Season of Gratitude

As we  approach this season of gratitude, I ofter reflect upon my life and the special people who surround and help to shape the person that I am. I often catch myself getting caught up in the little things that shape our days and overlook the bigger picture. It is so easy to get mired in the day to day stress of our lives and overlook the many blessings that we have to be grateful for. The weather is too hot, too cold, too windy or rainy.  My knee hurts, my tooth hurts, I have an annoying hangnail! Sometimes the work piles up, we get lazy and/or loose our sense of perspective. It is times like these that I take to my mat…sometimes it’s a 6am yoga class, a killer Pilates class or a jaw clenching barre class.  Sometimes, not as often as I would like, it’s 20 minutes of meditation that grounds me brings me back to balance.IMG_8594cropsmall
Lately, it seems that I am inspired by those around me who have born so much stress, loss and heartache yet still inspire others around them with their strength. Life is the thing that happens to us on a daily basis, the good, the bad and the ugly.  It is what helps to shape us, strengthen us or it leave us in the dust.  It is up to each and every one of us to take it on with the best that we have to give, to inspire, to encourage, to support those in need and those who need us.
It sounds so trite to say, “Be grateful for the little things.” However, the little things in life are the things that make us smile, laugh and help to shape kindness and caring. A small gesture of thanks or appreciate can change a person’s day. A smile, a thank you or a thoughtful note can cause a long lasting chain of positive effects that can reach out exponentially.
So when life gets out of hand, try to think about this poem that a friend shared with me:
Kiss your life.  Accept it.
just as it is.
Today. Now.
So that these moments
of happiness you’re
waiting for don’t pass you by.
Blessings of the season!

Using the 12 Hour Fast for Increased Energy & Weight Loss

Considering our modern day schedule it’s not surprising that we rarely participate in a daily 12 hour fast. This wasn’t always the case. Electricity, traffic, commitments, extra curricular activities, home work and work from home have all lead to longer days, less sleep and fewer hours allotted for a natural 12 hour fast. According to my casual survey most of us will eat dinner between 7:30 and 9:00 tonight. Many of us will be up between 5:30 and 7 tomorrow ready to put coffee and something quick to eat in our stomachs.IMG_7094cropsmall-2

In July the New York Daily News quoted Marissa Vicario, nutritionist as saying, “The kidney, colon and liver are efficient in cleansing and eliminating toxins,”

“Our body is built to cleanse itself constantly,” adds Dr. Zelana Montminy , who is certified in nutrition, “We’re always undergoing chemical reactions within our bodies to detoxify.”

But if that’s the case why are we as a nation becoming more obese by the year and having more gall bladders removed, selling more Prilosec and having more liver, pancreas, kidney and colon cancers? One reason is that we have shortened the 12 hour fast, interrupting our body’s ability to freely perform the function of self cleansing.

Our bodies are designed to function with the rhythms of nature. Just as animals in nature have times of activity, rest and repair (sleep) so did we when we lived more in tune with nature.
How that relates to food is that we have times of Appropriation (eating and digestion) Assimilation (absorption and use) and Elimination (of body wastes and debris). Unfortunately, in our society we’ve been lead to believe that a good strong coffee with cream and sugar (and perhaps whipped cream and a caramel drizzle) is just the thing to jumpstart elimination. However, we’re beginning to understand that this function should happen naturally and without drugs or stimulants and that 99.999% of the coffee out there is acid forming, adrenal exhausting and highly addictive.

Back to the 12 hour fast. By giving our bodies 12 hours to rest and assimilate we give the organs time to work more efficiently. Just like a back log of emails get haphazardly deleted, neglected or stored, so does food, “healthy” or otherwise.

Here are some benefits that have been noted after using the 12 hour fast.

• Waking up with a flat, calm belly.
• Early morning elimination without stimulants • Waking without foul breath
• Waking up bright eyed and clear headed
• Sleeping more soundly
• Weight loss
• More sustained energy throughout the day
• Clearer skin
• Fewer late night cravings
• Easier/longer sleep

At first 12 hours may seem very long. Here are some tips:

• If you must eat after dinner, eat an apple
• Maintain hydration throughout the day
• Drink a large glass of water 30 minutes before your last meal
• If you must dine late then break-fast 12 hours later
• If you can’t wait 12 hours have plain greet tea or watermelon juice or green juice to start • Drink water at any time throughout the 12 hour fast

Remember you said you start in the fall?


Have you lowered the bar on your own health? Are you still making excuses why youhaven’t gotten back to exercise and healthy eating?  If I could count the times that I hear, “Yes, but I’m 30 or 40 or 50, I am getting too old for that.   I’m going let go a little and face the facts of aging….Nonsense!  Why would you let anything as elusive as a number keep you from feeling your best…becoming strong, healthy and energetic!
I recently hiked up Mt Madison in northern NH with my college roommates and their husbands.  It was a challenging, yet rewarding 3 1/2 hour hike to the top of this 5,600′ mountain. Over 50% of the hikers who stayed overnight in the Madison hut were over 60 years old.  It was an impressive and exciting discovery. Hiking is not my personal recreation of choice, but the challenge was rewarding!  My many hours of Pilates, Yoga and Barre prepared me well for my weekend adventure. If you keep fit and healthy there is hardly anything that you can’t do as you move towards your next “age milestones”.
It’s so easy to fill up your day with “to-do” and “to-don’ts” and crawl into bed feeling unfulfilled and overwhelmed day after day. It’s so much more rewarding to continually challenge yourself by raising your own bar!  It’s the challenges in life that help us grow, teach us lessons, set examples for those around us and help create a rewarding life. Look ahead to the next 5 or 10 years and visualize how you want to feel and the goals that you want to achieve. How do you feel when you look back on the last 10 years?  Life is precious, we’ve all lost a friend or love one before their time.   We have one vessel in which to spend our lives; love it, cherish it and take care of it! Maybe you’ll share with us your next challenge or adventure!

p.s. These are the bars that that got us to the top of Mt. Madison and back.

Celebrate You and Fall:

Fruit & Nut Granola Bars

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter, natural salted
  • 1 cup light corn syrup ( I used a 1/2 cup of agave & 1/2 cup of light corn syrup (believe it or not, light corn syrup does not have high fructose in it))
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 7 cups rolled (not instant) oats
  • tumblr_mk0tchFZZl1qbs4vvo5_r1_1280-1One 12-ounce package small chocolate chips (I have used regular-sized chocolate chips and small chocolate chunks, and both were fine)
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
  • 1 cup hulled sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted (I got roasted seeds at Trader Joes!)
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted (place pecans on a baking sheet in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes)

Any combination of nuts and seeds will work as long as you keep the quantity the same.

1. Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan (or very carefully in the microwave) and set it aside to cool (it should cool completely before using or it will melt the chocolate chips).

2. Preheat the oven to 375˚. Prepare a rimmed 13 x 18-inch baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper and spraying the sides with nonstick cooking spray.

3. In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, peanut butter, corn syrup, and vanilla.

4. In another large bowl (a super large bowl), combine the oats, chocolate, cranberries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and pecans.

5. Add half of the dry ingredients and half of the melted butter to the peanut butter mixture. Mix and knead with your hands to combine.

6. Add the remaining dry ingredients and the rest of the butter and mix until all of the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

7. Spread the mixture out onto the prepared baking sheet and press it down to fill the pan. Cover the mixture with another sheet of parchment paper and use a rolling pin to make sure it is pressed firmly to a uniform thickness. (Really press down as hard as you can.)

8. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The edges will be a light golden brown. The mixture will look under-baked in the center, but will set up after cooling.

9. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it cool for several hours before cutting.

10. To cut, run a knife around the outside edge to loosen it from the pan over onto a cutting board. Using a very sharp knife, cut into any size you like. A ruler and a small paring knife work well to score the top of the granola into strips. Use a large sharp knife to cut straight down through the bars on the score marks.



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