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Happy New Year!

The New Year is back and it’s definitely time for the NEW YOU! I just wanted to remind you all that my site has grown and moved to Freedom At The Crossroads and I’ve got a brand new post up about fitness, diet, and performance. You can check this and more right now! http://freedomatthecrossroads.com/5-key-nutrients-needed-optimal-fitness-health/

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The Good, Bad, And The Ugly!

The “Ides Of March” (my little Shakespeare reference,  hahaha) are not far off and before you know it, we’ll all be agonizing over those extra rolls we picked up over the winter months. Needless to say, that’s not all we picked up; less healthy eating, more of eating for comfort vs. eating for hunger, more sedentary vs. active, and the list goes on.

So let’s not beat ourselves up over that stuff, rather, let’s focus on solutions that lead to results that can actually be sustained and maintained over time! When I first started the healthy lifestyle journey,  I remember being so TIRED of being sick and tired and because of that; hitting my version of “rock bottom” to the point where there was literally no way that I would stay on that hamster wheel!

I like to start a new season by detoxing my fridge so that I have the right “food” to go with a right “mindset” and that, equals success! Making the right nutritional choices for your health, are not that difficult to come up with nor are they unachievable. You simply have to change your mindset about what it means to be healthy and whether or not you value yourself enough to change your lifestyle.

Now some might say, “that’s easy for you to say”, and my response is, the following: guaranteed sickness, disease, and regret do not constitute an acceptable alternative. If you want to be fit, healthy and have a well-balanced lifestyle, you have to just do it and make the commitment or else you will never have the energy or drive to pursue those things that make life meaningful-simple!

We’re at a time in the year where it’s time to start digging through our pantries and closets and get into the business of throwing out those things we no longer need or want (a.k.a. detox). I’m a firm believer in keeping things simple and to the point. Case in point, any packaged food that lists ingredients I can’t pronounce (i.e. additives) or have been reduced to acronyms, I throw them out (or avoid buying them in the first place).

I just see that as code for stuff that’s either been banned in Europe for its associated health risks or based on my own personal research about certain ingredients in our food system that are suspect (i.e. no nutritional value or just haven’t been pulled by the Food and Drug Administration).

In the meantime, get educated about where your food comes from, get in the FitTribe Zone and get moving!

Also, here’s your FREE copy of my Pantry Detox guide and remember, “you are what you eat!”

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To Vegan or Not?

Every day there seems to be some new toxin that we’re being exposed to in the environment; an environment that our current government seems eager to pollute even more by relaxing regulations on the fossil fuel industry, big Agra-business, etc. So what’s the alternative? Do you trust regulatory agencies to do their due diligence for you, the consumer in terms of ensuring that our food sources are secure, safe to consume, and toxin free? Or, do you become your own advocate and educate yourself about where you food choices as well as put your money where your health is?

There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to making choices about what “foods” we will allow in to our bodies and in the bodies of our loved ones. Key among them is, “is it safe to eat?”, “is it healthy?”, and the real kicker; “can I afford it?” Now I am sure you’re asking, “what does going vegan have to do with it?” For me, going vegan is simply a spectrum of food and nutritional choices based on one’s own personal decisions and calculations predicated on the issues I mentioned earlier. Given the current state of affairs both nationally and globally (i.e. obesity, climate and environmental crisis) we owe it to ourselves, families and communities, to be proactive about our health and that of the world we live in. We no longer have the luxury of blindly buying foods based on marketing gimmicks and misinformation!

From a healthcare standpoint alone, diets high in fruits, veggies, nuts, (i.e. Mediterranean diet, etc) or largely plant-based, are associated with significantly reduced occurences of chronic disease, obesity, cancer, and so forth. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that you need to shift your diets (nutritional  sources) away from processed  and packaged stuff that masquerades as food.

Will it take work? Yes, but no more than usual (if you prep your meals ahead of time,  plan your meals for the week while you watch tv, etc) and your wallet will thank you! In the end, consuming less animal products will save you a lot of money as well as lower your chances of having to pay a visit to the both the cardiologist and oncologist sometime in the future.

I’ll let you ruminate on that info for a bit and in the meantime, ask yourself what’s holding you back from taking the right steps to bring your fitness and life in balance. Better yet, if you really want to gain back your power and get off that hamster wheel going nowhere, book a clarity call below and get up and GO!

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Food? Waist? Why The Obsession?

wp-1484039503567.jpgWhy are we so obsessed with food and our waistlines? This question and more, constantly leave me with a bevy of theories or reasons why there is such a large number of women in the U.S. and the west in general  (and to a smaller degree, other parts of the world), who seem fixated on both food and their waistlines. Why the constant battle with our food? As a fitness and health strategist with a background in biological anthropology, I can’t help but wonder if something more complex, and culturally relevant is at play in this insanity, and dare I say, misconceptions based on misinformation.

This problem stems in large part, from a grossly uneducated and misinformed public with  regard to what constitutes basic “good” nutrition and the plethora of misinformation peddled by a large segment of the media, as well as the fast and processed food industries. Additionally, our food policies and regulatory agencies (i.e. FDA, USDA, etc) have failed to show leadership in this area. Let us get real with ourselves, our food choices are also (and in some instances, largely) driven by factors other than basic hunger (i.e. “I hunger, therefore I eat”).

The point here is that, individual’ taste’s, culture, habits, and environment etc, play a pivotal role in our food choices, and by extension, the current food-related epidemic (obesity, heart disease, etc) we are facing at both the local and national level. First, let’s revisit the basics of why we need to eat at all. We need to eat and drink (water, at the most fundamental) to live; food equals fuel for the daily life-sustaining functions of the body at the chemical, cellular, and systemic levels.

After that, there is no physical reason (technically speaking) why we need to eat other than to sustain life. What I’m driving at here is that, outside of eating to keep the body operating at an optimum level ( regardless of age, for instance) there is no real reason to eat anything beyond what is necessary for maintaining a “healthy body”. So why do we do what we do? Why are we so unhealthy in terms of what we eat and how that translates into our current health issues? While I don’t claim to hold all the answers to what will arguably, require complex solutions (I’ll leave that in the capable hands of academic researchers), I do believe that an informed public is one that is healthy and empowered.

Case in point, big agribusiness and the packaged food industry argue that it is “expensive” and “unsustainable” to buy local and organic food items; that there is no “real” difference (in terms of nutritional content or quality) between organic produce and conventionally grown produce. Additionally, they often point to “research” that supports their claims. However, there is an increasing body of unbiased research that not only counters these claims but also exposes a number of the myths about the benefits of consuming organic produce vs. conventionally grown produce, food additives (i.e. dyes in processed foods, etc) and so forth.

As an avid food lover and someone who wants to know what’s in my food, the fact remains that it is in my best interest (as well as the interest of my family, community and environment) that I educate myself and others about the food production system. Why? Food is life and we live in an age where unsustainable and unhealthy industrial as well as food production systems have taken a toll on both our health and environment. Furthermore, if we expect to have a habitable planet in the future, we need to demand much more of ourselves and the industries we choose to engage in. So what does that all mean? In simple terms, it is impossible to make the necessary changes for better human and environmental health, if we are ignorant of both the processes and or mechanisms that negatively affect us.

With regards to the waistline fixation? I believe it is a distraction away from the real issues surrounding our health; a symptom of a problem that is more complex than we as individuals (especially women) or a nation, are willing to address. Our health system ranks at the bottom amongst industrialized nations, in addition to the fact that  segments of government that are responsible for ensuring public health, safety, and our food production systems, are grossly underfunded (and remain under attack from industry-backed legislators, etc). Unfortunately that’s not where the problem ends.  Misinformation and miseducation is wide-spread in mainstream media with “infotainment” rather than “information” being served to the public on a daily basis.

If for no other reason than protecting our very lives and the lives of our loved ones, community and environment, “we” must become educated and active when it comes to our health and wellness. A crash diet, shopping at Whole Foods, etc, is not going to get the job done, nor will fixating on someone else’s perceptions of beauty help women and girls develop a healthy self-image.

I’ve literally lost count of the number of fitness gadgets, weight-loss shakes, and other helpful whatcha-ma-call-its,  circulating on the market. Most of these gadgets  are far more successful at parting you from your money, than providing you with any real long-term success. While the public has a role to play (self-advocacy, personal research, etc)  regarding its health care, the current dynamics and recycling of misinformation does not favor the general public. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we must be willing and committed to engaging in our food production systems (i.e. getting educated about where our food comes from, what’s in it, or what’s been added to it, etc) as well as playing an active role in changing the policies that shape both our healthcare and food production systems.

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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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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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