Posts In: Healthy living

27 Vegetables

January 7, 2018
veggie salad

In November when I listened to a message from my Mom asking me to call as soon as possible I figured my 89-year-old father was back in the hospital. I was shocked when she told me that my healthy 62-year-old brother fell, was slurring his words, and had been admitted to the hospital. A few days later my recently retired, laid back, lean and fit brother was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. My family reeled.

I’m a helper. Wellness has been a big part of my life personally and professionally for years. I went to work figuring out how I could help. My offers to fly back to the Midwest were turned down. Pat, a nurse and my sister-in-law’s, sister drove over for moral support during the surgery. Not much else was needed while my brother spent a month in the hospital and rehab recovering and regaining strength, mobility, and speech. I went to work researching. One of the great resources I found was the book, Anticancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber.

The author was a 30-something doc when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Servan’s oncologist offered no info when asked about supportive dietary changes Dr. Servan could make. So he got to work researching the topic as if his life depended on it because, in fact, it did. His book is the result of that research as well as his experience plus that of his clients.

27 Vegetables

One of the bits of research he mentions is that women with the gene marker for breast cancer lived longer if they consumed at least 27 different fruits and vegetables per week. I love fruits and veggies and eat a variety every week. But I doubted that I made it to the magic 27. I decided to set myself a challenge to get to that level.

I started to keep a list in my note app on my phone. The first week my count was 28! I happy to say it wasn’t hard at all. But I wouldn’t have eaten that much variety if I weren’t focusing on it.

Here’s my list from week one.

  1. Arugula
  2. Onion
  3. Garlic
  4. Ginger
  5. Romaine
  6. Spinach
  7. Chard
  8. Mushrooms (not technically a fruit or vegetable, but I’m counting it. Hey, it’s my list.)
  9. Carrots
  10. Brussels sprouts
  11. Avocado
  12. Apple
  13. Boysenberry
  14. Tomato
  15. Sweet potato
  16. Celery
  17. Peppers
  18. Beets
  19. Blueberries
  20. Peaches
  21. Cabbage
  22. Persimmon
  23. Kale
  24. Artichoke hearts
  25. Dates
  26. Rutabaga
  27. Parsnip
  28. Lime

Will I maintain that? I don’t know. I want this variety in my diet to become a habit. I do eat an assortment of fruit and vegetables already, but I also have my regular “dining companions.” I don’t want to count what I’m eating every week because I know that wouldn’t be sustainable for me. But keeping the concept in mind, I believe, will help. And maybe I’ll periodically try counting.

Here are a few of my strategies for getting an array of produce into my diet.

  1. When at the grocery store I fill up my cart with produce first. It leaves less room for other stuff.
  2. I keep my usual, easy-to-prepare standards on hand at all times. Apples and berries for my smoothies, lettuce for salads and smoothies, always carrots. Plus I like to keep a few jarred veggies and frozen fruits on hand so even when I return from a trip too late to stop at the grocery store I have something to eat. My staples are fermented veggies (carrots, beets, and ginger are one of my favorites,) sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts in the veggie department and frozen berries for my fruit needs.
  3. Peruse the seasonal specials. I’ll go for a pomegranate, lemon cucumbers, or a persimmon when they’re in season.
  4. I choose dishes that easily let me include multiple veggies and fruits. My morning green smoothie usually includes 1-3 types of fruit. Maybe an apple or a cup of mixed berries. Then I add mixed greens. I love knowing that it’s early in the day and I’ve already ingested at least 3 different plants. Salads, soups, casseroles are other good options for mixing it up.
  5. Kathy Abascal, author of The Abascal Way, a book about how to quiet inflammation, suggests that at least 50% of breakfast and 2/3 of every other meal and snack should come from fruit and vegetables. I’ve found that a helpful guideline to follow.
  6. Grow your own. My friend Allison grows much of her own produce. The images she posts on Facebook of veggie friendly meals make my mouth water. Because I live in the woods AND have goats growing my own produce has been a challenge here. But I’m a regular at the farmer’s market and I keep thinking I’ll sign up for one of the many CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) in my area. In other words, there are lots of options
  7. Gather your veggies. I’ve been a forager since high school. In advanced biology my final project was camping for a weekend and only eating food I gathered from the woods. Yesterday I gathered some dock leaves and nibbled on violet blossoms, chickweed, and blackberry shoots all while doing yard work. DON’T do this unless you know what you’re doing. Learn a few plants and make sure you’re gathering from a place that doesn’t spray. Don’t over harvest and make sure you have permission. Those “weeds” will add variety and freshness to your diet.

Do you want to take the 27 fruit/veg challenge? Share your tips and struggles here.





Aging: The Inside Story

August 3, 2016

I saw an ad today for a “beauty” system that looked like a torture device. Picture a tiny paint roller with fine needles projecting from the surface. When you roll the device over your face the needles penetrate your skin. The fine print says “No known negative side effects.” I guess pain isn’t considered a side effect. Granted I haven’t tried it, but it sure looks like it would be painful.

I went onto YouTube to listen to reviews expecting to see people screaming in agony as they “beautified” themselves. The first reviewer I watched mentioned she had put a numbing cream on her face for 25 minutes before use. She said not to be afraid of the device. I’m afraid of anything that requires me to use numbing cream.

The theory behind the roller is that it “might” stimulate the production of collagen, reduce wrinkles, cellulite, etc. The holes it puts in your face also help you absorb serums and creams better.

Looking for Youth in all the Wrong Places

What strikes me about this (and many other beauty treatments that are uncomfortable, expensive, and potentially dangerous) is the amount of focus on trying to look younger on the outside. I’ve known people that forgot about their “inside” life because they were so focused on the external.

I’m all for looking vital and healthy. I would love to have the same skin I had when I was 30. But I’m not 30. I’m 59 and happily counting. (There are more senior discounts in my future.) While I want to look vital and healthy and make choices that help me with that, I’m much more interested in FEELING vital and healthy.

Everyone makes his or her own choices about how much time and energy (and what type of time and energy) they want to put into looking “good.” And we also get to make up our minds about what we think looks good. We don’t all love purple hair, tartan plaid, or pearls. Thank goodness for that because it makes people watching much more interesting.

But there’s something disturbing to me about the hunt for pseudo youth. Dying your hair back to its original shade does not, after all, make you that age again. I believe it’s possible to do things like laser treatments, Botox, hair dye, even torture devices for your face because you love yourself and love looking your best. If getting your butt Botoxed makes you feel great then Botox away. But I think it’s equally possible (maybe more likely?) that many women are rolling torture devices over their faces because they don’t like who they see in the mirror. They don’t like the changes that aging can bring.

Embracing Change

You are changing. We all change. We don’t expect the tree we plant as a sapling to look the same in five years. We don’t expect our toddlers to stay the same or the oak tree to keep its leaves all year. Change is part of the beauty of life.

I’ll be honest. I don’t love all the changes I see in my body. I don’t obsess about aging and I’m grateful that I’ve very healthy—no medications, no arthritis, no high blood pressure. I don’t mind that my hair is gray because it’s thick and healthy. BUT I would love to have fewer lines and tauter skin on my face. I WANT to love all the changes including those lines. I’m working on that. My goals are to 1) accept the changes 2) love myself and 3) look and FEEL as vital and healthy as possible.

I do, however, love some of the changes that have come with age and maturing. I love that I’m more direct than when I was 25. I love that I don’t fall into victim mode anymore. I love that I don’t drink alcohol. It saves money and calories and I feel better. I love the community of friends I’ve gathered over the years. I love that I’m strong.

Being Edith-like

Cousin-EdithI’ve had the good fortune to have some outstanding role models for vital aging in my life. My
grandfather’s cousin Edith stands out. Edith lived to 108 years young. She lived independently until the last few months of her life. The year she turned 100 she was invited to be the Grand Marshall in her community’s annual Arkalalah celebration (yes, that’s really the name.) She walked to the DMV to renew her driver’s license so she could drive her 1950 Chevy, the only car she ever owned, in the parade. Not only did she get her driver’s license for the event, but also she bought a stylish modern dress that I would have been happy to wear at the time and I was in my early 30’s.

But Edith didn’t look 30. While her erect posture and lively movements belied her 100 years, she looked like an older woman. That didn’t seem to bother her. She was able to garden, take daily walks, play bridge, live on her own, and participate in a book group. She stayed active mentally and physically throughout her life. I never heard her complain about saggy skin, gray hair, or achy joints. She was far too busy for that. Maybe far too happy would be a better description. She once said she realized she could choose to be miserable or happy. She chose happy.

The theme of my coaching and retreat work is living a life of purpose well. Spending time trying to rewind time or focusing on what you don’t like about yourself takes time away from living that well life of purpose. I want to invite you to a life as rich, full, and happy as cousin Edith’s for as long as you live.

Your Vital Aging Challenge

1.    What do you value about your aging or maturing process?

2.    What about your maturing process do you want to learn to embrace or accept?

Here’s what I would love: Share your answer to #1 here. I think if we all start celebrating the wisdom of maturing instead of fighting against aging we’ll have more energy for what matters to us. The world will be a better place. And if you share here we can all celebrate each other’s awesomeness. Ready to join me?

I love water. Water and herbal tea are all I drink. No alcohol, no soda, no coffee, no milk, no juice…

When my mentor recently asked about my love affair with drinking water she wanted an answer based on spirit, not facts.  I’m going to give you both.

Beverage of Choice

Water is my beverage of choice for several reasons.

1. I love the way it tastes. Most of my life I’ve live on property with a well. I remember when we moved from town when I was about seven. I loved the first sip of that well water. (I know not all water tastes good. I definitely drink purified water when in town.)

2. I feel better when I drink adequate water.

  • I have more energy.
  • I think more clearly.
  • My body moves more easily.
  • I don’t get as hungry and therefore eat less.

The Facts

As a human you’re somewhere around 60% water (although I hear estimates as high as 90%.) Your dear brain is about 70% water. That’s one liquid mass between your ears.

All day water leaves your body—you sweat, you breath, you visit the bathroom. You’ve got to replenish that water.

If you want facts check out the book by Dr. F. Batmanghelidj        .

He mentions a number of conditions that can be helped by drinking water including:

  • Obesity
  • Back pain
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion
  • Hypertension
  • High cholesterol
  • Depression
  • Asthma and allergies
  • And more…

In other words, most of the things that bother people in our modern world.

Could it be that simple? Worth a try if you’re experiencing any of the above.

How much is enough?

Several years ago one of my friends (I know interesting people) decided she wanted to see if she could drink too much water. The answer is, yes, you can drink too much, at least at one time. It’s called “water intoxication.” That’s not a problem if you’re drinking throughout your day.

If you’re like me you were taught to pay attention to thirst to know how much water to drink. If you think you’re drinking enough because you 1) don’t feel thirsty or 2) drink other beverages, you still might need more water.

What we call “thirst” is a sensation of dry mouth. It’s not the first sign that your body needs water. Some of the conditions I mentioned above can be signs of dehydration. By the time you feel thirsty you’re already dehydrated.

You’ve probably heard the 8-10 glasses a day rule. I like to listen to my body because sometimes that’s enough. Sometimes it’s not.

As to whether you can drink other beverages to substitute for your body’s water needs, I once heard someone ask, “Would you use carrot juice to wash your dishes?” Of course not. While some of your daily requirement for water comes from your food and other beverages you need the pure water too.

(If you have kidney or adrenal issues you’d want to talk with your doc first before increasing your water intake.)

But wait, what about the spirit…

I am an ocean 
of salty brine.

Each sip connects my grateful cells

To my sister plants

To bubbling spring

To misty mountain

To raging ocean.


I am an ocean

Each breath connects my fluid self.

I breathe out. I drink in.

I connect. I replenish.

Your relationship with water? How much to you drink? Do you find it easy or a struggle?

Don’t be a sicko

February 17, 2011

Three of my four scheduled clients cancelled yesterday due to illness. The good news is that they’re staying home and not sharing what they have. The bad news is that they feel like crap. Their misfortune gave me time and a timely topic for today’s blog post.

If you’ve been in business for a while (or even if you haven’t) you’ve heard the mantra “location, location, location.” I’d like to offer a new mantra for all business people.  

Prevention, prevention, prevention

If you’re like most people your first response to hearing about a Neti pot will be disgust. Anyone who’s inhaled water while swimming will resist the idea of purposely pouring water in their nose. But when you think about rinsing away germs, irritants, and mucous it becomes more appealing. Knowing that you can decrease your chances of getting a cold, the flu, or a sinus infection might even make you hurry to get a neti pot of your own.   

What the heck is a neti pot? Think small tea pot or maybe miniature Aladdin’s lamp (although I’m still waiting for a genie.) You can find them made of ceramic, metal, or plastic which is great for travel.  Look at your local health food store or search online. Here’s my link to one option at Amazon. Ancient Secrets Ceramic Nasal Cleansing Pot, 1 Neti Pot  

Ready to Try?

  1. Once you have neti pot in hand put ¼-½ tsp. of sea salt in the pot. Then add warm water to the salt stirring so it dissolves. Aim for water the temperature of your body.
  2. Next hold your head over the sink with your head to the side. Insert the spout of the pot into your nostril and let the water drain out the other nostril. It takes some practice to get the right angle and not feel like you’re going to drown.
  3. After you’ve poured water through both sides bend over and blow into a handkerchief. Don’t blow your nose while blocking a nostril.

If you know you’ve been exposed to a bunch of sick people (or even one) head straight to your neti pot. It also works well when you’ve been exposed to allergens. And if you end up with a cold or allergy symptoms using your neti pot a couple times a day will help decrease your symptoms and hopefully recover more quickly.

More help

Once you get the temperature of the water right and the correct amount of salt you shouldn’t feel any discomfort or burning. If you do feel discomfort, play around with the amount of salt you use and the temperature of the water.

If you want more help check out some of the videos on YouTube demonstrating the use of neti pots. And yes, there are books about using a neti pot. I have this one and like it. Neti: Healing Secrets of Yoga and Ayurveda 

What are your favorite tools for staying healthy?

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