Self Reflection Exercise That Will Change Your Life

Self reflection is a powerful tool to creating a healthy, happy life.  Some personalities find this exercise easier than others, but all will get something from it.

Steve Gutzler, a leadership and performance coach that I met on Twitter, encouraged me to take a self-inventory while I was on vacation and had some time to reflect.  He called it a Code of Honor. It should be 10-12 promises you make and keep for yourself.  Ones that describe personal promises, values or important feelings on family, and health. Here is my list.

Paula’s Code of Honor:

  1. Respect yourself and others
  2. Treat your body like an expensive car; give consistent maintenance and use quality ingredients and products
  3. Maintain a zeal for learning
  4. Have laughter in your life
  5. Find, cultivate and empower your passions in life
  6. Maintain relationships that raise your spirits
  7. Learn from past mistakes.  Forgive, but never forget
  8. Help others when you are able either through donations or your time
  9. Parenting is a gift
  10. Give back to your community
  11. Cultivate your creativity
  12. Cooking & eating should be an ‘experience’ worthy of a feeling of being special
  13. Exercise and stay active for all of your life

The key to the success of this inventory is the time spent,  your belief in your answers as to their honest reflection of who you are, and whether you can keep them in your mind, heart and soul.  I highly recommend this exercise as a reflection but it also energizes your direction and path taken. 

What are the 10-12 you can make and keep for yourself that can create more meaning and purpose in your life?

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The Food Group That Help You Lose Weight Are…Pulses?!

Not exactly a food group you hear dripping off people’s tongues when sharing weight-loss tips, but pulses get the job done!

What are Pulses?

Pulses are a sub-set within the legume family.

They include:

  • dry peas
  • beans
  • lentils
  • chickpeas

Why does it help?  

Protein leaves you feeling full and pulses boast a healthy amount!  Most have 6-9 grams of protein per serving for a 1/2 cup.  In addition they have fiber and vitamin B12.  They don’t require a lot of chemical fertilizer to grow strong so they can be grown more naturally.

Studies have shown adding more pulses to your diet also helps to reduce cholesterol and stabilizes blood sugar (which is why you don’t experience the energy crash after eating like you do from sugar).

Fat Burners

These belly fat burners include:

  • split peas
  • beans such as black & red beans
  • cannellini which are high in iron, while being low on the glycemic index

The list also includes:

  • chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • lentils

If I open a can of organic beans and don’t intend to use it all, I’ll freeze the unused portion in a well marked container for future meals.  

How to Cook

I cook split peas and lentils in low-salt chicken broth with fresh herbs on the al-denté side. I prefer a bit of bite to them when adding them to salads or with sautéed spinach or kale.  Sometimes I’ll cook the raw pulses after washing and draining in the pot with a teaspoon of coconut oil and fresh garlic at medium to high heat for fruit & smokey added flavor before I add the cooking liquid.

For a quick sauce for pasta or to make brown rice more creamy, you can cook lentils as packages direct and add to a blender with 2 tablespoons olive oil (even also add 1/2 of an avocado).  Blend well and add salt and pepper to taste. Then fold into your complex carbs.

Finding opportunities to add more fiber and protein to your food choices will always leave you feeling more full, which allows you to manage your portions while adding health benefits. Explore, and enjoy!

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Are Calories Themselves The Only Issue That’s Important?

We’ve all heard that weight-loss mantra ‘Calories In, Calories out.’ It certainly makes sense if weight loss is your primary goal, rather then counting the calorie values for every morsel you eat or drink that enters your lips.  Calories out includes every mile you run, or weight you lift. Is that the way it has to be? 

When is a calorie not just a calorie?  

“Calories are just a measure of energy in food”, informs Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD.  The ‘less is more’; ‘calories in, calories out’; ‘all calories are equal’ myths just don’t hold water.  The metabolism-burning ability of calories from protein such as nuts that are loaded with minerals and vitamins and a low fat processed snack just can’t be considered equal.  

Vegetables are lower in calories but they also provide nutrients and they can lower the overall calorie-density totals for an entree by allowing you to modify how much protein or complex carbs, such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice,  that is included, while still feeling satiated in the end.

Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables will always be a healthier choice versus processed foods whether they are labeled ‘low-calorie’, ‘heart healthy’ or ‘low-fat’.  Those are often just marketing catch phrases, and the ingredients list shows the real nutrition truth.

Eating regular meals plus a snack, portion control, choosing high energy-burning foods and drinking plenty of water, as well as exercising regularly is the best plan for long-term weight loss.

Many people find using food tracking apps or diaries helpful in understanding food-triggers, and places where positive food changes can be made,  but don’t let them rule your life. It’s a tool, as well as many other options such as being mindful as you eat by not eating meals in front of a TV or computer screen,  group meetings such as Weight Watchers, utilizing workout trainers or different types of fitness classes, or contacting a nutritionist to look at the bigger picture of your age, family history, eating habits, and nutritional needs all benefits your goals.

I hope that you enjoy your food and know that it fuels your body, mind and spirit!

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Food Can Be A Powerful Medicine

Depending on the types of foods you choose such as processed vs. whole, fried vs. baked and sugar and salt laden vs. naturally spiced; food can be the best medicine or a health hazard.
Turmeric is a spice that falls into the ‘healthy-for-you’ category.  Well known for delivering a distinctive flavor to Indian foods, it is believed that Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory and has traditionally been included for arthritis holistic therapies. Although acute (short-term) inflammation is beneficial to your bodies systems, it can become a major problem when it is chronic (long-term). At that point it actually turns against the body’s own tissues?  It is now believed that chronic, low-level inflammation plays a major role in many diseases.  This includes heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and various degenerative conditions.  If adding spices and foods that are known to reduce inflammation helps in addition to a medical regime, why wouldn’t you?
 The medicinal compounds in Turmeric are called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin.

Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant.  Unfortunately, it is difficult for the body to absorb.  It helps to consume black pepper with it, which contains piperin, a natural substance that increases the absorption of curcumin.

According to WebMD, “Turmeric is used for arthritis, heartburn, stomach pain,diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, liver problems and gallbladder disorder.

It is also used for head aches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, fibromyalgia, fever, menstrual problems, and cancer. Other uses include depression, Alzheimer’s disease, water retention, worms, and kidney problems.”

Healthline suggests basil is a delicious herb that might help lower your blood pressure. Extract of basil has been shown to reduce blood pressure, although only briefly. Adding fresh basil to your diet is easy and certainly can’t hurt. Keep a small pot of the herb in your kitchen garden and add the fresh leaves to pastas, soups, salads, and casseroles.
If you are thinking of trying herbs for medical reasons, whether that means using the whole herb or a supplements, speak to your doctor first. Some herbs, especially in large quantities, it may produce undesirable side effects or interfere with other medications.

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Gazpacho- Our Family Recipe

  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 large tomatoes, peeled and seeded
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 1 small onion (Vidalia or sweet onion preferred)- cut up
  • 1 small green pepper, cut up
  • 1 ear fresh corn- cut off the stalk, strings removed
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 natural sea or kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1/3 cup ground whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

In a covered blender at high speed, blend all the ingredients (minus the bread crumbs) in batches, so not to overfill your blender vessel (I personally like a bit of chunk in my gazpacho so I pull out 1/2 cup medium chunked cucumber, green pepper, corn and add after it has been blended. If you like your soup smooth, skip this step) until blended. Put into a large bowl. Fold bread crumbs into the soup, cover and chill.

Because this is a homemade recipe I don’t have a calorie breakdown, but I think a 1 cup serving is probably around 140 calories, its mostly vegetables and is a seasonal part of healthy eating!

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Stevia, Monk Fruit Extract, or Aspartame- Are There Any Healthy Sweeteners?

We are all becoming more educated about reducing the total quantity of sugar in our diet for our better health, but are the sweetener -alternatives any better?  According to, the artificial and sugar substitute industry is growing, topping $18 billion in 2019!  But do the artificial alternatives to sugar cause more sugar addiction and health problems?

You will find artificial sweeteners in the most inconspicuous packages products.  You expect them added to diet sodas, flavored yogurts, low calorie ice cream, and diet candies but would you expect them in fat free salad dressings, high fiber cereals, ketchup or breads? When you add it up in this product, that lunch, this snack; it turns out to accumulate.

It’s important to know the names that artificial sweeteners go by: aspartame, acesulfame potassium, saccharin, supra lose, neotame. The names of ‘natural’ sweeteners such as Stevia leaf extract, monk fruit extract and sugar alcohols such as erythritol and xylitol.  When looking at the ingredient listing of a product, look for these ingredients.  All of these sweeteners have been FDA-approved, but there is some controversy from organizations such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)which question the impact all these additives on a bodies’ long term health.

Do they help you lose weight or crave sugar more?  One study will prove that in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle they do help you reduce your overall sugar intake.  Then there are opposing studies that say that those who consume sugar substitutes aren’t leaner, and are sometimes heavier!  What’s the solution?  Many nutritionist recommend utilizing sugar for sweeter swaps moderately and include more whole, unprocessed foods to your diet.  Many people with gut sensitivity may increase their health symptoms if they consume aspartame, Sucralose or saccharin. I personally had an doctor recommend this to me to improve my chronic digestive symptoms.

According to Joyce Hendley, states that American ingest a staggering 140 pounds of sugar substitutes annually. Any effort to improve reducing that number is health-beneficial.

Paula Maier

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Boxing?! At MY Age?


I like to mix up my cardio and muscle strengthening practices to keep my muscles guessing and my metabolism burning (and confused).  “Incorporating muscle-strengthening exercises two to three times per week and some extra intensity cardio and strength a day or two a week will stimulate strength gains, fitness, and calorie burn,” says Jennifer Sacheck, PhD, associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.  She explains how strength-based exercises slow the effects of aging by defying the 3-5% loss of muscle that happens every year after age 30 if no strength-based fitness is practiced. Muscle building also promotes bone density, which can be an issue as you age.
So what new workout class did I choose? Boxing, of course!  Well, kind of boxing.  It’s a circuit workout called 9Round 30 min Kickboxing Fitness.  You can go whenever it works for your schedule, versus most classes which happen at pre-determined times.  The workouts start every 3 minutes.  After starting you switch stations every 3 minutes, and the trainer explains that days exercise. It differs every day.
I burn between 200-300 calories most times during the 30 minute rotation.  I get to punch heavy weight bags with my hands that are wrapped and protected by boxing gloves. I kick the bag with my feet, working all zones including arms, shoulders, abs, core, gluten, legs and calves.  It’s a huge stress reliever and also comes with access to the Internet 9Round community and dieting tips.
I also love that you may see men or women from age 16 to 80.  Every one is working hard and leave sweating and feeling powerful!  There is no boxing contact with your face, just good old hard work.  See if it’s in your community.  Your first workout is free.

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Food Related Ideas to Help You Meet Your Goals

Making healthy changes to achieve weight or fitness goals or due to health concerns can be paralyzing for many people. I encourage the people that I consult with in one-on-one counseling to look for small changes that you can make on a weekly basis. Most people do not succeed with their New Year’s resolutions, because they create unattainable goals.

Let’s come up with food-related ideas that are reachable and doable for the typical person:

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Can a FitBit Make Me Thinner? A Holiday Gift Idea!

Everyone is looking for a way to reduce their weight and be healthier. One of the hottest holiday gifts this year was the FitBit health tracker. My 13 year old son Nick received one and I have noticed him being more mindful of eating sugar and staying active. He said that “It’s made working out and exercising fun and easy.  Almost like a game, and your opponent is yourself.”

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Fill your fall with pumpkin recipes

You need a little something on this beautiful fall day 🙂 My team and I have put together a free recipe e book by guest writer-Trisha DeHall.

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