Zoning In On Longevity At 50

The definition of longevity is a long life. 

As I approach my 50th birthday, the word longevity seems to be top of mind. To me, this word has deep meaning. In our younger years, it’s not typical to spend time thinking about how you will age, what will the ‘later’ years look like and what am I doing today that will affect my future life. Maybe it’s my passion for wellness, maybe it’s my age, or maybe it’s a little bit of both, but now I do spend time thinking about my longevity.

My heightened awareness of longevity was definitely influenced when I lost my father suddenly November 29, 2017. As part of my grief, I’ve tried to convince myself that my Pop left us just how he would have wanted to, this was his ‘wish’...  He was never sick, he was of sound mind and the night he left us he enjoyed a favorite scotch, a glass of red wine and a family dinner. In the recent years before we lost him, he would always be sure to tell me “Kiks, I will never allow it to come to a point that you will need to take care of me.” My answer was always “Well Pop, many things are out of our control and if that day comes that I need to take care of you, I will happily do so!” He never swayed from his firm position on this and I guess in the end he was right. Now as far as I am concerned, in my mind, I had my Pop around for many more years to come. I envisioned he’d see my boys go off to college, see all my children graduate, attend their weddings, continue to tell his looong stories from his Navy years and so on…

I still often feel I was robbed of many more years with my pop, but I also have a sense of relief and pride knowing he went out on his own terms—and the way he wanted. I guess you could say this was a graceful exit and my pop left this earth with me and many others wanting more… There’s something to be said about not overstaying your welcome I guess (one of my Pop’s MANY sayings to love by!).

Throughout my years as a wellness coach I have become a lot more firm in my message about the importance of taking care of the body we have been given to live in. The lifestyle choices you make today, determines your health for tomorrow. It truly is our responsibility to take care of ourselves. Our health is our wealth. These are just a few of the sayings I use to help reflect on the importance of self-care. I often hear the comment “It just seems like a lot of work to prep food, to cook, to make time to exercise, to live healthy.”  My response… “It takes a lot more time to be sick, and not feel your best.” When you wrap your head around it, we all want to feel our best but unfortunately, our lifestyles and choices have prevented many of us from understanding how good it feels to feel good.

Does it take work to live a healthy lifestyle? Absolutely. But I promise once your healthy choices become a part of your everyday lifestyle, you will never look back and you will be so thankful you are giving yourself the best opportunity to live a long, healthy life full of good fortune.

I am well aware life is full of surprises-- sometimes good, sometimes bad. None of us can predict our future.  But, we can enjoy the present moment feeling our best and giving our body the best chance to fight off anything thrown our way. None of us are invincible, but we are in control of the decisions we make today. The best gift you can give yourself and your family is a healthy you!

So instead of dreading my fast-approaching 50th, I say “bring it on and here’s to longevity!”

Thoughts on New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s goals!  Keep it real!


The start of a new year is a time for reflection. A time to take a look back. With that said, don't spend too much time here because the past is the past, and you can no longer change the outcome. You can, however, change and impact your future, so let’s move forward — and make a conscience effort to look ahead to decide what it is you want to spend your time and energy on for 2019. This time of year, many of us are thinking about goals, resolutions and new promises we set for ourselves. Whatever you prefer to call it, the new year often becomes the best time to reset and rethink about life changes you would like to make. Personally, I have never been a fan of setting “New Year’s resolutions.” Most of the time, people set lofty goals that are difficult to achieve and hard to keep. Setting unrealistic goals is setting yourself up for disappointment—- a disastrous start to the new year that nobody wants. So I ask the question, why do we do this to ourselves? Remember, habits are not created overnight. Start your new year off by setting honest, realistic goals that will ensure you are setting yourself up for success— and not failure! Below are some tips & tricks to get your thinking on the right track.


DOSE represents the four key hormones in our brain that fires off positive vibes

Ignite these hormones by:

Dopamine - Set specific, measurable and achievable goals. Celebrate & repeat

Oxytocin - Give a hug or a gift, love & trust

Serotonin - Reflect for a moment on past achievements and soak in a little sunshine (vitamin D)

Endorphins - Exercise, laugh, inhale and smell lavender or eat spicy peppers

Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals

S.M.A.R.T. goals are those that are:

Specific - Get specific about your “W’s” (who, what, when, where, and why). It’s important to sit down and really think about what you want to change, create, or do with this goal and why. Getting specific with what you want out of this coming year will allow you to set goals with steps and checkpoints along the way.

Measurable - Creating a goal that has measurable results will give you the chance to assess your progress along the way and evaluate if adjustments need to be made.

Achievable - It’s important to keep it real! Setting goals that are simply unrealistic is only setting yourself up for failure. The purpose of setting goals is to inspire motivation within yourself, not discouragement. It may feel good to set lofty goals in the moment, but be honest with yourself when determining whether what you’re planning to do is possible in your timeline and/or with your current situation/resources.  If you have not been committed to going to the gym or totally cutting sugar out of your diet - it is typically not a great idea to set a goal to be at the gym everyday and/or never consume sugar again.  Although there are a few out there that do well with going cold turkey or drastic lifestyle changes, typically it’s always better to ease into a new habit.  I do find those who ease in have an easier time staying committed and for this new habit to stick for life.

Relevant - A “relevant” goal is one that pertains to your overarching, larger vision for your life. Whether that’s living a healthy lifestyle, cultivating meaningful relationships, or creating a positive outlook on life, your goals should create progress in that direction. Prioritize what is most important to you in your life right now and set goals that will create stepping stones to a healthier, happier you.

Time-bound - this is one of the most important properties of a goal that will lead to success. Having deadlines and time-checks provide you with a set date to pause, evaluate your progress and make adjustments accordingly. If you don’t have a deadline, you will likely keep pushing it off and telling yourself “NEXT week I’ll start making a change.”

Start by setting achievable goals in the month of January. Achieve those goals, your dopamine will be on fire, you will be inspired to set your next set of goals and build upon them! Let’s commit to lifestyle changes— not short-term ones. Being patient with yourself is a major component to wellness. There will be times we do not reach our goals and the timeline we want so accept the fact there this will not always be easy, and expect set backs here and there. This honest approach will ensure a great start the the new year— and provide the balanced mind-frame we all need.

Here’s to the next best version of you! Your health is your wealth. Remember, take care of yourself and your body will take care of you! Happy 2019!

My List of Thank You's!

Thanksgiving is hands down my absolute favorite holiday of the year!  This is a day that does not revolve around material gifts, does not focus on how much candy you can get in record time, or does not make you feel obligated to buy highly over-priced flowers for your sweetie!  Thanksgiving focuses on exactly what the name says, it is the time of year that reminds us all to reflect on what we are thankful for.  This special day is just about the gift of love, quality time with family and friends, good food, and hopefully, a lot of laughs and journeys down memory lane!

Thanksgiving can also be a time of year when you are feeling more stressed.  Throwing the holiday season into our already extremely busy lives can fog the real meaning of what this season is all about.  But, please remember this is a day to be thankful and we all have something to be thankful for!

In nutrition school, one of my teachers did an entire presentation on the healthy benefits of making a list of ‘thanks yous’ every single morning or night, whatever time of the day works best!  Take a few moments and jot down what is good about that day, week or year.  Research has shown that gratitude is a major contributor to a positive attitude!  Half-glass full people live longer healthier lives! 

This Thanksgiving, please remember to take the time to remind a loved one how much you care about them or thank them for something they did for you this past year.  I promise it will make you both feel good!


Why your Brain Loves the Gym!

When the topic of strength training comes up, benefiting your brain is not typically the first thought that comes to mind.  Most often the term strength training is associated with how it will affect your appearance.  Yes, strength training is absolutely a critical ingredient in the recipe to improve your physique, but you must know, exercise and your brain are good friends!  I am not talking about becoming a body builder(unless that is your goal of course), just about toning and strengthening!   Below I explain why!  

Mental Benefits of Exercise

Confidence builder – While releasing tension you are also taking care of your body, so truly you can’t help but be proud of your accomplishments.  You feel like a brand new you and you know you are looking better and better every day!  When you are confident, you are beautiful.  When you are confident & beautiful, you can do anything you put your mind to!

Teaches your body to have a high pain tolerance – Exercise can make you sore.  At first, you may not like this feeling, but I assure you that you will come to recognize this feeling as a reminder of your accomplishments and your hard work.  It is also important for our bodies to feel a little bit of pain, makes us tough!

Boosts brain power – Exercise triggers your body to create more brain cells!  This equals a more powerful brain, which creates a greater capacity for learning.

Self-discipline – Following a daily exercise routine aids in developing skills of dedication and determination!  These skills will have positive effects in all aspects of your life!

Fights depression – Exercise triggers the “happy chemical” in your brain to be released!  Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain – bring on the endorphins and smile for the rest of the day!

Decreases anxiety – Exert energy, release those endorphins and your stress levels will feel in control.

 Enjoy ‘Runner’s High!” – Those amazing endorphins again!  Remember, I have never met anyone that regrets a workout!

Increases ability to concentrate – Scientific proof! Exercise improves concentration and general awareness!  Increasing your ability to focus will benefit you in the office and many other aspects of your life.

So don't delay, head to the gym or workout with hand weights in the comforts of your own home!  

Here's to strong bod's and strong brains!






“Dress” For Success


Those who know me, know I have a saying for almost every occasion. One of my favorites, “Veggies all day, everyday!”   Vegetables are one of the main staples in a healthy lifestyle. Packed with vitamins & minerals, these delicious foods nourish your cells and gut. When you are healthy at a cellular level your body is stronger and more effective at fighting off anything that comes your way!

I am not here to promote being a vegetarian. I am actually a fan of lean protein, as long as you pick quality meats. “If the animal is eating crap, so are you” (there I go again, sorry once I start, it’s difficult to stop!) Bottom line, buy organic or grass-fed meats as often as possible.

Ok, back to the veggies!  I am a huge fan of salads, but not a fan of most salad dressings the American people are consuming. There is nothing that kills the delicious flavors of a salad or says “I was born in a factory” quite like xanthan gum, a common ingredient in many salad dressings. Now, while this is actually not even close to one of the worst ingredients used in salads, it is one of the many that will kill the natural flavor and goodness of fresh veggies.

My advice: read labels (not the last time you will hear this) or ask your waiter for the list of ingredients. When it comes to labels and ingredients “Less is best” and “If you don’t’ recognize an ingredient, your body won’t either”.

Below are just a few ingredients to steer clear of:

Xantham Gum or Food Starch: Added as a thickener,which tends to have a gummy taste & texture.  Try this –Shake or whisk your dressing and it will thicken naturally!

MSG: Used as a flavor enhancer, but is so powerful that it makes everything it touches taste fake.  Also known to cause headaches for many.  FYI – this is one of those ingredients that can come under many different names.  MSG, aka: Yeast Extract, Soy Protein Isolates and many more!

Polysorbate 60: An emulsifier that holds the ingredients together.  Again, a good shake will do the trick!

Potasium Sorbate: A preservative.  Homemade dressing will keep for months in the fridge, but will not keep as long on the shelves in a warehouse!

Natural & Artificial Flavors: If flavors of any kind are listed, carefully put the item back on the shelf and walk away!  This means the taste you’re savoring is not natural in anyway, but rather created in a lab.

Artificial Sweeteners: Typically found in “sugar-free” or “low-calorie dressings.  Stay away!  If you are looking for less calories, use less of your homemade dressing!

EDTA: This chemical is used to neutralize bits of metal that comes from the metal pipes and machines in the factories where salad dressing is produced.  Wait what?  Let me get this straight, we are using a chemical to break down another chemical!  Just wrong!

Caramel Color:  Found in many dressings and marinades.  Guess what— its’ toxic!  It contains 4-methylimidazole that is know to cause cancer!

Making your own salad dressing is as easy as it gets!  Just have the right ingredients on hand, mix or shake and Voila! Also, you might want to purchase a salad shaker, inexpensive and hopefully will get a ton of use!  “Keep it simple.  Eat Clean!”

My Favorite Homemade Salad Dressing

¼ cup organic olive oil
¾ white wine vinegar
1tablespoon grainy mustard
Any of my favorite spices (don’t forget about turmeric!)
Dash a salt

Whisk or shake, and dress for success!