Lisa Blakeney, Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach

How to Know What Food Labels Really Mean?

The buzz words the food industry and the health movement uses to proclaim, claim, describe, market, or fool us can be maddening.  Have you ever wondered which of those buzz words to believe and which ones to ignore?  I’m going to run through a list here and give you a bit of factual information from the USDA to back it up.  Some of these terms are simply fluff or marketing, but some of the terms are actually helpful and regulated.

First, the claims you can believe, those that are helpful and regulated:

Antibiotic-free – this can be claimed if an animal has not been given antibiotics during its lifetime.  Similarly, the terms “no antibiotics administered” or “raised without antibiotics” are also terms meaning just what they say.

No added hormones – is a term used to indicate an animal has not been administered added growth hormones.  Hogs and poultry cannot be given any hormones by law, and the USDA prohibits the term “hormone-free.”  If it’s not labeled do your research or ask your farmer.

RBGH-Free or RBST-Free – Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), or recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) are genetically engineered growth hormones.  These are used by dairy farmers to artificially increase milk production.  This hormone has not been properly tested for safety, is banned in Europe, Canada, and elsewhere, yet most conventional milk in the U.S. contains these genetically modified hormones.  Choose organic milk as it is rBGH and rBST free.

GMO-Free, Non-GMO, or No GMOs – Genetically modified organisms are plants and animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses, or other plants and animals.  Look for GMO-Free, Non-GMO or No GMOs to ensure your are not consuming foreign substances your body cannot recognize.

Grass Fed – Just like it says, these animals were fed their natural diet of grass, rather than grains and by-products and GMOs.  Best options are grass fed and grass finished, so you know the animal was not fed GMO grains in the slaughterhouse in the last hours of its life.  Grass fed meat is leaner, lower in fat and calories than grain fed meat and it is simply healthier.

Healthy – Food labeled as “healthy” is surprisingly regulated and must be limited in cholesterol, low in saturated fats, and limited in sodium.  Some foods in this “healthy” category must also contain 10% of Vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, protein, or fiber.  Of course, a lot of these synthetic versions of these nutrients are not very absorbable to the human body, but they are there.

Fair Trade – The Fair Trade label means that farmers and workers have received a fair wage and work in acceptable conditions while growing and packaging these products.  Many of these farmers and workers are in developing countries.

Pasture Raised – This is another simple term indicating that these animals were raised naturally on a pasture where there were nutritious grasses and other plants available for grazing.  The animals are allowed to roam and move around freely and carry out their natural behaviors.  Pasturing livestock and poultry are traditional farming techniques that we know have worked for hundreds of years.

Organic – Organic fruits and vegetables unfortunately have to be labeled as such, because the food industry has ruined “regular food”.  The USDA regulates organic farmers, sometimes to the extreme, but the criteria is as follows:

  • Abstain from the use of prohibited materials (synthetic fertilizer, pesticides, and sewage sludge) for 3 years prior to certification and continually throughout their organic license.
  • Prohibit the use of genetically modified organisms and irradiation.
  • Employ positive soil building, conservation, manure management, and crop rotation practices.
  • Provide outdoor access and pasture for livestock.
  • Refrain from antibiotic and hormone use in livestock.
  • Sustain animals on 100% organic feed.
  • Avoid contamination during the processing of organic products.
  • Keep records of all operation.

Organic food also prohibits the use of hydrogenation and trans fats.  The “USDA Organic” seal means that 95% of the ingredients are organic. “Organic ingredients” can be used with an item has 70-95% organic ingredients in it.

Non-Irradiated – This means the food has not been exposed to radiation.  Sadly some of our food is exposed to radiation energy to kill disease-causing bacteria and reduce the incidence of food borne illness, even though thorough research has not been done to know if this food is safe for human consumption.

Okay so that is a pretty good list of some of the buzz words you will see that actually mean something, are helpful and you can reasonably rely on.  Now, let’s talk about a few that are mostly meaningless.

Natural – This word has no official standard or definition, except when used specifically with reference to meat and poultry, where it can be used to indicate minimal processing, does not contain artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives or other artificial ingredients.   Natural foods are not necessarily sustainable, organic, humanely raised, free of hormones and antibiotics – this word gets used a lot when something is really not very natural.  This is a word I disregard entirely in the healthy food world – meaningless.

Cage-Free – This may seems like a pretty good label or claim, but what this claim does not say is more important.  It does not say that these animals had access to the outdoors, so they may just be overcrowded warehouses of animals.  Look for “pasture raised” or “pastured” meat and poultry.

Free-Range – This label as defined by the USDA only pertains to poultry and egg production, and can be used even if the birds are only given a brief opportunity to be outdoors.  Theses could still be indoor animals that are not treat humanely, and likely have been given antibiotics.  Also, these claims are defined by the USDA, but are not verified by anyone, so we all know what happens when no one watches the hen house.

Gluten-Free – Even if you are not sensitive to gluten or a celiac, you’ve probably noticed all of the Gluten-free products in the grocery store.  Some of these products are gluten-free all right, but instead contain a mix of other highly allergen ingredients, or other unhealthy substitutes to make the item taste or perform as it would with gluten.  Be careful with these products and carefully read the ingredient labels.

The bottom line is that you can’t believe everything you see on a food label.  I see some pretty outrageous claims on food labels in the regular part of my local grocery store.  Be cautious, educate yourself and do your own research, rather than just believe a statement on food packaging.

To your good health!!

April Fool Yourself Into a New Healthy Habit

Spring is finally here, YAY!!!  With Spring Comes April Fool’s Day, too.
Spring is a time for renewal, a fresh start, new leaves, and flowers, and warmer weather.  In the interest of a fresh start, I want to talk about switching out a bad habit for a good one, and in just a short time you can make a new habit.
Let’s start by picking a bad habit, or perhaps just something that you do, but you don’t really enjoy it anymore, you just do it out of habit.  Change this up with a new, healthy, productive habit.  PRACTICE, Practice, Practice!!  And make it happen!!

Our brains like repetition and we easily get into certain habits, like brushing our teeth or taking a shower everyday.  We do a lot of things on auto-pilot, and not all of those things are good habits to be doing without even thinking.  Sometimes we have to just decide to do something different.  Make the decision and then start implementing. 

The implementation can be the challenge.  Instead of trying to add a new habit ON TOP OF all of our other habits, let’s try swapping out a bad one for a good one, and committing ourselves to it. 

Each time the habit that we want to let go comes up we immediately substitute that thought, activity, etc. with the new, healthy habit – rinse, repeat.  Don’t send yourself into overwhelm on this, just try to remember to immediately make the switch anytime that old habit comes up and replace it with the new, better option.  After just a week or two of making this your new habit you will no longer have to think about it, it will become your new habit.

No foolin’!!!   Now go try this and let me know how it works for you.  Comment at the top of this page.  I’d love to hear from you.

“The secret of change
is to focus all of your energy,
not on fighting the old,
but on building the new.”  
                             ~ Socrates

To your vibrant health,


Happy Valentine’s Day

Our world is a little bit or maybe a lot crazy right now and our new year of 2017 has started off quite a bit different than I had imagined it would. As we reach six weeks into the new year we are at that milestone of those well-intended resolutions starting to melt away. I must admit that I have been a bit distracted lately. Know that I, too, struggle at times to eat healthy, deal with all the everyday stresses we have, all while the noise from everything around us seems to be ever louder all the time. I have been a bit “off” lately and need to shake things up and get back in the swing of things.

We have had lots of cold weather this Winter and personally I am ready for Spring. I am making plans for my garden next year, and thinking of getting a few things started indoors. Even if Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and we are stuck with an extra six weeks of Winter, I am still seeing a few subtle signs of Spring. I saw some bulbs coming up the other day and I think the flowers know a bit more than that groundhog. Looking for even the slightest hint of Spring in the middle of February helps me to remember that Spring is coming and time marches on whether we are really paying attention or not.

Now is a good time to revisit your resolutions or goals and recommit to them. Think back to the enthusiasm you felt just a few weeks earlier, remember why you set those goals, and revisit anything that is falling to the wayside. If you didn’t stick to that exercise routine, diet, or whatever it was – don’t give up, start anew. Remember that each day is a new chance to eat better, go for a walk or visit the gym or join the yoga studio. Each time you get discouraged or lose interest remind yourself what brought you to make that goal, check in on your why and then step it up a bit, or shake things up a bit and keep moving forward. Progress not perfection!

Show yourself some self-love this Valentine’s Day and recommit to yourself and your health goals. It’s not just new year’s that we can make goals and take action, we can do it anytime we choose to make those goals and take action to move you toward them.

You are worth it!
You are loved!!
You are love!
You create love!

Start with loving yourself. Self-love can be hard to do but it is also very rewarding and can truly change your outlook and well-being. When you engage in acts of self-love you better equip yourself to not only love others but to care for them, empathize with them, and relate to them. So often we put our own needs behind everyone else’s, when we will better serve others when we first love ourselves, engage in self-love in order to best serve others’ needs. This is so easy to neglect, especially when we are stressed and overwhelmed, but those are the times it is the most important to take care of yourself.

My loving wish for you this Valentine’s Day is that you take a moment for yourself. Profess your love to yourself in the mirror and recommit to yourself and those aspirations you set for yourself just a few weeks ago.

Be Love!
Be Loved!
Share Love!!
Create Love!!

And know that I love you all and appreciate you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Please respond and let me know what you are doing for yourself this Valentine’s Day.

Hugs!! and Love,

Eating for Energy

Surprisingly, the things that are robbing us of our natural energy are some of the same things that we think are helping us have more energy.  You guessed it, coffee, soda, energy drinks.  These beverages loaded with caffeine and sugar are also chemicalized and filled with additives.  The caffeine that is naturally found in coffee and tea is much different than the synthetic stuff they are putting into energy drinks, and so called Smart water.  These substances actually strip us of our energy, forcing us to live a roller coaster of ups and downs chasing our cravings. 

There is a better way and it might actually really surprise you how simple it might be.

I used to be a complete coffee, Starbucks, and soda addict and thought it was not really affecting me.  I didn’t realize how much it was affecting my sleep, my roller coaster and blood sugar.  I didn’t even realize just how addicted I truly was.  I also didn’t think the alternative of living without these substances would bode very well for me keeping my job, or being able to function normally.  Boy was I surprised.

I made a gradual change of cutting back, substituting black tea initially, and all the while focusing on eating healthy and drinking tons of filtered, fresh water.  As time went on I slowly fit out soda, coffee, Starbucks, and all other processed drinks, except occasional wine and tea.  I replaced it with water, tea of all kinds, water, water and some wine.  I ate lots of vegetables, leafy greens, and healthy meats.  I immediately noticed that I slept better and I was more alert during the day.  My focus and concentration improved and best of all I stopped riding the caffeine/sugar roller coaster all day long.

I start each day off with a half of a lemon squeezed into my cup and filled with hot water.  Then I have breakfast or a smoothie; I drink water, water and more water all day long.  Smoothies are a great way to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your morning meal with a lot of fuss.  With protein incorporated into it you can start your day with everything you need to fuel your morning.  The phytonutrients from the fresh plant material, as well as the natural sugars from fruit start your day on a healthy note and tie you over until lunch.

Once you get over your initial cravings for coffee, sugar, or soda your body will thank you for this change and you will not believe how much better you feel.  Try this for 30 days, and notice how your body feels, how your gut feels, how your elimination is working, and overall just pay close attention to what your body is telling you.  After 30 days if you feel you want to go back to coffee, or soda or whatever, I suggest trying it out slowly, and again notice how you feel.  Your body will tell you whether it wants these substances or not, but you have to listen very carefully.

Recognize too, that this may be more of a habit.  If you yearn for a warm beverage in the morning, try the lemon “tea” mentioned above, or a cup of green or herbal tea.  If you make the time for breakfast in the morning, you can enjoy a frittata with eggs and veggies or a simple scramble or omelet. 

Now we do know that our favorite breakfast meats, BACON and sausage are not actually that healthy.  However, I will not be the one telling you to give up BACON, or sausage for that matter.  This is where my “in moderation” theory comes in, and I splurge every once in a while on these yummy breakfast meats – I LOVE BACON!!  If you can even cut back a bit on this you will be doing yourself a great favor, remember progress is better than perfection.  You may have heard me talk before about the 80/20 or the 90/10 rule.  If you are eating healthy and doing the right thing by your body 80-90% of the time, you can do whatever you like the other 10-20%.

Be easy on yourself as you make these changes.  Like I said, my process was methodical and planned out in stages over a long period of time.  If you slip up, just try to do better the next day.  Do not beat yourself up, do not speak poorly of yourself, just move on and do better.  Every day, every meal, is a new opportunity to eat better, live better and be better.

So, what is robbing you of your energy?  Let me know in the comments.  Let me know what you would like to switch up and try on for crowding out one of these vices?


Exercise and Self Care

Exercise can seem like a chore or it can be a regular activity that you enjoy.  Choose what you enjoy.  If you like the gym, be sure to mix up your routine periodically for interest and to challenge your body.  I personally do not like a traditional gym, as I have not always had positive experiences in a gym.  I take a brisk walk each day on my lunch hour, I have a stand up desk at work now, and I try to stay as active as possible.  I also try to do some yoga and meditation throughout the week.  You have to find a system that works for you in order to stick with it.  I tried many, many things before I worked into a groove that feels goods for me.  Experiment with different options until you find what works for you.  Mix things up now and again, just for kicks and giggles and don’t forget the self-care and pampering that you deserve.

I am a slightly feminine tomboy, so I enjoy a pedicure and getting my hair done, but I also dig in the dirt, clean and do dishes without gloves on, build things occasionally; in other words, I’m not afraid to get dirty.  I don’t spend hours at the salon each week or hardly ever, but if that is what makes YOU feel pretty, happy, and nourishes you from the inside out, then that is what YOU should do.  Perhaps a massage, an acupuncture session, a chiropractor visit, or a regular appointment with your Health Coach is what you need to get in the groove of self-care. 

Anytime that you spend on you – when you pay attention to what your body is telling you and what it needs, you treat yourself to that nourishing self-love and self-care we all need to enjoy more often.  We are usually too busy taking care of everyone else, but we are better at that job, when we take better care of ourselves, first.

This can come in any form you like, too.  I enjoy my “down time”, when I am not busy “shoulding” on myself about all the things I “should be doing”.  It is good for my mind and my soul to escape from this and reconnect with my inner self.  I also enjoy vacations, retreats, or get-a-ways, where I run away from home for a few days and do whatever *I* like for that whole time.  I disconnect from my regular life and run off to play, or meditate, create art, or write, play and adventure in a new land or explore somewhere entirely new, or somewhere familiar in an entirely new view.  It is important to plan for this time, especially vacations.  Plan, save, ask for the time off from your work if necessary, and do it!!

Take this time to relax, refresh, reflect, release, remember, and rejuvenate your body, your mind, your soul, and place yourself in a better position to love, connect, and share with those close to you.  Being a better human being is contagious, so renew it and share it whenever possible.

Finally, sometimes more far away vacations take us to places where people live very differently than ourselves.  I love exploring neighborhoods in foreign places where the people actually live, rather than just the touristy areas.  This grounds me and reminds me of our connection to all other beings in the world.  I strongly believe we are all connected and we are all one in this Universe.  No matter how we live, how we make a living, or what we have as our possessions, we are all here for some reason, for a purpose unfulfilled.  Self-care can help you to discover what your unfulfilled purpose might be or help you to accomplish it if you know what it is already.

What do you do for self-care?  How to do recharge yourself?  I would love to hear what lifts you up and makes you feel nourished and vibrant.  Please comment and share your self-care techniques.

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year!!  Here comes 2017!!

WOW!!  As I have reflected on 2016 in the last couple of weeks, I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone, but I have begun to say that every year now.  LOL!!  I feel good about the slow progress I have made this year in my business, and the fact that I still weigh what I weighed at this time last year, sustaining a comfortable and healthy body.  Not every one of my goals was accomplished, but I tend to set some pretty lofty goals.  I am happy with the accomplishments I have made, and look forward to accomplishing even more in 2017.  How are you feeling as we close out the year?

I suggest taking some time to reflect, to feel a sense of accomplishment, and then start looking forward to the possibilities of a new year.  For some reason 2017 seems like a good number to me, but pretty close to 2020 – doesn’t that just sound weird?

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions, set goals for yourself, make plans to make things happen?  Now’s the time to do it.  I suggest setting goals rather than resolutions, as most people give up their resolutions by Valentine’s Day only 6 weeks away.  I’m all about long-term, long-lasting goals and results.

A few pointers on setting some goals for yourself:

1.  Make realistic goals, to ensure your success.

2. Set goals with a deadline in which to accomplish them. 

3. Break them down into realistic segments or sub-parts.

4. Put those segments or sub-parts in your calendar with time to work on them.

5. Work toward each deadline on your calendar.

A seemingly simple prospect, right?  Maybe not so much.  I think my biggest problem with my goals is that I tend to be unrealistic about the time it will take me to accomplish these tasks.  I tend to think a 5 hour project will only take 2 hours, so I easily get “behind” and then either stress about the deadline, or I lose the excitement when I don’t meet my own deadlines.  Has this happened to you?

For 2017, I am going to try to focus on one task at a time.  I tend to be too vague and write down 3-4 things I will do during my “business time”, but then only get 1-2 done.  I’m trying a few new things this year to help me along and I will share them with you here.

New calendar or planner – I am a paper and electronic calendar person, so I bought a new planner and have decided I will use pencil this year, rather than pen and a ton of white-out tape.  Also, my new calendar has a space at the bottom to write a few lines, so I am putting the important events and accomplishments that need to happen that month right there where I can clearly see them each time I look at the monthly calendar.

I have written my personal goals as well as my business goals, and have already started on breaking this down and writing it in my calendar.  I keep this list in the back of my planner, and consult it throughout the year, which can help keep me motivated along the way.

Set a couple of short term goals and do them.  You will immediately have a sense of accomplishment, and be more motivated to move on to the next goal.  Celebrate each accomplishment, and keep the bigger picture in mind, as it all comes together.

What are you goals for 2017?  What would you like to accomplish next year?  Do you have a plan for getting there?  Do you need help?  I’m here for you and continue to offer a FREE discovery session consultation to discuss your goals and dreams. 

Also in 2017 I am offering a monthly free class and a monthly $25/pp. class, except for January where there will only be a free class.  I am getting my schedule up and would love for you to join me.  I am planning these classes to be informative, fun, and inspiring!  Sign up today.  I am finalizing a location for these classes this week.  Scroll down to the calendar on my Calendar page, and book today!!

I’d love to know what you have planned for 2017.  Use the comment button at the top of the page to share with me.

I wish you all a wonderful celebration, a safe, warm night, and a joyous, prosperous, and healthy 2017.

FREE Workshop and Please Tell me what you Think

I want to hear from you!!!
Please complete my short survey and help me help you in 2017.

Thank you!!!


Join me January 14, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
New FREE Workshop
10 Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget

Is one of your Resolutions or goals for 2017 to eat healthier?  Let me help you get started.
Organic fruits and vegetables, as well as grass fed and pastured meats, unfortunately, all cost more than conventional food, which is a shame and completely backwards in our food system, but it is worth it to spend the extra money and avoid all the pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides they coat conventional food with.  I’ll take you through 10 ways to stretch your healthy food dollar, and help you navigate what is truly healthy and what just proclaims to be.  Bring your questions and concerns and come learn how to save money while still eating healthy.  Please sign up here.

Location will be in Tacoma, WA.  Depending on how many sign up, I will make a determination about 1-2 weeks ahead of the event as to the location and provide an update.


10 Cool Success Tips Coming Your Way

Healthy Holidays Part 3
10 Cool Success Tips Coming Your Way
Help to Survive the Endless Holiday Treats

Okay, you survived Thanksgiving, hopefully without eating too much or feeling too badly about it.  Now to face the endless stream of cookies, candies, baked goods, and other treats that are in such abundance this time of year.  I also have my birthday thrown in there between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  WHEW!!  Get ready!

If your workplace is anything like mine, we are constantly faced with temptations of gifts from our clients, vendors, business associates, as well as celebrations, parties, lunches out, and happy hours.  It seems like this time of year you simply can’t escape from the junk food, it’s everywhere!!

Here are 10 Cool Success Tips for Surviving and Thriving this Holiday Season.

1.      Conquer your mindset.  Perhaps the most difficult thing to do is to get in the right mindset for the holidays.  My mindset has completely shifted from the way it used to be – which was to indulge and enjoy and pay for it all later.  Not anymore, now I simple remember why I don’t indulge like that anymore, how far I’ve come, and how much better I will feel, physically, emotionally and psychologically when I make better choices.

2.      Awareness.  Here is where I constantly remind myself how gluten, sugar, diary, alcohol, etc. makes me feel.  This makes my process so much easier.  I have become VERY aware of just how some of these goodies and temptations really do nothing for me other than make me miserable.  Whether is it immediately, or a week from now, when I feel bad, have acne, cramping, bloating, itching, nasal congestion, and all the other symptoms these foods bring on, and it is easy to turn away and know that you will feel good, feel well, feel nourished, and feel happy that you have made the right choices and your body will thank you for it.  Know what your body wants and needs.

3.      Water.  Drink more water.  I know I say this over and over, but it really is extremely important.  Most of us are dehydrated and don’t even know it.  Dehydration causes all kinds of issues, from headaches, dry skin, and muscle cramps to more serious conditions like low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, fever and even delirium.  It is extremely important to stay hydrated by drinking clean, filtered water, without any additives, or sugars, or anything else.

4.      Healthy Choices at the Ready.  I’ve mentioned preparedness before, and again this is important.  While you may need a bit of advance preparation, it pays dividends later when you are prepared with a healthy choice available when constantly encountering more holiday temptations.  Prepare some simple, healthy snacks to carry with you.  Energy Balls; hummus and veggies; or an apple with almond butter).  If you are prepared with a healthy alternative, you will be much less tempted when you are hungry and all that you see is junk food.

5.      Healthy Alternatives to your Favorites.  If you are feeling bad about not being able to enjoy your favorite dish, look for an alternative, a healthier version of the dish.  Be it stuffing, my alternative is here, or something else that you really miss as part of your holiday, make a quick Google search; or make your own special treat, like organic, low sugar, dark chocolates.  As more and more people turn to healthier choices, the selection and options available are increasing exponentially.  Ask me, I have lots of great alternatives I am happy to share with you or refer you to someone else who is providing for these needs.

6.      Get Support.  Perhaps you can team up with a buddy at work, or a friend who will partner with you and hold you accountable; or work with a health coach, either way get some support and make it more fun.  When you have an encouraging, supportive, caring friend or coach you are much more likely to succeed, and it will improve your mindset to nurture yourself and someone else.  Contact me or book a consultation today.

7.      Splurge!  Every once in a while…  Obviously, if you splurge every day the wheels will fall off of this train, and you will derail your healthy journey through the holidays.  Eat one chocolate, or one cookie, or one piece of indulgent candy.  Sit down with it, savor its flavor, and indulge in its decadence.  No shame, no guilt, no negative thoughts at all.  Just enjoy the flavor of your treat.  YUM!!!

8.      Appreciate the Nourishing Whole Food you are Eating.  Appreciate and show gratitude for the beautiful, whole foods you are preparing for yourself and eating.  Be grateful for the knowledge and the power you have over your food choices.  Make the conscious, purposeful choice to eat well and appreciate every morsel.

9.      Meditate, Pray.  Whatever your spiritual practice looks like, be it meditation, prayer, yoga, a walk in nature, whatever it is, fit it is as often as possible this season.  Sit quietly, walk peacefully through a park or a forest, go for a hike in the snow.  Breathe . . . breathe in the fresh air, and bring to your being that sense of peace and delight, breathe into your power that makes it all possible.  Rejoice and Give Thanks!!

10.  Celebrate, Be Joyful and Focus on the Positive:

Spend time with your family, friends, and loved ones
Nourish your body with wholesome, good, home cooked food
Bless nourishing food and be grateful for it
Feel great in your mind and body this holiday season
Easily digest your food
Embrace the spirit and the beauty of the season
Lift up someone in need
Celebrate the love, peace, gratitude and joy of this season.

I wish you all a nourishing, Vibrant, and happy December, with a slight bit of Splurge!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Blessings to All!!!

Thank you for all of your support!!



Small Business Saturday Promotion!!

Check out my Small Business Saturday Special which begins today. 

Don’t delay, this is extremely limited, due to my schedule. 

Get in now for your chance to win valuable services from Lisa and

Aware and Vibrant Living!!

Healthy Holidays Part 2: Holidays have you stressed? Enjoy a calmer holiday this year.

We are now about a week away from the big feast known as Thanksgiving.  Are you hosting?  Do you feel overwhelmed – even if you are not hosting?  I can help!

My first post in this four-part series was all about making it work with your dietary restrictions.  This part 2 is all about breathing and basking in the holiday season.  About slowing down, asking for the help you need, bringing together the people you love, and enjoying these times of food and gathering together.

Of course, after the big feast we rush into Black Friday, Small Business Saturday (I am a small business owner and would appreciate your business) and then less than 4 weeks until Christmas, and Hanukah begins at sundown on Christmas Eve this year, too.  Regardless of what holiday you celebrate you may be feeling the pressure building.  This is the best time to take a step back, and truly slow down and try to look at the holidays from a different angle.  Breathe, breathe, breathe, and take care of yourself.

If you are the host of one or both of these meals, perhaps you could make a list of what things others can bring (you know they’ll be asking), or simply ask everyone to bring whatever side dish means “Thanksgiving” to them.  Ask them what they are bringing (keep a list, just in case everyone decides to bring green bean casserole.)  You can assign simple things like rolls (even if you don’t eat rolls), appetizers, vegetables, or whatever someone wants to bring.  Some of the best Thanksgiving meals I have had are when people from different backgrounds, ethnic groups, etc. get together for a meal it is exciting, fun, and different.  It is truly wonderful to try other people’s favorites, and enjoy and celebrate the abundance of this holiday.

Most importantly, I believe it is important to remember that Thanksgiving is a holiday about gratitude, family and friends, the gathering of your loved ones to eat, nourish themselves, fill their souls, and spirits.  Allow it all to happen just the way it does, breathe, and enjoy a grateful, joyous day.

Because of the diversity in my family, we respect everyone’s religious beliefs, but don’t necessarily participate in the same prayers, or blessings; we simply go around the table and each person tells everyone what they are thankful for – for Thanksgiving.  I am always touched and humbled by the responses when you ask the simple question of “What are you thankful for?”  Embrace each person’s viewpoint and allow everyone to contribute – then get busy eating.

When you bring people together amazing things happen.  When you bring people together with food even more amazing happens.  Sit down, give thanks, and enjoy!!  Embrace everything this holiday means to you and enjoy, relax into it.  Eat, share, enjoy!!

I’d love to hear what Thanksgiving means to you.  Comment below.  What are you thankful for? 

Happy Thanksgiving!!

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