Giving Thanks Is A Healthy Habit All Year Long

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” — Melody Beattie


We seem to hear a lot about giving thanks and being grateful around Thanksgiving but some experts and psychologists think that practicing gratitude is a habit that should be applied all year long.

Gratitude guru Professor Robert Emmons has spent much of his adult life examining the psychology of gratitude and its connection with positive outcomes in a person’s life. Through his work he’s found that being grateful improves both psychological and physical health.

Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains, tend to take better care of themselves, and behave in a more prosocial behavior. Giving thanks reduces toxic emotions, makes us less likely to want to seek revenge, and increases the empathy that we have for others.

With all of the benefits that come from just being more grateful it seems like a no-brainer that this is something we should all be doing more of.

Gratitude Journal

Making Gratitude a Habit

Like all of the healthy habits that we strive to acquire throughout our lifetime, we know that if it is something that we are serious about doing we are going to have to work at it. Even Dr. Emmons admits that gratitude isn’t something that comes easily or naturally to him. In an interview that he did with Ben Dean at Mentor, Emmons says that he “recognizes that it requires strong intention and sustained effort on his part to redirect his attention if he wants to live with an “attitude of gratitude.”

There are some specific steps that we can take to increase our mindfulness so that we become more grateful.

Start a Gratitude Journal – There are number of health perks that come from keeping a gratitude journal. The simple of task of writing down what you are grateful for at the end of each day can switch your focus from all that is wrong with your life to all that is right with it. People that take a few minutes to journal before they go to bed feel calmer at night and sleep better.

*Tip – Keep the journal on the table by your bed and plan to write in it each evening. You can keep is as simple as a couple of sentences if you don’t have time for more. Writing each day will help you establish the habit. Journaling also reduces stress and provides clarity on what it is that you want to have more of in your life.

Write Thank-you Notes– A sincere, simple thank you note given to a person that went out of their way to make you feel good or do something to help you goes a long way. And the thank you note is as beneficial for the giver as it is the recipient.

*Tip – Buy a box of thank you cards or blank note cards and find someone each week to give one to.

Thank you note

Say It Out Loud – Express out loud something that you are thankful for each day. My husband and I were watching 60 Minutes on Sunday evening and one of the segments was about villagers in Kenya that have to travel on foot for fresh water that they carry back to their homes in large buckets. It was easy to express out loud my thankfulness for living in a country where fresh water is available at the turn of the knob on the sink. I believe most of us take so many things like fresh, clean water for granted.

*Tip – Every day be grateful for something and say it out loud to yourself, or whomever you are with at the moment you recognize it.

Begin Each Day by Being Thankful – Don’t wait until the end of the day when it’s time to write in the journal to express gratitude. Start each day by saying thank you. This can only help you anticipate the good things that are in store for you that day.

*Tip – Remember that every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.

Get Moving – Take a walk, practice yoga for 10 minutes, or stand up and stretch. Learn to have a greater appreciation for all of the things your body does each day.

*Tip – Physical activity improves our mood and opens our mind to all of the things we have to be thankful for.

The Gratitude Experiment

With Thanksgiving coming, this week is the perfect time to begin implementing some of these steps that will help you establish a habit of saying thank you each day.

Check out the Gratitude Experiment from WellCast in the video below that discusses Dr. Emmons research and the undeniable health benefits of gratitude.

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Five Effective Full Length Work Outs (For Free) On YouTube

Getting to the gym can be a challenge. Going out for to bike or run can be even more of one if you live in areas of the globe that experience winter.

I’m constantly looking for effective (free) workouts on YouTube. I guess you could say it is one of my favorite past times. And, on this site I have always generously shared my picks with you.

So, here are my latest favorites. Honestly, I’m having trouble understanding why these instructors are giving away their workouts for free, but they are so ENJOY!

Tracie Long TLF Focus Series

I have to admit I just recently became familiar with Tracie Long. Her workouts are excellent for any fitness level and all are available on YouTube at no cost. Because there are so many good ones I had trouble deciding which one to post on the site but, ultimately chose the Tracie Long TLF Focus Series Vol 5 – Break Through.

Don’t let this seemingly simple workout that uses only a 6 pound medicine ball deceive you. Its low impact/high intensity moves kick in way before it’s over. How does she do the entire workout on that stage without falling off the side?

Equipment needed: one weighted ball (that will kick your you-know-what).

Chalene Extreme Intervals

It doesn’t get better than Chalene’s Extreme workouts. This one starts out using a big ball in the warm up, and then goes to cardio intervals that require no equipment. The workout alternates between cardio and strength intervals for a 40 minute fat-burning workout. As always, Chalene’s enthusiasm is infectious. Be ready to get your sweat on!

Equipment needed: Large ball, weights or resistance band.

Melissa Bender Cardio Body Sculpt HIIT

Melissa Bender is the real deal. She offers every type of work out from “Improve Your Rear View” to “Dancer Body” and boot camp. They are all intense but you can pace yourself and lower the impact on some of the moves as needed.

I’m sharing the 15 Minute Cardio Body Sculpt HIIT: No Equipment workout that was posted on her YouTube channel earlier this month. Melissa does most of her workouts using an interval timer (including this one). This is a tough workout so modify as needed.

Equipment needed:  yoga mat (optional).

Gym Ra – 30 Minute Power Workout With Dumbbells

This workout focuses on toning and strength. The instructor appears to be using three or four pound weights and is working through full range of motion on each of the exercises. For people that have been working out with weights, five or six pound dumbbells would be even more effective. Works upper and lower body. Check out more workouts at

Equipment needed: Light weights.

Fitness Blender 32 Minute Home Cardio Workout With No Equipment

Fitness Blender has been delivering fitness videos for several years so if this one doesn’t suit you there are oodles on YouTube or the Fitness Blender web site to choose from. I like the setting of this workout and it appeals to a variety a levels. It’s not over-the-top, but is a good low-impact cardio workout.

Equipment needed: none

I hope you find a workout here that you like.

What’s Your Favorite YouTube Workout?

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Healthy and Nutritious Fried Rice Recipe

If you love fried rice but worry about the oils and additives that often accompany the versions that you get from some of the popular restaurant chains, you can make your own at home and control the calories and ingredients.

This fried rice recipe has basic ingredients – vegetables, rice, chicken, shrimp, and eggs. It’s cooked with a tablespoon of olive oil. A splash of soy sauce is added for flavor. That’s it. You can eat it without guilt and without wondering what else has been added to make it taste so good.

Rice With Chopsticks

There are tons of options when you make this recipe. You can add chicken, shrimp, pork or beef. For this meal I added chicken thighs and a small package of medium shrimp.

For the base I used Jasmine rice (my personal favorite).


Cook a cup and a half of rice according to the directions on the package then set aside. While the rice is cooking, sautee two stalks of celery, a half of a white or yellow onion, and a half a pound of mushrooms in 2 teaspoons of canola or olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat.Celery Onions Mushrooms

Cook the vegetables until they are tender-crisp. Then add your meat. For this dish I put in three pieces of pre-cooked chicken and a pound of thawed medium shrimp. To cook the chicken I boiled it for about 7 minutes on the medium heat. Also, I added a half a cup of frozen peas. Sometimes I add chopped carrots or water chestnuts.

All Ingredients_No Rice

Once all of the ingredients are cooked, stir in rice and mix.

Rice Before Eggs

You could stop here. With a little soy sauce and a dash of pepper this is already a delicious meal, but it’s not truly fried rice. For delicious fried rice,  turn the heat down to low and beat two eggs in a small bowl. Spread the rice mixture out to the edges of the pan and pour the eggs into the center.

Rich with Eggs

Turn the heat back up to medium and allow the eggs to begin cooking. As they cook, stir them into the rice mixture. Once the eggs are cooked and thoroughly mixed into the rice it’s ready to eat.

I like to serve fried rice on romaine lettuce with a splash (or two) of soy sauce. You have the option to roll or not to roll the fried rice up in the lettuce. Whatever you choose, there is something about the flavor of the fried rice and the romaine lettuce that is delicious!

Rice W Romaine

Be sure you make enough so that you have leftovers. This dish is a perfect low-maintenance lunch.


  •  A cup and a half of cooked rice
  • One large celery stalk, chopped
  • A half of a medium white or yellow onion, chopped
  • A half a pound of mushrooms, chopped
  • Meat of choice – chicken, pork, shrimp, beef, chopped into bite sized pieces
    • Raw chicken, pork or beef should be partially cooked before adding it to the skillet. Shrimp cooks so quickly so there’s no need to pre-cook.
  • Two eggs
  • Peas, carrots, water chestnuts, chopped (your choice)
  • One tablespoon of canola or olive oil
  • Romaine lettuce (optional)


  • Cook rice according to directions on package.
  • Saute celery, onion and mushrooms in a half a tablespoon of olive or canola oil on medium heat.
  • Add the rest of the oil and meat and continue to cook.
  • Add rice and mix together.  All ingredients should now be cooked through.
  • Push the rice and meat mixture to the outer rim of the skillet and pour the eggs in the center.
  • Let the eggs begin to cook them stir them into the rest of the ingredients in the pan
  • Once the eggs are cooked through, turn the heat down to low.

Serve the fried rice on romaine lettuce leaves or in bowls. Add soy sauce to taste.


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Is Sugar Really That Bad For You?

If you roll your eyes at studies that tell you what to eat and what not to eat so that you can live a long, healthy, happy, prosperous life, get ready to roll.

Researchers have completed a study that was designed to determine if sugar is really the demon substance that we’ve been told that it is. Driving this research is the undeniable trend showing that in the United States more and more children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and cardiovascular disease at a younger age. In September, the youngest person ever to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes was a three year old girl.

The occurrence of these maladies are much more common in American children than they are in other countries such as Pakistan, India, and China which leads scientists to believe there is more to it than caloric intake.


Sugar Study On Children Proves What We Think We Already Know

A study conducted by researchers at UC San Francisco and Touro University California involved 43 children between the ages of 9 and 18. All of the children were obese and had at least one other co-morbidity such as high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, and impaired fasting glucose.

During the 10-day study the children were provided specific foods to eat but it was not food that you would consider healthy fare. They ate kid-friendly foods like hot dogs, pasta, cereal, bagels and potato chips. But, the catch was their overall dietary sugar was reduced to 10 percent of their calories.

The children had to weigh themselves each day and if they lost weight they were instructed to eat more so they would maintain their original weight. This was done to prevent confusion as to whether the reduction in sugar or weight loss was having an effect on their health.

Despite intensive efforts to maintain the participant’s baseline body weights, at the end of the 10-day study, all participants experienced about a 1% loss. And all other makers were down including diastolic blood pressure, fasting glucose, fasting insulin, fasting triglycerides, and LDL.

Researchers have concluded that the health detriments of sugar, and fructose specifically, are independent of their caloric value or effects on weight.

Dr. Robert Lustig at the University of California, San Francisco, who has led studies on glucose and fructose says there is a direct link between sugar and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, excess belly fat and abnormal cholesterol. Lin says, “When you metabolize fructose in excess, your liver has no choice but to turn that energy into liver fat, and that liver fat causes all of the downstream metabolic diseases.”

What This Means For You

It is true that studies come and go and, in some cases, what was proved last year has since been debunked. However, I can’t imagine that a year from now scientist will be saying, “Nope. We were wrong. Sugar is good for you. Eat all you want.”

Whether your goal is to lose weight or improve your metabolic markers, when it comes to sugar, eating less of it is the way to go. The American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons of added sugar a day for women and no more than nine a day for men. If your sugar intake is out of control, tracking your sugar to make sure you stay within the AHA guidelines is a good place to start.

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Why Aggressive Weight Loss Strategies Lead To Disappointment, Plateaus and Weight Gain

Weight loss followed by weight gain – also known as the yoyo effect – is more common than you might think.

I could not find any accurate statistics for the number of people that lose weight then gain it back. Some studies show it’s as high as 95 percent. Others put it around 85. Whatever it is, I can tell you from the personal experience I have working with individuals through health coaching and specific weight loss programs, it’s a lot. I would guess it is in the upper range of 95 percent.

And the reason for weight regain has more to do with than science than it does with willpower.

Scale with tape measure

Enemy Number One: Adaptive Thermogenesis

Diet-induced weight loss is accompanied by a process called adaptive thermogenesis which is a disproportional or greater than expected reduction of resting metabolic rate. In other words, the body has an uncanny knack for wanting to be at a certain weight and dieting seems to elicit a biological reaction to negative energy balance or caloric reduction. When you eat less to lose weight, your body slows down to prevent you from doing so.

The plateau and weight regain that generally follows this large energy deficit may exceed weight loss so that a net weight gain may be the outcome of such a weight loss cycle.

There are still many unknowns about the dieter’s number one enemy, adaptive thermogenesis. Scientists continue to study this built-in adaptation system to learn more about its relationship to weight loss and the seemingly inevitable weight gain that follows. What they do believe is that a reduction in energy intake (food) results in an equivalent decrease in the resting metabolic rate.

Does This Make Successful Long-Term Weight Loss Hopeless?

The answer is no. While this balancing act that takes place is in the body is somewhat beyond your control there are some things to keep in mind when trying to lose weight and keep it off.

Here are some things you should know:

A slow weight loss program will prompt better long term results than a fast one will. Research shows that an aggressive weight loss program slows down your metabolism more than a moderate one does. We’ve all heard of the starvation mode theory that suggests that if you cut your calories down too low your body will think it’s starving and hang onto body fat. This is the basic principle of adaptive thermogenesis. The more you shock your body with extreme calorie deficits, the harder it will work to balance things out.

Strength training will keep your metabolism at its peak. Most of us prefer cardio exercise over strength training, but lifting weights – your own or the ones you buy from the store or find at the gym – is absolutely key to losing weight and keeping it off. When we lose weight we don’t just lose body fat, we also lose precious muscle mass. This muscle mass is what keeps our metabolism revved up. Three to four strength training sessions a week with weights, tubes and medicine balls will help you maintain the muscle mass that you’re going to need to lose weight and keep it off.

HIIT training trumps steady state cardio. High intensity interval training isn’t just more fun and effective than steady state cardio, it burns more calories both while we’re engaged in the training and for up to 24 hours afterwards. Find a HIIT class at your local gym or do one in the comfort of your own home. HIIT training requires no equipment and there are some excellent workouts on YouTube that you can access for free. Below is a 20 minute HIIT workout from Pop Sugar that you can find on their YouTube Channel.

Protein helps retain muscle tissue. Eating a diet rich in lean protein will provide the fuel your muscles need to regenerate after both the strength training and HIIT workouts. Not having adequate amounts of protein can result in even greater muscle loss and a lower metabolic state.

Patience is a must-have. The best way to think about your diet is to reframe it so that you’re thinking about weight loss in terms of a lifelong health strategy not an unsustainable 12 week program. We already know that quick fix dieting programs are impossible to maintain so get a calendar and set a long-term goal. Journaling is a good way to hold yourself accountable to your program and writing down your successes and challenges will help you stay positive and persistent.

Bottom line is the more you shock your body by drastically reducing calories, the more it will fight you to maintain your body weight. A long term plan of eating nutrient-dense lower-calories whole foods, daily exercise that includes strength training, and a daily dose of patience and perseverance will give you the best results.

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Are You Getting Enough Exercise? The Answer Might Surprise You.

Is Your Sedentary Lifestyle Making You Feel Drained, Tired and Bored?

Too much sitting, whether it be at the office or on the couch in front of the TV, not only gives you’re a bigger, flatter bottom, it messes with your metabolism making it harder for you to lose weight and keep it off.

A review in the Journal of Applied Physiology says that inactivity makes you insulin resistant and raises your lipid levels. These two factors, alone or combined, can put you at a greater risk for type 2 diabetes, and fatty liver disease. The Journal also says that prolonged periods of sitting make it harder for your body to burn fat and may even encourage fat storage.

So we know that sitting too much is bad for us. That’s not new news. If you’re someone who shrugs your shoulders and thinks there is nothing you can do about it because you sit at a job all day and don’t have a lot of options for physical activity before or after work, hang on. There are some things you could be doing every day to get more activity in.

And, for people who already do structured workouts three or four days a week, moving more throughout the day is good for you too. In fact, some research shows that sitting all day undoes the benefits of that 45 minute HIIT workout you did this morning at the gym.

Doing These Five Things Every Day Can Improve Your Health

Wall Push-Ups – A quick, simple exercise that you can do anywhere gets you out of your chair and increases blood flow to your extremities. Stand facing a wall, put both hands on the wall about shoulder width apart. Press into the wall, then push away from the wall. Do 12 reps.

Wall Squat – Stand with your back against the wall and lower down to a sitting position. Hold the squat (with your back against the wall) for at least 30 seconds. Repeat six times.

Chair Squat – Stand up from your chair, then sit back until you’re almost touching the seat. Hover for two seconds without touching then stand back up. Repeat 12 times.

Move For Three – After 60 minutes of sitting stand and move around for three minutes. Marching in place while doing shoulder rotations or arm circles counts and will get kick up your metabolism for the next hour.

Leg Extensions – Sitting on the edge of a chair, lift and lower one leg. Repeat 12 times on each side.

Try to do these exercises everyday for two weeks. Keep track of how many you do and how you feel. See if the short activity breaks help you be more productive give your more energy throughout the day.

Get Creative

There are tons of other exercises that you can do at work and at home. Get creative and come up with a list of your own. Be sure to add some resistance to your exercises. Keep a light set of dumbbells in your desk that you can pull out during the day for a set of bicep curls or shoulder presses. Using light dumbbells, weighted balls and elastic tubing will help you maintain, and even increase, your muscle mass over time.

For more tips on staying active in a sedentary world, click here.

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Five Killer Butt Workouts You Can Do Anywhere

Sitting all day on your tush can take a toll on its shape. And, for most people, finding time to go to the gym can be problem. Below are five butt workouts that you can do at home.  The best part is they are all around 10 minutes in length so they are easy to fit in to even the busiest schedule:

1. Best Beginner Workout for Butt & Thighs from GymRa

The pace in this workout is slow, but the exercises are effective and include enough repetitions of each exercise to achieve results. The exercises also promote balance and incorporate core training. This 11-minute video is excellent for the person that’s too busy to workout.

2. The Butt-Lifting Workout That’s Better Than Spanx from FitSugar

FitSugar never disappoints and this workout is one of my favorites.  Celebrity Tracey Mallett leads this 10-minute workout that will get your butt and legs in shape. Can you say pulse, pulse, pulse? Ouch!

3. 5 Best Butt Exercises to Sculpt a Cute Booty from Blogilates

Blogilates is one of the most popular workout sites on the web. In this workout Casey Ho proves that it takes more than squats when it comes to getting a firm, cute booty. None of these exercises require any equipment.

 4. The Kim Kardashian Butt Workout

Fitness trainer Rebecca-Louise shows you how you can get a Kim Kardashian-style butt in just 11 minutes a day. Rebecca does use a set of light dumbbells in this video. You could start with a five pound set and work your way up. I love this workout because at 5:57 minutes Rebecca does my absolute favorite glute exercise. Grab your weights and get to work!

5. Butt Workout 1 Tone Up: 30 Day Butt Lift from Be Fit

Be Fit has a 30-day butt lift program and this workout is the first of the series. The workout starts out with squats and lunges that use a chair then moves on to more targeted glute exercises.  The 30 day butt lift program is good for all fitness levels.

These five workouts provide you with different options for five days of the week so you’ll never have the chance to get bored. I’ve done all of these workouts and I hope you’ll try them too.

Which one is your favorite?

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Five Tips To Help You Embrace A Return To Standard Time

Now that we’ve fallen back to Standard Time it’s dark at 5 p.m.  By this time next month it will be dark at 4:30.  After taking a non-scientific pole of the people around me, I can say with confidence that this change is not popular with most people.

Most of us don’t embrace the end of daylight saving time which brings with it dark evenings, and before too long, dark mornings too.  But, when we ‘fall back’ and return to standard time our body is more in sync with the circadian rhythms of our biological clock which impacts our sleep and our health.


Standard Time Embraces Circadian Rhythms

Circadian rhythm is a built-in 24 hour cycle that all living beings – including plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria – possess.  “There are clear patterns of brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and other biological activities linked to this daily cycle.”  (Science Daily) There are a number of things that can disrupt our circadian rhythm such as travelling through time zones, working the night shift, indoor lighting, drug use, and springing forward into Daylight Savings Time.

A large study in Central Europe, followed sleep patterns of 55,000 people and found that natural sleep patterns are in sync with standard time.  What this translates to is good news for the 1.6 billion people that moved their clocks back and return to ST on Sunday.

Too Much Darkness

If it’s so good for us, why don’t we like it? The biggest reason is that we feel we are being cheated out of daylight.  If you are a day shift worker that gets off 5 or 6 p.m., you’ll be greeted by darkness when you leave work beginning next week.  That makes us feel like we don’t have as much time to be active or get things done.  Research shows that’s not true. We will, in fact, be back in cadence with nature which improves sleep quality and overall health.

Just knowing that you are physiologically in sync with the planet may not be enough to keep you positive about the time change. Here are five tips that will ensure a smooth transition to the season of shorter days and longer nights.

Five Tips To Help You Cope

1.  Workout Before Your Day Begins – Use your body’s natural inclination to want to rise earlier to get a workout in before you day begins.  A walk or bike ride outdoors is a good option since sunrise is earlier.  If that doesn’t work, a 20 or 30 minute walk on the treadmill, an on-line workout, or DVD will get you moving and give you something to feel good about the rest of the day.  For suggestions on free workouts that you can access from the comfort of your own home, check out Liongate’s Be Fit Channel.  For even more options, find a post I wrote about free on-line workouts here.

2.  Take Sunshine Breaks – Find an opportunity to get outside for at least 10 to 15 minutes every day with some skin exposed so that your levels of Vitamin D don’t dip this winter.  For people that live in areas of the world that experience four seasons, the period from September to April can wreak  havoc on our body’s ability to generate adequate amounts of Vitamin D through sunlight exposure alone.

A deficiency in the sunshine vitamin can result in Seasonal Affective Disorder which brings about symptoms of fatigue, depression, and a feeling of malaise.  If you think you would benefit from Vitamin D supplements your doctor can assess your levels with a simple blood test.  Vitamin D in liquid form can be purchased at the local pharmacy.  It’s inexpensive to buy and easy to digest.

3. Stay Active In The Evenings – When it’s dark at 5 p.m., resisting the temptation to put on sweats and slippers for a night in front of the T.V. can be a challenge.  Find ways to keep active in the evenings either inside or out of the home.

Check the listings for your local library, park district, Y and community college for classes and family activities.  Volunteering to help at the local Goodwill center, offering your expertise to a focus group, or joining a recreational volleyball league are all ways to combat the hum-drum of long winter evenings. If you love to read, joining a virtual book club will connect you to people that share the same interests as you, and you won’t have to leave home to participate.  Check out the resources for joining – or starting – an virtual book club.

4.  Become A Healthy Comfort Food Chef – It seems like the first week after we turn the clocks back to standard time, I find I’m craving chili, pumpkin pie, cranberry bread, and a whole bunch of other comfort foods that undermine my goal of not putting the pounds on this winter.  There are a number of web sites that have recipes for comfort food makeovers:  Cooking Light, Eating Well, Taste of Home and Good Housekeeping all have healthy comfort food sections online.

Check out the recipes at these sites and make them for your family.  Take it a step further and create your own dishes and launch a web site or blog where you share your own fabulous creations.  


5.  Embrace Scent and Light – A living space that has candles flickering or scented pots exuding warm scents is welcoming and comforting.  The wax chips that melt in the pots with the heat of a light bulb can be turned on in the morning when you leave the house.  The scent and light is waiting for you when you get home.  Some of my favorite fall scents are vanilla cinnamon, pumpkin spice and crème burlee.  These aromas elicit feelings of holidays, family, and togetherness.  Scent Sationals has a good selection to choose from.

Over To You

If you live in a part of the world where you’ve turned your clock back an hour, are you looking forward to the change or dreading it?  What tips do you have for surviving the short days and inescapable darkness?  Please give us your thoughts in the comment box below.

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(Pictures credits for the collage go to artists at  Candles – ETIco68; Scent pot – honeybunched; and Chair in sunshine – crsan)

Creamy Cauliflower Salad with Kale

You can add kale to almost anything to give it a nutritional boost. I added kale to this creamy cauliflower salad and it adds crunch and color. I do use a little real mayo for the dressing, but cut down the calories and fat with a dab of Greek yogurt (or sour cream) and a tablespoon of olive oil.

Cucumber Salad

This creamy cauliflower salad is delicious. It’s a good side dish and is always a hit as a carry-in at a bar-b-que or picnic.

Baby Kale


1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped
1/2 red onion, sliced into bite size pieces
1 small can of black olives, sliced
2 cups of baby kale, chopped
2/3 cup real mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt or sour cream
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of vinegar
1 teaspoon of sugar
Garlic salt
Fresh black pepper


Mix cauliflower, red onion, olives, and kale in a large bowl.
In a small bowl mix mayo, Greek yogurt, olive oil, garlic salt and pepper.
Stir dressing mayo mixture into cauliflower.
Chill until ready to eat.

A one cup serving has about 80 calories.

Cucmber Salad 2

You can reduce calories in recipes by replacing some of the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt of sour cream. Add a dash of olive oil for texture and flavor.

Kale can be added to soups, salad, sandwiches and casseroles for a nutritional boost. Adding kale to main and side dishes is a good way to increase your daily intake of vegetables.

You might also like this Superfood Salad with Kale and Cherry Tomato recipe: Superfood Salad.

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My Running Success Story: From 5K to 10K to 15K to Half Marathon

When I hear people say that they can’t run I tell them Yes. You. Can. At one time I too said that I wasn’t a runner. Then I launched a Couch to 5K program as a workplace wellness program and ran my first 5K.  From there I worked my way up from a 5K to 10K to 15K and finally a half marathon.

Each time you complete an event you set yourself up mentally to achieve the next distance. Setting a goal to run a half or full marathon without any running experience might be daunting. But breaking those long distances down into smaller achievements keeps you engaged in your training where you develop both the cardiovascular and muscular endurance necessary for longer runs.

Cool Running’s Couch to 5K program is a good place to start if you’ve got the desire to run but you’re not sure if you’re ready. It’s the program that turned my dream of running into a reality. It can do the same for you.

5K at Crystal Lake Park, Urbana, IL –

This run took place on a beautiful fall day and was for women only. Proceeds went to organizations in the community that proceed services to women in need. Below is a picture of me with my co-workers. It was our first 5K and we rocked it!


15K – Hot Chocolate Race  in Chicago, IL –

Here’s the crew on the morning of the race on Lake Michigan in Chicago. It was a cold morning but we warmed up once we got moving. The reward for running a 15K on a cold morning in November?  Chocolate!

15 K Hot Chocolate

Illinois Half Marathon

This race is practically in my backyard. Every year we get up early and travel to the race and don’t have the expense of a hotel room. They have a great after-party for runners and volunteers. Here we are at the University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium with our medals.

Illinois Half

Illinois Half Marathon – Post Race Hydration

Ah yes. If you’ve heard that runners like to imbibe a little after they run, it’s true. We do. Of course we always drink responsibly.

Post Half Celebration

The Shoreline Classic 15K – Decatur, IL

This was my first year to do the Shoreline Classic in Decatur, Il. It was an absolutely perfect fall day and the race course was full of rolling hills. The hills weren’t the kind that suck the life out of you, but rather there was a nice steady stream of one hill after another that keeps the running both challenging and interesting. This year was the Shoreline’s 25th anniversary. We (my daughter and I) got medals, a really cool long sleeved shirt and the headbands.

Shoreline Classic 15 K

Trail Running

To stay in shape between big events I teach fitness classes and  compete in train runs throughout the year. The distance is usually between seven and eight miles but the course can be tricky. On these runs there are creeks to navigate, lots of mud, tree roots covered by leaves and hills (the kind of that suck the air out of you) and even an occasional snake.

Trail Runs

Lake Mingo Run

 Ready. Set. Go!

Get ready to start your running career by picking out a 5K near you, lace up your running shoes, and get outside. Here’s a link to the program that helps thousands of people turn their dream of running into reality: Ready To Launch Your Running Career?  Here’s The Method That Works. 

You might also like this article on the benefits of a structured running program: Five Ways You Can Benefit From A Structured Running Program.

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