Sunday, February 23, 2014

I wear Yoga Pants.

I am confident.  I am strong. I have self-worth, self-respect, dignity and integrity. I respect and value others.
And yes, I wear yoga pants.
In the last year, I balanced being an entrepreneur and President of an inspirational gift and lifestyle company, motivational speaker, trained for 100 mile Ultra marathon and completed it, fundraised for the race (raised over $11,000 for the Family Scholar House), Chaired the Taste of St. Raphael, coached our son’s basketball team, a husband who travels the world, two very active boys in school and lots of extracurricular activities…oh and let’s not forget our 100 pound dogJ
On any given moment, you could find me in anything from a business suit, business casual, work-out gear and yes, even yoga pants. 
Please do not mistake my work-out clothes or yoga pants for lack of caring or lack of self-respect.
I completely agree about dressing appropriately for the occasion; business meetings, interviews, nice restaurants, Church, family gatherings, holidays, a night-out.  Your attire shows respect for the occasion and the people involved with it.  First impressions and perceptions are a reality; therefore, making your clothing choices extremely important for some of the above occasions. 
However, a run to the grocery store in work-out clothes does not constitute a lack of self-respect or respect for others.   It’s called having a full schedule, multi-tasking and balancing. 
Furthermore, for some occasions a woman dressing up can look like she is trying too hard.  A woman trying too hard is never attractive.  Sometimes less is more.  
When I see a woman in work-out clothes, I think, “good for you for taking care of yourself”.  I see strength. When I see a woman without make-up, I see a confident, beautiful, strong woman.  For most in casual clothes, it is not that comfort is taking over;  it is a matter of scheduling.  Even if it is for comfort, provided the attire is appropriate for the occasion, if it is going to make the person happier, go for it.  I would much rather be around a happy, pleasant person even if she is in flats as opposed to heels.
I try not to judge.  For all women who feel they cannot leave the house without make-up to run an errand, if you have the time and it makes you feel good, do it (to each her own).  Personally, I do not need make-up or certain clothes to feel beautiful.  I am confident in my own skin. Clothes certainly do not give me self-respect or give me the ability to show respect. 
I have seen women and men dressed to the nines that have been disrespectful to others and I have seen homeless people in rags show respect and love.  I am who I am no matter the clothes I don. 
I know a woman who has been at the hospital for days taking care of her child going through chemo who I admire deeply.  This woman is wearing a sweater and yoga pants and after she has spent a day at the hospital with her son in comfortable clothes, she runs to the grocery to get dinner for her family at home and runs by the Mall to pick up a new pair of navy pants for her other son to wear school.  He had grown out of his other pants.  This woman has an amazing work ethic, self-respect, dignity, worth and a compassionate heart.  I admire her.
I know a woman who has been volunteering her time and working outside to help build a home for a family in need.  This woman is wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt (and yes, they are even soiled after her hard days work).  After her full days work to help a family in need, she runs to the grocery.  I admire this strong, giving woman. 
I know a woman who cleans homes for a living.  She is in sweatpants and a sweatshirt.  After she works her tail off, she races to pick up her kids from school and shuttles them to sports practices and runs by the grocery.  I admire this hard working woman.
Some wear business suits Monday-Friday and welcome the opportunity to dress casual.  In fact, my husband is one of those men who travels the world and routinely interfaces with corporate leadership.  On the weekends, he welcomes the chance to turn his hat around backwards, wear comfy clothes and drive his truck. 
We are grounded, down-to-earth, strong individuals who do not feel the need to impress the people at the grocery store. 
We try and raise our children the best we can.  We believe each of them is unique and has their own special gifts.  Our hope is that our children realize their power from within, discover their gifts and share them with others, affecting society in a positive way.  Hard Work is paramount to success.  Balance. Work, Rest, Play.  Give your best; but you do not need to strive for perfection.  Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Our house is not perfect.  We work hard. We laugh. If we fall, we get back up. Get your hands dirty. 
Just as we try and teach our children balance in life and making good decisions, so it is with attire…to know the right times to wear the right things.
I can get dressed up with the best and hold my own; but, I can also get down and dirty in the trenches.
Life is a balancing act. 
Next time you see a woman at the grocery store in yoga pants, you may just want to think twice about who she is…You never know, you may have just come across Wonder Woman.

Journey to Oz: Finishing Heartland 100

What a road we just traveled on October 12th starting at 6am in Cassoday, Kansas.  Our yellow brick road to Oz was a little different than the one in the movie.  It was extremely rocky, rather hilly, hot and generally no shade; but, the finish line was far greater than I ever dreamed.
100 miles is the hardest physical and mental challenge I have ever accomplished.  Going into a race of 100 miles, I tried to do as much mental preparation and physical training as my schedule would allow.  I trained for over a year.  I had a coach and a training plan to ensure I was on track with mileage, nutrition, etc.  I also did yoga, meditated, prayed and read positive books to ensure I was filling my brain with the right nutrition.  And throughout the year long preparation, I had a purpose.  I was raising money for the Family Scholar House, a 501C3 organization that changes the cycle of poverty through education. 
But, 100 miles tests you like no other.  No matter how much preparation you do, you will be tested.
It was an amazing journey filled with smiles, sunrises, sunsets, laughs, tears (just a few), determination, teamwork and persistence.  I learned so much about myself, life and the power of the human spirit. 
I had a heart, courage and brain going into the race but I was tested.  Along my 30 hour journey to Oz, thankfully the entire infamous cast of characters of “The Wizard of Oz” presented themselves at just the right moments to help me through to the finish line.
The Tin Man, a fellow racer and friend, paid me a visit the night before the race, reminding me about the importance of pacing yourself, especially in the beginning, to ensure you had enough energy to endure the miles and struggles.  He kept me on pace for the first 40 miles of the race.  I was already aware of the “pacing yourself” concept; but, I think it took God sending a person to me to make sure I stuck to this because I am notorious for going out of the gate to fast.   
All of my crew members at some time or another over the 30 hours were my Lion, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Good Witch.  My crew was the TinMan (brain) for me at many times, reminding me to eat and drink in the wee hours of the night when delirium had set in, making sure I had the right clothes on and keeping me on pace.
And oh my, did I have a crew of Scarecrows with hearts.  They had heart and brought out the best heart in me.  They wanted me to finish so bad I could feel it.  I was witnessing them giving everything of themselves to help me finish.  The love I felt from them was immeasurable.  To witness one crew member, Ann, keep going when she was hurt herself was beyond having a heart.  She was the one taking the majority of the miles with me and really taking it for the team.  She gave everything she had out on that course; determination, heart, food, music, laughs, light, even the shirt off her back.  In them giving me their hearts, I discovered more of my own.
And my momma was certainly my heart.  She came in and paced me for 8 miles in the middle of the night. We prayed the rosary during our time together.  It was really special to share that time with her.  Although my Mom pulls courage out in me, in that moment, she represented the scarecrow (love) so much to me, that I said I really needed the other crew members to pace me in the rest of the way because when I saw my momma I just wanted to cuddle up in her arms and let her hold me and cry.  Have you ever felt that way?  I am a grown woman but that is how much I was hurting at that point.  So, I knew I had to turn to Ann and my Sister for the remaining miles and let my mom comfort me after the raceJ
The good witches came to find me all along the way…they were of course my crew, the friendly people at the aid stations, my fellow racers, even crews from other racers (Gary and JohnJ).
The wicked witch certainly tried to creep in at times.  Your mind will play tricks on you when you are in such pain and faced with such challenges.  But, I had to stay strong.  My body hurt; but, I had to remind myself that my mind is stronger than my body and I can do this.  I reminded myself why I was there in the first place (The Family Scholar House.  We raised over $11,000 for them but I also wanted to show the people of Family Scholar House that anything is possible with a goal, a plan and lots and lots of hard work.  I also wanted to show my children that anything is possible. I wanted to finish what I started a year ago.) and visualized myself running through the finish line.  Through my positive mental talks and of course, the help from my crew…we silenced that wicked witch and charged on.
Toward the end, we had a car pull up to us who told us he was the “sweeper”.  This meant I was the last person left on the course.  This could have been viewed as a wicked witch and a bit demoralizing; but, we chose to let it motivate us. 
 So, that leads me to the Lion.  Every crew member was a Lion for me, helping me to draw out my courage.  When I broke my toe at mile 91, I was in excruciating pain.  In fact, this is the one time I cried.  And I rarely cry.  I cried because the pain was so excruciating and I also cried because I had come so far. I had already traveled 91 miles. I just had 9 more miles to go. I did not want to stop now. I did not want it to be over.  I wanted to reach my goal.
I had to take my shoe off due to the pain.  I tried to put it back on but my toe hurt too bad to walk on it in the shoe.  I just thought if I could hobble on my heel but my feet were so swollen and blistered from being running/walking on them for 27+ hours at this point that I could not walk on the rocks without a shoe and there was no grass to walk on.   So, we had to think fast.  Well, Ann thought fast.  Ann took off her shirt and used the sweatshirt around her waist and wrapped up my foot.  This protected the bottom of my foot to allow me to be able to hobble along on the rocks.  We kept praying and in about an hour, I was able to put my shoe back on.  Painful, but it was on. 
And then came the ROARING LION at mile 96, my sister.  I have never seen this side of her.  In fact, at times when she was yelling at me, I almost laughed inside of myself as she was yelling at me because it was so not her.  She was not going to let this goal slip away from me.  She was yelling at me and saying everything under the sun to get me to run and run faster.  Well it worked.  She somehow got me to shave 16 minutes off of my current pace (for 4 miles) and got me to the finish line at 12:04pm on Sunday October 13th.  Yes, 30 hours of work on that yellow brick rocky road.    The “sweeper” was even behind us for the last 3 miles watching us.  We learned after the race that he was calling in to the race director saying, “You won’t believe this! They are running! They are running!”  He watched us in amazement as my sister helped me to get up to a decent pace and make it in to the finish line.  Yes, last person to FINISH the Heartland 100.  The proudest I have ever been of last place in my life.  I could have bailed out at so many points during the race.  In fact, there were many other people who started the race that did not finish.  But, not me.  Last place or not, I finished. I was not racing against anyone else.  A race of that magnitude, I was my only competition.   My heart actually hurt for my fellow racers who did not make it to the last aid station at the cut-off time and were pulled from the course. I finished one of the biggest accomplishments of my life and certainly the hardest mental and physical task I have ever completed.
It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Nelson Mandela, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Without facing challenges and facing fears, we are not growing.  To Live, to TRULY LIVE… is to GROW.  Through such a journey to Oz, traveling from light to darkness to light again, I learned about myself and about the good of humanity. I walked away from the race, knowing we need people in life.  And it’s okay to need people. 

God put us on this earth to do good and help others.  He gave us each other for a reason.  We are here for one another.  We do not need to go at life alone. 
As the good witch once said, “You have always had the power my dear. You have had it all along.”  We’ve all got the power within us to achieve.  Life is about giving and receiving.  Use your gifts to help others.  Give a smile, knowledge, a helping hand.  And if you need help, seek a mentor and be OPEN to those around you. 
There’s no place like home.  Home in my books is where you are in the moment.  You are where you are supposed to be and that includes the goods and the bads; the storms and all of the “somewhere over the rainbows” moments.  Thankfully, there are lots and lots of people to be on this magical journey with us.
 Thanks to all of you who helped me reach this amazing goal.  Yes, I had the power all along; but, thank you to each of you who helped bring out the best in me to get to the finish line and help me through life.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Rise Up

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, 
but in RISING every time we fall.

As some of you know, I competed in the Ironman in 2009. One year prior in August 2008, I DECLARED I was going to compete in the IM 2009. Keep in mind, I had never ridden a bike “clipped in”, swam in open water or participated in a triathlon. That’s right, never competed in a triathlon (not even a sprint).
I have lots of stories to share with you about my IM experience, but I want to share a story today about one of my first longer training rides (2 ½ hour ride). After I had practiced a few times being clipped in and rode some shorter distances, I thought I was ready to ride with a group of cyclists. So, I went on a ride with my coach and a few other athletes.
The ride was really tough…mid 90’s, up and down hills (the climbs were treacherous and the descents were frightening to a new cyclist).
After about an hour and 1/2 , I was fatigued trying to keep up with the experienced cyclists. As the group pulled up to stop at a light, my inexperience at being clipped in showed. I fell over and got skinned my leg up. I got up and shook it off…but, my confidence was a bit shaken.
We kept cycling and the heat was getting worse. I was having a hard time keeping up with the group and was dragging back.
My coach said that was it for the day. He and I were finished and the others went on.
My confidence was shaken as anyone’s would have been. My mind even started to wander…”Oh my Lord, I barely made a two hour ride. How in the world am I going to make six hours plus.”
But, then I caught myself….I made a decision that very day to take my training one day at a time. To not think about a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile run all put together. I was going to complete each training day that my experienced coach had assigned me and have faith that if I complete each day, I will be prepared in one year. I also knew that some training days wouldn’t be as good as others…but, I was going to give it my all every day. I remember telling myself “Crush each work-out, Crush the plan”. The mind is powerful and I made a decision that day to use it to my advantage.
We are going to be faced with challenges and fall sometimes, but we must RISE. We must learn from our failures. I looked at that riding day and realized I needed to work on hydrating better. I sweat a lot…and I need to be prepared for the heat and humidity.
I decided to learn from that day, put it behind me and came out more determined on the next ride.
I did work up to 112 mile bike ride (and a 2.4 mile swim before and a marathon after).

I don’t have any special powers. We all have the ability to achieve whatever goals we set. So, whatever your goal, set your mind to it. You will face challenges, learn from them and then RISE UP.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Indiana 50 miler

Start Line of Race 6am

On April 20th at 6am the first annual Indiana 100/50 Ultramarathon in Chain O’ Lakes State Park began.  The course is a 16.67 mile loop( So the 50 milers completed 3 loops and the 100 milers, 6).  It has the makings of a pr course; not many hills, not technical and very pretty.  What no one was expecting was for the temperatures to be at freezing and for the State Park trails to be flooded. 
The race officials attempted to re-route the course as best they could.  But, in many instances there either was no way to re-route us or the re-route was still treacherous but the better option.  For some of the loop we were going through areas with water up to our knees.  Actually, a few spots it might be as long as 25 yards that you had to make it through with water up to your knees.  Other times, you were slogging through mud up to your ankles and this obviously got worse as the day went on as more people trampled on it. 

Coming out of this mud, as you can imagine, it felt like you were lifting your legs that now weighed an extra 5 pounds each (each shoe all wet and muddy).  The frigid temps also made it hard to keep warm after coming out of the water.

We tried to laugh about the conditions, make light of the situation “quack quack” and kept our spirits high.  We joked saying this sure makes for a good story.  But, as the day went on, people began dropping out and chatter was going on with some of the runners running the 100 that they were dropping back to the 50. 
I had fully recovered from being sick back in March.  I was feeling great and ready to have a great race.  I knew the course was forgiving so was ready to blast out a great 50.  What you can never plan for is the conditions.  Kinda like life, there are some things you just can’t plan for and you have to adapt. 

My mind set was to dig in and get to the finish line.  It took a lot of extra energy and time to get through the water and mud; but, I got through it and tried to make the best of the dry parts of the trail.
I had lots of time to myself out on the trails and some of the time, I chatted with the fellow runners. I met some interesting folks along the way. 

My mom went with me to this race.  My husband stayed home to care for the kiddos and get them to all their sporting events.  It was so nice to have  my Mom with me.  I know it was just a training event for the big race in August but 50 miles is nothing to laugh at.  50 miles is still an undertaking and it was nice to have her there…especially under the conditions.  It was great to see her face and hear her voice as I would jog up to the aid station.  She was right there to help me with whatever I needed.  My shoes and socks were so wet and muddy…and my feet were so cold that I could not feel them.  I would switch my shoes and socks each loop and even though they were only dry for a few miles, it was nice to warm my feet back up. 

My mom met me at the last aid station before finishing (8 miles to go).  And I looked at her and said, “Do you want to pace me in?”  My mom knew I would not ask her if I didn’t need her.  So, she said” sure”.  

Mind you, she was not prepared to do this.  Thankfully, she had tennis shoes on; but we laughed at how she was dressed otherwise for an ultra event.  She had a black hat on with a flower and a pink scarf.  Many runners were in gear that looked pretty rough and tough and there is my mom in a hat with a flower.  It gave us a few good laughs.  And that’s what I love about her, “she doesn’t care, she just wants to get the job done”.  This 8 miles with my Mom was so special.  Experiencing this life experience with her was amazing.  It says so much about her character.  She didn’t flinch when I asked her to come along.  I needed her and she was there….and she’s not really a runnerJ
Go Momma Go!
The Sun did Shine:-)

This race was a great character builder; anything worth getting in life is never easy (or as they say, everyone would be doing it).  To finish under conditions like that makes you feel like you can do anything.  The results show only 57 out of 152 runners finished the 100 miler and 77 of 100 runners finished the 50 miler.  I share this not to share in someone’s frustration that he/she was not able to finish; but, the numbers really illustrate just how hard the course was under the conditions. 

I look back on yesterday and am so grateful; grateful for the time in nature, grateful for the challenge, grateful for the time with my Mom, grateful for the camaraderie with the other runners, grateful for my mental strength and for FINISHING.

When you face a challenge in your life, no matter what area, and you can not control the situation; control how you react to it.  You have a choice to fold or to dig in; to face whatever it is head on and get it done.

***If you are thinking of running the Indiana 100/50 next year, I do think it would be a great course under most normal conditions.  And I have to say, the race directors and volunteers were top notch.  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Adjusting the Sails

I always believe in finishing what you start.  The finish line in this race however was a bit different than normal.  This goal was actually probably even a bit harder for me.  The finish line was to listen to my body.  It was questionable if I should even start the race.  I was scheduled to run a 50 miler training race yesterday in preparation for the 100 miler in August.  I was still a bit sick and my body was pretty run down from being ill and on so many meds. Starting the race on oral steroids, Zpac, inhaler, etc is not really the best way to begin an endurance race. 

I was actually surprised I got sick.  My training has been going so well.  I have been eating well, getting rest and really taking care of myself.  I guess I just caught some nasty bug.  I was fully confident that if I would have been healthy this race would be challenging but a step forward and one that I was ready to undertake.  I always love the life lessons I learn from all of these experiences. 

So, deciding to start the goal wasn’t to finish 50 miles. The goal became to listen to my body and make a smart decision.  Hmmmm.  I can push, push, push.  But, knowing when to call it (if I needed to) would be hard.  My ultimate goal is the 100 on August 10th.  So, I needed to make a smart decision.  I knew I could select another 50 miler to run within the next few weeks.  So, the goal was to start the race and see how I felt.

My sister even questioned me starting as she knew how frustrated and disappointed she thought I could become.  However, that’s not my attitude.  I had decided I was going to be happy with whatever I could accomplish under these conditions.  Starting and running any distance would be better than not starting at all.  Plus,  I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel the morning of the race (I mean what if I had some miraculous recovery over night??), so I wanted to give it a go. 
Boy, was this an adventure…right from the arrival at my lovely hotel/cabin accommodations.  They say pictures are worth 1,000 words.  Let’s just say I will let them do the talking.

Probably not the best way to begin an endurance race.

The cleaning team's fix for a dirty couch.

 Sleeping arrangements (hoping to avoid the cooties...the more layers the better).

Wasn't about to take my shoes off in this place.  My covers for the evening were some (hopefully) clean towels.
The view at the start of the race made it all worth it:-)

Well, I succeeded at my goal.  I started the race not feeling the best.  Glad I participated and got in a good training run.  I decided to call it a day after about 5 ½ hours of running.  I was able to experience a wonderful trail run.  If you are looking for a fairly easy beautiful course that’s nicely organized, this is a great run (Land Between the Lakes).

Now, gonna get well, recover and select a 50 miler to run within the next few weeks.

When striving for a long term goal, you will always face challenges.  You have to be flexible and able to adjust the sails.  I have adjusted them a bit, had an exciting adventure and now am getting back on course.

Monday, February 18, 2013

She Inspires Me.

She Inspires Me.

She works a full-time job while running a household with three busy children, attending most all of her children’s sporting events and extracurricular activities, taking and dropping off her kiddos to practice, volunteering at their school and always offering to help.

Her infectious smile and personality LIGHT up a room.  She is the first to walk over and greet you and ask how you are doing.  She has a way of making those around her feel good.

One thing you would not know is that Jennifer has been battling Stage 4 colon rectal cancer since December 2010.  She does have a family history of colon cancer but had no symptoms when she was diagnosed at age 43, and it had already metastasized to the liver and lung.  The doctors were able to take out the diseased colon but are still managing the liver and lung.  She has been told her cancer is manageable, not curable.
Jennifer inspires me: the way she lives her life, her infectious smile and personality, the LIGHT she gives to others.  My watching her live her life with cancer really puts things into perspective. 

Over the last few months, I have become a lot closer to Jennifer.  She has a son in the 5th grade with our son.  Jennifer also works at a promotional company and helps me with various merchandise for my company, Shine On. 

Having some fun at the Taste of SRS together:-)

One day, we got into a deeper conversation of her condition and how she chooses to live her life.  Her positive attitude and the way she handles her cancer is evident even from her initial reaction to her diagnosis.  She said when the doctor first shared the news, “I was glad they discovered it when they did so they could treat it.  And I also felt a sense of happiness.  I was happy it was me and not my mom or a sister or family member.  I knew I could handle it.  I was ok if I was the example to the rest of the family.  It made my two brothers and two sisters go get a colonscopy.”

She discussed with me how important she thinks attitude is on her cancer journey.  She feels it is almost all mental.  She said “you can make yourself have a great day or you can make yourself have a bad day.”  She thinks hospitals are depressing and tries to stay away from them.  She doesn’t like to see people on ventilators, etc.  When she goes in for treatment, she doesn’t like to hear other people’s stories about their cancer treatments.  She wants to be there for people; but, if she is not careful too much of the negative talk can take over.  So, she likes to stay away from it to help manage her journey.  She says some people “let it take over their lives and it is their life”.  Jennifer said cancer is “part of her life”  but not “her life”. 
That is why she said although she knows support groups help some cancer patients, her family and friends are her support group. She doesn’t want to go to a group session and listen to depressing stories. If she needs to talk to someone, she shares her stories or feelings with a family member or friend and then moves on.

She did share that chemotherapy is challenging.  She continues to work and will take a day off to have therapy and then will go back to work the next day.  But, she said she doesn’t feel good for about 2-3 days following the treatment.

Getting the best quality of life is important to her.  Quantity is important too with three children but she is aware that she may not live as long.  She wants her family to continue to see her be strong.
I asked her how she feels that having cancer has changed her.  She said she always had a positive outlook on life and a positive attitude so that helped her deal with the diagnosis and journey but the cancer has changed her positively as well.  She said she feels like she takes things on a lighter level.  Her stress level has gone down.  She realizes what’s important and doesn’t stress over the little things.  She is much more light hearted and can laugh at herself.  She said she has noticed her kids always are saying now, “Mom, you are always laughing.”

She also realized how much people care about you, and to accept the help.  For the first 6 months of her diagnosis, a mother at St. Raphael organized a ‘meal train’.  So, for about 5 nights/week, a family at SRS would drop a meal off at their house for dinner.  She said it was so helpful and it meant so much to her that people cared that much. 

Not only having a positive attitude and a strong support system; but Jennifer said her faith in God has been instrumental in her journey. She puts her trust in God.  She knows there is a reason why she was chosen for this and feels it is in God’s hands. When she was in the hospital the very first time…she prayed and prayed that she would just get out of the hospital and be able to live a normal life.  And she feels her prayers were answered.

Jennifer, you are a model for us all…from your initial reaction to your diagnosis, your positive attitude, your selflessness, your self- awareness, your openness, your honesty and your strength.  You show us all that anything is Possible.  That having a challenge in your life doesn’t mean it has to become your life.  You give us perspective.

You SHINE with grace and strength.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Things that make me feel good.

Things that make me feel good.
A hug from one of my kiddos, a sweet text from my husband, putting a smile on someone’s face, my parents, helping someone, a massage, yoga class, a good work-out, seeing someone succeed, being outdoors, watching my kiddos do something they love....the list goes on and on. 

But, today, I want to write about something else that makes me feel good: nutrition. 

What makes me really, really feel good is putting the right nutrients in my body.  I am trying to eat for peak performance but also to achieve overall wellness and to just plain feel good. 

I have done a lot of research and reading over the years to find the right fuel for my body.  A few things recently I have discovered on my journey that are making me feel great:

1)     Apple Cider Vinegar: Was reading a book written by an endurance athlete who discussed his experience with Apple Cider Vinegar and the benefits. His points were so compelling; I decided to do a little research of my own. 
The body is constantly trying to achieve inner balance and a state of equilibrium.  Apple Cider Vinegar helps the body maintain a healthy alkaline PH level.  Research shows higher acid levels (lower PH levels) lead to lack of energy and higher incidence of infection.  So, the ACV alkalizes my body’s PH.  This is especially great in the morning if you drink coffee.  It will help to offset that. 
Upon drawing conclusions from everything I had read, I thought I would give it a try.  I started about 4 weeks ago putting two tbsp in a large glass of water in the morning before my nutri-bullet drink.  I cannot speak for everyone, but I can say what I have experienced: increase in energy, clearer skin, decrease in nasal and sinus congestion and feel great! 
The apple cider vinegar must be raw, organic and unpasteurized.  If it is not, it loses all of its nutritional benefits.  Apple Cider Vinegar is a product of fermentation.  The juice from the organic apples turns to apple cider then to apple cider vinegar.  These two fermentation processes make this drink the powerhouse that it is.
I use the Bragg’s brand.  But, there are a few others out there.
Certified Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar is unfiltered, unheated, unpasteurized and 5% acidity. Contains the amazing Mother of Vinegar which occurs naturally as strand-like enzymes of connected protein molecules
  • Rich in enzymes & potassium
  • Support a healthy immune system
  • Helps control weight
  • Promotes digestion & ph Balance
  • Helps soothe dry throats
  • Helps remove body sludge toxins

  • Helps maintain healthy skin
  • Helps promote youthful, healthy bodies
  • Soothes irritated skin
  • Relieves muscle pain from exercise
2) Coconut Water: It’s an all-natural way for me to get electrolytes (and replace electrolytes lost after a work-out).  Less sugar and sodium content compared to most sports drinks on the market while still providing potassium, calcium and chloride.   

3) Raw honey: Winnie the Pooh was certainly onto somethingJ Raw, unpasteurized honey is more digestible than any other sweetener and also contains enzymes to help the food along. 
The rapid absorption of honey monosacharides, and the slower metabolism of fructose content make honey a popular source of energy for athletes, particularly endurance athletes.

Honey is composed primarily of carbohydrates (natural sugars) and water, as well as trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids. 1 Tsp of honey is about 21 calories full of nutrients and all natural.
I put raw honey in some of the smoothie drinks I make.

4)   Maca Root: Peruvian Ginseng. This raw maca root powder is packed with amino acide, vitamins and minerals.  For athletes, maca has been shown to improve stamina and reduce the onset of exercise –induced soreness.  I add this to my morning smoothie.
5)     Spirulina: According to my research, Spirulina has the highest % of complete protein by weight of any food.  Packed with vitamins, phytonutrients and antioxidents, studies have shown for endurance athletes a correlation with expedited recovery.  I put this or Hemp seeds in my morning smoothies.  The Spirulina has a bit of a seaweed taste (just wanted to make you aware).
6)     Hemp Seeds: great balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 and is a high quality, complete raw food protein.  From my research, although both Hemp and Spiruluna are raw protein sources, they possess a few different benefits making them both important.  So, I use both. 

I have been putting a lot of great nutrients in my body over the last several weeks and have been feeling amazing.  It’s hard to say which superfood  I put in me makes me feel one way or another. All I can say is I have been feeling great! If I could bottle up this feeling and sell it, I would:-)

Please don’t take my word for it---do your own research, experiment, and as always, everything in moderation.

Studies of varying legitimacy do exist as well as anecdotal experiences/accounts.  But, large scale peer reviewed trials require funding.  For-profit companies generally do not want to put the money into validating all-natural products/remedies.  So, again…please research and derive your own opinions from the information you find.

And if you have any tips on nutrition for optimum health, please share!  I would love to hear!