The 4 Biggest Blunders to Healthy Aging

We all want to age gracefully and remain full of life. It’s a goal most of us have, but one that we ignore because it’s hard to grasp, illusive – defining healthy aging is hard to do. But I think we can all agree to a few things. We want to be able to reach our arms above our heads to grab things off the top shelf, we want to be able to sit cross legged once in a while, we want to be able to remember our own names and those of others, we want strong bones to keep us from breaking when we step off the curb, and we want reach or maintain a healthy weight and not develop lifestyle complications like high-blood pressure, high cholesterol, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and some cancers. More than anything, most of us want to live to see the next generation.

My own experiences have taught me to listen up to what I need to be healthy now and in the future. A few years ago, I developed a basal cell carcinoma on my face – right in the middle of my left cheek…and I was shocked! Why was I shocked? Most of my life, I’d never avoided the sun, never used sunscreen, and actually encouraged sunburn. As a friend once told me – allowing the sun and/or tanning booth to brown your skin and bake your face is both ignorant and arrogant (thank you, friend). I’m much more careful these days.

Perhaps many of the things we do like overeating, lying in the sun, leading a sedentary lifestyle….or, stated differently, perhaps the things we IGNORE are exactly the things we need to stop now to change the direction of our future. I recently heard a great quote about change  “No matter how long you’ve traveled in the wrong direction, you can always turn around…” (someone really smart and I’m terribly sorry I did not write your name down to properly cite you). There are plenty of things we can screw up and do wrong to lead to an unhealthy life but here are 4 healthy aging blunders I can think of:

  • Stress is the devil. Stress affects our health in numerous ways. Super healthy individuals can drop dead of a heart attack because of stress. Stress wears out our adrenals and leaves our body unable to detoxify our organs. Stress affects our moods, our relationships, and our ability to work and live an easeful life. Have you ever tried meditation? Just start with two minutes – seriously – close your eyes, slow your breath, breathe long exhales and just quiet the mind. It’ll become a habit before you know it if you just do 2 minutes every day.
  • You forgot to move like a kid. Yep, like a kid. When was the last time you pulled yourself up the monkey bars at a park? When did you start having to use your hands to set your butt down on the floor? How about running to the mailbox? Or parking your car half way across the Meijer parking lot instead of right outside the door? Watch a kid for a few minutes sometime soon. Try to mimic her movement. Walk, skip, swing, roll, jump, spin, hop, crawl. We just forgot. Because we have to go to work and “behave.” Stop conforming. Who cares. Run up and down the stairs. Skip across the Meijer parking lot after parking far away. No one will judge. Actually, they will. They will wish they were you!
  • You lost your tribe. This is a big one. We need social support. We need it in so many ways. You don’t need friends like you did when you were a kid, but you do need a friend who will wonder where you are if you don’t show up for a walk. You need an ear to hear about your constipation. Or that you’re struggling with menopause symptoms. Or that you don’t have sex or even have the drive for it anymore. Your tribe will support you. If this resonates with you, pick up the phone and call a friend. Reconnect. Make a friend date. You’ll be glad you did. Your friend will be glad you did.
  • You thought you could keep eating like you were 20. If you’re 30 and you’re reading this, I mean you too. At 20, our bodies are at a peak state. Our metabolism is incredible. Our hormones are flowing all over the place. But as we age, metabolism slows…and our bodies begin to shift what and how much we can effectively metabolize and process the foods we consume. Eat more plants, lots of them. Did you know that “most” people in the second half of their lives eat approximately 300-400 calories more than they need? Eat less.

Don’t blunder your way through life. In Sanskrit, the word Samskara means “a recycled or stuck behavior or thought pattern as a result of perpetuating tendencies in the subconscious mind” (Cate Stillman – Body Thrive) Think about what your STUCK tendencies are. If you want to age gracefully and healthfully, know yourself and pinpoint your tendencies. Make small changes and before you know it, you’ll be 95 and kicking your heels up.

Plant-based Spinach Lasagna

Plant-based Spinach Lasagna with Non-Dairy Ricotta
Preheat the oven to 350°F

FOR THE TOFU RICOTTA:
1 pound fresh water-packed firm tofu
2 teaspoons minced garlic
¼ cup nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup soy milk
4 tablespoons of vegan pesto (optional)
To make the ricotta, combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender until fairly smooth. Place into bowl, and set aside.

FOR THE LASAGNA:
Tofu Ricotta (above)
1−2 pounds fresh spinach, lightly steamed until wilted
8 ounces no-boil lasagna noodles
7 cups fat-free pasta sauce – I use homemade marinara with small amount of tomato paste for thickness
Top with vegan cheese

To assemble the lasagna, spread 1 cup of the pasta sauce over the bottom of the baking dish. Then cover the sauce with a layer of noodles. Next, spread half of the ricotta mixture and half of the spinach over the noodles, and top with 2 more cups of the sauce. Add another layer of noodles, the rest of the tofu mixture and spinach, 2 cups more of the sauce, and the rest of the noodles. Spoon the remaining 2 cups of sauce over the noodles (make sure you cover all the edges. Top with non diary cheese.

Bake for 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 30 minutes before cutting.

Note: This recipe may be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated. Add about 15 minutes to the baking time. (Source: Adapted from Forks Over Knives)

Asparagus and Garbanzo Bean Soup

Try this delicious seasonal recipe!

Asparagus and Garbanzo Bean Soup

1 bunch asparagus stalks
2 C water
1tsp olive oil
1/2 C garbanzo beans
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
Fresh ground black pepper

Chop 1-2 inches off the bottom of the asparagus to remove the woody part. Chop stalks into 1 inch pieces. Cook asparagus on the stove top in one cup of water until tender. Put asparagus and cooking water in blender, add another cup of water or veggie broth, olive oil, beans, and salt and blend on medium high until smooth. Put back in sauce pan and warm on low heat. Garnish with whatever lovely herbs you might have around. I used  basil.

(Adapted from The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook)

 

Autumn Detox – Get clear and clean. It’s time to refresh your system!

You’ve read all the articles you could get your hands on about what to expect from a detox: You’re planning to lose those last few pesky pounds that have been hanging on for years. Your skin will radiate with new freshness from the amazing supplements you’ll get. And your system will be clear, open and ready to go for the long winter months.

Maybe, but read on……

A good detox is one that does not require you to spend money on or consume processed supplements, pills, face masks, or special creams. The best detox is a simple one. No fuss, no muss. It’s all about taking radical self-responsibility for YOU and doing a deep dive into your deepest desires and needs, removing gunk from your body and mind, and opening new spaces in your life – as well as dropping those pesky pounds.  

The 3 things you’ll experience that you’ve never expected:

# 1 – Ah-ha’s! Yes, you’ll experience ah-ha’s. We will meet weekly as a detox tribe and make new connections and have a chance to learn from one another. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines a tribe as  group of persons having a common character, occupation, or interest. You’ll reach your goals by being part of a powerful tribe of like-minded people with the goal of cleansing and facing the coming holidays and winter months with a new awareness of the body and a spirit of confidence. Oh yeah, bring it on.

# 2 – You’ll rid your operating system of the gunk and sludge of life. Have you ever driven your car twelve thousand miles without an oil change? If so, you’ve either burned up all the oil in the system and fried your engine or both. Like changing your oil, Detox removes the thick stuff that sticks to your organs and clogs the flow of good stuff.

# 3 – You’ll discover a new sense of flow in the body – in with the good, out with the bad. In other words, you’ll enhance your operating system and experience the glories of a healthy, daily elimination. Yep, I’m talking about poop again.

I am excited to bring you Autumn Detox – For the Health of It.  This 3-week workshop will be held on Zoom – an on-line video platform that you can easily access from the comfort of your home. The Autumn Detox will take place on Sunday evenings, Sept. 9, 16, and 23 at 6 p.m.

Experience big ah-ha’s, a cleaner engine, and the flow you need to be at your very best. Workshop cost is $49. Sign up below and make your payment by clicking here. 

I look forward to seeing you on September 9!

Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Cashew Cream Breakfast Bowl

 

This weekend I am experimenting with foods for my Healthy Living Retreat coming up August 10-12. Here’s what’s on the brunch menu:

Mashed Sweet Potato and Cashew Cream Breakfast Bowl

  • 1 Sweet potato – cut into cubes with skin on, boil until tender
  • 1/2 cup cashews and 1/4 cup of water – blend together in blender until creamy
  • Add sweet potato cubes to blender
  • Add 1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
  • Bend until creamy. Top with your choice of fresh fruit and cinnamon.

Nutritious beyond belief. Participants at the retreat will have the option of participating in the kitchen as we prepare our meals, or simply kick back and wait for the deliciousness to arrive!

For more information about the retreat, click here.

Let your buddhi guide the way!

I have never been a regular meat eater. For most of my life, including my childhood, I avoided anything to do with meat (and that includes chicken, yes, chicken is meat). About four years ago, I gave it up completely. The only real way that I used to consume meat was if it was in something that someone prepared for me, or if I was out and there were very few options (I’ve learned a lot since then). When I started studying holistic nutrition, I learned that meat and meat products might not be the best thing for my body.

I also study Ayurveda which teaches that meat takes significantly more energy to digest than other foods. As a runner, who the heck needs slow digestion? I need all the energy I can get, and I don’t want anything I consume to get in the way of nutrient absorption.  Eating meat was an invitation to gut issues, inflammation, and frankly, it just made me a little queasy. Especially raw chicken!!! Plus, seriously people, your poop is irregular at best when you eat a lot of meat. Think pebbles or stones….or no poop at all. Ug. How awful. In Sanskit, we think of bowel function in terms of downward flow or downward prana (life-force). The Sanskit term for this is apana vayu. Whatever you call it, we all need downward flow and it should be easeful, not painful.

A friend told me about Forks Over Knives and it was meat-game OVER.  Thank you, Shannon!

Now I constantly hear arguments about the benefits of eating meat over a plant-based diet. I don’t want to argue. What you eat, what you purchase, support, and consume is your business. My choice is simply to not eat meat or support businesses that contribute to what I consider not healthy, not good for the environment, and certainly, NOT GOOD for the animals. I promote a plant-based lifestyle. I will not argue, but I will always support (as will you for YOU) what I believe to be good for me and my family physically, environmentally, and ethically. This is also what I teach in my classes. No one is required to do as I do, but I try my darnedest. And as Elizabeth, a member in one of my courses said to me, “let’s just agree to disagree”.  Yep, good deal. And thank you for that, Elizabeth. I like your style.

Not all the decisions I’ve made in this life have been good. Wow, now that’s an understatement and a topic for another blog post and a bottle of wine! Ask my family and friends. No, on second thought….please don’t.  Moving on… But this decision was a good one and I continue to be grateful every day for that decision. In making that decision, I was inspired by buddhi, the Sanskit term that roughly translates to “…our higher intelligence which has access to expanded awareness on one hand and the data from our lived experience on the other” (translation by Cate Stillman).

And this is the point I wanted to make in this blog post. Today we have SO much information available to us. We can hop on the internet and use Dr. Google (thanks to Wendy who says something like this) to find answers to all our questions. But what we find on the internet (or wherever) needs to be balanced by our instincts, our true motivations or aspirations, and what we believe to be true for us (me, my family, you, your family, your world).  I chat with people all the time who know exactly what they SHOULD do to be healthy, or happy, or satisfied, or fill-in-the-blank. But we are people. We are messy people and we are influenced by so many forces out there. Often, we make poor decisions that impact our health, our ethics, our jobs, our families, our safety, our environment.

At our family cottage up north, on the inside bathroom door, we have a poster of common-sense mottos and sayings (it’s seriously been there for 35 years and when you sit on the toilet, you can read and reread the litany of sayings. It’s quite entertaining). My favorite is TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS, THEY ARE ALWAYS RIGHT. So go with your gut. Sure, read up, do your research, listen to other people’s opinions, and then do what your gut tells you to do, if it is responsible and will make you whole. When you are out of alignment with your true self, and your deep wisdom, you will make poor decisions.  Let your buddhi guide the way. Namaste!

 

Fit Mind~Fit Body Bootcamp – For the Health of It

Fit Mind~Fit Body Bootcamp…for the Health of It. Accepting only 10 people and you must have taken one of my courses in the past or be a member of this Facebook Page or Group – join here.
 
Open to all levels of fitness. This Fit Mind~Fit Body Bootcamp Pilot will include 2 kick-your-ass workouts a week, suggested foods and menus for optimal health and a big fat discount for my October Healthy Habits course.
 
Biggest requirement is that you get your butt out of bed early because the workouts will be in Mt. Pleasant (outdoors) on Monday and Wednesday mornings, will start promptly at 6 am and end by 7 am. I will ask for honest feedback that includes what you liked, what was missing, and your lessons-learned from the sessions.
 
Cheap as it gets – $49 includes all 8 sessions
 
Exact locations to be announced weekly. All sessions will be in downtown Mt. Pleasant and sessions will rotate between locations. Each session will include a warm-up, 30 minute intense interval workout, and a lovely cool down.
 
To join, you must be in good health and agree to complete a health assessment form and have a brief conversation with Alison about your health and fitness before participating.
To sign up, make your payment here and complete this form: .

How to avoid decision fatigue

In moments of low motivation, high stress, or unexpected turmoil, it can be difficult to stay committed to goals and habit change. Good intentions go right down the drain when the sad, overworked, or stressed out brain takes over. In a moment, or in one bite, you’ve taken a turn toward the dark side of motivation and thrown caution to the wind.

How do we plan for these moments of low motivation and chaos so that we stay on track? It’s a matter of acting when motivations are high. For me, this means I need to look to my early mornings and weekends to proactively plan. I will give you two examples. The first is my running schedule. If I relied upon my afternoons or evenings to run, I would not be a runner.  Anyone who knows me, knows that around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I begin walking into walls. I’m not necessarily tired, but I’ve used up most of my energy reserves – I’m ready to wind down. I can still get work done, but if I’ve left my run for later in the day when my motivation is low, and my brain energy is questionable, I will probably suffer decision fatigue that ultimately leads me to decide against it; it’s too hot, too late, too rainy, too cold, too boring, too much traffic, too little time, blah, blah, blah.

And then there’s my diet. You all know I’m a fruit and vegetable super freak. I try to eat as healthy as possible as often as possible which normally means I’ll have homemade soup or salad for lunch….or both. If you’ve ever seen me march into the office in the morning, you’ll see my arms loaded down with a days’ worth of stuff, most importantly, an entire days’ worth of food. My smoothie is contained in my smoothie cup and a quart mason jar for later, I have a thermos of soup, and a container with salad. If I’m working late or have coaching sessions after work, I’ll have more soup and/or salad for my dinner.  It’s a big deal and it’s a lot of food.  If I had to make my food or create a days’ worth of food during the day, especially on a week day, forget it! Instead, I set aside a couple of hours on weekends to make large batches of soup, cut veggies, grind seeds, and in general, get my kitchen in order including filling my freezer with plenty of food for the week. In the morning, when my motivation is high, I get everything organized and off I go.  I have this routine DOWN!!!!  It’s a habit. In fact, much of my life is a ritual. My husband just gets out of the way because he knows nothing gets between me and my smoothie and morning routine.

Decision fatigue. It’s a thing; a real thing. And it exists just to mess with us and throw us off our game. So next weekend, set aside two hours to shop, cut, batch, cook, freeze, and store the various parts of your meals. If it’s not your meals that are your problem, state the problem, decide when your motivation is high, and get prepping. Tonight before I go to bed, my running clothes, shoes and socks will be placed by the front door, my mason jar is by the sink ready to be filled with water first thing so I remember to drink, and my food is packed and ready to go.

Act when your motivation is high to make sure that things are in place for when motivation is low. Research tells us that low motivation rules, so plan to do this every day – every week. Avoid decision fatigue! When is your motivation high? Make your plan now!

Do you struggle with decision fatigue? Does life have a habit of tripping you up, causing you to veer away from your desired destination?  Sign up for a free health strategy session here and enjoy an hour of laser focused coaching on your biggest challenge or question and you’ll walk away with a few next-steps to uplevel your life.

 

 

 

Intermittent Fasting and Food Exploration Workshop Series

Join this 4-week on-line workshop series – June 13, 20, 27, and July 11 from 6-7:00 p.m. (we will not meet the week of the 4th of July). The workshop is designed to guide you into better health through Intermittent Fasting and Food Exploration and is back by popular demand. All sessions will be live on-line. Each session will be recorded and made available the following day.

Cost is only $50 for the entire series. Learn about what is best for your body and how to incorporate easy strategies that will help you feel better, more aligned with the desired YOU, and as an added bonus, drop those pesky pounds that seem to stick around after the new year. This session will include tips on how to eat locally or regionally for optimal health and strategies for avoiding the traps of the Standard American Diet.

This session would not be complete without discussions on topics of acid reflux, elimination, energy, and sleep and the ways in which the foods we eat impact everything in our lives.

To get in on this workshop, you can complete the registration form below and use this easy PayPal link for payment. I’ll  see you June 13!

How to eat a plant-based diet in one easy step

I am a plant-based lifestyle junkie. I admit it. Yep, I’m just freaky about being in the kitchen and playing around with gadgets, and food. I am NOT a vegan. Or a vegetarian. Nor do I eat paleo, low carb, low fat, or any other sort of obsession-driven diet. Frankly, I detest the thought of diets and am regularly rageful over the manipulative marketing mania that sucks people down a dark hole and convinces them to buy expensive “shake” mixes, magical weight-loss elixirs, and join gyms. Really, it MAKES ME CRAZY.

I believe in eating plants. Plants of all sorts. A huge and wide variety of plants. I’ve been doing it a long time, haven’t eaten a bite of meat in forever, and still am very healthy. I’m at a healthy weight, have lots of energy (as long as you catch me before 8 p.m. – after that I’m toast), and I’m aging gracefully, embracing “most” of the joys of being over-50, except, that is, for those damned grey hairs. I’m just not ready for that.

The secret here, the one step, is to  simply add more vegetables. Did you know that 69% of American’s are not eating enough greens in their diets and that 96% of American’s don’t eat the minimum recommended daily servings of legumes? In fact, I’m willing to bet that a bunch don’t even know what a legume is. Don’t feel bad if you fall into this category. In 2017, the Huffington Post ran an article entitled “We Know They’re Healthy, But WTF Is A Legume, Really?”  addressing this very question. In short, here is a list of a few legumes: split peas, cannelloni beans, kidney beans, navy beans, soybeans, chickpeas, red, green or brown lentils, alfalfa, peas, and peanuts.

Don’t worry about what you need to get rid of, unless, of course, you’re eating trans-fats, processed meat (like lunch/deli meats) and soda – those you definitely need to get rid of. Just add in more vegetables. Add more greens to every darned meal you eat. Not iceberg lettuce – think romaine or kale instead. Add berries – you know, blueberries, strawberries, concord grapes, cranberries, and raspberries. And add more beans – black, black-eyed, cannelloni, chickpeas, northern, kidney, pinto, red, split, mung, beans beans beans.  You get the picture, eh?

And then, get wild! I mean “wild”. Go outside and scan your yard (as long as you’re not using chemicals on or around it) and start eating what grows naturally in your ecosystem. In my 11-week course, Healthy Habits, we have been talking about plant-based lifestyle and I encouraged everyone to diversify the plant species they typically eat. So as not to be a hypocrite and teach what I am not willing to do myself, after class I headed straight to Meijer (I would have gone to my backyard, but it’s too early – 29 degrees last night) and bought a bunch of dandelion greens.  “DANDELIONS,” you ask? Yes, they are edible.  Quite! This summer, I’ll eat the entire thing – flowers, leaves, and all. I’ll make tea from the roots. And for those who are wondering about the stems, well, I won’t eat the stem, but once you pluck off the flower and root, you can use the stem to make a musical horn. You can impress your friends with your newfound appreciation for eating your weeds AND entertain them at the same time.

So back to my dandelion meal. I made Dandelion Pesto and here is the recipe along with my comments on what I’ll do differently next time:

2-3 cups fresh dandelion greens (I purchased the greens at Meijer for now. These greens were pretty bitter, so I added 2 tsps of honey. I won’t do this again. Next time I’ll blanch the greens instead – that helps to calm the bitter)

1 cup raw cashews

3 tbsp lemon juice

3 cloves garlic (wow – I used 3 large cloves. Next time I’ll do 2 small cloves)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (recipe called for sunflower oil, but I did not have in my kitchen – I’ll bet sunflower is better)

1 cup mixed arugula and mint (mint confused my taste buds in this recipe. Next time I’ll find another green- probably kale because it is much milder, and I like the texture)

1 cup water

1 tsp salt (I added salt at the meal, so next time I’ll add another teaspoon to the recipe)

Mix all ingredients in blender until creamy. Super duper healthy. Meal is full of protein, high in calcium and potassium, which is good for muscle and menstrual cramps. Interesting, eh??? (recipe and nutritional information from The Wild Wisdom of Weeds by Katrina Blair).

So I am a plant-based lifestyle junkie. And now, I’m a wild plant-based lifestyle junkie. I have not experimented anywhere near as much as I should, and I’m now on a mission. I already eat lambsquarter which grows everywhere, mint which is prolific in my yard, wild raspberries and a few other local delicacies like morel mushrooms. I encourage you to join me in getting wild. Not quite ready for a meal of dandelion? That’s cool. How about zucchini? Or cauliflower? Arugula? Cilantro? Beets? Pumpkin? Sweet peas? Just pick one or two. Add more vegetables. When you do this, you crowd out the less-than-healthy foods without even noticing. You’ll feel better. You’ll be lighter. You’ll poop much better. And soon, you’ll become a plant-junkie too. Welcome!

For more information about plant-based lifestyle, join in any of the courses offered at For the Health of It or attend one of my free monthly workshops at RedBloom Yoga. I want to provide good information on healthy lifestyle available to everyone, so join us. Sign up for my newsletter and join our Facebook Group community. It will be worth the milli-second it takes to do this. For the Health of It…..

Mailing List

Please add my email to your mailing list and update me occasionally with blog posts and recipes!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.