The magic of nutrition; improve your health, feel empowered and change your life!

The magic of nutrition; improve your health, feel empowered and change your life!

For those of you who have followed me on social media for a while either on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, know I am very passionate about food and the power of a vegan diet. I often lead with my dishes, as a professionally trained chef I am admittedly obsessed with creating delicious recipes, because  I want to be able to show people that this way of eating and living does not by any means have to be restrictive, difficult, expensive of overwhelming.

While I love teaching people and my clients about how to successfully transition to a plant based diet, I have started noticing some powerful shifts in their lives once they do adopt this new lifestyle.  This is what I call the ‘domino effects’ of eating plants; you start to notice other areas of your life you are not 100% satisfied with and want to improve upon.  To name a few examples; three of my clients while in my program, decided to leave their current jobs to pursue their true calling in life; they felt empowered to create a new life where their talents, skills and interests are being fully utilized. Another woman who initially came to me because she thought she needed to “clean up” her already vegan diet (you can be vegan and still unhealthy if you resort to processed foods only), but after incorporating whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, her mind became clear, and realized she needed help gaining confidence to pursue her life long passion of becoming a full time singer and songwriter.

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This is what I call the power of nutrition. Many people walk around in a haze all day, feeling sluggish, always tired and somewhat dissatisfied with life. They can’t quite pinpoint why life has turned out this way, but have no energy to try to figure it out.  They are trying to feverishly catch up with their daily routine, feeling like there is never enough time, and certainly not any time left at the end of the day for themselves.  Why?  They are eating the wrong foods. How you feel is how you eat, and how you eat is how you feel. It’s that simple.  A diet filled with heavy foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol like meat, dairy and eggs will leave you feeling just that.. heavy.  Eating dead foods like animal products won’t have the power to give you energy.  Choose to fill up on vibrant, colorful and alive foods like fruits and vegetables, and your energy level will automatically soar and you’ll discover that you can do so much more with your day, your week, your year…and your life.   Want a high vibrational life? Eat high vibrational foods.

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You might ask me “can it really be this simple, Sunny? Will all my problems go away if I adopt a plant based diet?”  To that I say, of course not right away, but it’s a start, a big start. Once you feel great in your own skin, miracles can happen. Think about it; if you wake up one day and feel amazing, you’ll automatically kick your brain into gear and want to do something fun, something productive.  You feel like you can tackle anything, and most of all: you feel a sense of happiness. That’s all we are looking for in life, isn’t it? To be happy?  Plant based foods have shown to improve your mood, reduces depression and anxiety, and increases productivity.  Go here to check out Dr. Greger from Nutritionfacts.org’s 5 minute video on this topic.

On the contrary, if your first thought in the morning is you just want to go back to bed, have no desire to start your day, dreading what’s to come and feel all around crappy, you are not going to be in a position to inspire anybody, much less yourself. You might just want to continue comforting yourself with crappy, high fat, high sugar foods, not be up for hitting the gym or getting in your exercise, and the cycle continues.  It goes without saying that you also won’t be in any state of mind to do something meaningful to improve on your life where you may need it; changing your job situation,  better your relationships or find time to take care of the person that is most important in your life; YOU.

Where am I going with this? If you are feeling stuck in your current situation, whatever it is, feeling like you are living below your potential but have no idea how to change it, feeling less than confident you are able to create your ideal life and a bit disappointed with how it all turned out, I can help.  We start with how you eat.  We’ll experiment with introducing more color in your life, beginning with your plate.  Once you start feeling more vibrant and alive, you will naturally gain more confidence to start making some moves towards what you’ve always wanted to do in life.  Things your old self just dreamed about, thinking that life is for ‘somebody else’, not you, not the way it turned out for you.  What would your life look like if you accomplished everything you secretly wish and hope for? My role as a coach is to move you from the “wishing and wanting stage”, to the “creating and accomplishing” stage. 

I’m here to tell you that ANYTHING is possible – you can do whatever you want to do, you might just need a little nudge in the right direction, and I’m here to support you with this. Remember; the only thing that is holding you back is you, and possibly, what you are feeding your body.

Get in touch with me here to set up an introductory call where I can learn more about you and for you to hear how I can support you.  Alternatively, email me at sunny@sunnygandara.com – I would love to hear from you and know you’ve got what it takes, so let’s get started today!!!

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Are your excuses bigger than your goals and desires?

Are your excuses bigger than your goals and desires?
Today is special day for me – May 17th is my native country’s (Norway) National Constitution day.  Historically, we were always ruled by another nation or in a union with another country (Denmark or Sweden) so we are naturally very proud and grateful for our independence.  As with any major holiday, this day is centered around food… (unfortunately not many plant based ones), and all you can see anywhere you go is a sea of red, white and blue, the colors of the Norwegian flag. So naturally I had to place a picture of it here where you can see parts of my home town on the west coast of Norway, Sykkylven.
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When I first went vegan, I was scared and worried how I was going to be able to continue eating the foods I love, the foods I had grown up with since childhood. When looking at the Norwegian diet, I would say about 90% of our diet consists of either meat, fish or dairy products in some shape or form. Uh oh!
I had a catering company known for serving animal based dishes, a husband who works as a professional chef and a big meat eater, and a Norwegian food blog with a big following where I wrote about all the traditional foods, and yes – they all were based on animals. Would I lose my audience now?
When it came to family, I thought to myself “how on earth will I go home and visit my mom now, how will my being there change? My mom centers her world around food, and it’s not fruits and vegetables, but cookies, cream based cakes, meatballs, salmon, eggs and herring.
What’s my point here? I had so many reasons to say “screw it, this is too hard”, “I don’t have time or the energy to figure all of this out” or tell myself nothing is going to change by just little old me going vegan.  But I knew my gut was telling me these were all excuses I was telling myself to make myself feel better.   And guess what, the reactions and responses from people weren’t half as drastic as I had made it up in my mind to be.  In fact, I was embraced by most of my community, who showed me incredible support. Our story is always more dramatic than reality🙂
If you really are feeling drawn to this lifestyle, if you know deep down that this is the right way to eat to improve your health, the environment and help reduce suffering of other living beings , then I invite you to find the courage to go with your heart. Yes, there might be some ‘obstacles’ in the way, such as how will I get my children on board with this lifestyle, and how will I ever eat out at my favorite restaurant again – but let’s face it, these are minor issues and is your fear speaking to you, not your true self. And no greatness was achieved by giving into fear.
It’s funny to me how we think about life and situations sometimes. Just because we’ve done something or eaten a particular dish all our life, doesn’t mean there is something equally good or even better out there for us. Being open minded, curious and willing to explore other options, whether it be traveling, meeting new people or trying new dishes, is what being vegan is all about. It expands your mind, improves your quality of life and helps you get closer to your true self.  I know you have a deep desire to stretch yourself in all these areas of life too, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this email.
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Case in point, today’s recipe! I was so happy to come across a vegan version of “pho” – a Vietnamese, aromatic and flavorful noodle soup that is traditionally based on beef broth and also contains fish sauce.  The vegan version does not lack for flavor AT ALL, in fact I would say it can most definitely stand up to the original recipe, and no animals were harmed in the making of this soup!
I realized this weekend that my mission will be going forward to veganize all the classic dishes we know and love from our childhood, family recipes and memories we treasure so much. I want to show you that it is not just possible, but PREFERABLE to eliminate animals from these foods, and embrace a more loving, compassionate and considerate attitude about life going forward.  I promise you your taste buds won’t be disappointed, rather they’ll be elated!!
A book that has inspired my mission is Robin Robertson’s “Vegan Without Borders”, showing us that we can easily convert authentic dishes from around the world, satisfying our culinary palates and wanderlust. I am sharing her recipe for “Pho Chay” today – a popular street food in Vietnam that is traditionally eaten for breakfast in the southern part of the country, but also enjoyed other times of the day in the north.  I used soba noodles (100% buckwheat) but my husband commented wisely that the soup could probably have used some sturdier noodles such as ramen noodles, or other flat rice noodles.  This is gluten free if you use tamari or coconut aminos and you can also easily eliminate the miso paste.
I made my own vegetable broth from some wild garlic that popped up in my backyard the other day, and it was delicious! But you can use water or regular vegetable broth with great results too.
Here’s my wild garlic ready to go in the oven with some shallots and fresh thyme:
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The broth simmering with some red pepper flakes added, yummm:
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I hope you will try this out, and agree that no flavor need be lost anywhere if we eat vegan!
Happy cooking and I would love to hear from you if you are interested in following me on my mission to veganize YOUR favorite dish!!
PHO CHAY
8 oz soba (buckwheat) noodles (or rice noodles/noodles of your choice)
6 cups water or vegetable broth
3 shallos or 1 small onion chopped
1 small red bell pepper, sliced thin
2 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce (coconut aminos work too)
1 tbsp grapeseed oil or other neutral oil
8 oz seitan or tofu, drained and cut into strips or cubed
2 tbsp dark miso paste
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp sriracha sauce
1 cup fresh bean sprouts, blanched
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Lime wedges, for serving
Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot. Add in the shallots/onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, ginger, hoisin sauce and soy sauce. Decrease heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the seitan or tofu and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Stir the lime juice into the broth. Remove 1/2cup of the hot liquid to a small bowl. Add the miso paste to the liquid in the bowl and stir to blend well. Transfer the blended miso paste into the soup along with the sriracha. Do not boil. Stir in the reserved seitan or tofu and noodles.
Divide the soup among individual bowls. Top with the bean sprouts, scallions and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges and additional sriracha at the table.
Serves 4.
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To receive more recipes like this on a weekly basis and to download a free recipe book that will give you a kickstart of healthy, flavorful and nutrition plant based recipes that will cover you for breakfast, lunch and dinner for an entire week, join the party here: http://sunnygandara.leadpages.co/7-day-kick-start-recipes/
Your body, mind and soul will thank you!!

The only diet that will help you in all areas of your life

The only diet that will help you in all areas of your life

I attended the NYC Vegetarian Festival in Manhattan this past weekend, and was filled with loads of impressions, met some wonderful people and listened to some incredible speakers.

Often when we choose a lifestyle that’s not the “norm”, we can feel alone or a bit “crazy” or “extreme” compared to others who are simply following the masses. But being surrounded by other like minded people who believe in the same things as I do and share the same values; namely to do the least possible harm to our bodies, our planet and our fellow animal beings, was so powerful and helped strengthen my belief and confidence in that I’m living in accordance with my true values by doing what is right for me and that I’m part of a very important movement.

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This is also what I’d like you to ask yourself: Is your diet in alignment with your values? Do you feel great when you eat the foods you choose to put on your plate on an every day basis? Do you see the results of how you decide to nourish your body, in the form of a strong, slim and energetic body? Can you say that your choices have minimal effect on our planet and life around you? If yes, that’s awesome!! and if not, would you be willing to explore a little further?

Would you be willing to jump on the phone with me to talk about what’s stopping you from reaching your goals? Be it dietary, or goals with your life and where it’s headed, I would love to hear from you. Just CLICK HERE and schedule a time when we can dive into how you’re feeling and how I can support you over a cup of tea or glass of wine🙂

What are the reasons you have not considered plants as your main source of ‘fuel’? Especially in this day and age, when there is every alternative in the WORLD available out there created to foods traditionally made from animal ingredients,  now magically transformed by using plants only. Just check these photos from this past weekend out for proof:

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Impressive artisan gourmet cheese from Riverdel Cheese in Brooklyn. I’m typically very skeptical and picky when it comes to imitating cheese made from dairy, but these products had me in awe.  A must-try if you are one of the many people who just can’t seem to give up cheese!!

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No ducks were tortured/harmed/force fed in the production of this impressive, creative and delicious pate! Wow!

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Bahn Mi sandwiches, tarts, pastries, open face sandwiches, you name it… the options are endless!

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Beautiful and delicate macaroons.. no eggs needed. IMG_7834And how about this colorful array of sushi… if that doesn’t make your eyes (and tummy) happy, I don’t know what will!

I also attended a super inspiring speech by the impressive Dr. Michael Greger, author of New York Times’ bestseller “How Not To Die” and creator of the not-for-profit educational site nutritionfacts.org, the only site I rely on for scientifically backed nutrition with no “special interests” other than helping people get healthy.

His speech was titled “Food as Medicine” and in it he went through the top 15 diseases Americans (and largely the western world) are struggling with in the world today.

IMG_7841There is scientific proof that a plant based diet can help reduce risk of all of these, with the exception of one of the causes, which were freak accidents and in many cases even prevent them and reverse these diseases.

In his speech, Dr. Greger posed the question; with all of the aforementioned benefits of a plant based diet, if there was only ONE benefit, namely to reduce the risk of the biggest cause for deaths among Americans, namely heart disease  – why on earth would we not RUN towards eating this way? Shouldn’t this be enough of a motivator for people to take charge of their own health, and not wait for society to catch up, as with the case of cigarette smoking in the 1950s and 60s? Back then, doctors were even pictured in commercials for Camel and other brands, and preached “everything in moderation” (sound familiar?).  This is of course the same lecture we get today from doctors about meat and dairy.  Doctors can’t tell you not to eat these foods, because they themselves are indulging in it! And of course, there are a lot of powerful interests behind this way of eating. Nobody will get paid by telling you to eat broccoli, let’s face it.

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But I digress… Something new I have gotten out of this lifestyle, a vegan, compassionate way of living, is that it not only helps my health, but also has gotten me interested in living a more spiritual life.  When you clean up your diet and start feeding your body vibrant, nourishing foods it responds by becoming alert, creative and helps you want to live more in alignment with your true values.

No humans want to hurt other beings, we innately just want to live in peace and harmony with ourselves and each other. Unfortunately, programming from our childhood where we are taught to detach ourselves from other beings, who also want to live in peace, causes us to do things without even thinking about them. But there is a discord there somewhere deep down if we really feel for it, which leads us to not feel 100% happy, because something is out of touch with our true nature.  Just because something has been done for centuries, and because “other people are doing it”, no longer becoming a valid “excuse” for continuing to behave this way.

A plant-based diet can help you want to become a better person, you will automatically want to improve other areas of your life, such as your finances, your relationships with your spouse, children, other family members and friends, explore your spirituality and start becoming more caring about our planet and how we treat everyone and everything around us. Doesn’t this sound like a wonderful way to live?

So what other reasons are there, besides health, to be vegan?  Many spiritually enlightened people such as philosophers (Socrates, Plato), writers (George Bernard Shaw), thinkers (Albert Einstein), artists (Leonardo da Vinci), civic leaders (Benjamin Franklin) and humanitarians (Gandhi) throughout history have chosen and adopted a vegan lifestyle.  What did they know about this way of living that we could take lessons from?

According to Rajinder Singh, an internationally recognized spiritual Master who teaches the oneness at the heart of all religions, there are seven spiritual reasons for vegetarianism:

  1. Observing Non-Violence  We have all heard the religious principle “thou shalt not kill”.  The idea is to not do unto others what we ourselves do not want done to us. So why would we participate in killing of innocent lives?  If you don’t believe that animals suffer as they are killed for food, you only need to go visit a slaughterhouse, jump on a fishing boat to observe fish caught on a fishing hook or visit a chicken farm to witness the reality here. As someone put it “if it’s not good enough for your eyes, then why is ti good enough for your stomach?”  We all know that animals are conscious – just look at your dog and cat and how much personality they have. Chickens, cows, pigs and fish are no different. They also feel pain. Nonviolence recognizes that all animals and all people are children of God.  Doesn’t that feel better than thinking we are “better” or “above” any other beings?
  2. We Are What We Eat. Another spiritual reason for being vegetarian is to avoid lowering our spiritual consciousness with the vibrations of the animal we ingest. When we eat an animal that has been tortured, has lived in fear, suffered and killed against his or her wish, we ingest that same energy and vibration, and it becomes part of us.  The stress the animal went through and the fear hormones in the slaughtered animal remains in the body and gets transferred to us.  It goes without saying that if you are to become truly spiritual and want to master meditation and become peaceful, it is difficult to do in this state. I don’t know about you, but I prefer eating foods that are alive, vibrant and brimming with energy and brightness.

12072755_10153029688057331_740955075257259421_n3. Love for All.  This is a very important principle at the center of a vegan diet.  Buddha and Mahavira were full of love and compassion. The Bible also teaches us “love thy neighbor as thyself.” All religions teach love.  This love extends to all life forms, including insects, reptiles, fish, birds and mammals. To love all includes loving all creation.  If we want to fully embrace love as a concept and way of living, we must open our hearts to include all forms of life.

4. Service to Animals, Our Environment and Our Planet.
Our whole planet is our home, not just our immediate surroundings like our house.  Just as we don’t want to trash our house, pollute our drinking water, or poison our children with harmful gases, why would we do this to our common home, the earth?  A vegan diet supports care and love for animals and a better use of the earth’s resources than any other diet out there today.  This way of living and eating offers a more efficient use of our resources since more people can be fed (the grain needed to feed one cow to be slaughtered for food could be used to feed many times the amount of people, just to name one example).  Let’s remove our selfishness and make our planet sustainable today and in the future for our children and children’s children.  Love is taking steps to care for the planet and its resources and sharing with others today and in the years ahead. Selfishness is using up for ourselves today while not leaving enough for centuries of people in the future.

5. The Law of Karma. This law states in short that for every action, there is a reaction.  The law of karma states that all our thoughts, words and deeds are recorded. When we have good thoughts, good has to come back, and when we commit bad deeds, we must pay the consequences, for instance.  A great reason for those wanting to become more spiritual is to not create more karma for ourselves that we would have to pay back. Those who believe in the law of karma, believe that if we take the life of an animal, we have to bear the reaction of that action.  Whether or not you believe in this law, there have been those who have had near death experiences describing seeing their life play back, where they saw all the good and bad they had done.  Not only did they witness it, but they actually experienced what the other people felt when they did good or harm to others. This experience was so profound that they realized the most important principle was that of love.  Hence, they were inspired to lead their lives in a more loving, caring manner. It is, after all, a much more pleasant experience to bring joy t others, rather than harm, wouldn’t you agree?

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6. Benefits to Meditation. Whether or not you practice meditation, you would be hard pressed to find a person who has started this practice, who won’t say it has changed their life. This is a fundamental practice in order to become more spiritual, to connect with our soul – a vegan diet speeds our progress. By following a vegan diet, we develop non violence and love, and we purify our soul by not partaking in killing other beings (animals or humans).  When we are loving to all people and all forms of life, we are on the way back to God. Those who have been successful on the spiritual path know that vegetarianism aids meditation and spiritual progress.

7. Spiritual Enlightenment. Spiritual Masters have required a vegetarian diet as a prerequisite for initiation to truly learn meditation.  Why? Killing and eating animals add new karmas. In order to gain spiritual enlightenment and oneness with the creator, we need to reduce our karmas. Thus, we don’t want to live on a diet that takes the life of any animals.     (text adapted from the leaflet “The Vegetarian Diet” from Spark of the Divine by Rajinder Singh which I picked up at the NYC Veg Fest this past weekend)

In conclusion, the benefits of a vegan diet is that it is not just good for our body, but for our mind as well and most importantly: our soul.  When we feel fulfilled in our mind and soul, the body will follow; we will experience that our excess weight, heightened stress and chronic diseases we have gained as a result of poor lifestyle choices, will magically disappear. This is called looking for the root of the cause, and not just aimlessly deal with the symptoms.  If you haven’t been successful at losing weight or getting healthy in the past, chances are you haven’t tackled these other, equally important, areas of your life.

Are you ready to take charge of your health and well being and tired of feeling out of control? Schedule a chat with me here, I’d love to hear from you and what you are challenged with and possibly how I could support you.  I am super passionate about this lifestyle and would love to introduce others to it so they too, can experience feeling as fulfilled as I feel, and will repeat after me and so many others who have decided to adopt this lifestyle: “I only wish I had done it sooner.”

My Vegan Journey

My Vegan Journey

Many people have asked me in the past few weeks to share my story of how I decided to go vegan. It made me think of how I have hesitated writing about it, because I don’t have a “fantastic” story around my transition. I didn’t cure myself from cancer or Crohn’s disease, and I don’t have a long dramatic story about how I slowly incorporated new, step-by step eating habits while on a ‘bumpy’ road towards being a full blown vegan.

No, I have in fact never had any health issues (other than I packed on a couple of dozen pounds just after getting married and going to culinary school, but I quickly adjusted my weight), and I pretty much went vegan overnight after I made the decision.

What I did have, was an enormous compassion for animals. But I felt like a fraud, because I was still eating them.  I decided to go vegan one day because I could no longer look myself in the mirror with a straight face while uttering the words “I’m an animal lover”.  I had been living a ‘double life’ for so many years, eating meat, dairy, eggs and fish, while simultaneously getting teary eyed when I saw any animal on TV.  I was cuddling my dogs, telling them how much I loved them, while chowing down on pork belly on Christmas Eve.  Crying over the poor dolphins that were slaughtered in Japan, yet eating fish and chicken on a daily basis.  It took me a while until I saw the irony in this.

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Growing up in Norway, I had the privilege of having 7 cats, 3 horses, a dozen ducks and two goats as animal companions throughout my childhood, just to name a few. But like so many people, I was conditioned and taught to make a huge disconnect between animals and what ended up on my plate. The one exception I remember clearly is when my dad slaughtered our ducks that I had played with for weeks and months, and told my mom to cook them.  She prepared one meal, and then declared “I’m NOT eating this”, and threw the other 10 processed ducks she had in the freezer in the garbage. Pretty ironic, since she would make lamb, beef, pork and fish on a weekly basis. But because she had befriended them in our backyard, realizing they had personalities just like we humans do, she couldn’t stomach actually devouring them.

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Years later, when a vegan friend of mine kept posting videos and sending me emails with disturbing facts about how factory farmed animals are treated on a daily basis, I would cry like a baby and my whole day was “ruined” (I think the animals had it slightly worse than me…).  To which my husband replied “Stop watching those videos, they are just upsetting you, each and every time, why do you do this to yourself? Just shut off the computer!” In his mind, as it had been in mine for so many years, it was just easier to ignore it, pretending these things don’t go on, save ourselves the uncomfortable moments, and continue consuming the meals we’ve grown up to love and enjoy.  Or we could make ourselves feel better by purchasing “organic”, “cage free”, “pasture raised” and “grass fed”, because after all .. these animals just want to live for us, come into the world and leave it whenever we decide appropriate, just so we can enjoy a few moments of pleasure on the plate.. People love to hear positive things about their bad habits. But, I digress.

I finally had an “aha” moment in late 2013, when I had been working on my personal development and my spirituality.  I was searching for my “why”, why I was put here on earth, and realized I wanted so desperately to show compassion for innocent animals, not just my fellow human beings.  I increasingly felt out of alignment with how I desired to live.

Honestly speaking, I was s**t scared to give up animal foods, because I was heavily involved in bodybuilding at the time, and was taught that in order to keep my muscles, I had to eat chicken and tilapia six times a day (preferably cold) and how was I going to live without my Greek yogurt? I mean, it was SO full of protein?!!?   Secondly, I had a catering company that was known for “farm to table” cooking, and thirdly I lived with a meat-loving, chef-husband who I knew had no desire whatsoever to go vegan with me.  So you see, I had a lot of excuses and “reasons” too, I could have easily told myself it was too difficult, my lifestyle wouldn’t allow it, I would have to change too much, etc.

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But in the end, my conscience and the animals won and I decided right there and then on that afternoon in late September that animal flesh would no longer hit my lips. It was the best decision I’ve ever made!! I didn’t look back once, and as so many vegans do, thought to myself, “I only wish I had done it sooner.”

The truth is, it’s so much easier to stay vegan and never stray when you are vegan for the animals.  When you develop a compassion that goes beyond the human race, but extend to all living beings, realizing we are all one, it is simply no longer an option to partake in the cruel and unnecessary practices that go on today.  And when on top of it, eating meat and dairy is scientifically proven to be bad for your health – then it begs the question: why on earth do we continue this madness?  With all the delicious and creative plant foods that exist today, we can’t use the excuse “what is there to eat” anymore… You mean, you can no longer have the 5 or 6 different kinds of meat you’ve been eating for decades over and over and feel restricted by the HUNDREDS of plant based options? Now, who’s restricted?

I’m not telling you to go vegan overnight, like I did. Just do some research and get informed, both when it comes to animal farming and eating for health, and make your decision based on that.  Luckily, we live in a world that is slowly changing in the right direction, as people wake up to the fact that our current ways are destroying the planet, and we need to do something about it to save our future generations.  More and more plant based options are available everywhere, and we also need to remember that fruits, vegetables and whole grains was the ORIGINAL diet of everyone on this planet. Let’s get back to eating real food!

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I was pleasantly surprised to discover, as someone who had only experienced the limited menu of a meat eater, that a whole food, plant based diet not only is the healthiest way to eat, but my culinary repertoire expanded beyond my imagination. I always say, vegan chefs are some of the most creative beings on the planet. I am simply amazed each and every day at how it’s not only possible to recreate every meat and dairy dish you are familiar with, but the vegan version tastes even better! Not to mention, comes with no risk of heart disease, cancer or diabetes.  It’s so much fun to cook now, and the food gives me energy beyond belief, because it’s based on living, vibrant ingredients, not dead, lifeless ones.

If you find this uncomfortable to read, I would like to invite you to ask yourself why.  Believe me, I’ve been there. Reading these kinds of stories raised all sorts of emotions in me; anger, irritation, guilt,  you name it… all pretty useless feelings, but I could never stop thinking that I wanted to examine why they came up.  Once I had the guts to really become honest with myself, I realized there was only one way to live: to give up animal flesh, free myself of feeling bad about my choices,  and fully live in alignment with my values.

Whether you choose to go vegan for the animals or for your health, or not at all, is up to you.  I am not here to judge anyone, just to share my story. That said, I think we all improve ourselves when we choose to show compassion for all life, and realize humans are not “superior” animals, but that we all belong on this planet together; living in harmony, happiness and health.

 

In memory of my two babies who both passed on to the Rainbow Bridge this past year, Dallas and Thor. I know you are running around in the fields with your pigs, chickens and cow brothers and sisters having fun now! 

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Are you Comfortable Being Uncomfortable?

Are you Comfortable Being Uncomfortable?

A lot of things have happened in my life since the last time I blogged. The biggest news is that I finally took a leap of faith and gave notice at my day job in retail job as a wine buyer two weeks ago, and will be diving into entrepreneurship full time to pursue my passion in health, fitness and transformational life coaching.  A fellow female entrepreneur and colleague told me “Get comfortable being uncomfortable!” A famous Jillian Michaels quote, which I found ironic and yet perfectly suitable, as Jillian Michaels’ online program was what first got me back to fitness after a hiatus of a few years, and I consequently lost 30 lbs.  That line really hit a chord with me, because it is what is necessary in all ways of life, in order to change and grow as a person.  Let me give you some examples below.

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  • why are diets so difficult? It’s because we are uprooting our routines, we are changing the way we eat, and perhaps think, about food, about life, and ourselves.  The food we are used to and have grown to love so much may not be available to us when we want it.  Food is also strongly associated with memories, more so than the actual taste of it. How often have you not thought about that dish your mom made you regularly while growing up you love so much, but when you think about it, was no gourmet meal, and not really THAT great, but brings back a sense of comfort that you crave? Diets are also hard because instead of going for that bag of potato chips or glass of wine (or five) to soothe us when we’ve had a stressful day, or just want to forget about everything and watch the tube and mindlessly snack on junk, we are asked to grab a healthy salad and go for a walk/run. Wtf?! Where’s the fun and comfort in that? Because we, as a society, want to be immediately gratified in that very moment, we don’t think very long term about how our rash choices we make in that instant, can affect our future health and well being.

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  • as most of you know, I’m a big advocate of a whole foods, plant based diet. I do encounter resistance to this way of eating, mostly because people are not comfortable with their lack of knowledge about this lifestyle, and they are threatened because they don’t like that I will take away their favorite foods. “But chicken is healthy”, and “There is so much protein in Greek yogurt and it is my favorite afternoon snack”, “only rich people are vegan”, and so forth… They can’t fathom that plants can actually create far more exciting dishes, that not only taste better, but that are better for your health and easier on your wallet. Health and fitness is not just about what you look like on the outside, but it’s how your body is treated on the inside. I believe the latter is something most people down prioritize, because it’s not something they can see with their eyes, until of course, they become gravely ill and are forced to pay attention.   Eating a whole foods, plant based diet also will help billions of animals each year, as they are being abused, tortured and killed daily for the sake of people’s few seconds of pleasure on the plate. This is highly uncomfortable to think about for most people.  They desperately cling to terms like “grass fed”, “organic” and “free range” and claim that the meat they eat come from animals who have lived a happy life on a romantic farm, while the truth is so far from that. All animals end up in the same, horrifying trucks along with factory farm animals, being denied food and water for as much as up to 36 hours, and end their “wonderful lives” in slaughter houses that reek of blood, horror and death.  All living beings want to live. Nobody wants to die so they can become your steak. Animals feel pain, happiness, love and fear. Yes, this is indeed very uncomfortable to think about for most of us, but I think the animals suffer a much bigger level of discomfort than we do, so don’t we owe it to them to at least look into how the meat and dairy industry operate? How our demand for these products, no matter where they come from, encourages an industry which contributes not just to unnecessary killings, but to global warming and world hunger?  When there are thousands of plants available and only a few animals, why is it so hard to consider going plant based? Oh yes, that’s right… it’s uncomfortable. It takes a little effort. It will break up your belief system, challenge your daily meal plan and make you feel upset. I’m sorry, but get comfortable being uncomfortable. The animals will thank you.

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  • I recently lost my pup, Dallas, to cancer. The day we had to say goodbye was the most difficult day in my life since the day I got notified that my five month old nephew, Mark, had passed away from that very same disease.  “Uncomfortable” is probably not the word to use in these situations, as much stronger emotions were in place, but what struck me , is that I was highly uncomfortable seeing my loved ones around me grieving and in pain. When my husband is going through a difficult time, I immediately want to make him feel better, rationalize the situation, and almost undermine his feelings, and deny him the time he needs to go through the motions, just like I need to do the very same thing for myself. It’s much “easier” to just take all the sorrow and grief on my own shoulders, than to see people I love having to suffer.  It’s uncomfortable, in a big way.  But I have to go through being uncomfortable to give other people the space and the respect they deserve to sort through their own feelings so they can move on in a healthy, timely way.

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  • and lastly, of course – giving up a steady income, risking everything to live the life you were meant to live, to follow your passion.  Not many people dare do this, but I believe everyone wants to do it.  Instead, they come up with a million excuses as to why they can’t. “I’m too old”, “I don’t have the savings or funds to build a business”, “Nobody is going to want what I have to offer”, “My idea is old, it’s been done a million times before,” “My spouse doesn’t support me”, “I’m too busy with the kids”, “I’m not smart enough” or “I’m not cut out to be an entrepreneur”, and so on and so on… Excuses are much easier than being uncomfortable right? Not knowing what the next month is going to look like, constantly having to ‘hustle’ to find clients, feeling unsettled and knowing that YOU are the only one to blame if things don’t go well.  It’s easier and much more comfortable to blame others if something in your life goes wrong. It’s more comfortable to throw out one of those lame lines above than to actually start working on yourself, take responsibility for your own life and happiness and stop hiding.

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So think about these points for a few moments, and ask yourself “Why am I really not ready to make a move?”  Is your mac and cheese more important to you than those love handles that you keep crying over in the mirror each morning you put on your (too tight) pants?  Or could you perhaps find the creativity in you to make a similar dish with better ingredients that would make your taste buds just as happy?

Would you rather be on autopilot and go to a job every day that you hate but don’t have to think about much, rather than feeling alive and trying to make a difference in the world?  Or can you devote perhaps an hour a day to “me time” and do things that you love, or used to love, but claim you no longer are ‘able’ to do?  Because trust me, you are!

Are you ok with just living a mediocre life being miserable or slightly unhappy, not feeling like you’ve lived up to your potential? Then by all means, continue what you’re doing and have at it. But don’t complain….We all have the same 24 hours in the day, we all have talents and a purpose here on this earth and the opportunity to pursue what we truly are passionate about… it just takes making a decision, making a plan, and of course… being willing to be uncomfortable for a bit until you achieve your goal.

But if you are in the slightest bit curious about what greatness lies in you that I can help show you how to revive, then get in touch and I would love to chat with you!  I believe in you – and the world needs what you have to offer!!

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Fitness Challenge Progress And Finding Back To The Love of Working Out

I’ve almost finished week 1 of the 21 Day Fit Extreme…. well, technically it’s day 5 for me as I fell sick on Wednesday and did not complete my workout also went off my scheduled plan a bit over the weekend. Not so much because of the July 4th holiday, but it was the last day I had off with my husband before he left for Bermuda today for a month of work so we indulged a little…So I have decided to start from scratch this week and extend my 21 days to 28 days (technically 26 days). It happens. The old me would spend days beating myself up telling myself all kinds of negative things as to why this happened, question my strength, discipline, etc. I now realize the most important thing is to stay consistent, not extreme (even though this particular challenge uses that name!) and to be level headed and keep thinking of the bigger picture.  Which is, of course- leading a healthier lifestyle, incorporating daily exercise, feeding your body nourishing foods, learning new routines and feeling good!

With everything going on, I have to say I LOVE the at home workouts! I thought I would be bored or that they would be lame, but these workouts challenge me, and they are certainly not for whimps!  The convenience of working out from home and having a structured workout laid out for you every day is wonderful. I feel absolutely awesome pushing myself for a short 30 minutes at the beginning of my day, such a great way to start the day! I have not stopped going to the gym, but I typically focus on really heavy lifting there, and will take a couple of hours break in between before I head to my second workout.  Regardless of whether or not you have another fitness routine or not, I highly recommend trying out an at home workout program if you are at a loss for what to do, but know you have to start moving.

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As a fitness coach and personal trainer, I need motivation too, and I’m always looking to mix up my workouts. I have to admit I have been in a recent workout slump the past year.  These past few months I felt a bit unmotivated to hit the gym and lift weights without a scheduled show date where I had to step on stage in a bikini, not a coach to check up on me, etc.  It felt a bit… pointless, and I”m big on having a PURPOSE for everything I do, and a goal! But I knew I had to find back to my love of working out, and it didn’t necessarily involve headed to the gym every day. I am so happy I came across the wonderful, challenging and varied workouts from Beach Body, and now I look forward to working out every single morning (Yes, it’s not a lie!).  Here’s the program I’m following now, which is kicking my butt!

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Whatever it is you love to do – do it! Walk around the block with your dog an extra lap, take your bike out for a ride, or go swimming in the lake – whatever gets you moving, it will always make you feel great, guaranteed! Chances are, once you get into the habit of being active on a regular basis, you’ll seek out new and more challenging activities, and you will continue to improve your fitness level. Try it out!

 

3 Ways To Stay Motivated On Your Fitness Journey + Some Exciting News!

3 Ways To Stay Motivated On Your Fitness Journey + Some Exciting News!

Happy Monday, folks! I always love Mondays, unlike most people, because it’s my day off from my regular day job and I get to work on what I love: my new coaching business, which means the day is filled with health, fitness, mindset and motivation! I am really optimistic about the months to come, so many exciting things ahead, some of which I’ll reveal in this blog post.

Yesterday marked the last day of my 6-week “Eat To Live” program by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, where I followed his plan of eating lots of green vegetables, fruit, bean and legumes, and limited whole grains and tofu/soy products, and no oils, rather just healthy fats in the form of avocado, nuts, and seeds. I enjoyed this way of eating very much, although the “3 meals a day” only (no snacking in between) I found difficult to follow because of my active lifestyle. I sometimes found myself ravenous in front of each meal, and thus it becomes harder to stick to your plan.  I will be including an afternoon snack in the future, but will stick to the “no oil” rule, and include a little bit of whole grain during the day or right after my workouts.  All in all, the 6 week program was a success, I lost 8lbs and my clothes are a little less snug!

I’m now ready for the next step in my health and fitness journey. As with everything, you need to find motivation to keep going and improving yourself, physically, mentally and emotionally – the body and mind needs constant stimulation and inspiration, and we’re responsible for providing this to continue to improve and take it to the next level.  Working with a few of my clients in my new health coaching business, I have noticed a common thread: They are not fond of going to the gym. They either a) don’t have the time, b) are intimidated by the gym or c) don’t like the environment of a gym, and have no idea what to do once they are there.  As a personal trainer, I have spent quite a bit of time designing workout programs for them to do at home, and it sometimes took away the focus from other things I could be doing.  This is when I stumbled across a few of my colleagues who are involved with Beach Body and are fitness coaches full time. It dawned on me: this is a perfect fit for my health coaching business! I can direct people to the BeachBody site, they can order whatever workout program looks enticing to them, and they have me to coach them and I also get to benefit from the great, and HUGE variety of products Beach Body has to offer! The company is filled with inspiring, creative, smart and resourceful women (and men) who are passionate about helping people create a healthy and active lifestyle. I always go with my gut, and this time it said “go for it!” So there you have it – introducing your new Beach Body Fitness coach!🙂

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I’m really excited to start, as I know people have gotten fantastic results from participating in these programs, and today marks day 1 for my own fitness challenge: The 21 Day Fix Extreme. I just finished the plyo workout, and boy it sure had my glutes and leg on fire!

Do you need that extra little push to fit in exercise and healthy fitness into your life? I would love to help you! In as little as 30 minutes a day you could be on to not just the body of your dreams, but feeling healthy, energetic and happy throughout the day as a result of treating your body with the respect and attention it deserves.  As some of you know, diet is also important, and as a professional chef, I am passionate about making plant based, whole foods not just accessible, but delicious and creative.  I am dedicated to providing both of these services to my clients.

Feeling a little bored with your workouts or uninspired with the way you eat? Try these 3 tips to keep you motivated on your health and fitness journey. As always, it requires you put in some work, but the results you will get will outshine your efforts, each and every time!

1.  Keep variety alive in the kitchen.  There is an abundance of different greens, vegetables, whole grains and legumes out there to allow you to eat a different meal every day of the year. When I was on a traditional body building diet (which is the worst way to eat, mind you), I was told I had to eat tilapia and aspargus five times a day, and yes, that included breakfast (!). Who can in their right mind think that this is a healthy and fun way to live?  No wonder people fall off this diet and end up in a stupor of chips, chocolate, burgers and fries topped with soda, beer, booze and more at the end of that intolerable experience.  No chiseled physique is worth treating your body with such disrespect!

Seek out different spices and herbs that you may never have heard of, stock them in your pantry and add them to your steamed, baked or water sauted veggies, cooked whole grains, beans, lentils or you can even add some of them even into your oats or quinoa porridge in the morning.  Go for Moroccan cuisine one day, Scandinavian the next, Chinese or Japanese the following day and end with Middle Eastern or Spanish another day. Spend a couple of hours during the weekend researching some easy recipes (or hire me as your coach, I’ve got an abundance of quick, easy to make recipes and you’ll never have to wonder about dinner ever again:) and prep up some meals for the week on Sunday night. It takes the guess work out of what you will eat, and you will be excited and look forward to each meal every day. Healthy does not mean you have to suffer or give up flavor or fun, it should be tasty and nutritious and keep you happy!

Produce from the local area fills the isles at the Bremen Farmers Auction August 28, 2012. (Dispatch photo by Eric Albrecht)
Produce from the local area fills the isles at the Bremen Farmers Auction August 28, 2012. (Dispatch photo by Eric Albrecht)

2.  Work on your mindset.  We all know the saying “the mind is a powerful thing”, and truly, what you tell yourself each and every day determines how you will feel and what action you will take that day. It takes just as much effort to be miserable and unhappy as it does to choose a positive mindset and decide you want to have great day – so why not choose the latter? Getting in daily exercise is a huge one here, because who feels crappy after a work out? Endorphins are released, we feel stronger and better equipped at taking on the challenges of the day.  Reading books on self development and following inspirational people on social media and surrounding yourself with likeminded, supportive people is also very important to your success.

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3. Hire a coach.  This is not a plug for my own business, but rather – it is a step I included because I myself have had the best results when I reached out to someone who had more experience and knowledge in the field I was trying to improve upon.  I have hired a personal trainer and I had a coach helping me with my diet and keeping me motivated, inspired and not to mentione, accountable, as well as giving me an outside perspective. It is tremendously valuable and only by taking action in investing in yourself will you truly understand this.

Realizing you can’t do it all yourself, and having the courage to ask for help, is the first important step in telling yourself and your body: “I value and respect myself. I prioritize myself because without my health I have nothing.”  I think of my body as my best friend – it tries so hard to keep me healthy every second of the day, even though I may not always make the best choices for it.  Try and think about your body as a person who just wants the best for you – and try to feed it the best, nourishing foods it needs to function properly and make sure you move around every day so it stays in good shape. When things get hard – hire a coach and have an outside friend and supporter keep you on track.  Guaranteed you will never regret it!

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