Chasing a Dream.

Hey Guys,

I wrote this article for Lori Harder’s Daily Inspirational Newsletter, but I thought I’d share it here too, as it really speaks to the inner courage and belief in myself that I needed to muster to get where I am now (which is still no where near where I plan to be).  

Just some food for thought 

xo

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Four months ago I took one of the the biggest leaps I’ve ever taken. I launched my own company. After years in the corporate world, a brief stint back to school for a master’s degree and many many tearful sunday nights, knowing I needed to find work I loved, I launched ProCakes – a high protein pancake mix, specifically designed for the healthy minded.

My business idea didn’t come to me right away. It took years of soul searching, a trip to an ashram in India and many more life experiences that ultimately led me to the stage to compete in Mis Bikini Universe, to discover the idea that I wanted to share with the world. In retrospect, none of this would have happened without belief in myself, a willingness to fail and a strong desire to change.

I think that deep need to make a change is almost universal. It may not be about starting a business, but it’s that sort of “big hairy goal” that changes everything and makes the possibilities of life so exciting. Very often we disregard our day dreams about what we might do “if”, because we don’t think we could ever achieve that goal, or there’s just no way it could happen for us. But that’s not true.

I honestly believe that anything is possible, be it a change in career, health or financial situation if you’re willing to take a humble approach to being a beginner, finding mentors to guide you and putting your true heart and effort into the process. I would never have thought I could start a company, much less compete in a physique competition were it not for the blind faith I had in myself, and the support of the people around me (paid coaches and trusted friends), that got me where I wanted to go.

Looking back, my life has a pattern of making big changes, from going to university as a “mature student” to tossing all my belonging in a car and driving across country at the age of 20, to quitting my corporate job and heading to India for a yoga teacher training. Some of those adventures I’d do again in a heart beat and some I wouldn’t dream of repeating, but I would never change a second of it as each risk has brought so much reward, whether in the moment, or somehow down the line. I wouldn’t be who I am today, running my own business that infuses my two biggest passions (healthy food + fitness) and getting to call my own shots if I didn’t take risks and embrace some failures. The process hasn’t been easy, but it has definitely been worth it, and still feel like I’m just getting started.

I hope this story inspires you to reconsider those dreams you’ve pushed aside because you thought they were too hard or would take too long. Time passes anyway, so you might as well be using it to your advantage and engage it in the direction of your dreams.

Is there something you’re putting off?  Do you have a dream you think you can’t achieve?  Have you tried?

A workout for the uber busy (and a video tour of my home gym)

20 MINUTE WORKOUT, QUICK WORKOUT, HOME GYM

I must say, I’ve spent a long time on my soap box talking about how important it is to put yourself first and keep your fitness habits a top priority in order to live a healthy life. And although it was well meaning (and I still stand behind my message), after launching my business 4 months ago, I can completely relate with those of you who tell me you just don’t have time.

Now I get it!!

But guess what! You don’t need much time to stay fit. Even if you can only muster 15 or 20 minutes a day, you can do SOMETHING to move your body in a positive way. And why is this important?

Because….

  • 
It will reduce your risk of chronic disease
  • It will increase serotonin – the happiness hormone
  • It will increase brain power
  • It will keep your fitness habit consistent
  • It will make you feel productive
  • It will keep you focused on what’s important (hint: your health)
  • It will keep you looking hot!

Reason enough?

Then let’s consider what’s reasonable to do if you’re too busy to workout. Obviously, convenience and accessibility are key, so here’s a few ideas from my own fitness regime. I’m a big fan of weight bearing exercise (at least 2 to 3 times per week) as it maintains strong bones and lean muscle mass which is so important, especially for women.

Here’s a quick tour of my “home gym” and a sample workout that I will often do. It truly is a busy girl’s solution for fitting in a little fitness in an overstuffed day.  Down below is my favorite 20 minute home gym workout and a list of where to find the equipment.

Workout

I do this circuit in full, going directly from one exercise to the next and take a minute break before starting it again. Generally I do it about 5 times and it takes no more than 25 minutes total.

Warm up

Repeat 2 times:

  • 25 fast squats
  • 25 reverse lunges

Circuit

  1. 20 weighted squats (hold dumbbells at shoulders)
  2. 20 weighted reverse lunges
  3. 10 wide grip pull ups (I put a foot on a chair for support)
  4. 20 push ups (I’m on my knees for half of it)
  5. 12 overhead presses
  6. 15 jump squats
  7. 10 ab rolls or a 2 minute plank hold (if you don’t have a roller)

Rest and repeat 3 to 5 times.

TIP: If I feel like really getting my heart pumping, I’ll race up and down the stairs once or twice in between sets (and I have 4 flights of stairs in my house!!)

Want to make your own gym?  Sweet!  Here’s a list of my equipment:

So if you’re a busy gal like me, give this a try and let me know what you think.  A home gym is a cheap investment that pays huge dividends and you don’t have to deal with sweaty strangers at the gym :)  If this is too much for you, try going through it once or twice or just start by heading out for a 30 minute walk.  Fitness is all about consistency and sustainability so do what you can, when you can.

Have fun with it!

Caren

 

Paleo Salmon Quiche – high protein, low carb

Gluten free salmon tarte, healthy, high protein, paleo
I was going to call this a salmon thingamajig, but I didn’t think it’d be good for SEO.

I pulled out a fillet of salmon from the freezer tonight and my husband’s whiny song about getting sick of salmon came to mind.

I had to spice things up or it was going to be an end to my salmon dinners.

So I quickly googled “salmon cakes” and came up with a bunch of really bad recipes. They all called for bread crumbs and wheat is so 2008.

So here’s my own creative interpretation of salmon cakes, based on my #NSNG, gluten free philosophy and more importantly, based on what was left in my fridge.

Bon Appetite!

Salmon Cakes

1 fillet of salmon
1 tablespoon coconut oil – split in two
1/2 cup egg whites (or 4 full eggs)
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 stock of leeks, finely chopped or whizzed in the food processor
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seafood Seasoning (not to be confused with Old Spice “man seasoning”)
3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
a pinch of salt and pepper

  • Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 350 and grease a muffin tin, or get real lazy and use a quiche dish like I did.
  • Chop leeks or use a food processor to get it really fine. You can chop the cilantro by hand.
  • Cook the defrosted salmon fillet in a skillet for 5 to 7 minutes so it’s cooked on the outside, but still a little pink in the middle using 1 portion of the coconut oil. Add to a big bowl and then cook the chopped leeks for a few minutes with the remaining coconut oil and then add to the bowl.
  • Flake up the fish with a fork and stir the cooked leeks, then adding the remaining ingredients. This won’t give you a good consistency to make salmon cakes which is why I recommend the muffin or quiche dish.
  • Bake for 20 mins or until golden brown.

Want MORE awesome and healthy recipes??  Check out Kierston at Candy Fit and Laura at Sprint 2 the table.  They have some awesome recipe round ups!

Intensity Meets Chill: A Free Sunday Sweaty Yoga Sesh For You.

jack canfield, the success principlesIt’s a beautiful sunday morning of the July long weekend. I’ve had the time and space to work, spend time with friends, do some much needed upgrades around the house and most importantly, carve out some time for myself.

To that end, I’m rocking a fresh mani pedi, I made it through 10 chapters of The Success Principles, my garden is looking a little fancier and just now, I got my yoga on.

I picked something fast and furious to kick my butt in gear. I’ve been wide awake since 4am this morning, something that’s starting to happen on the regular lately (which seriously blows), but I”m going with it. I figure I can just get my day started early and ended early (there’s nothing like a 7:45pm bedtime, right?).

I wanted to share the yoga sesh I found on YouTube with you. I thought it was a really creative take on fusing HIIT style exercise with traditional yoga poses – something I think has awesome benefits for “booty and mind”. I will say however, I think some of her transitions could be a little safer as she goes from some pretty intense cardio sequences to forward bends which is not the safest move to do from a heart perspective, but you guys are smart enough to modify if you need.

Anyway, I also like this gal because she’s not a talker. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but it drives me nuts when yoga teachers feel a need to explain everything in such minuet detail to the point that they never shut up. The constant chatter distracts me from going inward, which is kinda the point of the whole thing.  First world problems, I know…

So here you go. Fast and furious like I said, but really cool. Let me know what you think!

Hope you had an awesome long weekend!

Namaste

This blog post also appeared on Healthy Diva Eat’s Marvelous Monday Link Up!

Video: The benefits of coconut oil (and me with no make up on)

Brace yourself – it ain’t pretty, but as I was cooking dinner last night and spooning out a big gob of coconut oil to cook my veggies in, I was thinking how awesome it was for so many reasons and then I thought – hey, my readers should know this!!

So it was a little impromptu as evidence by the lack of a hair brush and lipstick, but it’s a quick review of why you should be using it and where to get it.

Just so you know – coconut oil is fabulous for a magnitude of reasons including

  • fat loss
  • satiety
  • skin care
  • fighting inflammation

and a few other things I mention in the vid.

Here’s a fabulous article that lists out all the benefits so I don’t have to (I’m lazy that way).

What’s the best exercise to lose weight? The answer will surprise you.

BEST EXERCISE FOR WEIGHT LOSS

If you ever watch a running race, I guarantee you will see two very distinct body types – those lean, fast runners that are typically the first to finish, and then there’s the larger, heavier finishers.

You might wonder how two people can run for the same race, conceivably do the same amount of training exercise over the same amount of time and yet have two completely different body compositions. Well as I’ve said before, the main reason for this is that exercise actually has a lot less of an impact on metabolic rate that we think. Actually, you’d probably be shocked to understand how little true “exercise” we really need to get stay healthy and lean (hint: we just need to literally MOVE more, not necessarily sweat more).

There are two reasons why exercise is not a panacea for weight loss. The first is that the more we work out, the hungrier we get. I can point to various studies that prove this, but I bet you’re aware that when you were at your most physically active in your life, you were probably also really freaking hungry all the time. That’s your body’s natural physiological response to exertion. It needs to force you to eat more calories to compensate for the expenditure. It’s programmed to do just that.

But the other reason is a little more complex. It has to do with attitudes toward exercise. For example – let’s say you go out for a run in the morning, not because you love running (you actually kinda hate it), but because you’re trying to lose weight. You come home, and your body tells you to eat more because it’s doing it’s caloric balancing thing. You tell yourself “oh, I just ran 5 miles, so I deserve that extra piece of toast and peanut butter”. So you have it. No problem.

But the reality is that the extra calories you consumed at breakfast actually negate the calorie spend while doing exercise. Certainly, I don’t want you to think that the trade of calories for sweat is that exact, but you actually don’t burn as many calories as your Garmin might be telling you.

But even more interesting is a new study that shows that we are more inclined to allow ourselves an overindulgence of food when we feel that our exercise is a chore. When we feel like we’re forcing ourselves to workout, it’s work. And work requires reward, which in this case comes in the form of M&M’s, extra toast, or whatever strikes your fancy in the moment.

The study I’m referring to compares two groups of walkers. One group is encouraged to focus on their walk as exercise and monitor exertion throughout the 30 minute routine. The second group is given the same 30 minute walk prescription, but is instructed to listen to music and told to focus on their enjoyment of the walk.

So same exercise, same exertion, very different results – those who focused on the exercise, sought rewards when they were done. Those who focused on fun, didn’t need it.

Here’s a great read on the study if you want to know more, but the takeaway is this:

Reps, sets and heart rate be damned, it’s more about what you’re doing consistently and the overall volume of time you spend doing other things rather than sitting on your butt that’s going to get you lean (and keep you there) then suffering through P90x 6 days a week for 3 months.

Now, I do hope you can find some way to “enjoy” weight bearing exercise at least twice a week as there’s a definite extra benefit to that, especially if you’re in your 30’s and beyond, but just start with something you enjoy and go from there. There is no universal rule that implies you must run races or join a gym to lose weight. Just go outside and put one foot in front of the other and enjoy the view.

Yes, it can be that simple.

The power of incremental change

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Photo Credit: Caroline Gutman

If I look back on the last twenty years of my life, the person I am today is NOTHING like the person I was in my early twenties.

Sure, we all grow and mature, but we don’t often change who we are over time. Sometimes, the results of our habits, choices and behaviors can get entrenched in our identity and that can be a difficult story to change.

When I was in my early twenties, my story about my personal health and self-esteem was VERY different then it is now. I was seemingly invincible then. I used to smoke a pack of cigarettes every single day, hit the McDonalds drive through regularly and I’d go out on drinking binges with friends that would last to the wee hours of the morning, then accept rides home from strangers. It amazes me that I made it through that period of time unscathed.

As a result of those behaviors, habits and choices, I was overweight, unhealthy and pretty unhappy with myself. I was also a full time bartender at the time without a high school diploma. Yup. That was me.

It wasn’t until my boyfriend at the time and myself put all of our belongings in his 1998 Buick Le Sabre, gathered up our $2,300 in savings and hit the road to Vancouver (a mere 2700 miles away) that my life started to change. Very, very slowly.

Moving out west, away from family, friends and everything we knew was an eye-opener for me. There was no support, no familiarity and very little opportunity for someone with as few credentials as I had. We lasted about year before we packed up the car and drove home with $30 in cash and the two cats we had adopted along the way.

That time out west had planted seeds of change in me that started to transpire when we returned to what knew. So instead of reverting back to bartending and binge drinking, I decided I wanted more from life.

So I went back and got my high school diploma. One of my teachers encouraged me to apply to college. She said she believed in me, even though I had no faith in my own academic abilities. But I did it. I went to college, then transferred to a four-year university and graduated 2.5 years later.

When we got back from Vancouver, I also started changing my health habits. It started with a show called The 20 Minute Workout that aired at 4pm every weekday on City TV. Then it gradually increased to fitness classes at a local gym until eventually I was teaching step aerobics to Hasidic Jewish women at a local health club.

I was changing. It was taking a long time, but slowly my story about myself went from uneducated, not very accomplished and certainly not fit, to someone with an education, an active lifestyle and a bright future.

The story of my life is far too long and detailed to go through here, but I hope the highlights show a trajectory of growth that started from a simple decision that the life I had when I came back from our trip out west back in 1998 was no longer good enough for me. I knew I was capable of more, and the funny thing is, today I’m so much more than I had ever thought possible at that time. At most I had wished for a good paying steady job and maybe one day, a house and a husband.

I never expected to be in the best shape of my life in my mid 40s. Never in my wildest dreams had I envisioned a graduate level education, a business and a life in California. But so it was to be.

The point to this is that sometimes the place we want to be seems a million miles away from where we are at this moment. But so what? Time passes regardless of whether or not you decide to make better choices or become aware of your destructive habits. Your identity is dependent on your choice to become a better version of yourself, or to stay the same. Or even to spiral out of control.

No matter how big or ominous your journey may seem, the key to success starts with being honest with yourself about whether or not the status quo is uncomfortable enough that you’re ready to make change. That’s probably the hardest part. The rest is just taking small incremental steps in the right direction. It’s okay if you don’t know exactly where you’re going, because you’re probably going to end up somewhere unexpected and wonderful anyway. As long as you just keep pushing forward and making better choices.

The choices you make today will determine the quality of your life tomorrow, and all the days there after.

What will you choose to do?

Embracing your wants and don’t wants.

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I can’t believe i”m here again.

I’m right back where I have been before, declaring some big lofty goals and then somewhere down the path, starting to question whether or not I even want to do the thing I swore up and down I would do.

I’m talking about my Aug 23rd competition.

It’s not that it’s too hard. Truth be told, I haven’t done much yet other than increase my weight bearing exercise. The hard part (dieting down) hasn’t even started for me yet.

My problem is that I”m feeling a little “meh” about the whole thing. I can anticipate how difficult this will get, and even though I’m going to do it my own way, it’s still a process of dieting down and I can’t seem to wrap my head around that concept anymore. I’m finding that I’m eating more in anticipation of a point where I’ll have to eat less, and I know where this story ends.  

The last time I felt like this, I was publicly declaring my goal of qualifying for Boston on my first marathon (crazy-pants, I know). It was my knees more so than my heart that put the kibosh that goal, but nevertheless, I had to eat a little crow.

I fear that same meal might be coming my way again soon.

I haven’t exactly given up on the idea yet. There is a part of me that really likes the idea of getting on stage again. I love the day of experience, but I really do not love the process. The question is ultimately which feeling will win out.

I guess that remains to be seen.

I do feel bad about waffling, but more so, I feel bad about publicly waffling. I created this little space on the internet to inspire others to chase their own dreams, but I’m feeling a little fraudulent given my lack of inspiration to chase after my own. Perhaps I’m even questioning if this “goal” is really a dream or not.

I’m not sure what the takeaway is here. I wish there was a nugget of wisdom to share about how to get through the waffling process that precedes a decision to quit, but I don’t.

Do you?

What would you do if you set yourself a goal to do something, publicly committed to it, then somewhere down the line decided it’s not really something you’re excited about anymore. Are you the type to push through, or would you just stop?

Check out Jill Conyer’s Fitness Friday link up for more fitness related blog posts!

This is why I don’t do subscription boxes

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Nothing against them, I’m just clueless.

Recently, Popsugar was generous to send me a complimentary #musthavebox for review.

I LOVE getting stuff in the mail, so I was all over this offer!

The box is super cute, and that excitement of not knowing what’s inside is probably worth the cost of the subscription itself. It’s like Christmas once a month!

Then opening the box was even better. Everything’s all tucked in there nicely and beautifully presented. LOVE IT.

But here’s the thing. I rarely have any use or not to how to use, what comes in the box.

This particular box had:

  • A novel I would never read (I only read non-fiction);
  • A hand cream that was amazing, but well, it’s hand cream;
  • A $15 voucher for Native Union for (very cool) phone accessories I would never buy;
  • The cutes little individually wrapped personal wipes should I ever want to smell like a lemon;
  • Something that I think might be hair ties, but may also be a set of bracelets, I’m not exactly sure;
  • A Turkish towel which I’m not clear whether it’s something you dry yourself with, or wear around your neck as an accessory, or both. I seriously have no idea;
  • Oh and a bag of chips.  Now I could get those in the mail every day :)

I think if you’re the type of person that’s an early adopter, or loves trying new and unique things, then you’d probably love something like this, and the subscription model is a fantastic gift idea, but for the most part, this stuff goes right over my head.

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I’ve considered getting the fitness focused boxes, but much of that stuff is sugar loaded and I would never eat it.

I’ve considered signing up for Birch Box, but they tend to send out a ton of nail polish and I outsource that portion of my personal grooming, so I don’t use polish myself.

So sadly, I live a boxless life. Maybe there’s a budding entrepreneur out there that would love to cater to weirdos like me that don’t do sugar, grains, parabins, meat, nail polish or Polish scarves (or was that Turkish towels?) and only wear stretchy pants day after day. I’m not sure there’s enough people out there like me.

Keepin it weird in SoCal.

Caren

This post is also linked up with Running With Spoon’s Thinking out loud.  Find lots of other fun weirdness over there.

A Coffee Date With Moi

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I haven’t done a personal post in a while, so I thought I’d have a little coffee date with you and a few other bloggers to bring you up to speed with life on the not-so-wild-side :)

Travel – Hubby & I went up to the bay area last weekend for 3 amazing days of friends, food and fun. We were there for a wedding and rented the sweetest apartment in the Marina. It makes me long to be back there permanently, but I’ll take what I can get. Fortunately, I’m flying back there next weekend just to see a friend flying in from Australia, just for the day. She’s one of those people that cracks me up with her bizarre sense of humor and perspective on life. CAN.NOT.WAIT.

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Work – I have to say, I’m blown away by the support I’ve received by other healthy living bloggers. The generosity of time and interest to promote and review ProCakes has just been so touching. I freakin love bloggers and now it’s my JOB to work with them on the regular. That’s one of the coolest parts of what I do.

Fitness – As I’ve mentioned a few times, I’m training for another competition in late August. I have to admit I’m having a hard time focusing on diet adjustments. Honestly, I’ve worked so hard to get to a place where I can live and enjoy life and not worry about food, and how much I’m eating. The idea of getting maniacal about it again doesn’t excite me. This doesn’t bode well for being stage ready in 11 weeks.

Reads & Listens – I just finished A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. I’ll be honest, I tried this book several years ago and it went right over my head. This time around, I found that some part’s spoke to me, but the rest of it was too woo-woo. Perhaps I’m not spiritually evolved enough? Most of the Audiobooks I’ve listened to have been business related, but my favorite podcasts right now are Lady business, The Bulletproof Executive and The Fat Burning Man. Love them all.

New stuff - I’ve been making more of an effort to do new stuff or at least push myself out of my comfort zone on the regular. To that extent, I made a date to go SUP with a total stranger today and left the experience with a new friend. That takes a lot for me to do, so I’m pretty proud of myself. Now I’ve got all this podcasting technology sitting on my desk waiting to be set up. If I could get up the nerve to crack that nut, I’d be happy!

June Goals – Get on with the podcasting already!

What’s going on with you guys!  I know you’re out there :)  I’d love to hear from some of you and know what’s going on in your world.