Bring YOU back into your life!

Bring YOU back into your life!

Do you ever feel like you are pretending?  Pretending to be in love with your job, that you have it all together, the perfect life… but part of it feels like you are tied down to a certain way you ‘have’ to live, or should act?   Yes, you are living up to society’s expectations, but somehow it doesn’t feel right or as satisfying as it is pumped up to be.  There is something missing, but you just can’t put a finger on exactly what.  As a result, you feel impatient with yourself because no matter what you try, somehow you just don’t fit in or feel complete.
Maybe you feel confused, guilty or uncomfortable when you think of really being honest with yourself and what you want…. So you just push it aside, and keep grinding.  But that niggling feeling wont’ disappear, because, as the saying goes –  nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know

Everything I described above is how I felt for so many years. Going from a glamorous job in the music industry flying around the world with celebrities, to following my interest in food and creating my own catering company to traveling to vineyards in pursuit of my passion for wine… none of these in isolation got me to that place where I felt fulfilled, that I had found my purpose here on earth.  There was a piece missing for me, and I felt frustrated that I couldn’t figure it out.  So many people envied my life and were in awe of what I was doing and had accomplished, and I found myself asking if I was being delusional, selfish and unrealistic for wanting more.  After all, I had all the elements in place of what would make up a happy and successful life, so why didn’t I feel like it?

It wasn’t until I dared become very honest with myself and go in search for ME that I discovered my true purpose.   Because I grew up in a very practical family and environment, as so many of us do, I was told that because I was a straight A student, naturally I had to become a doctor or a lawyer or businesswoman!  After all, these were sound professions proven to create a prosperous and successful career and life!  So like so many, I fell into the trap of silencing my intuition and inner voice, went to business school and did what a smart girl was supposed to do; get a ‘safe’ marketing degree and keep up my programmed persona and reputation.

Although I was a pianist and loved music since I was a little girl, I never owned the words “artist” or “creative”.  It was as if I somehow was ashamed to admit that art and less practical vocations was what made me feel alive, and where I felt the most at home.  When I considered going to the conservatory to become a classical pianist, people advised me that was an unrealistic profession; nobody ever made it.  All of these so called professional artists ended up having to resort to becoming teachers to make ends meet.  Now I wonder what these so called ‘experts’ had actually achieved in their own life, to make them qualified to blurt out opinions that potentially (and in my case did) lead to life changing decisions for someone else.

I have always been told I am a dreamer, different and daring –  and a bit of a nut job probably, by some.  But other people’s opinions still had such power of me, that I never gave myself permission to fully embrace these qualities. Yes, I now know to call them qualities because I see that that’s what they are, not adjectives other people who never went for their dreams, use to describe people who desire to.

Another thing I loved to do while younger, was to write. In my Norwegian class, I could really let my creativity out, where I wrote long, vivid fictional stories and let my imagination go wild.  My Norwegian teacher told my mother I should become a writer, but again – this was kind of laughed at and scoffed off as a far-off dream.  Becoming a successful pianist and writer I suppose was for other people, a very select few, of which I naturally wasn’t a part of.  I was to become a lawyer, and stop dreaming, after all!

No matter how much you try to be practical and shut out signs from the Universe, Universe is still looking out for you and will get back around to dealing with you.  After a few years in the wine industry after my rock n’ roll days and working hard as a chef feeding and entertaining others, I was led to become a health and life coach.  In my circles, I met other lightworkers who had the audacity to follow their hearts and dreams too!  I finally felt at home, after traversing two continents, four countries and four industries over a span of 20 years, in search of my purpose.

Surrounded by like minded people who encouraged and supported me, I got the courage to really get honest with myself, and to believe that I can do anything I put my mind to.  Now when I tell my friends and colleagues about my new plans and goals, I don’t get laughed at. I get told to get out there and think even bigger!  I’ve seen my dreams manifest slowly but surely in these last two years, where I have been fortunate enough to have a steady stream of life coaching clients who want to create their ideal life too.  There is nothing better than inspiring other women to go big and hear the excitement in their voices when someone is there to encourage and actually believe that they can do whatever they want to do.

Meanwhile, I keep growing and learning more about myself, and just this past month the Universe reminded me of my desire as a little girl, of becoming a writer.  Even though I’m in my 40s now, I am not telling myself I’m too old to start. No, I’m telling myself “Sunny, you are a writer. You are a creative. So get to work!”  In addition to writing a book, I’ve decided I would love to offer my services as a copy writer and am in the works of mapping out my offerings as I’m writing this!
I can’t explain the relief and happiness I feel having finally discovered who I truly am.  I also realize that it’s nobody else’s business what I choose to do, and it’s none of my business to care about what they think. I feel so grateful that I was stubborn enough to keep digging and listening to that nagging feeling when my intuition told me I needed to do more work to realize who I am supposed to be.  I want everyone to be able to experience this feeling, because it is everyone’s birth right!

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So why is it that we feel bored, dissatisfied, frustrated, unfulfilled, unhappy and detached from our life, work, and relationships? It’s because we are not applying ourselves, utilizing our talents, interests and skills that we were meant to use – but rather try to fit into a mold that others have carved out for us, without knowing who we are and what we desire.

This is why you can’t seem to figure out why you can’t be happy with your job, even though it pays well, you have health insurance, a great apartment, a car, beautiful children, and can afford to go on vacations twice a year.  It isn’t enough!  Because your soul is crying out that you need to go for your dreams, but you are silencing your inner self by doing what is expected of you from societal standards.

Do you wonder, like I did –  “how did I end up here” and what is life all about? We get so wrapped up in taking care of other people, other people’s problems and lives and our day to day responsibilities that we lose complete touch with who we are as a woman, a person, an individual.

Have you stopped doing things just for the fun of it? “Because it makes you happy” is somehow not a good enough reason – you’ve got responsibilities, after all!  Meanwhile these responsibilities weigh you down and make your heart feel heavy.  You long for something that will make you feel accomplished, where you can use your skill set in a way that you will be of service to others and make you feel inspired on a daily basis.

I’m here to tell you that it is possible. Maybe it won’t be easy, but it’s doable. Several people before you have done it, and are doing it today. That should be motivation enough for you to know that you’ve got everything within you to succeed and do what your heart wants you to do.  It has nothing to do with practicality, being sensible or realistic.  If you choose to listen to your inner voice, it can change your life and help you find back to what you are truly on this earth to do.

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Maybe you don’t know exactly how to get started, or how to find back to YOU. That’s where I come in. I specialize in helping women shine their light, the way they are supposed to. I also help them remember who they are and what they love to do.

Instead of trivializing what you are really interested in, giving into fear by saying you’re too old, don’t know enough, don’t have enough money, aren’t pretty or outgoing enough – I help you realize you are a star.  I help you get rid of your excuses you’ve come up with that have kept you playing small, although you know you are capable of SO much more.  You are unique and the world deserves to experience your brilliance. Don’t be content with average or “good enough”, go for ecstacy, complete happiness and the best!!

Believe in yourself enough to get started on your magical journey, no matter where you are in your life today.  There will never be a “right” time, nobody is coming to save you or figure things out for you, and there is never a clear path to anything – you must do the work.  There is tremendous power and relief in taking responsibility of your life, and I know that deep down you want to!

I would so love to hear from you if this interests you. Feel free to email me directly at sunny@sunnygandara.com or check out my website sunnygandara.com for more about me and to set up a quick chat!

 

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Why my life coaching is done with a splash of wine

Why my life coaching is done with a splash of wine

As I am finishing up my year long coaching and business certification program this month, I have done a lot of reflecting on where I am now, where I started and how much growth as happened within me because I decided to prioritize myself and choose me first, for once.  I have shared before that when the light bulb went off in my head, when I finally got tired of saying “maybe next time, ” “no, I can’t” (or shouldn’t, “one day” and “that would have been nice”, magic started happening around me.

First of all, there is enormous freedom in taking responsibility for your own life, because you realize that you and only you decide what happens to you, and that it’s nobody else’s fault if something goes wrong, neither is it their doing when you achieve something wonderful.   There can be a lot of anger, hurt, resentment and frustration when we give our power to other people and put them in “charge” of our own destiny. It is not your boss’ fault for not giving you a raise or for “making you stay those long hours, that’s your decision.  It is not your partner’s fault that you “have” to do the laundry or clean the house every week, you decide.  And it certainly isn’t the weather’s fault that you are overweight because it always seem to be too cold outside for you to go out and run.  Or Ben & Jerry’s for making that damn delicious ice cream that just happens to find itself into your freezer on a regular basis. You get my point.

Secondly, when you start prioritizing yourself and take your happiness seriously, you indirectly give others around you, who want and desire the same thing, “permission” to do that for themselves as well. So many of us live by these invisible rules and regulations in our mind about how we should, must or have to live, when in fact, we don’t even know who ‘they’ are that made them up.  Is what you are doing not making you happy or fulfilled? Then why are you doing it? Or are you, like I was for so many years, waiting for that ‘one day’ or maybe next year, when things will miraculously line up for you, all the things will be perfectly in place and you will be a whole new person, even if you’ve done nothing different to work towards that? Think about it.  Isn’t it time you started loving yourself, and loving life?  I have been able to inspire and support many women since I started my personal growth journey myself, and I can tell you – nothing else tops the feeling of being of value and feeling like I have a purpose – I’ve finally found what I was looking for all these years!

Thirdly, I am embracing being ‘multi passionate’ and that I have a gazillion certifications and interests in a wide variety of subjects, because I have a passion and thirst for life and I never want to stop learning.  So often in my life have I been shamed or met with dripping irony when I’ve started a new journey or moved into a different line of work, by people who just didn’t understand me, or maybe they felt uncomfortable because they couldn’t label me or put me in a particular box. “She’s a lawyer,’ “She’s an athlete”, etc.   Just picture when I was training for a body building competition, while drinking wine and cooking up waffles, pancakes and tacos in my catering company all at the same time! What to do with me!?!

So where am I going with all of this? When I left my position as a wine buyer last year to study life coaching, I knew I would always have a love for wine, because I truly enjoy it, not just the taste of it but the mystery, learning and challenges that come with exploring the wine world.  Just because I have decided to help women find their passion and purpose too, would that then mean I would have put my love for, experience, skills and years of education for wine behind me?
Most certainly not. Because now I play by a set of new rules. They are called MY rules.  In my world, anyone can do anything, anywhere and at anytime as long as it makes them come alive, as long as it makes them happy and is not hurting anybody else.  I’m sorry if you can’t fit me into a certain category or understand what I’m doing, but I’m actually having fun, I’m loving life and I would love to show as many people as I can, that it’s possible for them too.  By modeling that you can create your own life the very way you ideally would like to see it, more people will find the confidence to create something beautiful for themselves as well that represent what they are truly about and what they love to do. And as a result, the world will have more brilliant, varied, inspired and happy members, don’t you think?

As for me, I think life coaching and wine has a lot in common, so my decision is that my kind of coaching will have a splash of wine in it – and some great plant based gourmet food too.  The great Robert Mondavi put it best:

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By that I mean that the food and wine will be a vehicle and symbol of enjoyment as a reminder that we need to do things in our lives for the pure joy of it.  I am a big fan of inserting more PLAY into our lives, and not be so serious all the time. When I speak about conscious living in my life coaching, I mean we also consciously have to select fun and play as well, because it is in these moments we truly tap into our creativity, and get to experience what magic this thing called life is really about.

So if you are looking for your core genius, desperate for more fun in life but think you have to trade joy and happiness for financial security and know that you are not quite living up to your full potential and tired of thinking that must be for everyone else, just not you…. Let’s connect via Skype for an hour, have a glass of wine and chat!  I would love to hear about your hopes and dreams and learn more about you….

You can schedule a time that’s convenience for you right HERE

In the mean time, if I can support you in any way at all, connect with me in my FB group, Books and Barolo Plant-Empowered Bon Vivant, on my FB page Sunny Gandara or comment here! Wishing you a purposeful, fun-filled and productive week! ❤

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Celebrating my one year anniversary as a full time entrepreneur!

Celebrating my one year anniversary as a full time entrepreneur!

Last year on this day, November 1st, I had finally taken the plunge and left my full time job. I felt relieved, excited, a little scared and overwhelmed all at the same time. On Halloween I finished my last day as a wine buyer for a large retail store here in New York, where I had been for nearly 2 1/2 years, and while it certainly wasn’t a bad job (come on, many people would die to have a job that requires you to taste hundreds of wines a month), I knew deep in my heart that I was meant for something else. I was simply out of place. Again.

On November 1st, 2015, many thoughts crept in, like “Will I be able to make a living off coaching people to better their lives?”, to “Where do I start?” to “Oh shit… I’m in charge now!!”… But overall, I was in a place where I really didn’t feel like I had a choice anymore. I was tired of telling myself no to opportunities that came up because I always had to be on somebody else’s schedule, I was tired of leaving my puppies for 10 hours a day, when all I really wanted was to work from home and spend more time with them, I was tired of being in a position where I was living below my potential and not able to utilize all my skills and interests and of course… I was desperate to feel passionate about what I was doing, to feel like I was contributing in the world, and like I was making a difference in somebody’s life.

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For years I had been just falling into work that seemed like it could be a good fit me, without really examining whether or not that was true for me. I listened to other people’s opinions, and ignored my own.  It looked good on the outside – and to be honest, I haven’t exactly had any ‘dud’ jobs at any part of my life; I started out in the music industry working as an international marketing and publicity director and traveled the world with rockstars (and a fair share of rappers!), I worked for a luxury vodka company from Scandinavia where I met a ton of fascinating people, had my own catering company where I had a chance to create some fabulous dishes and work with some really nice people and also of course lately, worked in the wine industry where I got to travel to many of the world’s vineyards and taste wine for a living. But what might seem perfect for others, may not be perfect for you. This is where the key lies. Not to get influenced by other people’s opinion, but finding the courage to go against what everyone else wants you to do, or tells you you ‘should’ do, if, at the end of the day, you are not madly in love with what you do.

Fast forward to today, November 1st, 2016, I sit here and think “oh my, what a difference a year makes!” Not only have I been able to make a living off coaching fabulous women all over the world who want the best out of life as well, but I have streamlined my activities to focus on what is important (a miracle for me who is a bit on the artistic side and like to deal with things at the spur of the moment), I get to spend every day with my fur babies and work from the comfort of my own home, and not have to endure a grueling commute every day and waste time being in a car, and I feel like what I do actually helps people and make them feel like they can do whatever they want to do too.  Most importantly – I can finally be ME! Unapologetically, without having to fit into any type of mold, I can do whatever I want to do, say whatever I want to say, and work with whoever I want to work with.  Sure, there might be a couple of things in my business I’m not jumping up and down to do, but because I have a clear sense of WHY I’m doing what I’m doing and what my ultimate goal is, I gladly do them because at the end of the day they allow me to live a life that finally is in alignment with my values and with my personality.  Having a purpose for why you do things in life, is key to everything.

Another miraculous thing happens too when you open yourself up to be the best version of yourself. You start attracting other like minded people into your life like yourself, who inspire you, show you what’s possible and open up a whole new world of opportunities for you.  I am currently finishing up a year long coaching and business certification program where I have gained 250 new girl friends, talented, ambitious and successful women all around the globe who have the same mission as I do: to be of service and to do something meaningful with their lives.  These women are supportive, lift me up and encourage me on a daily basis.  They want the best for me, because they themselves have found happiness so they can genuinely feel happy for me, in return. That’s what happens when you follow your heart and go for what sets your soul on fire.  These women have such a positive influences on me, I sometimes wonder how I got so lucky and how I existed without this support system.  But everything happens in its own time, and it happened to me this year because I was finally READY.

Now, I will not pretend that it all has been a smooth journey and that I haven’t had days where I found things challenging, a little scary and unsettling,  because let’s face it – as a new entrepreneur when you are just starting to set up your systems and get familiar with your new way of life and of doing business, you don’t really know what your next month will look like.  But I decided that certainty was boring, and it was killing my soul because again – I wasn’t allowed to really utilize all that I had to give. So I traded certainty for passion. That, is what living is to me. I will choose passion and happiness any day over certainty, mediocrity and having a “decent” life.  Because I know great is within reach for all of us!

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There is such enormous freedom in knowing that I, and only I, am in charge of my life, and I have the power to change things I don’t like or am not happy with. There is nobody else to blame or complain about, which is probably one of the best things  having chosen this way of life for myself. I hated feeling like I was giving away my power when I was pointing at other people for the problems or tough days I was going through. As if they were in charge of my day or my life, and that I had to just comply, or else… Like being in a prison!!  I now know that the only person I should be pointing at is myself. If something is not working 100% the way I want to, I examine it, put more work in or revise what I’m doing.  This always works, because I never quit, I keep going because I know I will eventually succeed. Having an unwavering belief in yourself is crucial when choosing a passion based life. 

There is so much personal growth that goes on when you choose yourself, whether it is choosing to go into business for yourself, choosing to believe that you deserve that raise, that loving relationship, or even those extra few hours a week where you only focus on yourself and take care of you.  Ultimately, when you have an inner voice that tells you “I deserve more”, it’s there for a reason. Don’t ignore it.  When you start listening to it and respecting that voice, you are respecting yourself, and in turn – other people will start respecting you as well and you will get what you want and need in life.  This is how the Universe works.

Take it from me: it feels SO good to take a chance on yourself and finally make the best out of this one life we’ve been given. If you know what I’m talking about, wonderful, and I’m so happy for you! If not, why not decide to choose to believe that you can do whatever you put your mind to and see what happens?! Most often we end up astounding ourselves. Get in touch with me if you think I could support you – sunny@sunnygandara.com or check out my website for more information at sunnygandara.com.  I believe in you!!

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A bit of my story and announcing my new coaching services!

A bit of my story and announcing my new coaching services!

For those of you who know me well,  know I have dabbled in a LOT of different industries and have a ton of varied interests, traveled the world, lived in four different countries and have always been on the “search” for my ideal life where I could feel like myself and ultimately, just be happy. This might seem like a simple (or foreign) concept to many, but I truly believe everyone is searching for happiness, whether they want to get a promotion, lose weight, travel or make a million dollars. Why exactly do you want what you want?  Probably to feel happy, right?  Let me back track…

I am, as many other entrepreneurial women out there, multi-passionate and have a thirst for life and have never settled for average.  I grew up in a small town in Norway, with fairly conservative parents who taught me that hard work pays off (and was necessary in order to make money), money was to be respected and didn’t come easy, and that I should focus on getting an education so I could get a good, steady job. I don’t think my parents were different from most and my education was very traditional in that respect.  They were simply trying to make sure I would be “safe” and ok in the world.  I was taught not to really make a big fuss about myself, be modest and respectful, and was constantly asked “what will they say or think” if I wanted to do something out of the ordinary.

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I am still not sure of who ‘they’ were, but felt somewhat imprisoned by these strange creatures out there who just sat there all day long judging me, telling me what I could or shouldn’t do. Other people’s opinions and expectations of me became somehow very central to my thought process, and every decision I made started with asking myself “What will they think”…

They” supposedly expected me to either become a doctor or a lawyer since I was an A student, to marry a tall, handsome man and have 2.5 children, buy a beautiful home in a nice town with impressive furniture, a cabin in the mountains (where we would go every weekend) and preferably a boat on the fjord, feel ok with the fact that fun would be over when you are married and that now my day would look something like going to work from 9-5, make dinner, read the paper and watch the news and be in bed by 10. And do it all over again until Friday, when we could finally have some “fun”, go for a hike in the mountains and maybe even have a glass of wine or two on Saturday night!  Sigh…

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Even so, I decided to do something as untraditional as move to the United States to go to college  (San Francisco, to be exact) and spend all my money on my education, despite university being practically free in Norway in comparison. This was because I had become aware that the world was big and I wanted to explore it. Nobody really understood what I was doing, but half way expected me to return to Norway when I completed my education.  I must have disappointed them, because after having spent my junior year in Paris and completing my senior year in San Francisco, I decided to move to New York to try my luck there in the working world, and 20+ years later, well the rest is history. I’m still in NY.

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In New York, I landed in the exciting music industry where I worked for a decade as an international marketing director and traveled all over the world with celebrities, stayed in five star hotels, dined in top restaurants and basically lived la vida loca.  When that journey ended, I felt I was done with the jet set life, and decided to pursue my interests in food and wine. I went from making 6 figures to making $10/hr as a cook in a restaurant, which was quite humbling. I told myself it was worth it, because following my dreams and trying to find my true purpose was more important than anything, and that I could always be making that money again. After all, I had proven it to myself.

After just a few months working as a cook and being a cocktail waitress in a restaurant in pursuit of my dreams,  I decided started my own catering company, Fork and Glass with my husband.   Oh yes- that reminds me: Ever since the age of 18, people back home constantly asked me the same 3 questions: “Aren’t you moving back home to Norway soon”?  “When are you getting married”? and “Don’t you want kids”?  I felt like an alien sometimes, because no, I didn’t want kids (unless you count four legged ones) and I was in no hurry to get married – but when I did, I made sure it was to a man that was Mexican and shorter than me, just for shock effect (not! lol).  And after 20+ years in the U.S. the question “Do you like it there?” seemed kind of redundant and ridiculous.  Yes, I sure do, and no, I’m not moving back to Norway.

Maybe it was the rebel in me, but in between all of this I decided to slim down, double my muscles and compete in bodybuilding shows. Instead of getting pregnant, being in a desk job tolerating life, and giving into the story that my body had seen better days since I was now approaching 40 and that’s just how life is, I strutted my stuff in a shimmering bikini and high heels covered in an orange tan. It felt amazing and I was empowered by the fact that if I wanted to look good the only thing I had to do was make a decision to set a goal and put in the work. Much like anything else in life, you just have to make the decision.  The rest can be figured out.

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While I ran my company and worked my ass off catering (this line of work is not for sissies and I quickly learned doing manual work for 14, sometimes 16 hours a day was not my calling), I was getting my wine education and worked for a small Norwegian luxury vodka brand which was quite fun. Because I was positive, outgoing and interested in networking and learning about new things,  life always seemed to be giving me these amazing opportunities which I accepted and learned from.   I was most definitely grateful for these chances given to me, but I still hadn’t found what truly lit me up, what would give me the feeling of “ah! THIS is why I’m here in this world”.

So I continued searching. I tried working for a wine importer as a sales consultant, and then moved into retail as a wine buyer for a large wine where I stayed for over 2 years, before I came across the world of coaching through my continuous search for “me”.

BINGO!! All of a sudden the lights came on and a whole new fire was lit up under me. I quickly realized that I had been coaching my whole life; I was the person all my friends would come to if they needed to talk something through or had a problem or issue, and I loved hearing about their lives and realized that we are all really challenged with the same things in life. And ultimately we all want the same thing: to be happy. 

I think the most important reason I have been able to see the big picture now, at age 43, of what I am supposed to be doing with my life; to help women find the courage and confidence to design their dream life DESPITE what background they have and programming they have had in life; is when I made the best decision in my life at age 40: To become a vegan.   Might as well stay on the track of being different, right??

I have always been an animal lover, but I didn’t always see the irony of claiming that title in one breath, while eating the ones I claimed to love in the next. I grew up with a dozen cats, chickens, ducks, horses, goats… you name it. But I also loved cheese, meat, eggs and fish.

It wasn’t until my late 30s when my friend started sending me videos of animal cruelty on factory farm, that I started researching and was horrified at what I found out. That this could be hidden from most people was unbelievable . Then what I found even more incredible is that people don’t really want to know, because they have a hard time letting go of the foods they have been so accustomed to.  This was me for many years too. Instead of watching the videos or reading the books, I just turned a blind eye and pretended it wasn’t happening.

Until one day when I realized; I’ve spent my whole life trying to find who I am, who I want to be and what I want to do – and ignoring the welfare of beings I supposedly I said I was so fond of, was not in alignment with being a kind, conscious and truth seeking individual.

So I did something ELSE untraditional: I went vegan overnight.  Which meant I had to say goodbye to any followers of my Norwegian food blog (I spent a lot of time building that community) who only followed me because of my writings about smoked salmon and brown cheese, I had to get my husband used to the fact that we wouldn’t be eating the same dishes anymore (but we found a happy compromise) and I had to get re-educated on the best way to build muscle on a plant based diet (it’s easy and much healthier, by the way). Instead of seeing problems, I started seeing solutions, which became my mantra for my new life.

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So what does becoming vegan have to do with finding your purpose in life? Finding the courage to do what makes you happy and fulfilled, and being honest with yourself, of course.  When I turned vegan something happened inside of me – I felt so true to my nature, so clean, uplifted and positive that I know could make ANYTHING happen in my life. What I had seen as a potential huge obstacle, really wasn’t that hard at all, and so many new doors opened up for me that had been shut before.

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This is what happens if you allow yourself to believe in yourself and your capabilities of doing what you truly want to do, despite what other people say.  How many times have I heard that “I have to be careful, because it can be unhealthy not eating animal foods”, that I’m not getting enough protein, B12,  calcium, iron, etc. Well guess what people: I have been a vibrant, healthy and alive individual for the past 3 years I have avoided animal foods – in fact, feeling better than ever before!  My point is: follow your truth, listen to your intuition – what your “gut feeling” tells you will never be wrong for you!

Don’t believe the hype.  Don’t believe it when people tell you a corporate job is “safe” because you get a steady bi-weekly paycheck, that feeling a bit ‘so so’ about your life is normal, that you have to stay in a relationship that isn’t really making you that happy anymore but is ‘comfortable enough’, that carrying around an extra 20-30 lbs on your frame or feeling aches and pains in your body is to be expected when you are getting older…

Why settle for ‘ok’ when you can have AMAZING??  You only have this one life and you SO deserve it!  The world needs YOU and your special talents, give yourself credit for the incredible and very special individual you are! If you don’t quite know what that is for you yet, that’s ok – do what I did, and keep looking! It is SO worth it in the end.

So where on earth would you even get started with this, you might ask? This is why I transitioning from vegan health coaching into life coaching for women just like you… who know that life has more to offer, or more specifically, YOU have more to offer. You have a desire to wake up in the morning and be excited about your day, not dread it. You want to make a difference, feel good, and you want to be able to make good money while having fun at the same time. I get it, believe me.

I am here to help you explore some options for you… Let me get to know you and learn more about your story and we can come up with some ideas together for how you can make yourself happier TODAY.  I can give you suggestions based on our talks, and a step-by- step action plan to get you to where you want to be.

Whether that for you is changing your diet to get more energy or lose weight, changing jobs or even starting your own business, or picking up an old interest or hobby of yours that will get you back in touch with who you truly are and what you love doing,  give yourself a gift and take a chance on yourself for once, today!!

When I finally got tired of saying “no, I can’t afford it”, or “maybe next year” or “I don’t have time,” while secretly feeling super sad inside, I made the best decision ever:  I realized that I only have today,  and I invested in a coach and took a massive step towards improving my life.

I can proudly say that this month I’ve made more than double my salary in my old job as a wine buyer, all while working from the comfort of my own home and spending time with my beautiful pup Scooby, and getting the privilege of coaching amazing women around the world, helping them find back to who they are and what they love to do.  Best job in the world!!

Schedule a free call with me here to see how I can helphttps://calendly.com/sunnyg/60-min-discovery-session

I would love to see you find your true happiness no matter what that looks like to you.  Talk soon!! 🙂

SunnyandScooby

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.
norskflagg
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.
stone
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:
garlicbroth
The broth simmering with some red pepper flakes added, yummm:
garlicbroth1
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.
pho
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!!

Eat To Live: Check-in after Week 1

Eat To Live: Check-in after Week 1

Hello beautiful people! I hope you all had a nice weekend! I’m now headed into week 2 of the Eat To Live program by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. I am surprised at how excited I am about this journey and how great I feel; I realize I desperately needed a “boost” in my own self-care and this was just what I needed.  Eating mostly raw has given me a vibrant look and feel only whole foods can provide.  Results: I am down 5 lbs, although I suspect most of it is water weight (and honestly it’s weird getting on the scale after a year of not going on it once), but I feel less bloated, more energetic and my skin is glowing. So much so, I’ve gotten quite a few compliments from customers at work from people who don’t even know what I’m doing, thinking I’m just drinking a lot of water, which is true too 🙂

As many of you know, the most difficult part of this for me, is not being able to enjoy wine. As a wine buyer and being surrounded by hundreds of wines every day, it takes a little extra effort to work on my mindset and just focus on WHY I’m doing this.  The first true test was Memorial Day weekend this past weekend, a vacation associated with BBQ, beers, margaritas, sangria and excess in general.  I am happy to report I managed to think the “nothing tastes as good as healthy feels” mantra successfully all weekend, and in the end, didn’t even miss it. Today, I woke up clear-headed and positive – well worth it, as always, in the end.  Instead of sitting around doing nothing drinking, we took long walks down by the river and discovered a new trail (the Hudson Valley in New York is SO beautiful this time of year) and worked in the garden and got our tomato plants in the ground:

tomatoplants2015

I also made some very tasty dishes, including these mashed black beans with avocado:

mashedblackbeans

Then I added some veggies, spices and herbs and the mix went into these beautiful lettuce leaves, from lettuce heads I picked up at my local farmer market on Sunday morning:

blackbeanburritos

Here is the recipe for these beauties:

BLACK BEAN LETTUCE BUNDLES

adapted from Dr. Joel Fuhrmans “Eat To Live” book

Serves 4

2 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 large, ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and mashed

1/2 medium yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped

4 green onions, chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 cup mild or medium salsa

juice from 1-2 fresh limes (to taste, I like a lot!)

2 tsp ground cumin

8 large romaine lettuce leaves

In a bowl, mash the beans and avocado together with a fork until well blended and only slightly chunky. (I season my mix with salt and pepper, although Dr. Fuhrman says no  salt… sorry but I like my food well seasoned and that’s probably never going to change). Add all the remaining ingredients except the lettuce and mix.

Place approximately 1/4 cup of the mixture in the center of each lettuce leaf and roll up like a burrito.

While I am not a big believer of “detoxes” and cleanses, I believe that eating a raw vegan diet for a few weeks to clean up your system is highly beneficial. As you can see, eating like this is very easy and inviting; recipes are not complicated, eat only unprocessed foods that grow in the ground or on trees, drink lots of water, and move a little bit every day to honor your body.  To me, eating a beautiful, colorful salad like this one I had for lunch yesterday, is so much more inviting than having a grey or brown looking slab of meat dripping with saturated fat on a grill:

mixedgreensalad

I play around with different oil-free dressings to make my salads exciting to eat every day, and I take my time eating now, I don’t just shove it down because “I have to eat a meal”.  Feels invigorating!

So what did I do to celebrate my weight loss and successful first week? The old me would probably celebrate with a cheat meal or a glass of wine, but I am careful rewarding myself with food, as I don’t find that gives me much (except for 2 minutes of bliss) anymore. Instead, I took my babies (my gorgeous boxers, Thor and Dallas) on a long, peaceful walk this morning while most people were asleep and took in these beautiful sights:

trailpic

 

river

Each morning I write down at least 20 things I’m grateful for, and I meditate on them during my walk. This keeps me going, and reminds me of my “WHY”.  My why is not just about fitting into my old jeans from last year, but it’s about being kind to my body, respecting it and thanking it for working so hard to keep me healthy and alive. What is your why?

 

“Fit” vs “Healthy”

When I started this blog, I’ll admit my main focus was on looking good on the exterior. I had recently fallen back in love with working out after a period of slacking, eating too many fatty foods and drinking too much alcohol (hence a 30 lb weight gain).  My personality took it a bit further and I developed a big interest in lifting weights, which in turn, led me to enter amateur bodybuilding competitions and in between running half marathons.   This is a blog I have wanted to begin for weeks now, as a result of reading friends and acquaintances FB posts and blogs who are just starting out, or who have been in it for a while but who seem to just blindly follow someone who has either experienced some success or who claim to be a “fitness coach”.

As a newbie in the fitness world, I wanted to do everything that the “pros” did – work out like a fiend, eat from tupper ware (which I still do, but never cold food and not that god awful tilapia and overcooked asparagus), “ban” foods and avoid social gatherings so I could get up at the crack of dawn and start the crazy process all over again.  I convinced myself that this was a lifestyle I could live with, as long as I was happy with my reflection in the mirror.  Never mind that my diet was monotonous, at one point I ate the same meal four or five times a day, something that upon looking back, is quite incredible, being that I am a trained chef, and married to one and my life has always in one way or another has been about enjoying food, creating new recipes and being adventurous in my eating.

Since turning vegan, my focus has turned to eating for health all around; not just for an impressive exterior but also for a healthy interior.   It has really been a spiritual experience!  Now I feel so much freer, no foods are off limits except meat, fish, egg and dairy and that is for both ethical  and health reasons so it’s not hard to give them up.  I used to have a big sweet tooth when I was on a diet, and my weakness were gummy worms, milk chocolate and any other processed candy… now I simply have no desire to eat them because I know they are made from nasty fish bones or milk from tortured cows.  Gone are the days when I thought animal protein was the only good source of protein and that fruit was bad, or any whole foods, for that matter was allowed to be labeled as “bad”.   You see, all these health freaks talk about eating what’s good for you, meanwhile they down energy drinks and other supplements that has God knows what kind of deadly ingredients just because it’s calorie or sugar free, consume artificial sweeteners by the mouthful on a regular basis and brag about being able to eat processed junk food on their “cheat day” and still lose weight. Really??  What is the end goal here? End up looking emaciated on show day just so you can win some plastic medal at a local show nobody has heard of and that the ones who have,  will forget the next day??  Develop health problems in the name of “outer beauty”?  Because let’s face it – I’ve been there, and it’s SUPER important to you while you are prepping: oh my God, that vein is popping, my butt looks tighter, my lats are wider and my abs are insane!!   I am on top of the world, I can do ANYTHING!! I am living the dream!! This is the most important thing in the world to everyone, right? Wrong.  I am all for improving the physique, challenging yourself at the gym, incorporating daily exercise for better health and working out to feel good overall.    But when this takes over your life and you think you can keep a stage physique year round… well, that’s where you are in for a big let down.  Life is not about being anal about meeting your macros day in and day out while ignoring other important factors around you, such as having fun in the sun, being with friends and family, work, travel, enjoying simple things in life like having a home made breakfast,  and even just hanging out watching a movie without counting the minutes until your next meal.  I guess what I’m missing in most bodybuilder’s lifestyle is diversity, spontaneity and just a simple ability to ENJOY life and whatever that brings.  A narrow minded view of what life is is no way to live. If I have to skip the gym one day because I have to take care of something, my world is not ruined. I just pick up where I left the next day, my physique or muscles will not vanish in a day, or a week for that matter. It’s all about PERSPECTIVE.   This is what the vegan lifestyle has given me.

I don’t mean to bash anybody in their midst of prepping for a show by posting this.  I too, thought for a while I had to do cardio on an empty stomach to lose fat and eat my boring ass meal every 2-3 hours to “keep my metabolism going” and avoid carbs after lunch. The truth is, my metabolism suffered after a hard core keto-diet I was put on after my last show,  I noticed lack of energy, my body not recovering as well as it has before, and many other signs that I found worrying.  I lost interest in food (which is amazing considering my background I mentioned earlier as a chef and food enthusiast),  and  while I thought I ate so much (most of the foods were vegetables and low in calories so the “amount” seem larger than real life) I was still feeling I missed out on some things.  When the euphoric feeling of stepping on stage and placing well dissipated, I was still left with me, and wanting more out of life than just obsessing about my next work out.

So… enter my vegan lifestyle in October of 2013, and I found a wonderful new way of living! Imagine, I am lean still – and have tons of energy – and I get to eat a ton of fruit, nuts, dried fruits, maple syrup, beans, rice, potatoes, vegetables in all shapes and forms.. and you guessed it: lots of protein!!!

There is a spiritual awakening involved also with eating plant based… while before, I used to scoff at vegans thinking they all ate “rabbit food” and all drank wheat grass juice every two hours, I am amazed that I now feel my food choices have EXPANDED, not being limited, and I look forward to, and at the same time am overwhelmed, each week when I go shopping, as everything I make as my weekly meals are not only healthy, wholesome and good for me, but low in fat, high in nutrients and most importantly: extremely delicious!!  I feel lighter and happier, because I highly believe that if I consume a living being’s body that was tortured and killed, their energy transfers into my body. I can honestly say that I am smiling both on the inside and outside now, knowing that I don’t have to put myself through nightmarish routines just because I want to look good in a two-piece. Now I eat what I want and look how I want while smiling all the way!!  I win – and so can you! 🙂

I have a mission this year, and that is to show you all, in pictures and in words, that it is possible to be healthy looking, MUSCULAR and fit and fabulous, eating plant based foods only, steering away from the “bro-science” of the traditional bodybuilding diets (which are SO bad for you, both metabolically and spiritually – who the hell wants to eat boiled chicken and broccoli- unseasoned- for the rest of their life- just to look “shredded”??) and to include every food in the universe that is wholesome and organic, natural and flavorful… one meal at a time.

To all of you who still think you need to follow  the recipe of  a super low calorie, monotonous and boring diet followed by 1-2 hours of cardio a day after your regular weight training, I’ve got news for you: You don’t!!   Progress pictures to follow in the spring and summer along with more news, info and motivation!