Stephanie Under Construction Blog

Essential Oils to Help Through the Holidays

Overworked? Overwhelmed? Over it all?

Touted as “the most wonderful time of the year,” the holidays can also add pressure and stress to our already busy lives. They can also be reminders of loss of love and loved ones, leaving us with heavy feelings of the past. The  rising  demand  of  expectations  from  our workplace,  home  and  family  can  take  its  toll  on  health,  vitality  and  experiencing  the  simple  pleasures  that  season of life has  to  offer.  

The use of essential oils is one of the most effective ways to adapt to stress. It provides a gentle, natural  treatment and a feeling of control over their own well being, offering a sense of self empowerment and a deeper connection to one’s true nature. 

Adora Winquist, author of “Detox, Nourish, Activate: Plant and Vibrational Medicine for Energy, Mood, and Love, a modern alchemist and universally known healer who shared the following:

“These essential oils will encourage that Zen vibe,  so that when you share the sentiment “Happy Holidays” it really comes from the heart! Enjoy!”:

5 Essential Oils to Help You Through the Holidays

Peppermint – is invigorating and refreshing and perfect for a foot soak after a long day of shopping or socializing. It is an oil of strength and fortitude for the body, mind and emotions. It is also a wonderful digestive aid, especially this time of the year when our typical diet is stretched to the limits of what is agreeable to our bodies. Dilute one drop in a tablespoon of carrier oil and massage the stomach in circular motions after eating, or simply add a peppermint tea to your evening relaxation time. 

Carrot Seed – is nourishing and revitalizing. This nutrient rich aromatic  including vitamins C, A and B deeply nourishes the adrenal system and increases our resilience to stress. The warm, deep aroma is grounding, balancing and supportive to the liver which can be important this time of year with overconsumption of fats and alcohol. 

Lemon – is clarifying and uplifting. Its crisp citrus aroma clears the mind, enhances benevolent feelings and supports focus. Where our attention goes our energy flows, this makes lemon a number one aromatic feeling of overwhelm and to encourage a positive outlook. Used in massage it is wonderful for circulation and lymphatic drainage.

Lavender – is calming and soothing and generates a sense of peace. It is an excellent aromatic for tension headaches, muscular discomfort and soothing those emotional peaks and valleys all too common this time of year. You can make a spray with 15 drops of Lavender in a one ounce bottle of distilled water to mist your sheets and pillow cases before bed to drift off to a restful and restorative nights sleep. 

Frankincense – allay anxieties and deppens spiritual reflection. This is an exceptional oil of tranquility, inviting that quietude for pause and reflection that is such a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle. Add this oil to your meditation or sacred intentional practice to stay centered and connected. 

Peppermint Foot Soak

Add 5 drops of Peppermint essential oil (Mentha piperita) and one cup of Epson Salts to a foot soak in warm water and luxuriate for twenty minutes and invigorate your feet and entire body, mind and spirit with this popular aromatic. 

Zen Hydrotherapy

4 drops of Lavender  essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia)

3 drops of Frankincense essential oil (Boswellia carteri)

3 drops Carrot Seed essential oil (Daucus carota)

This rejuvenating bath is sure to sooth your spirit and renew your body-mind during the holidays and all seasons. Blend the essential oils above into one tablespoon of jojoba or olive oil and add to a warm bath. Increase the benefits of your hydrotherapy with one – two cups of Epsom salts. 

Cultivating a Happy Holiday Season

Clinical Psychologist, Health Service Psychologist, Adjunct Professor, a Board Certified Music Therapist, Dr. Bethany Cook shares 9 tips to a happy and less manic, Holiday Season!

  1. Gratitude Attitude – At meals, or  another appointed time, have everyone offer one thing they are grateful for; you can have categories like self, others, family, friends, nature. Studies have shown we can develop a gratitude mindset through effort and focus. When we bring to consciousness our blessings/positive aspects of life this improves our overall mental health.  The cocktail of stress hormones are replaced by the ‘love’ ones which is a win-win. 
  2. Validation Vase – As a family, design a jar/box and put small papers beside it with a pencil.  As things happen over the holidays (or throughout the year), ask family members to write down things they appreciate in others.  Read them together at predetermined times.  Hearing nice things about yourself and perhaps things you didn’t think anyone noticed, reinforces a sense of self within the family system. 
  3. Map the Holiday Months- Include not only dates for dinners but mark off time for shopping, couples time, alone time, etc. The holidays get mental and before you know it you’re overwhelmed and stressed. No one benefits. Add a budget to this map. Carve out 1-2 hours to talk about budgets, gifts, where to buy them, who will get them, who will watch the kids, etc. then stick to the map. Any diversions should be shared and pre approved if possible. Life is moving at the pace of the autobahn and one wrong turn or sudden break could derail those you are trying most to please. 
  4. ‘No Pressure Post Pics” –  Yes I know, we all want our ‘Hallmark’ memory or two over the next few months to be captured on film.  Problem is, when these moments are forced or that’s the focus during the event you are not actually ‘present’ to appreciate the real happiness that can be created by closely connecting to your loved ones.  Special moments are about slowing down time, stopping long enough to observe and your heart takes a picture with all your senses and stores it in your memory.  This heart picture can be triggered by any of the memories associated with your 5 senses; this increases the chances of the memory being ‘triggered’ thus making it a more powerful moment than a posed picture memory will ever be.  
  5. Limits Facilitate Leisure- You will want to set boundaries and limits with extended family and  friends before throwing or attending events.  Have an ‘action plan’ ready to go in case someone doesn’t respect your limit or your family isn’t respecting someone else’s.  If people arrive with more than that number of gifts you’ve said is ok to give the kids, do you put some away for later, allow a few gifts or turn the person away entirely and not let them in? If your child screams and runs around at a party do you walk out of the space and help them recenter then try again or leave immediately? 
  6. Build in Breaks- If you, or someone in your immediate crew, needs downtime to refuel, don’t plan events back to back. Mark off hours each day for downtime. If some people in your family don’t ‘recharge’ in low stimulating environments offer a different space or activity they can do to refill; maybe head to a local park or play ‘pick-up’ basketball right after Thanksgiving while the rest of the house naps. 
  7. The Helping High- It’s hard to help someone else and not feel better yourself. Sit down with your family and talk about ways to ‘give back’. This can be in the form of financial donations, volunteering your time/talents, buying gifts for a family, writing letters to those in the  military etc. Model for your children the importance of community and connection.  
  8. Be Able to Identify Raisins vs Chocolate Chips – Pause to reflect on what stresses you out the most about the holiday season; money, family events, past trauma, etc.  Once you have identified what ‘gets under your skin’ the most you can do your best to be ‘prepared’.  Let your partner and family know why holiday meals around a single table irritate you.  Share with your spouse how watching the ‘women’ in a family do all the cooking and cleaning bothers you so you want to help.  This prepares you mentally to pack your coping backpack and make sure you have all the necessary supplies to manage. 
  9. Keep Schedules Simple-  Don’t over schedule yourself or kids. Do as much as you can ahead of time.  Be ok with saying “no” and practice saying it so it doesn’t get stuck in your throat. 

Personalized Meditation Coaching–It’s a Thing

New Online Meditation and Wellness Coaching Service Provides Personalized Support

Calm Scholar connects people looking for guidance with experienced meditation coaches

The new online meditation and wellness coaching service Calm Scholar is providing people with personalized support to help them experience greater peace and well-being. The service connects clients with meditation guides who provide virtual, one-on-one meditation and wellness coaching. This unique approach ensures that each person receives the individualized attention they need to make lasting changes in their lives.

Meditation is an important part of many different cultures and religions, and its benefits are well-documented. Studies have shown that meditation can help to reduce stress levels, improve focus and concentration, and promote a healthier well-being. However, despite its many benefits, meditation can be difficult to learn without the proper guidance of an experienced teacher.

“Lots of people are interested in meditation and know it could help them, but they have no idea where to start. And once they begin, they may wonder if they are doing it right. Working with an expert meditation coach takes all of the guesswork out, making it easier to free your mind and start experiencing the benefits of meditation.” says Ben Palmer, co-founder.

This is where Calm Scholar comes in. They offer one-on-one sessions with experienced instructors who will help guide you and personalize your experience.

Calm Scholar was started by three friends who shared a common interest in meditation, self-exploration, and mental health. Meditation greatly improved their lives, and they wanted to share this important practice with others.

“Some people believe meditation is just sitting still, trying not to think – and that can be intimidating. But what most people find after working with us is that meditation can be so much more than that. Our coaches really take the time to get to know you, and offer recommendations and techniques that will be most helpful for you,” said co-founder Alex Evangelista. “That might mean taking one-minute mindfulness breaks throughout the day, doing breathing exercises, or something just for you.”

The company does not believe there is a “right way” to meditate or find inner peace. Calm Scholar allows each of their coaches to bring their own philosophy and teaching style, giving clients the ability to choose from a broad range of coaches and experiences.

Calm Scholar offers a 30-minute introductory session free of charge, so clients can be confident that they have found a coach who is right for them. During this session, participants have the opportunity to ask questions, get to know their coach, and experience a guided meditation. 

Sarjeet Dagar, a coach with Calm Scholar, says “It’s been a great journey working with Calm Scholar as a mindfulness coach. They have given me the freedom to keep a good balance between my way of working and what a client needs. I’m grateful to Calm Scholar for enhancing my confidence as a coach.”

Calm Scholar coaches have extensive experience working with clients who face a variety of challenges – such as depression, anxiety, addiction, illness, stress, overwhelm, grief, and more. All sessions are virtual and completed via video chat, so clients receive the support they need from the comfort of their own homes.

Alex adds, “We know our coaches well and are always looking to help clients get paired with a coach who will make a real difference in their life. Our coaches offer a lot more than just teaching you how to meditate. You may discover you need creative visualization, yoga, or something different – like energy healing, reiki, or even nutrition and holistic wellness. You have the freedom to explore and find what works best for you.”

To get started, schedule a free intro session at calmscholar.com.

Finish Line Ready! Group 5K Training

Whether you’re ready to walk or run your first 5K or are a seasoned racer and wanting to improve your fitness, speed, strength, and flexibility in a group setting—this is the training group for you!  Welcoming all bodies and fitness abilities, we will spend some of the most beautiful months of Lake Havasu City’s weather to enjoy the outdoors and get race-ready!

Training Program Includes:

  • Weekly group walk/runs and stretching (Saturdays @ 7am—various locations in Havasu)
  • Ongoing endurance nutrition support specific to your individual needs
  • Full (written) 5K training plan for independent workouts
  • Group accountability and fun
  • (Optional) 60-minute Monday night virtual meeting for a 20-minute guided body-weight resistance strength workout, group discussion on hot topics (gear, fueling, recovery, etc), and to address any additional support issues (Meeting recorded, even if you can’t attend, you’ll still have access!)

Round 1: Havasu Balloon Festival 5K (Race Day: Saturday, January 21, 2023)

Meets Saturday, October 8, 2022, through Saturday, January 21, 2023 (Dark dates: 10/29/22, 12/24/22)

Round 2: Havasu Half 5K or Half Marathon (Saturday, April 15, 2023)

Meets Saturday, January 28, 2023, through Saturday, April 15, 2023 (No dark dates; subject to change)

Investment: $147/round or $267 for both rounds (Race registration not included; participant must complete their own registrations and waivers as required by race organizers)

(*If you are planning to attempt the 4/15/23 half marathon, both rounds are recommended to build endurance and ensure safe and healthy racing for the participant—a half marathon training plan will be provided in place of the 5K training plan)

Registration for each round closes 3 weeks after the start of each round to provide participant adequate training time to enjoy a safe and fun experience.

To register, email stephanielueras@gmail.com, message Stephanie Lueras on social media, or text 602-621-3392 or click here to fill out an interest form.

Both races have a virtual option if you aren’t local or available on race day here in Lake Havasu City—the only thing you will miss if you aren’t with us in person through the training process is our Saturday group workouts, but we’ll be sure to include you in the encouragement and accountability of those workouts, so you still feel like part of the group!

*This is an independent program of Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness LLC and not in conjunction with any specific race organizer

Unpopular Opinion: Drink the soda

Hear me out…

If you tool around on any of the social media platforms, you might have seen the “healthy coke” that’s gone viral combining ice, sparkling water, and balsamic vinegar.

Now, let me first say, I love balsamic vinegar. I use it in cooking, probably more than palatable to most, but whatevs…it gives food amazing flavor. Never in my life have I thought, “I wonder how I can make this into a drink?!”

Second, and more importantly: you are under no obligation to “healthy hack” anything that you consume.

In my top five things I hear from clients and consultations is some iteration of, “I’m so bad for drinking soda.” To which we do a little more investigative work:

  • Why do you feel drinking soda makes you “bad?”
  • Why do you think soda is bad?
  • What type of soda do you enjoy?
  • How much soda do you consume?
  • When and where do you consume soda?
  • Do you enjoy soda?
  • What/how much of other beverages do you enjoy?

Soda has no moral value. You are so much more than your food and drink consumption habits. Drinking soda doesn’t make you a good or bad person–a beverage simply isn’t that powerful.

Soda in and of itself is not “bad.” It’s our habits and actions around its consumption that might be problematic due to your relationship with it, but its mere existence in any form (regular, diet, zero sugar, various sweeteners, caffeine free, etc) is not good or bad.

I only ask what type of soda someone consumes to have a little extra knowledge in how that particular beverage might be affecting their body on a more global scale. There is no right or wrong answer if you tell me that you drink regular, diet, sodas made with alternative sweeteners to cane sugar, caffeinated vs caffeine free, etc. The other reason I ask someone to share what type of soda they drink is to understand do they prefer this because it’s really what they enjoy, or they choose it because it’s “healthier” than another?

Questioning consumption is not a matter of this vs that (subtraction and restriction), but rather a question of quantity in terms of balancing soda with other beverages (adding to hydration–ensuring that soda isn’t the only beverage you consume in a day). The enjoyment factor is important because it helps to understand whether or not you’re drinking soda because you actually like it, or it is convenient, available, and/or a mindless grab.

An important piece of information is the when/where with soda drinking. Are you drinking it on its own or with meals? Having a large quantity to sip on through the day in absence of other choices? Do you use it to soothe or treat emotional or physical feelings.

This might seem excessive, but it’s actually not a long conversation, but it helps me to see where someone might be at in order to help them see that they’re demonizing something that isn’t “bad,” or help someone to process how looking at their choices differently might empower them to consume soda in a different way that helps them feel better about the choice or the physical result of what they are consuming.

Now, down to the brass tack that hits with the soda argument: diet vs regular. Personally, I don’t give a rip what you choose as long as you are consuming which you prefer taste-wise–here’s why: regular soda contains calories that can satiate hunger and contains sugar (perhaps by a myriad of different names for sugar–but it’s still sugar) and satisfies not only a craving (emotional boost), but can provide a boost physically (blood sugar spike/caffeine kick). Diet soda is (mostly) calorie-free and uses natural or artificial sweeteners/sugar derivatives that also meet that craving and physical boost (might or might not spike blood sugar depending on your sensitivity to sweeteners/caffeine kick). At the end of the day, it really comes down to preference.

All this said–here’s my encouragement when it comes to soda consumption:

  • Too much of any one thing is not beneficial. Ensure you’re balancing your soda consumption with other beverages, especially water, to foster good hydration habits.
  • Explore your “why” behind soda, and sometimes that honesty factor empowers one to make different choices if they find it beneficial
  • Drink and enjoy your soda independent of meals. There are so many flavors and textures that go on with eating a meal, that water or another beverage can be more satisfying. If you drink soda, drink it in such a way that you’re honoring the choice and you can consume it mindfully–enjoying the taste, experiencing the carbonation/bubbles, how it makes your body feel, etc (If one is concerned about the amount of soda they consume, these mindful consumption habits can help to decrease the amount of soda one drinks if they find that personally necessary)

I often get asked if I drink soda (which is a loaded question because what I consume isn’t necessarily an appropriate choice for you), and the answer is yes, but rarely. Years ago I drank a lot more soda than I do now, but diet soda started to have an adverse effect on me from the artificial sweeteners used and I found that I didn’t have the same problem drinking regular soda. However, my soda consumption is limited because of how I perceive it–about 6-7 years ago I began a migraine prevention medication that has a side effect of dulling one’s sense of effervescence/carbonation. Basically all of these beverages taste flat to me (it’s bizarre, I know), so I don’t really crave drinking soda because who likes flat soda? It tastes like flat, colored sweet water to me. That said, I’ll occasionally have a ginger ale or coke to settle my stomach if I’m not well, or a sprite for a fast sugar boost on a hot day after a depleting workout outside in the absence of other electrolytes, but I much prefer other beverages that taste better and satisfy me more–mostly water, but I do drink coffee (daily), lemonade, iced tea, and occasionally adult beverages.

Oh, and another note on this ridiculous viral soda-hack: vinegars are fabulous! They provide some great nutritional support in your FOOD. Drinking/shooting vinegars in excess can damage tooth enamel, interrupt the natural gut biome over extended periods of time, and cause other forms of digestive distress.

There you have it–now, enjoy your drinks!

There Is No Magic Wand

(Originally published in the Today’s News-Herald on Thursday, June 2, 2022)

Last week I started discussing how to niche into the area of movement that you enjoy to build long term sustainability and consistency, and as we continue this topic over the several weeks, today I want to back up and look at fitness, nutrition, or any wellness pursuit and the “magic wand” effect.

You’ve seen it before–a great testimonial on how someone’s life has been changed by a program or product, and you can have the same results (or better) if you sign up for this short-term challenge or program.

In many cases, we have arrived at our desire to change through years of habits contrary to the ones we want to cultivate in our lives.  Studies show that not only does it take longer than these short-term challenges to create long term change, but the results also you might or might not achieve during these challenges tend not to be sustainable.

There are many examples of the magic wand effect under all umbrellas of wellness programs and products, but one of the easiest to breakdown is weight loss.  A 21-day program might promise that if you follow their diet and exercise program fully, that you will experience a certain level of success toward a weight loss goal.

You participate in the program, and not only does it have a restrictive diet where you find yourself maybe preparing foods that aren’t your fancy, you also have to purchase proprietary supplement products, and participate in an exercise program that some days you enjoy, other days you have to force yourself because it doesn’t fit your schedule/ability/energy/etc., and at the end of the challenge you might see some changes.

What happens at the end of the challenge to maintain your results?  Do you continue with something that you’re not fully enjoying and doesn’t integrate fully into your schedule, lifestyle, or budget?  Do you modify it?  Or do you stop the program?

The overwhelming majority tend to do the latter—abandon the program.  You achieve some success and live under the assumption that without the structure you’ve been under to attain it that you will sustain the change.  Others leave because the scheduling, cost, or other commitments involved don’t align with their needs.  There is a small group that do continue and maintain their success over the long term—about 5% in these instances.

Let me be VERY clear: you are not a failure for leaving a program or abandoning a product after a short-term challenge.  The program or product have failed you, and that is the very nature of the diet industry and its marketing. You are not weak, lacking willpower, or undisciplined.  It just wasn’t right for you.

Change takes time, consistency, and flexibility.  I’m not knocking the concept of the challenge in and of itself, but simply as a stand-alone solution to reach our goals, it falls flat.  It can be a motivator, a jump start, an education tool, and more—but a short-term challenge is just a start.  For any type of challenge or short-term program to be successful, you need to start at the end first and ask a few important questions: what is the end point of the program?  How does it help me transition habits from the rigidity of the challenge or programmed lifestyle into MY daily life?  Where does continued support come from?  Is this financially feasible for me to continue for the long term?  Does the nature of this program align with my values and goals?

All these questions help us to make the choice to move forward with something that might be the springboard to our long-term success or fall into the continual stop and start of looking for the overnight transformation to look and/or feel how we want to feel—which doesn’t exist.  When it comes to habits and our wellness, there’s no easy button, but as we’ll continue to explore, we can make the journey enjoyable.

Drink Up!

(This column originally appeared unedited in the Today’s News Herald on March 31, 2022)

I was on a call last week when our temperatures were in the mid-90s and it was snowing in Wisconsin, so it’s a hard for me to say that it is beginning to warm up everywhere, but spring is upon us!  It is a natural tendency in the cooler months to hydrate a little less, but now that temperatures are starting to climb, it is a good time to talk about hydration—what to drink and how much we need to drink.

Drink water.  You do not need to go out and purchase fancy alkaline water, water enriched with different vitamins and minerals, or other advertised benefits.  The health enhancements these products provide are anecdotal at best (remember our biased studies from a couple weeks ago?).  Choosing the water you drink is purely out of preference, I fully appreciate the taste difference between tap water, reverse osmosis, water softener systems, bottled, and more.

Something I often hear regarding hydration is, “I don’t like drinking water.  Can I hydrate with other liquids?”  Sure!  Most of your liquid intake ideally should be from water.  Water helps carry many body processes, and if we’re consuming pure water, the body is having to do less work to put that water to work for our benefit.  Here’s some things to keep in mind about some of those other beverages:

Coffee and tea: Nothing wrong here! Caffeinated coffee and tea can be dehydrating, and is ideally consumed in moderate amounts, but there are trace amounts of caffeine in decaffeinated versions that need to be considered.  However, there are nutritional benefits that come from coffee and tea.  Where coffee and teas can become counterproductive from the lens of hydration is the addition of sweeteners, syrups, and many of the add-ins to create fancy drinks.

Sports drinks: If you are exerting yourself, sweating excessively, outside for a long period of time, or engaged in sports or exercise activities, sports drinks can be a great way to aid in hydration to help replace essential electrolytes and nutrients that have been expended.   These drinks often contain a high level of sodium, and other ingredients unnecessary for everyday use.  (I will cover this more when I address pre-workout, post-workout, protein, and recovery drinks/supplements in a few weeks) 

Sparkling/Bubbly waters: Go for it! The only thing to be aware of here is not every carbonated water is created equal.  Read your label.  Some of these products have additional sodium, artificial sweeteners, or pack a caloric load that you might not have been expecting because you assumed it was simply just water.

Juice: Some.  There’s nothing wrong with juice. We love juice, but it’s the calories and nutrients of the fruit with the fiber (pulp of the fruit/veg) strained out.  It can be refreshing, but not our greatest source of hydration.  (More on juice at a later date)

This is by no mean an exhaustive list of the beverages that help our bodies maintain a great level of hydration (PS: alcohol consumption doesn’t make the list of items that hydrate us)—nor have I given you a prescriptive level of how much water you should consume in a day.  Answer is, we’re all probably not getting as much as we think, and it’s probably not enough.  I acknowledge it can be hard to consume enough water to feel adequately hydrated, and it comes from a place of privilege to suggest purchasing other options.  Sometimes we can be creative with the water we have at our disposal to make it palatable, adding a few drops of fruit juice, crushing a few berries, a slice of citrus, or going savory with a sprig of herbs.  Some of these add-ins can be sourced from social media pay-it-forward groups and apps like Nextdoor where neighbors share their abundance with each other.  Regardless of how you’re getting your hydration, be sure to drink up!

If you’re not sure where to go next in your journey, but know you’re ready to do something, let’s have a conversation soon!

Guest Blog: Smoker’s Shame

A note from Stephanie Lueras, owner of Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness: I’ve decided that once in awhile I’m going to feature a post from another small business owner that aligns with my values. Carol Rudd, CEO & Founder of Healthy Choices Oasis LLC, is a friend of mine that I first met in a virtual co-working space and our paths continue to cross in other wellness spaces, making the world a much smaller place! She mentioned this article during a networking time yesterday, and I felt compelled to share it others because of my passion in breaking down stigmas. Whether it be body size, mental health, ability, health condition, or anything else under the sun–misconceptions often run amuck, and in the end, we can be the ones that suffer. I am grateful to Carol not only for this article, but for the work that she does. If you have any type of breathing conditions, please reach out to her and see what she’s got available (in-person and virtually), her programs are amazing!


Smoker’s Shame, written by Carol Rudd

If you are a smoker, you have heard of COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. It consists of Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis. Emphysema is a breakdown of the air sacs, while bronchitis is chronic inflammation of the airways. “COPD is a progressive disease and therefore affects people later in life. As a result, current or former smokers 40 years or older are the most commonly afflicted with COPD.” (quoted from the Lung Institute website)

Smokers tend not to seek medical help early in their disease process because they have been told by everyone under the sun that smoking is bad for them and they should quit. After several failed attempts, they feel helpless to quit and carry the burden that because of their smoking, it’s their fault. Both my parents were smokers and while my dad, after a heart attack was able to quit smoking, my mom was extremely addicted to smoking. After she had severe lung disease, knowing that smoking was bad for her, she smoked even more. Instead of letting the cigarette burn out in the ash tray, she would inhale deeply until it was gone, even when she was on oxygen! She would go into the bathroom, turn the 02 off, open the window and smoke. Sadly, she would spray lysol to cover up the smell, but everyone knew. My point is this, everyone gave up on mom, including mom!

Smokers are treated differently in healthcare. Not intentionally, but there is a subtle bias of blame, that you brought it on yourself and if you can’t quit, why should we help. Do people with heart disease get blamed for their clogged arteries because they are high stressed and abuse their bodies? NO! Do diabetics get blamed for making poor food choices that lead to or worsen their condition? NO! So, why is it that physicians treating patients with COPD don’t offer Pulmonary Rehab earlier in their diagnosis? Or why is lung volume replacement surgery and lung transpants still considered experimental after more than 20 years? In the last two years, while mortality rates have been declining for Heart Disease and Strokes, deaths from Lung Disease continue to climb, going from 4th to 3rd place in the US.

Smokers feel there is something wrong with them because they can’t shake their addiction to cigarettes. The reality is the tobacco industry has worked to make their products more addictive and at the same time more lethal! Studies show that cigarettes today have more cancer-causing chemicals than ever before!

“In the past, men were most commonly affected with COPD. However with the rise of tobacco use by females, specifically in high-income countries, men and women are now afflicted almost equally. In 2007, approximately 64,000 women in America died of COPD compared to 60,000 men (quoted from the Lung Institute website).”

Second hand smoke is also a concern for children raised in smoking households. “The age of the sufferer directly relates to the age at which his or her lungs were damaged. For example, a child who grew up in a heavily polluted area may be at risk to -developing COPD much earlier in life (quoted from the Lung Institute website).”

Why do I care? First of all, I was raised in that smoke-filled home and struggled with asthma all of my childhood. Secondly, I watched my Mom die a slow and terrible death, toward the end, her carbon dioxide levels were so high, she couldn’t tell her waking from her sleeping and thought her dreams were real. She was a fighter and hung on longer than I thought possible until one night she had some clarity and asked if she was dying. I told her yes and that morning she passed away. I think of the things she could have done differently. Quitting smoking, learning how to eat and exercise better to improve the quality of her life. I couldn’t help my mom, but I can help anyone struggling with COPD. I spent 41 years working with both men and women who had COPD and smoking addictions. Helping them find ways to quit, empowering them to find strategies to improve the quality of their lives was and is my passion. There are many things you can do to help yourself. Choices like eating simple, less processed foods, drinking water, daily exercise, energy conservation and so much more.

My one frustration while working in the Pulmonary Rehab program was I couldn’t help those new to COPD, I had to wait until they were sick enough (Medicare guidelines had specific criteria, based on a pulmonary function or breathing test). They had already lost muscle mass, strength and stamina and were feeling hopeless. Either they had gained weight or were to the point of losing weight because their breathing was more work than the calories they could eat.

So, if you or someone you love is new to COPD, or a current smoker wanting to quit for good, tell them about FIT2Breathe, my program for those newly diagnosed with COPD. The thing is, in life we always have choices, ALWAYS! When we feel powerless or victimized we feel we have no choice. But all it takes is to consciously choose to do it differently. Don’t give up on yourself like my mom did, seek out professionals that can help. No matter where you or a loved one is on the path of COPD or smoking addictions, there are choices!


Thank you Carol Rudd for being our first guest post!

Ditch the Diet Swap: Taco-Taters

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve been back around with my repurposed recipes to empower you to have fun in the kitchen and break free from the bounds of restrictive diet-based recipes and enjoy food that nourishes your body and soul.

I’m back today with another recipe reimagined from a popular early 2000’s cookbook where common recipe ingredients were things like fiber cereal crushed as breading and powered creamer in place of milk products to save on calories and fat…and flavor (no offense if you actually enjoy fiber cereal…I’ve got some cardboard in my recycling bin I’m happy to share at a low, low price).

The recipe today shifts dramatically from the original recipe, but it creates a meal with a variance of ingredients to create a nutrient dense meal. You’ll note I don’t focus on exact measurements too closely in terms of serving sizes, because we all have different nutritional needs and hunger/satisfaction/fullness levels, and we’re all serving different size herds! We can get down to the nitty-gritty 1:1 and discuss what’s most appropriate for your needs on a call.

In the meantime, enjoy some Taco-Taters!

Ingredients:

  • Ground beef (we use 85/15, you use your preferred lean cut–or ground turkey, chicken, pork, or meatless/plant-based product)
  • Garlic (we’re all about fresh and in absurd amounts here!)
  • Onion Powder
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Green Chile (chopped) or Rotel (canned diced tomato and green chile for the uninitiated)
  • Baking Potatoes
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Green Onions
  • Sour Cream/Crema
  • Salt
  • Olive (or other preferred) Oil
  • Other Taco Toppings

Prep:

  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  • Scrub, scrub, scrub those taters and stab it with a fork a few dozen times
  • Give them a rub down with olive oil (or your preferred oil) and sprinkle with salt, wrapping in aluminum foil and baking for 60+ minutes or until just squishable to the touch (with an oven mitt, those suckers are hot)
  • Alternate: you can forego the foil and microwave the potatoes for 6-8 minutes per potato, but personally I think you can just trash the potato at that point because it’s just not as good
  • Brown meat/meatless option with garlic and onion powder to taste until fully cooked through
  • Add green chile (with liquid; my preference–tomato allergy) or rotel (with liquid) and taco seasoning (in proportion to the amount of meat/meatless option prepared) and simmer about 15 minutes.
  • Strain any liquid/grease from pan
  • Once baked potatoes are done, serve up the potato as a base and top with taco meat/meatless option, cheese, sour cream, green onions, and/or whatever your heart desires!

I’d love to know what other additions you’d put in this. I added some pinto beans to mine too!

I hope you’re hungry–this can feed an army!

…and yes, the original recipe on this called for fat free non-dairy creamer. Just, no.

Happy Birthday Heart and Sole!

Sole: Belonging only to the person or group specified; the part of an item of footwear on which the sole rests and upon which the wearer treads (Merriam-Webster)

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5 NLT)

February 10, 2020, at 5am was the first day Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness was open for my standing business hours–Monday through Saturday, 5am-7pm. It was the culmination of the scariest thing I had ever done–stepping out of the security and familiarity of a position that, through my own journey of personal wellness and growth, I came to realize the toxicity of it all and had built up the confidence to step into even greater alignment to serve and love others in the best way possible and leave behind what not longer served my spiritual walk, my health, my marriage, and more. Everything happens at the right time.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s not a single regret that we (my husband and I) have in regards to leaving our previous work and literally start over. But this post isn’t about that–this is the celebration of what Heart and Sole has accomplished and an anticipation of what’s ahead.

As I was getting some information ready for my accountant, I started pulling some other figures with the idea I was going to create and share this prettily packaged impact report as to the evolution of this business and what it has accomplished in two years…that might come eventually, but here’s the 30,000 foot view:

  • Over 1000 hours of 1:1 coaching (including personal training, nutrition counseling, and accountability coaching)
  • Over 600 group fitness classes taught
  • More than 75 webinars and virtual workshops taught
  • Close to 100 speaking engagements on various virtual and in-person platforms
  • A #1 international best-selling book
  • Writing a weekly health column in our local newspaper
  • Adding additional certifications to my resume since business inception including becoming a TRX suspension system instructor, SilverSneakers group fitness instructor, and SilverSneakers nutrition facilitator. Continuing in 2022 with Kundalini yoga and orthopedic exercise.
  • Creating a job for a local resident (besides myself)
  • Utilizing more than 40 small or locally-owned businesses within my community and more than 75 small businesses throughout the United States for vendor services, products, and other business needs (I can’t stress the ripple effect of small and local businesses utilizing small and/or local businesses)
  • Providing countless referrals to my network of vetted and trusted partners, affiliates, other health and wellness providers, and other businesses to meet someone’s need that wasn’t within my scope of practice (I’m not too proud to acknowledge I’m not everyone’s right fit)

These are well and good things, but the part that blows my mind is the transformation of my clients. Whether it’s people that have been here for just a season or those that have been here since the beginning and keep showing up, their results are why I get up in the morning and keep going. I can’t possibly put a value or a quantitative analysis on the impact of lives that I have touched through my work directly with an individual and the ripple effect that has on their own families, relationships, networks, and more.

Yes, Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness is a business, it is how I contribute support to my family, but if there wasn’t transformations–if there wasn’t results–if there wasn’t growth, then it’s all for naught. This business was birthed out of my own personal wellness journey and the desire to empower others to find the same freedom and joy that I experience through accomplishing my goals that continue to grow, evolve and change. The business itself has had its own journey over the last two years. It looks very different, the offerings are 100% different, and how I show up in the world is absolutely not the same as it was on day 1, nor should it stay that way. My journey in this business growth has come through the same structure as my personal growth–by having the goals, systems, and accountability in place to keep moving forward a little bit each day.

There are more people than I could possibly begin to name that have been along for the ride–not only my absolutely incredible clients, but my family, friends, supporters, mentors, teachers, and even the haters. There’s nothing small about a small business–it takes a village. I get overwhelmed with my gratitude as I start naming names and calling out all that has come back around to me…thank you is never enough for all of the love and support that has been poured out.

As with all things, there are goals for Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness. It will continue to grow and evolve over time to serve and empower in deeper ways. My commitment to my values of accessibility, adaptation, integrity, love, and compassion–those won’t waver. Two years has flown by in the blink of an eye; I wait with gratitude and anticipation for what the future holds.

By mere fact that you’re reading this, you’re a part of it all too. Thank you.

Happy 2nd Birthday, Heart and Sole Fitness & Wellness–here’s to many more!