wind, rain, sleet and snow. I could workout WHENEVER I wanted! It was bliss.

But then, over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to figure out which type of exercise machine actually worked the best for me. I needed to get rid of some of them as I was trying to downsize a bit and have less to take care of. So I gave one of those wonderful children the recumbent bike. I sold the elliptical and roman chair. And I was left with my weights, treadmill and rower. But my favorite piece of equipment for overall strength, muscle and cardio development is the rower! If you are looking to start acquiring your own home gym – buy quality pieces and check out Concept 2 – their rowers are the best.

My kids are all grown up now. But that home gym remains ready for me everyday and has helped me reach my fitness and health goals and reminds me that taking care of myself is key to being the best MOM I can be. Because, really…’s the only job I ever wanted. Peace.

Simply Does It

Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to get healthy? Do you want to feel better? As I’m looking on the Internet and seeing all of the different food sites and ways to make watermelon taste different, grapes taste different, apples taste different, it occurs to me that perhaps what we’re missing is just a simple simplification of our life in the food area. Simplifying your food choices instead of putting in a lot of time and effort into prepping food that is already healthy and whole is the key to becoming healthy and whole from the inside out.

What does it mean to be healthy from the inside out? It means whenever you decide to put something in your mouth you first think about how it will affect you on the inside. How will it affect your heart? How will it affect your lungs? How will it affect your liver? How will it affect your kidneys? How will it affect your overall well-being from the inside out?

When you start approaching food as a health partner that’s when you’ll achieve true health. Food that is overly prepared is food that is in a state of unhealthiness for you and your body. Simple is better when it comes to health and if you want to lose weight, if you want to help get over any health problems that are caused by excess weight or interactions of food or food allergies – simple is best.

What are simple foods? Simple foods are any whole foods that do not require much preparation if any – walnuts, pecans, almonds, berries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cucumbers, zucchini- anything that you can grow – anything that you can buy in its natural state just harvested and anything that is without added fillers and additives with words that you can’t pronounce – these are the foods that are going to help heal you from the inside out.

When you start approaching food like this the pounds will melt off and you’ll feel lighter because you are lighter and you’ll feel better emotionally, mentally, and physically too.

Sometimes when we simplify our food choices and we realize what that does health wise to our bodies it morphs into simplifying our lives and decluttering and being more mindful of what we need and what we don’t – which provides you with a much cleaner and happier life for your body and your home.

Wishing you a happy, healthy future as you journey towards health by simplifying from the inside out. Peace.


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