Holiday Thrive Guide

Holiday Thrive Guide


Tips for thriving (not just surviving) during the Holiday Season




  • Stick to your diet, exercise, and stress reduction routine as much as possible ~ try not to get derailed by celebrations and events. Give yourself permission to enjoy a treat, but then make a YOU-turn, and get right back on track with your healthy diet and lifestyle choices.
  • Drink a full glass of water upon waking ~ start your day by hydrating your body with pure water to help replenish bodily fluids and flush out toxins.

  • Eat a power breakfast ~ start your day with a nutritious breakfast. Try a vegetable omelet or a green smoothie with protein powder, as the protein will help keep you satiated and curb cravings.

  • Prepare before attending parties ~ be sure to eat a healthy snack before leaving for the party or event. And always offer to bring something to ensure that you will have at least one healthy option to eat.

  • Alternate alcohol and water ~ after every glass of alcohol you consume, drink one glass of water. This will help to keep you hydrated, as well as fill you up and keep you sober. Alcohol lowers your inhibition, which will likely lead to over consuming unhealthy treats.


  • Give yourself a time out ~ if you are feeling overwhelmed, overworked, or just plain crabby, find a quiet place to rest and regroup.   Take a few deep breaths, focus on being present, and regain your inner calm.

  • Give up the need for perfection ~ give yourself a break, and remember the true intention of the holidays. Your friends and family want to spend time with YOU; they are not focused on how clean your house is or how perfect your food tastes.




  • Enjoy the beauty of each moment ~ relax, enjoy, and treasure the time you spend with your family and friends over the holiday season. Be open to creating new memories that will last a lifetime.

The True Role of a Parent

As parents, we often focus our attention on teaching our children life lessons and setting standards for them to meet or exceed.  This includes expectations for superb grades in school.  Don’t get me wrong, teaching and goal setting are important parts of parenting, but they should be balanced by an emphasis on positive reinforcement, upliftment, and empowerment.

The greatest gift that we can give to our children (and truly to everyone in our lives) is the gift of unconditional love and empowerment.  As parents, we can give them the confidence and the wings they need to rise up to meet their own goals and expectations.  We need to allow them to be who they are, and not expect them to be who we want them to be (which is typically either a mini version of ourselves or someone better than who we think we are).  We should triumph their natural talents and celebrate their successes, no matter how big or small they may seem, as children need encouragement more than discipline.

When if comes to discipline, it’s human nature to be harder on ourselves than anyone else would ever be on us.  It’s important to defuse that negative inner voice of self-criticism (or “stinking thinking”) at an early age.  As parents, we can teach our children through example, and model the behavior we’d like them to emulate.  This means giving up the need to be perfect in everything we do, and accepting ourselves “as is”, blemishes and all.  Self-love is at the root of unconditional love, and it takes unconditional love to truly accept others for their own unique selves. 

As a former Psychology major, I entered into parenting with the belief that it was nurture rather than nature that determined the characteristics my children would carry through life.  It wasn’t long before I realized that I was at least half wrong!  My oldest daughter is a carbon copy of my husband, who had much less interaction with her than I did when she was younger (as he was at work most of her waking hours).  I tried tirelessly to make her more like me, with little to no success.  It wasn’t until I gave up on the notion of changing her that I truly came to see the beauty in all that made her different than me.  I then began to triumph her strengths.  Rather than working to defuse her incessant need to argue, I began to compliment her on her amazing debate skills and encourage her to sharpen them, as they will serve her well in life.

That simple shift in MY attitude created a shift in her sense of personal power.  She has grown into an amazing young lady with the confidence to speak her truth without fear of judgment.  She has set higher goals for herself than I could ever set for her.  I often find myself in awe of her inner strength and personal power! 

Sometimes we need to let go of our vision for our children, and allow them to create their own, as it may very well be grander than anything we could imagine.  But most importantly, it will be theirs to reach for and achieve, and our role is simply to stand on the sidelines, cheer them on, and help them celebrate!

Let's Talk About Sugar

With Halloween quickly approaching and the holidays right around the corner, I thought this might be a good time to write about sugar and the impact that it has on our body.

If you are like me, when you start eating foods containing sugar, it’s difficult to stop.  This is because sugar disrupts our hormonal balance, and creates cravings.  New neurological research indicates that many of us, including most children, are addicted to sugar and processed foods.  This is due to the fact that sugar stimulates the brain’s pleasure or reward centers through the neurotransmitter dopamine.  PET scans (brain imaging) shows that high-sugar foods light up the brain in similar patterns as addictive drugs such as heroin, opium or morphine.  In addition, we develop a tolerance to sugar, and over time need more and more of it to satisfy our desires.  According to Dr. Hyman, sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine; and just like drugs, after an initial period of enjoyment of the sugary foods, we continue to consume it not to get “high”, but to simply feel “normal”.  This is due to the tolerance effect.  Even more shocking (no pun intended), studies of rats have shown that they will continue to eat sugar even when doing so results in the receiving of an electrical shock.

In addition to the effects that sugar has on our brain, it also has detrimental effects on our body.  It’s important to understand that when we consume sugar or refined carbohydrates (such as bread, pasta, and processed foods), our blood sugar spikes.  Our body then responds by producing insulin to counteract the sudden spike in blood sugar.  Insulin is also known as the fat storage hormone.  This means when insulin is “on”, fat burning is “off”.  But this is not just a weight issue, according to Dr. Mark Hyman, dietary sugars and refined flours are the biggest triggers of inflammation in our body.  This is due to the spike in insulin levels which drives inflammation and oxidative stress, as well as a myriad of downstream effects including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, low HDL, high triglycerides, poor sex drive, infertility, thickening of the blood and increased risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease and depression. 

Research shows that on average we consume about 58 pounds of sugar and processed flour per person per year!  (As a side note, our ancestors consumed about 5 pounds per person per year.)  When we consistently over consume refined carbohydrates and processed foods, we flood our systems with insulin on a regular basis.  Overtime, our cells slowly become resistant to the effects of insulin, and need more and more of it to keep our blood sugar levels balanced.  This problem is known as insulin resistance, which can eventually lead to Type II Diabetes.  Type II Diabetes is a diet and lifestyle driven disease.  And if we do not change the way we are eating, recent statistics predict that one in three children growing up today will be diagnosed with Type II Diabetes in their lifetime. 

The good news is that WE are in control of what we eat, and therefore, our related physical and emotional health and wellbeing. 

Here are some tips on how to reduce your sugar intake and manage sugar addiction:

  1. Slowly wean yourself off of sugar.  Going cold turkey will cause withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, lethargy, and moodiness.
  2. Keep junk food out of your home.  If it’s not in the house, you are less likely to run out and buy it when a craving hits. 
  3. “Crowd Out” sugar by eating more fruit and sweet vegetables.  The natural sweetness of fruit and many roasted vegetables will satisfy your cravings for sweets.
  4. “Add In” good, healthy fats (like nuts and coconut oil).  The healthy fat will help keep you satisfied as well as fuel your brain.
  5. Read labels to identify hidden sugar in foods.  When buying foods that contain a label, be sure to look at the ingredient list as well as the nutrition facts.  Avoid items that contain sugar as one of the first three ingredients or contain ingredients you cannot pronounce.
  6. Exercise.  Moving your body through regular exercise decreases the production of the “hunger” hormone, ghrelin, which signals your brain that it’s time to eat.
  7. Take the emotion out of eating.  Check in with yourself to make sure that you are really hungry and are not eating to “stuff down” or comfort an emotion, or simply using food as an activity because you are bored.
  8. Drink plenty of water.  Oftentimes we mistake thirst for hunger.  Consuming a glass of water before meals helps control appetite and ward off cravings.
  9. Add sweet joy into your life. Spending time with friends and loved ones, and/or doing things that bring you joy increases the “happy” hormone, oxytocin, which helps stave off cravings.
  10. Seek help and support.  And don’t forget, I’m here to help you if you need additional support!

Are you feeling out of balance?

No matter what we use as criteria when it comes to experiencing balance in our lives, we have certain needs that need to be filled throughout our lives.  The more balanced our fulfillment of these needs, the closer to balance we will get.

Maslow called it a hierarchy of needs

The Institute for Integrative Nutrition calls it primary foods

Whatever you call it, it all comes down to balance.

  • Self actualization (morality, creativity, problem solving, learning, lack of prejudice and acceptance of facts
  • Esteem (self esteem, confidence, respect) 
  • Love and belonging (friendship, family and intimacy) 
  • Safety (security of body, health, family, property, employment, resources and morality) 
  • Physiological (breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion) 
Everyone can rank these in a different order of importance. At the same time, we may each rank them differently at different times in our lives. What is certain? If one of the above is lacking and another is over emphasized, then we are out of balance.

In my practice I have clients complete an exercise with a wheel called the circle of life.  The wheel is broken down into twelve areas representing lifestyle factors such as career, physical activity, spirituality, relationships and finances. I ask clients to rank each by how satisfied they are with each of the areas on the wheel. Visually we are able to see, for example, that they are doing great financially and physically, but perhaps not spiritually or career-wise. If we are out of balance, our wheel will not roll.

The truth is, we can fix what we eat.  We can eat more greens and get rid of processed foods, but if we don’t take care of the other areas of our life, we will still not experience balanced health and happiness. You can be completely healthy with your diet yet still feel imbalanced.

If you are feeling out of balance and would like some guidance and support on how to find your balance, please contact me for a free initial health consultation.

Stress Reduction and Self-Care

Stress reduction and self-care are two of my favorite topics to discuss with clients. They are both truly vital when it comes to maintaining balance and achieving optimal health and wellbeing; however, they are often overlooked and underemphasized in our daily lives. We tend to put ourselves last on our long list of things to do, not realizing the impact that has on our physical health and emotional wellbeing. We live in a society that promotes stress, and we often don't make the time for stress reduction practices. The cumulative effects of unmanaged stress are massive, and typically lead to multiple health issues and/or diseases.

That's why it's important to be proactive, and take control of your health. Stress reduction is one of the five ingredients I include in my book for the foundation of health, and I highly recommend incorporating some type of stress reduction practice into your daily routine. Just as we are all unique and different in so many ways, our preferred way of reducing stress may differ as well. It's important to find the technique that works best for you. Here are just a few of the many options that I recommend to clients:
  • Exercise
  • Breathing techniques
  • Meditation
  • Reiki
  • Aromatherapy

Honoring your body, mind, and spirit with acts of self-care is also a fantastic way to reduce stress. A few of my recommendations for self-care include:
  • Eating real, whole foods
  • Sleeping 7 - 8 hours each night
  • Getting a massage
  • Incorporating essential oils into your life
  • Pampering yourself in any way that brings you joy

Diets Don't Work

Does this sound familiar?  You hear about this wonderful diet that will guarantee weight loss, so you try it, only to gain even more weight back once you've lost it?

Don’t feel bad. You are not alone. Just because a diet works for one person, does not mean that it will work for you.  This is the core message of bio-individuality.  We are all unique, and therefore, one diet does not work for everyone.

Traditional weight loss diets are destined to fail!  And it should come as no surprise, after all, the word “die” is within the word “diet”. That should be your first sign. You want to live your life. 

Here are the top 5 reasons that diets are doomed to fail:

  1. People choose to use a diet to achieve a short-term goal. That goal is usually to lose weight before an upcoming event. Diets are perceived from the onset as a temporary action used to obtain an immediate result. Once that result is achieved, the diet is stopped and old eating habits return. 
  2. The yo-yo diet or weight cycling. As mentioned, many people go on diets, lose weight, and then gain weight, often more than they lost. And, for some reason, the cycle is repeated. To quote Albert Einstein:  “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” This repeated failure can have negative effects on a person’s mental health as well as physical health, and could result in an eating disorder.
  3. Many diets are based on the premise of counting calories using a formula meant for the general population as opposed to the individual. Everybody processes calories differently. This formula states that if caloric expenditure exceeds caloric intake then you will loss weight. Many studies have proven that this premise is no longer true. Every calorie is not created equal. Calories consumed from spinach or sweet potatoes are much more nutrient-dense than calories consumed from a processed, low-fat muffin. In addition, if you were to consume too few calories, your body goes into survival mode, slowing down your metabolism. You run the risk of your metabolism remaining sluggish once you start consuming more calories.  
  4. Before even starting a diet, people believe that they will be depriving themselves of foods they love. Entering into a program with this mindset clearly does not support success. This constant experience of deprivation will bring on food cravings that will be difficult to ignore.
  5. This brings me to the last reason why diets do not work. They do not address food cravings and how to handle them. Everyone has cravings. Having the tools to help navigate through those cravings and reach for healthy food alternatives will help to eliminate them.
Unfortunately for many individuals, diets only offer a quick fix to a larger problem.  Learning which foods nourish the body and which don’t is the best approach to eating in order to obtain weight-loss and optimal health.

As a Health Coach, I work closely with clients to create a personalized plan to help them achieve a healthy balance in their life by incorporating sustainable changes.  That balance means something different for each person.  But the process is always the same.  The process begins with awareness.  Taking the time to connect with your body and determine what foods nourish you and serve you in achieving your health goals.  Many people have undetected food sensitivities that are holding them back from achieving optimal health.  I offer programs to help uncover these sensitivities and then work closely with you to teach you how to eat in a manner that serves you best.  For more information on my programs and personal coaching, please check out my menu of services.

Self-Awareness Leads to Balance

The mind plays an essential role in sustaining balance.  We often do things unconsciously, without thinking, and those things become habits.  Many times our habits are not in line with our goals, but they are such a part of us that we don’t even realize that they are standing in the way of what we want.  Self-awareness plays a vital role in changing patterns that no longer serve us.

According to Deepak Chopra, whenever we have an experience, the mind is in one of three states, unconscious, aware or self-aware.  The mind’s two main modes of operation ~ unconscious and aware ~ are highly developed.  When we act in the unconscious mode, the brain is able to take care of the body without needing specific instructions; processing the five senses to keep us aware of our inner and outer worlds.  We breathe in and out to provide our bodies with oxygen, and our heart pumps to deliver blood to our organs.  We don’t need to tell our lungs to breathe or our heart to pump our blood, this is done automatically, unconsciously.   The critical mind body feedback loop operates automatically without any awareness. 

Similarly, we have trained our bodies to operate in an unconscious mode with our habits ~ things we do without awareness.  An example of this would be, if you continue to eat beyond the point at which you are full or satisfied.  Often times you are doing this unconsciously, without awareness, which means that it is a habit.  We can retrain our minds to move from the unconscious state to one of self-awareness. As you go to put the next bite of food in your mouth, self-awareness can step in.  For instance, in that moment, you can ask yourself, “Am I hungry? If not, why am I eating? What am I getting out of this?”  When we begin to ask ourselves questions, reflect on our behaviors, look at the larger picture and invite the answers to come to us, we move into the place of self-awareness.  When we are self-aware, we begin to pay attention to what Deepak Chopra calls “the true self”.  This is where values, meaning and purpose come from.  Self-awareness moves us beyond our fixed unconscious habits.  Knowing where a thought or action comes from allows you to recognize a pattern of behavior. 

Reality shifts when self-awareness enters, and we start to take control.  Becoming self-aware opens the door to change and allows us to make nourishing choices in every moment.  With awareness, you can create healthy habits and find balance in our lives.

Is Caffeine Stressing You Out?

My primary focus in my practice is balance, and helping people understand that what we eat (and drink) affects our hormones and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals).  It’s important to take note of the food/mood connection, and to understand the relationship between the foods we eat and our overall health. 

Caffeine stimulates the excretion of the stress hormone, cortisol.  Overexposure to cortisol can disrupt almost all your body's processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, memory and concentration impairment.

And if that’s not enough to discourage you from consuming too much caffeine, keep in mind that it inhibits the absorption of some nutrients and causes the excretion of minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron.  So even if you are eating a healthy diet, your body may not be absorbing all of those fabulous nutrients or you may be excreting them before they can be put to good use in your cells.

If you would like to learn more about caffeine and how it's affecting your health, please contact me to set up a free initial consultation.