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Nuts not fluff: Incorporating Nuts and Seeds As Part of a Healthy Diet

my-first-design-1People often ask me why I’m so obsessed about seeds and nuts and I could rattle off a whole slew of information (see sources below) about why they’re so great. After watching their eyes invariably glaze over from information overload, I’ve since discovered that less is more, and simplicity is a gem worth appreciating. The simple answer lays in the fact that we (meaning homo Sapiens) are at our optimal health and fitness when we adhere to a diet that is both diverse and nutritionally dense. This is in both the historic and evolutionary record ( I won’t bore you with the details) as well as the current health crisis many in the industrialized (as well as underdeveloped nations) are facing in terms of ever-increasing numbers of diabetes, cancer, as well as autoimmune diseases.

It is no small coincidence that our propensity for, and our over indulgence in so-called “quick” and “processed” foods have a strong connection or link to the incidence of the above mentioned diseases and associated syndromes. The bottom line, is that processed foods, our dependency on them, coupled with a lack of adequate exercise (daily), has brought us to the brink of a near pandemic. Add to that unsustainable environmental and agricultural practices, and a grime picture begins to unfold for the human race; but a solution for one problem at a time please.

In simple terms, nuts can be defined as “small dry hard-shelled dry fruit or seed with a separable rind or shell an interior kernel” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition). A much more detailed definition is provided by the National Institutes of Health (see National Institutes of Health website) which states that nuts are “nutrient dense foods with complex matrices rich in unsaturated fatty and other bioactive compounds: high-quality vegetable protein, fiber, minerals, tocopherols, phytosterols, and phenolic compounds.” Translation? nuts constitute a dense powerhouse store of complete nutrients (i.e. fats, fibre, carbohydrates, etc).

All that being said, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. While nuts are nutrient dense, they do contain fat and that means you must balance their intake with other sources of vital nutrients that contain fewer calories as well as fats. The key take away here is “BALANCE”; in terms of nutritional intake (i.e. amount per serving, etc) as well as lin proportion to other nutrient sources. For instance, a balanced intake of nuts (and or seeds, i.e. sunflower walnuts) at one sitting relative to other nutrient sources, would be equivalent to 1/3/ cup or 1 and 1/2 oz of nuts 3-4 servings per week for a 1,600 calorie diet and 4-5 servings per week for a 2,000 calorie diet (American Heart Association: 2013 Healthy Diet recommendations;Eckel, Robert H. et al. “2013 AHA/ACC).

While similar to seeds in terms of nutrient content, seeds are, in simple terms, the embryonic stage of a plant housed in a protective outer shell or hull. The dietary guidelines for seeds are similar to those for nuts, but the caveat remains the same; balance, balance, balance, is the mantra we should all stick to when it comes to nutrition, health (mind-body) and fitness. Why am I pushing them? I’m a firm believer in balance and the pivotal role it plays in our health and fitness within the context of a healthy and free lifestyle. My own personal experience alone has driven home the inherent power of a well-balanced and nutrient dense diet; not only that, from a physical fitness perspective, a poor diet will doom you to failure and injury (i.e. failing to fuel your body the nutrients required for both recovery and muscle growth).

From a female perspective, I’ve come to learn the importance of incorporating dietary balance into my daily regime as a means of negating undesirable effects of changes in hormonal levels, stress, and illness recovery. While nutrition and fitness alone can not wholly stave off the negative impacts of illness, disease, time, and so forth, they are powerful resources in our arsenal that are available to help us achieve optimum fitness, health, and the freedom to pursue our goals and passions.

Remember, getting fit and healthy requires that you first make the decision, develop a plan, and take action. For more information as well as assistance regarding how to get started on your journey, join the FitTribe of fellow women who are getting stronger everyday!

Please follow me at my new website:

http://www.freedomatthecrossroads.com

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References

Eckel, Robert H. et al. “2013 AHA/ACC Guideline on Lifestyle Management to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk.” Circulation, vol. 129, no. 25 suppl 2, Dec. 2013, doi:10.1161/01.cir.0000437740.48606.d1.

Ros, Emilio. “Health Benefits of Nut Consumption.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc3257681/.

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Yes, there is a cost…healthy too?

Contrary to what you might believe ,  there is a cost associated with everything in this life. whether it’s a nice shiny car, or even a smile, yes it will cost you something ; the question is what are you willing to pay for it?! It sounds somewhat cynical and jaded but the real truth is that ,  even something as intangible as a smile cost something, even if it’s not financial; it’s all about value and yes, personal development too!

Earlier this month I had an opportunity to briefly volunteer and attend a summit on food systems, sustainability and food insecurity, hosted by FoodTank. While it was largely informative and inspiring, this only served to drive home my earlier points-there is nothing more important than our health and wellness (i.e. mind,body, and spirit). Why? Without healthy, pesticide free food and by extension, good health, WE can achieve nothing of great value or worth.

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Access to healthy (and sustainably sourced) food, a.k.a. good nutrition, plus a regular fitness routine (i.e.various exercise regimes) form the foundation for a balanced, healthy and fulfilling life .The reality is that an unhealthy community or society, is ultimately doomed to unproductivity and death as its members succumb to illness and disease brought on by poor nutrition (i.e. obesity ,  diabetes, etc), inactivity and excessive stress.

I’m not saying that nutrition is the cure-all for all diseases, but it is, a critical weapon in our arsenal for staving off a number of illnesses, diseases and environmental stressors that severely limit both life expectancy and quality of life. Experience has shown me that the old adage,  “medicine after death” still remains true. It’s far better to prevent disease rather than be in a situation where pharmaceuticals (i.e. medication) are necessary and in some instances, rife with their own set of issues (i.e. “side effects). While I’m grateful for the pharmaceutical  breakthroughs to fight diseases etc, the truth remains that a healthy body (fueled and protected by pesticide free foods and phyto-nutrients, exercise, etc) is a far better option.

If you’re waiting for big Agra-business (a.k.a. CAFO’s, packaged food industries, etc) to put your health and wellness above their profit shares and share holders, it ain’t gonna happen! Bottom line? We need to become our own food (as well as health) advocates and educate ourselves  about where our food comes from, and not rely on the food industry to police itself. Food (what we consume) is intimately connected to our health and the health of the environment.

You might ask, who has time for all that “research”? The answer to that is, WE all do if we care about our health, eating foods that have been sustainably farmed (i.e. non-toxic farming practices, minimal use of pesticides, etc) and our environment. We’ve entered into and era whereby we no longer have the luxury of being ignorant about our food systems (i.e. the global climate crisis and food insecurity). It is way past time where we all need to fully engage with ourselves, our environment,  and our food systems if we ever hope to have healthy and fulfilling lives. Now that is true freedom to me !

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You, your food and…

Your food and you!…

So it’s a new day, a new season, and with all of that comes a whole new set challenges. The fall season kicks off the hustle and bustle of preparing for upcoming holidays and the stress of all those unwelcome bills that come with multiple gift buying, household preparations, and travel expenses. So how do you STILL fit in a healthy eating and fitness plan? Well, you simply stick to the P.L.A.N. and remain focused on your goals (i.e. living a balanced and healthy lifestyle,etc).

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I’m not saying there are no challenges in maintaining your health and fitness goals, but it is more than possible to be aware of what you’re eating, finding and using your “me” time to work out (it’s also an excellent way to deal with stress), and staying balanced in all (or most) areas of your life. Experience has taught me that the best way to do this, is by taking a step back and finding joy in the little things-a crisp sunny Fall day, an invigorating walk along the trails, or simply enjoying a hot cup of tea or coffee on the front porch (backyard, on the veranda, in front of your balcony, etc).

For the everyday woman who’s life is at the crossroads and who feels like she needs not just her health and fitness in balance, but life in general, I say, WELCOME! I have found that every woman is unique in terms of her story and her needs, especially at the “crossroads”. Why? The answer is relatively simple. The needs of a woman who is already stressed, out of balance both physically and mentally (i.e. overweight, frustrated, overwhelmed) is different from one who has her career, obligations, and family on track, etc but just needs “some” help losing a few pounds and leaning how to eat healthy!

The sad truth is that most of us women (especially if you haven’t seen 30 in a min😜) struggle with a chaotic and unhealthy life, but rather than valuing ourselves enough to change it, we choose for one reason or another, to stay on that hamster wheel going no where!

We need to admit and own our truth when it comes to our relationship with food and by extension ,  how we relate and perceive ourselves as well as others. we seem to be ignorant of the fact that FOOD plays an important role in our lives and an important aspect of culture. I guess like so many other things in this high-tech age, this is just one more thing that has become lost in the matrix of ” sameness” perpetuated by a media that serves itself rather than the welfare of society at large.

I’m not saying we bear no responsibility in own health, but I AM saying is that, the media bares some responsibility in terms of pushing “unhealthy” images and ideals of what constitutes beauty, a “healthy weight”, “healthy” foods (i.e. so called fat-free, zero calorie) etc. Our current mainstream media has in large part become the mouth piece of big Agra-business and corporations more interested in their bottomless than the wellbeing of society.

This is why I do what I do! I decided to get active and advocate for women’s health and to empower other women to fight back and reclaim their health, fitness. My goal is for women in my zone of influence to become knowledgeable about their food sources and equip them with the necessary tools to gain control of their health and nutrition. I’ll always remember these  wise words of my mom, “knowledge is power” and “the gates of the school-house are still open”!

If You are tired of UN-healthy crap being packaged and marketed to you as healthy, “low” in fat, etc, then get involved and educated about who controls your food- you are what you eat folks! The hard truth is that, if after all that hard work of getting fit and adopting a healthy lifestyle you’re still depending on big Agra-business and the fast food / packaged food industrial machine to give you good (derived from sustainably grown, mostly pesticide free or organic) quality food, dream on. An educated public is an empowered one, and too often that empowerment is in conflict with the bottom line of these corporations.

So what do I do to cut out the crazy and NOT break the bank? I keep it simple. Stick to mostly seasonal produce, buy my produce from local farms, buy organic where necessary (avoid the “dirty dozen”) and get involved in a local or community farm if at all possible. At the end of the day you, and your family are worth the time and effort, believe me! On a side note, my yummy red shrimp pasta dish 👇🏽 did NOT break the bank, contains mostly organic ingredients, and was both healthy and nutritious! #BoomShakaLaka 😜

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As always, you can reach me both here and facebook, or just drop me a line…img_0100-1

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“Paying” for Beauty?

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Nordstrom 2016 Beauty Event goodies!

The Oakbrook Nordstrom Fall 2016 Beauty Trend Show hit the ball out of the park in terms of creativity and content (at least for the most part). As a savvy skin care shopper, Nordstrom is near the top of my list when it comes to product availability, style, customer service, and bang for my buck! Who’d have thunk it? A major department store that gives the customer luxury experience as well as price points for all? They did it right this time when so many major retailers are doing it wrong with such things as “restrictive” coupons, misguided marketing campaigns (a.k.a. bait and switch) poor customer service, and anything less than the luxury experience they claim (i.e. Macy’s).

However, let’s get back to the positives and all that was right in terms of showcasing the Fall 2016 Beauty Trends and the awesome fun-filled experience for the woman who knows what she wants-Nordstrom Oakbrook Center, ya did good! While I don’t always comment on these types of events, this time Nordstrom pulled off a creative event in which most went away satisfied (a dramatic improvement over the Spring 2016 Beauty event) having had the luxury experience that we all need a little of from time to time.

This past weekend was all about being the #PhenominalWomanIBe and appreciating myself as a woman. I often tell my clients, “if you are an empty well, there is nothing you have to give to others”; this is so true and unfortunately too many of us think that if we keep being “super woman” others will eventually find us worthy! That’s an untruth many woman tell themselves as they struggle at the “crossroads” of their lives, trying to find contentment as they spin on that hamster wheel going nowhere. I hate to break it to you my sisters, but if YOU do not see the value and unique beauty that YOU bring to this earth, there are few who will see that special essence that you carry within.

I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade or pander to the negative; I’m only stating a simple truth that comes when you realize that a healthy and balanced life requires that you set boundaries (protecting and respecting your inner core). Ultimately, you must grow comfortable in your own skin, realize that you can’t please or be everything to everyone, and take care of both your physical and mental health. I’ve made no bones about the fact that I’m a skin care freak and as such I’m always looking for new tips, tricks and all things natural for maintaining healthy radiant skin.

So what did I DO this past weekend? Well, this #SkinCareFreak was on the hunt,  and I decided not to miss out on attending Nordstrom’s Fall 2016 Beauty Trend Show in at the Oakbrook Mall (Oakbrook, IL)!😘💄 That’s right ladies, my “crew” and I camped out at the Oakbrook Mall in the wee hours of 4am to get first dibs at the beauty trend items (anti-aging, renewal, replenishment, hydration, etc) coming into the season. Needless to say, it was all about protection for the winter, fragrance and yes, cosmetics!💄🙌🏽

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Early bird gift!

As a health and fitness strategist, I believe in creating working strategies for the “WHOLE” woman; not just shedding the unhealthy weight and relationship with food, but also helping EVERY woman appreciate herself and all of the quirks and imperfections that make her uniquely beautiful in her space. In other words, attending this beauty event was not just about checking out the latest in skin care, but about making sure I did what was necessary to “do me”!  That is not to say that one needs ALL these things to feel good about oneself; but what I am saying is, there is something inherently therapeutic about treating yourself to some “me” time, reorienting yourself, and ultimately getting in balance!

Bottom line? A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do and there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling great and loving what you see when you look in the mirror! Get fit, healthy, and change the way you see yourself by growing and developing on the inside out!Blessings!😘

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Getting it right, for YOU!

I’ve since arrived at the conclusion that when it comes to weight loss, fitness, and over all toning and conditioning, every woman’s body responds differently. I’m always amazed at all the lies and downright hurtful gimmicks aimed at women! Dang IT! We women seem to be the targets of a lot of negative media and social attacks! Part of it stems from the larger problems within our society that are currently being stirred up and played out on the  socio-political stage.

Given all the shifting undercurrents we are being subjected to as well as marketing aimed at all of our insecurities, it’s no wonder that women across the board are more stressed, overwhelmed and feeling pressured to not just fit every role created for us, but to also live up to standards that have little or no basis in reality! Don’t even mention those that are being forced upon us by segments of society that seek to strip women of all the socio-political gains we have fought for over the years. Am I pissed and ticked off? Duh!! Yes! WHY  you might ask? Well it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that “THIS” whole “THANG” (forced social, political, and gender roles) has to do with power and “WHO” gets to wield it over some one else.

It’s unfortunate that we still still live in a world and society where there are those among us who seek to subjugate, control and dictate to other human beings simply because “they” will it to be so. I’m on a rant today because we WOMEN are still forced to deal with this crap in the 21st century while the other segment of the population glibly marches on with their “special” privileges. NOW, with that context nailed down, add to the mix an unhealthy body image, a skewed relationship with food, etc-EXACTLY! A life out of balance and on that hamster wheel going nowhere! 

The most obvious signs of imbalance for us women tends to be an unhealthy image of our bodies (or ourselves in general), weight gain, insomnia, and so forth. How do get off that crazy train? STOP! Do some real soul-searching and then, make a DECISION, get a PLAN, and then, take ACTION! I never said it would be easy, but you’ve got to come to the realization that YOU are WORTH IT! Why we women struggle with self-worth is NOT a hard thing to figure out when you look around the media and society in general. Hmm, I never saw myself as the proverbial feminist before but if that means, NO more trying to please everyone, NO more trying to fit some one else’s ridiculous image of the ideal woman (i.e. shape, color, size, personality, behavior, etc), and DEFINITELY  NO more “trying” to dictate my biology, THEN F***KING SIGN ME THE HELL UP!!

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, “back to the regular programming”, ha-ha! Bottom line, we women need to stop beating up ourselves about what we see in the mirror or how others perceive us, and just focus on our individual truths, places that need growth (and do what needs to be done to get there), realize that we need to put our health and fitness at the top of our own lists (because if you’re unhealthy there is nothing you can do for anyone else if you’re dead!), and engage in those things that will bring BALANCE and FULFILLMENT to our lives. Now, that IS my “WHY” when people ask me about why I do what I do, but the real question is, WHAT’S YOUR’S? ARE YOU finally FED UP and sick and tired of being sick and tired??

LET’S GET YOU STARTED ON YOUR JOURNEY TO THE REAL YOU!>>BOOK YOUR FREE CLARITY SESSION NOW<<

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Stumped?

It’s another Monday,  another week, and one more autumn in sight. I don’t know about you, but while I’m still grasping on to the last rays of summer, my heart can’t help but beat a little faster at the thought of autumn and all the goodies it will bring.  Yeah I know it’s going to be a bit “crispy” and the days will grow shorter, but what’s important is the C.H.A.N.G.E.!

Don’t you just feel like change is in the air? Like an air of expectation is just hovering around you, waiting for you to get a clue? Yes, I was feeling a little bit like I was trapped on that, dare I say it? Wow,that hamster wheel going NO where! I don’t know how I got on it, and I’m stumped at the fact that I’m just finally arriving at the realization  that I’ve been on it these last few weeks.

All that dissatisfaction, pent-up frustration and malaise I was feeling? Now THAT, was my inner self chomping away within and urging me to wake up! Some how, I had allowed personal and health challenges to whittle away at my focus, determination and passion! Damn! What a scary reminder to ALWAYS be vigilant in staying the course and to take care to both nourish and focus on your objective; regardless of whether it’s health, family or carrier oriented.

Okay, now that I’ve had my wakeup call, it’s time to ditch the malaise of that hamster wheel, flex some muscle, and get perspective! I don’t know about you, but I’m glad that my eyes are wide open, the adrenaline is pumping, and now? Well, I’m UNSTOPPABLE! I wonder though, who else is out there feeling “stumped” about where she (or he) is on life’s journey, at the crossroads and trying to get health and fitness, in balance?

All I can say is, welcome to the journey and embrace the change…

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#TGIF: Time to, relax, relate and release!

So it’s Friday and, WHAT? Well, it should mean or translate into a powering down, reconnecting with our inner selves, and releasing (letting go) of the stresses of the week, and the past. LET IT GO! Hanging on to regrets and that old dead “woulda, coulda, shoulda” only leaves you with a sense of failure, frustration and an inability to focus on reorienting yourself so that YOU can achieve your goals.

That’s not to say that reflection isn’t necessary or that regret is all bad; what I am saying these things have their own place within the context of a well-balanced life. If we don’t reflect (in a constructive manner) on where certain things went wrong in the past, we are more likely to repeat those same mistakes. In a similar manner, if we are incapable of feeling regret (again, within the proper context), that speaks to a lack of personal development or growth as well as a lack of emotional depth.

All of that aside, knowing when to a “system shutdown” is part of living a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Remember, “fitness” and “health” applies to more than just the physical; it’s also about the mental and emotional aspect of who we are as individuals.

Experience has taught me that the fitness journey is more than weight loss, eating clean, exercise, etc. It’s about the mental and emotional components of who we are, coming in to balance and alignment as part of living a healthy and fulfilling life.My advice? Take the weekend to get outside, break away from technology, connect with the earth (a.k.a. get some nature / outdoor therapy) and decompress! Blessings on the journey…👣

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The beauty of the nut: The health benefits of eating seeds & nuts

wp-1470397805840.jpgThe research bears it out (even if I had not arrived at this conclusion from my own fitness journey); there are huge gains to be made from consuming seeds and nuts as part of a healthy diet. As one who has a fair share of basic anthropology and archaeology course work (background in biological anthropology) I’m far from surprised that some of the same food sources in early human history, have shown themselves to have been beneficial within the context of health. As outlined in serveral journals (follow this >>link<< for researched benefits of adding nuts and seeds to your diet) , while they do contain a significant source of fat (the “good” variety, i.e monounsaturated fats) they are also extremely nutrient dense.

A key take away from my own personal research and experience (i.e fitness journey) is to always ensure that you incorporate a variety healthy nutrient sources into your diet. Yes our bodies need fat just not the crap at your local fast food, wannabe be “restaurants”. There are no substitutes for healthy meal planning  and food choices.You want to lose weight, get fit and healthy? Then you have to be willing to do the work, educate yourself about your food and where it comes from, AND live the healthy lifestyle! This is the reality of maintaining your health and fitness AND to sustain those achievements,  YOU must maintain it. A good guide to eating healthy is provided by the >> CDC<<,  but you can’t rely on one source of information to access the information you need to “fight” the “food wars”, YOU must get engaged in the food production process yourself (i.e. advocate for clear labels on food items, support organic and local farmers, etc).

Now that I’ve said and done my part, what about you?..👣

 

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All YOUR pieces…

Now that my last rant is over, it’s time to dedicate some time to “reflection”  and the meat of the matter. Skeptic that I am, when ever someone tells me about some “miracle” weight-loss pill, diet or “beverage ” I just start to mentally bang my head against ANY hard surface and say,  SERIOUSLY?!

I mean this stuff is like a “dungus”! You know, that cross between crap and fungus? Yeah, that stuff.😐 There’s really no shortcut to a healthier, stronger you and ANY one who claims there is such a “cure” is literally lying his/ her ass off. Just sayin’😎 maybe I watch way too much late night television,  and definitely too much sci-fi AND Game of Thrones , BUT,my level of  amazement just goes right up when I  think about the crap that is being pushed on people who are desperately seeking a solution to their health care crisis-a life or death situation.

It’s heart breaking to see such misery and defeat in the eyes of soo many women ( in case you haven’t figured it out yet, my passion is women’s health 😉) who “think” they are trying a product, or cure all, only to waste their money on some snake oil being pushed by some famous person who by the way, has NEVER actually used the product.

The bottom line is, first, ACCEPT all of YOU plus your imperfections (and baggage) and then connect with the support and guidance that will get you on track with your health and fitness.  So to recap: Make a DECISION, PLAN, and take ACTION! Without these three things you’re literally on a hamster wheel going no where.

For everyone in my “fit tribe” of women (fitness accountability group), the understanding is that WE are ALL on this fitness journey together, encouraging one another to stay the course to achieving fitness, stating healthy, and living a fully empowered life! 👊 I’m just a quirky,  eclectic sci-fi chick leading my tribe to fitness, health, freedom and self-empowerment.

 I’ve gotta say, oh how sweet this journey and what a relief to be free from the constraints and expectations of people who don’t know the struggle or understand the feminine power that comes from self-acceptance and the “DECISION” (making that decision to change your health and life)…blessings on the journey 👣

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About those fitness gadgets…

DO. YOUR. RESEARCH. I can’t say it enough! At the end of last year, I decided to give in to  the “pressure” and bought a fitness tracker called moov; NOT a good idea on further reflection and PERSONAL experience!😜 why? Because even though I did my research (I thought I did enough, but then not so much), I failed on one crucial point; the point being, DID I REALLY need a gadget for tell me what I already knew?!

The truth is, no I didn’t. Add to that the app associated with the moov tracker was, buggy, and essentially inadequate,  AND to top it off? It fell apart and was lost ( yeah, the wrist band was crappie! 😬),  I think I’ll be A LOT more discriminating when it comes to 1. whether I actually need a particular gadget, 2. it’s functionality and third, it’s over all usefulness for my particular needs.👊

Now that I’m done with my rant about useless technology  (at least those that fail to live up to the hype) I’m off to get a new pair of cross-trainers, hahaha! 😜 Blessings on the fitness journey y’all.😉👣…