Stepping into the Keto Diet

My husband decided to join one of those weight loss contests that pop up at work after the New Year. They had set a pretty aggressive amount of weight to lose by 28 days. I had heard people were having great success on the Keto Diet and thought that this, along with the fasting we were already doing, might work best for him. So I suggested he give it try. Then I set off to learn as much about it as I could so I could help him. I was amazed by what I learned.

To start, I began looking for recipes. Keto friendly things I could make and have in the freezer, so he would have yummy, healthy food to eat while I am on the road. There are a tremendous amount of recipes available out there. The premise behind keto is high fat, moderate protein and very low carbs. It forces your body into a ketogenic state or ketosis, which causes it to use fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. According to Wikipedia; this diet was first developed in the 20s for treatment of childhood seizures.

This way of eating is in sharp contrast to the “Stop the Insanity” low fat diets from the 90s.

There is a documentary (which is available to watch on Netflix) called ‘The Magic Pill.’ Watching this documentary inspired me to also try the ketogenic diet as well. Sure I would love the weight loss but the health benefits demonstrated in the movie were my real motivation. This show follows several people for a few weeks as they switch to this way of eating. The results they had were miraculous. Cancer, Autism, Diabetes, and Asthma were all demonstrated life changing improvements because of it; not to mention weight management. One of the ‘ah ha’ moments for me was right at the start of the documentary. When they said; “Every animal controls its weight naturally, other than humans and animals fed by humans”. My goodness! I never stopped to think that there are no obese deer or even pump lazy sloths.

As a pescatarian (vegetarian who eats fish) the idea of going on a diet, without the American staple of carbs, seemed like a difficult choice. It takes away so many of the things I am able to eat on the road. I also have difficulty with my blood sugar, that can dip to low and cause me to not feel well, if I do not eat the right thing or go to long without eating. This has made me believe I need a high protein diet. I was about to learn that was not true! As I stepped off into the world of ketogenic eating, my first challenge came when I went to a German restaurant with friends. Their vegetarian dish was pasta and the fish/seafood dishes were with pasta or breaded. Hmmm… what to have? I elected for the green beans with almonds and a cucumber salad. I also ate a few pieces of cheese off a friend’s appetizer plate. I was full. Challenge accepted and completed. Next morning, eggs and veggies are a very normal breakfast for me, so that did not even require a change. Lunch was riced cauliflower made into fried rice with eggs and plenty of olive oil. Yummy!

Do you know what I discovered? My blood sugar has remained stable. I have not had the shaky or woozy feeling that I often get when I don’t eat enough protein. Here, all this time, my need for high protein was a result of a diet high in carbs. I am on my third day of this new way of eating and I feel great. I am also doing this in conjunction with the intermittent fasting I have been doing since June. The two seem to work well together.

With the combination of intermittent fasting and Keto Diet, my husband has lost 11 pounds in 6 days. Isn’t that amazing? One of his favorite treats on the Keto Diet is the Fat Bombs. They are a nice little treat but also help to keep the consumption of fat, good and high, as required for ketosis. There are lots of fat bomb recipes but the ones he likes are made with natural unsweetened peanut butter, cream cheese, a tiny bit of stevia, and rolled in semisweet or dark chocolate. They are rolled in balls about a quarter’s diameter and are delicious. You only need to eat one to feel like you had a treat and quite satisfied. After all, that is what eating fat does. It helps us feel satiated.

Whether you are curious about the ketogenic diet or planning to try it yourself, there seems to be potential benefit for amazing results. If you enjoy documentaries, I recommend you check out ‘The Magic Pill.’ It is very interesting.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find healthy eating that works for you, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken in Palermo, Sicily

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Perseverance and Resilience

This morning, my husband Marty, was reading an article about millionaires and how they got to be financially abundant. Perseverance and resilience were the two things the author found they all had in common. Marty says his CEO likes to refer to this as “Grit.” This got me thinking. What does perseverance and resilience look like in our lives? How can these things help us get to the next level and transform ourselves?

As we were having the discussion about when it is time to transform ourselves; I felt pretty solid that we are in the process of doing that in our household. We are making healthier choices in many regards with healthier food, more activity, healthier thoughts (maintaining positive thinking), financial health (with our focus on budgeting and paying off debt), and finding spiritual events to attend that make us feel good and feel like a good fit for us. We are transforming ourselves. Then Marty brought up work. When it comes to our careers, are we making ourselves over or are we just doing what we have always done? This gave me pause. Am I continuing to transform myself when it comes to my career? How am I moving my work to the next level? When I focus specifically on my writing and speaking career, I know I am doing what I have always done. I have stretched a little and tried some new things, but in many ways, I am stagnant. As the year is drawing to a close, I need to ask myself how I can step it up. What changes can I make to help me move to that next level?

I think it is good for us to examine different parts of our lives from time to time. Look at those parts of your life where things have not changed for a while. Do you desire a change in this area or are you happy with the status quo? If you are happy and feel it needs no improvement, then no problem. But if you desire more; what will you do to move the ball forward, raise the bar, and push yourself into a new way of being? How will you step into the new year pushing yourself to be the best you? I am not talking New Year’s Resolutions. When have those ever worked for you? I am talking about becoming newly engaged in a certain part of your life. Newly committed to push past where you have been into being who you can be.

As we come into the next year, next month, next week, or next day, look at how you can embrace some perseverance and resilience to actively transform some part of your life that has been stagnant. Some part of your life that the status quo is no longer acceptable to you and will benefit from a fresh look or some new ideas. Go ahead, I dare you! You may be amazed what positive changes lay ahead for you.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you attain great things, as if by magic!

*Photo was taken at Pula, Croatia

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Letting Go of Darkness

The full moon is in a transformative time that comes every 28 days. It is all about letting go of the old, while the new moon is about manifesting or bringing in the new. These energies of the moon start about 4 days prior to the actual event and last for about four days after, according the Susan Miller: Astrologer. This transformative time gives us wonderful opportunities to think about what no longer serves us and what we would like to see come into our lives.

Last night was the full moon. My husband and I attended a Kirtan. These are becoming the favorite feel good events of ours to go to. This full moon Kirtan was a beautiful event and attended by many sweet souls. This, once again, made our souls sing along with our voices; as the call and response of the mantras progressed throughout the night.

When attending an event like this or starting a meditation, going to a yoga class or retreat; it is always a great idea to set the intention for what you hope to achieve or experience. I learned this many years ago from a wise teacher and have found it to powerfully enhance my experiences as well as help me along my path of healing and health. Knowing that there was a full moon shining overhead, I set an intention to let go of any darkness in my heart. To let any anger, fear, jealousy, hate, distrust, sadness, or need to complain flow gently out of my heart and into the earth. There it could become fertilizer to grow something beautiful. I intended for all darkness to leave my heart so only love would reside there. My great grandmother said, “Those who sing, pray twice”. Singing or chanting is a beautiful form of prayer.

As Chi Johnson lead us skillfully through the various chants. We came to the one that was so very perfect for a full moon Kirtan: “Nataraj, Nataraja, Jai Shiva Shankara Nataraja”. (One part of this powerful mantra) Shiva is the Hindu god of destruction and transformation. He is also called Lord of the Dance. This is basically asking Shiva to dance through our lives and destroy what no longer serves us, so that we can transform into who we truly are. As we sang this chant I asked Shiva to remove any darkness from my heart. No, not just remove, but destroy anything other than the love that was residing there. “Music in the soul can be heard by the Universe”, Lao Tzu.

When we are hurt, darkness can take hold in our heart center and it can come out in a variety of ways. It has a purpose though; it is trying to protect us. There is purpose is all things, even when we cannot see it or know what it is. The complication is, that sometimes we hold onto these things much longer than we need too. My heart’s fear of being hurt, served me well, as I was healing from the acute pain of a broken relationship. It no longer serves me though. I have held onto it much longer than I needed too. Now is the time to release any darkness in my heart to make room for unending love. Love for all people and things. Love and respect so that I can more fully live in the flow of life. By doing this I can open up to appreciation and gratitude for all the beauty around me.

I am grateful for the Full Moon Kirtan. I am grateful for Shiva dancing through my heart, so that I can release that which no longer serves it. I appreciate all of you who walk your journeys along side mine. When you are ready, know that you are safe to release those things that once protected you.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you easily let go of the darkness that has taken up residence in your heart, as if by magic.

* Photo was taken on the banks of the Ganges River in Rishikesh, India.

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Finding Spiritual Connection

We went to a Kirtan Saturday night and it was definitely the highlight of our weekend. It is a blessing to have a spouse and friends who support and share interest in my spirituality, for spirituality can be a magical thing. I feel there is a connection we experience through it. It is something bigger than ourselves, but more than that, it is something we can experience with a community of people on a similar journey.

Spirituality is not the same as religion. Some people do find a beautiful spiritual connection through religion, but that is a path and not the destination. Others may feel that connection and awe in nature. This is where they experience amazement. Others find that connection within themselves. They may gain this experience through meditation, prayer, or other rituals. Ultimately it really doesn’t matter how you find that connection, it’s still a magical thing.

We emerged from the Kirtan enhanced, deepened, and more ourselves. The world seemed a brighter place. I felt there was a different type of energy flowing through me. It was a more authentic energy. A part of me but also a connection to something more. It was not the usual sugar or caffeine induced boost. It was a Divine intensity that vibrated throughout me.

I am not sure that I can find the words that can adequately express how this experience, not only enhanced my life but also allowed me to come home to myself and be more fully me. After all, isn’t that what we are all after deep down inside, being deeply ourselves?

Having a spouse and friends with the same interests and also able to walk along with me, as we walk our paths, is such a blessing. I know that I am loved for exactly who I am. I love them for who they are. They do not have to change, be better, or be different. They can be who they are in this time and space and I love them, unconditionally. They return this same unconditional love back to me.

I facilitate a group that meets monthly to explore metaphysical and spiritual topics. This community of seekers have come together in all different ways and from all different places. We have formed connections, community, and a sense of belonging with one another. This also is a blessing to have a safe and accepting spiritual family to come home too.

If you have not found your spiritual family and you feel this is a part of you still missing, I recommend you explore. Try joining ‘MeetUp’ groups that appeal to you, attend local events, take classes on spiritual subjects that interest you. Not everyone needs a spiritual community though. Some have such a strong sense of inner connection that they are happy as solitary soul on their spiritual path. For me, I need my spiritual family!

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May you find the spiritual support you need for your journey, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken in Sanford, FL

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Financial Wellness: An Interesting Side Effect We Discovered

My husband and I recently decided to work on our financial wellness. You may be thinking that finances have nothing to do with your overall wellness, but I strongly disagree. Our finances have a profound affect on us. They allow us to pay for important healthcare; such as acupuncture, massage, or even a visit to the doctor.  Having adequate resources allows us to buy healthy and nutritious food. Money even supports some self care activities such as going on a retreat, vacations, or yoga classes. Even without all the things that having some coin in our pockets can do for us, there is the stress that not having enough cash causes. When the bills seem to out number your income or creditors all calling, the stress level can get out of control fast. High stress levels are not good for us. They can cause anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and other illnesses including unhealthy weight problems. Gaining control of your funds is an important step to your overall wellness.

As my husband and I set out on our journey to financial wellness, we first had to get on the same page. We are grateful for the book, Total Money Makeover; by Dave Ramsey. Dave doesn’t believe in manifestation or the Law of Attraction. Interestingly, I feel it was my focus on manifesting financial abundance, that caused the Universe to bring Dave and his books to my attention. I am happy to agree to disagree with Dave on this point. Total Money Makeover inspired Marty and I to get serious about our finances and we started working on the steps Dave laid out in his book.

All of this was a new to me. I have done spreadsheets for bills and payments due but never made a plan for how to spend the rest of the money. It just never seemed like there was enough of it to worry about. However, not worrying about how to spend the rest caused overspending. This just made matters worse and financial stress higher. We downloaded the app, that has been developed to support Dave’s principles. It is called Every Dollar. Dave wants you to give every dollar coming into your household a home so you know where every dollar is spent. When we initially logged our October spending, we were shocked to see some of the ways that money was escaping from our pockets. There were a lot of little things we were spending money on that, quite frankly, were a waste. Money was dribbling away from us in little insidious ways. It was not big purchases that were doing damage to our bottom line. It was the few dollar here and a couple of bucks there.

Next, we developed a November budget and set forth to follow it as close as possible. It was the first time either of us had ever really budgeted that tightly. There were things that came up that we had to adjust another spot in the budget to expense them from. Everything needed to add up to zero at the end. There were a couple places where we placed too much money and a couple others where we did not plan enough.  In the end, we made it through our first month of budgeting. When we talked about how we felt during this first month of budgeting, we both agreed that we felt more in control of our finances and less stressed. The interesting side effect was, when we got to the end of the month and the next payday, we had some money leftover. It seems crazy but true. Somehow being on a budget, giving everything a home and watching where things were going; not only gave us the feeling of having more money but actually more money.

I am very grateful that my husband is the type of man who is willing to walk this process with me. It is truly a team effort. If you decide to start on a road of finance wellness, I wish you every success. That are many money gurus out there. Maybe Dave is right for you or maybe it is someone else whose process just seems to make sense and be the right tool you need to feel financial well.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! I wish you a lifetime of finding the right financial tools for your personnel wellness, as if by magic. Just as mine came to me.

*Photo taken in Rome, Italy

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Silliness is Always a Good Idea: 7+ Ways I Have Added it to My Life

Do you like to be silly? It can feel very vulnerable to be playful and silly but it can also feed your soul and support your inner child. Let’s face it, there is a little kid hidden deep inside all of us. Here are some examples of how I have added some more play to my life. Trust me, even if it feels awkward at first, before long you will be laughing and not giving a darn what others think when they see you being goofy.

1. A friend and I recently drove up Mt Baker in Washington State. Along the way there was a big silhouette of Sasquatch. I excitedly ran up to him to shake his hand. My friend was not there to judge me but did manage to grab a shot for Facebook. Perhaps the cars driving by thought my behavior was a bit odd, but what they think of me does not impact me in the least. It was fun and we had some much needed laughs.

2. I invited a friend over for supper and decided to make it a theme meal. We had an inner child party; complete with sticky alien party favors, corndogs, and dreamsickles for dessert. It was a fun way to spend time with a friend while letting our inner children play and feel nourished.

3. Yet another friend and I went to a theme park together. It was busy time of year, when there seemed to be more work than hours in the day. There were big tubes for the kids to crawl through, on, and over. We got down on our hands and knees and crawled around in the play area like children; giggling and released a lot of the stress that had built up.

4. We try to have a family dinner once a week. For a recent family dinner we decided to have a tea party, complete with crustless sandwiches and fancy china. The kids had a great time but so did the three grown men around the table. They sipped their tea, held their pinky out, and laughed big belly laughs. They were a great example to the teenaged boy and younger children at the table that it is okay to be vulnerable and yourself.

5. When going for a walk, if I happen across a child chalk hopscotch game on the side walk, I cannot pass by with out hop, skipping, and jumping my way through it. It’s just plain and simple, feels great to be a kid at heart.

6. When my kids were teenagers we lived in a small rural community. There was not a lot to do. One night we just decided to crank up the music and dance the night away in the basement. Dance is a wonderful way to release pent up energy and be as silly as you want too. Those around you may get a good laugh and you will have some disco disco fun!

7. When Emy and I go the the BWCA, we bring kid’s blowup tubes. We push them down around our middles like pink and blue tutus and float in the clean cool lakes. We chat and play in the water like carefree little girls. It feels great to be so free for a little while.

The amount of silliness you can allow into your life is only hampered by your imagination and bravery. Play Clue by candle light, wear something fun like a big floppy hat, pop silly poses with statues, go to the park and swing as high as you dare, finger paint, or anything else your imagination suggests. It is a great way to have fun, release stress, and get some great big belly laughs going.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May your life be filled with laughter, as if by magic!

*photo was taken at our kitchen table

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Wisdom From An Ancestor

My great grandmother had a saying; “You will never be truly happy until you think more about others than you do yourself” – Ura McGurran. When you make choices in life, do you consider how they affect others? Maybe too much. Maybe so much that you are living your life for others and not taking care of yourself. So how do you strike a healthy balance? There is so much emphasis today on self care and putting ourself first. How can my great grandmother’s words still be relevant now? Let’s take a look at some self care activities and selfless acts and see where the common ground lies.

Do you feel guilty when you participate in self care activities? There is no real reason to feel guilty for caring for yourself. Do your self care activities hurt anyone? One really wonderful thing about self care, is that by doing it, you set a good example for others. A recent conversation I had with a friend, was about her feeling conflicted because something she needed to do for herself, was being viewed as selfish by her daughter. I encouraged her to go ahead and do it anyhow because, by doing so, she was setting an example for her daughter about taking care of herself and following her dreams. Her actions didn’t hurt anyone. In fact her actions help recharge her to further help others. Even when we take care of ourselves we can still be thinking of others and the example we are setting.

Selfless acts can also be a form of self care. My husband helps a friend rake his leaves, every year. He has never been asked to do this. There is no expectation that he does it. He just does it because he cares about his friend. The really good feeling he gets in his heart from helping out his buddy is a form of self care also. Selfless acts can also be a form of self care. Does this idea surprise you? It is possible to think more about others and still find happiness and balance in your life.

When we think about people who have inspired us as a world, we see that their acts brought them both happiness and purpose. People like Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama; show us how caring for others is also caring for ourselves. I assure you, that new outfit will help you feel great, but there is no greater joy than helping another and seeing the true appreciation in their eyes. When we help others do something they could not have done for themselves, a ripple goes out into the world. The movie “Pay It Forward” taught us this. It entertained us while sending a message that “random acts of kindness” are a form of self care. They help us feel good and shift the energy of the world higher.

By thinking more of others than we do ourselves, as my great grandmother so wisely shared with her children generations ago, we are also taking care of ourselves. By lending a hand to those in need, we can find happiness, change the world, and set an example for future generations.

Yes, please care for yourself. Treat yourself to quiet walk in a pretty place or take a nap when you are tired. But remember, true happiness can also come from helping others.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May your life be filled with true happiness, as if by magic!

 

 

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