Wellnes Journey

In April of 2014, I stepped in to a Wellness Center for the first time.
I have learned so much.
Grown so much.
Shrunk a bit ~ about 60 lbs so far.
And made some life-long friends.
Late in 2014, the Dr. who leads the center asked me to start writing about my
Journey Back to Health
To begin this series, they posted a bit about me.
And then I shared with them bits of what I've learned and gone through.
Here is a collection of all of my photography,
the inspirational quotes,
and the journal of this continuing journey.

I didn’t know what I was looking for.
Until I found it. 
I didn’t know that my path to wellness would include a garden hose, pillow shopping, lettuce lessons or a cheering section.
Until it did.
I did know that there had been many first steps and many missteps over many years on this wellness journey of mine. And I knew that my fear of failing {yet again} was the “Mount Everest” that stood between me and one more “first” step. But take that step I did.
In the spring of this year I walked into Atlantis Chiropractic Wellness Center for the first time. I had some testing done, talked {a lot} about my background, my aches and pains and all that pesky fear that was built up inside of me. In the six months that have passed since those first appointments, I have lost over thirty pounds, lost nearly all of the joint pain in all of my 53 year old joints and found a physical energy that I believed was gone for good. Over the next few months I hope to share with you some of the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, questions, hurdles, lessons and ah-ha moments that have accompanied me {and continue to accompany me} along this path.
But, for today, I’m just going to share with you that key ingredient that helped me to take that second step.
Oh, I’ll give myself credit for taking that “daring” first step, but it is the friendly, generous, warmhearted, understanding and considerate entourage that work together at Atlantis who keep me motivated to take step after step. Not only do they practice what they teach, they teach gently and thoroughly. Their faith in me has helped me to restore faith in myself.
Little did I know how much I needed that faith. And how desperately I needed to know that I wasn’t alone on this journey.

The only thing worse than having more questions than answers
is having more answers than questions.
I don’t know about you, but when it comes to health and wellness, there seem to be “answers” on every social media page, every box top and every news show. Most family members and friends are full of ideas about how we should be living, dieting, exercising or bettering ourselves. We’re bombarded with platitudes and slogans…with each new “big” idea…with expertise from sources that are – let’s face it – often far from expert. Frankly, I had spent years tuning it all out.
Enter Dr. Martone and Atlantis.
From my very first consultation, I recognized that I had entered an information rich environment. If I’m being honest, this both scared and excited me. Would I find more “quick fix” remedies? Would this encounter be just another “do this” and “don’t do that” kind of experience? Believe me when I say that my guard was up! But the answers I have found here have not come in the form of ultimatums. I’ve not heard that one path – one narrow path – is right for all. I’ve not been led to a tight-rope and told to find my balance.
NO! The health and wellness journey here is interactive. Advice has come in the form of suggestion. Options have been offered and ideas are discussed. Yet, somehow, in this open, safe and un-bossy environment, the answers are clearer than ever! My understanding of my own body has deepened and I feel more ownership of MY health choices than I ever have.
The FREE classes that Dr. Martone teaches each month have been one of my favorite parts of this journey. I’ve attended them all. I no longer feel ignorant or overwhelmed in this information age, and my hunger for learning has been reawakened!

When I was a little girl I had a farm puzzle with a big red barn in the foreground. On top of the barn was a rooster, and in the background the sun was rising over the hills. Floating in the sky was Benjamin Franklin’s proverb, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
I don’t like to go to bed. I have things to do. Shows to watch, blog posts to write, books to read, crafts to finish…so many things to do! I’ve always been a “burn the candle at both ends” kind of gal. I watched Jonny Carson before bed every night in high school (yes, I’m that old!)… I was a master procrastinator in college who enjoyed pulling ‘all-nighters’. Since then there have been kids and… well… LIFE! Doesn’t matter what day it is, I always feel like there are a few more things to do and many more thoughts to think and that bed time comes too quickly.
In the past six months, since that moment when Dr. Martone raised his eyebrows after I shared my bed time, I have RADICALLY altered my sleeping habits. Goal: 8.5 hours of sleep tonight. Goal: Sleep with the right pillow and lie flat on my back. Goal: Repeat again tomorrow.
I THOUGHT CHANGING MY DIET WAS GOING TO BE HARD!!! Nope. Imposing this sleep discipline has, by far, been the toughest part of my journey back to health… I want to WANT to sleep more. But I don’t yet. I am making myself do it, and I know the benefits are there…. But if I’m keeping it real, I’m still hoping I’ll wake up tomorrow and discover that good health can be maintained on five-six hours a night.
I know. Not gonna happen.

I’ve known for a very long time that I have an emotional addiction to food. You know the one – the stress-relief-this-is-my-reward-won’t-catch-me-crying addiction. It started when I was a girl and has pretty much controlled me ever since. I often tell people that I’ve either been on a diet or cheating on a diet my whole life.
It wasn’t until I followed Dr. Martone’s “loose ten pounds in a month” advice that I understood the physical addiction I had to food.
To sugar. Yup, that’s me. A recovering sugar addict.
When my husband and I began the month of June with a whole body cleanse, we had no idea how much we would learn about our dependence on sugar. We took ourselves off gluten, dairy and all processed sugar. Interesting thing was, all we really craved was the sugar! Once the cleanse was finished, we kept our diets gluten, dairy and sugar free for several weeks. My husband lost 19 pounds that first month, and I lost over ten as well.
That was six months ago. My diet is still pretty much gluten and dairy free and I work hard to keep all processed sugar OUT of what I eat! I am learning to recognize how processed sugar shows up on ingredient labels and to use honey and fruit to sweeten foods as I cook. There’s still lots to learn, and I can’t tell you the science of it all...but I can honestly say that those pesky cravings disappeared after several days and HAVE NOT RETURNED!
It has been shocking – nothing short of genuinely shocking – to be free of this physical addiction! The comfort and emotional “support” that food has provided over the years might be a battle I will face for a while. That’s ok with me, though. Freedom from the physical addiction has given me power to face those emotional battles and come out a winner. 

This summer my husband and I celebrated our thirty year anniversary. We have lived on two different continents, in many different neighborhoods, raised two fantastic kids…both survived a tumultuous career change and, as you might imagine, weathered many storms together over three decades. It brought me great joy, as we celebrated with family and friends in August, to realize that we were genuinely celebrating. We arrive at this milestone closer than ever and looking towards the road ahead – not in the rear view mirror!
When I embarked on my wellness journey with Atlantis, I had no idea that this path would quickly become one that we walked together. About two months before our anniversary, my husband joined me for Dr. Martone’s talk “Loose Ten Pounds in 30 Days” – and from that moment we have shared a lifestyle makeover…together.
The cleanse? Cleansed together – he grated the ginger, I mixed the shakes.
The pillow shopping? Hit the store together.
Getting on the scale? Weighing in – together. {this is a big one, worthy of a separate post!}
Restocking our pantry? Cleaning out, stocking up and reorganizing – together.
New recipes? Learning, experimenting….and cooking – yes – you guessed it – TOGETHER!
Who could have imagined, that after {cough, cough} THIRTY years, we would feel like two kids starting all over again! My husband’s partnership with me in this challenging endeavor has meant more to me than, well, just about anything that I can imagine. Though he has always had much less weight to loose and fewer health challenges than me, I’ve always known he’s with me for the long haul. And, though always supportive of the diet/health fixes I’ve tried, his partnership with me on this new path has given me a strength and determination I never knew I had.
I’m so grateful that “my” journey has become ours to share!

Celebrate what you want to see more of!
More green! More fruit! More spices! More super foods!
As I was preparing for the holidays at our house, it seemed important to celebrate all that was good and right about the changes we’ve made this year. So, I brought the celebration front and center, and decorated our Christmas tree with some whole-food goodness! Beginning with the traditional popcorn and cranberry garland seemed an obvious choice for a food themed tree! No butter or salt on the popcorn {of course}, and the cranberries add that perfect pop of red. Then I dried some orange slices and filled the tree with tiny lights. I just love the way the oranges catch the light and seem to glow like stained glass! To create the “snow covered branches” I used cinnamon sticks and coconut flakes. It might seem kind of silly, but I can’t even begin to tell you how happy this tree makes me!
Every morning, when I come down the stairs, the tree is waiting to greet me. Reminding me to celebrate! Every evening when I get home from work, the tree is waiting for me….still reminding me to celebrate! I don’t know about you, but it’s often so easy to barely acknowledge our progress, rush right past any kind of celebration and head for the next challenge. But this year, before anyone speaks to me of resolutions, I’m celebrating the good. I’m basking in the glow of the progress I’ve made this year on my health journey. I’m cherishing the overwhelming feelings of gratitude I have for Dr. Martone and the whole Atlantis team…
…and my evergreen tree and I would like to wish all of you on this journey with me a happy and healthy holiday season!

This quote from A Night’s Tale pretty much sums up my old relationship with and feelings toward ….da-da-da-dum….the scale. Over YEARS {decades, really} of being told that I needed to lose weight, my hatred for that simple device grew and grew. And, perhaps not so ironically, so did I. Through private, semi private and fairly public weigh-ins, I learned shame and failure and…drew the conclusion that I had, indeed, been found wanting….lacking the discipline or self-control or will to slim down. Even when the scale showed me loosing, I knew deep down inside that the dip in the numbers was only temporary.
Several years ago, I promised myself that I’d never get on a scale again, and that I would learn to “measure” myself in other ways….learn to value what’s inside whether the outside changed or not. This “non-scale” life was my norm when I met Dr. Martone. So when I learned – much to my dismay – that one of the tools he encourages on our health journey is a daily weigh in {!!??! WHAT?! DAILY!!?!} I couldn’t even imagine!
And yet…
Six weeks into my wellness journey…
With no one pushing, prompting or expecting me to….
I stepped on a scale.
My husband and I had taken the ‘lose 10 pounds in 28 days” challenge, had completed our first cleanse and were well on our way to changing, not only our eating, but many of our fundamental beliefs about food, nutrition and wellness. He’d lost 19 pounds, and I knew I had lost as well. Somehow, it just felt like it was time. Something had fundamentally shifted inside of me. I think being free of the scale for several years was good for me. As was the accepting-take your time-this is your journey attitude at Atlantis. The numbers have lost their power, and the voices that judge have faded completely.
I ended 2014 knowing what I weigh.
Knowing that I will weigh less by the end of 2015.
And, most importantly, knowing that I have all that I need for this journey.

Many, many years ago I saw someone (a doctor?) on television spread out a queen size bed sheet and set an 8 ounce glass of water down in the middle of it. He explained that the sheet was the size of an average male adult’s skin if it was all laid out flat. Then he asked the question, “Can you imagine washing this sheet in this glass of water? Or, for that matter in the amount of water you drink each day?” Well, of course not. He went on to explain that our bodies need much more water than we are used to drinking. I’ve never forget the visual!
These days, no one questions the health benefits of drinking enough water. We’ve heard it. We’ve read about it. The question is….are we doing it? I know I sure wasn’t! Before I started the program at Atlantis, I was a diet-coke/coffee/fresca drinking machine. I threw some water in there for good measure, but surely didn’t take the message to hydrate very seriously!
Then the challenge came – drink half your body weight in ounces of water. Daily. There it was. The good I knew I ought to be doing. But in spite of all the head knowledge, I hadn’t ever expected this discipline from myself. Truth be told, anything that smacks of daily discipline quickly turns into “torture” for me. I’m stubborn. And then there are the lazy bits. But this water drinking thing is now a HABIT.
My day begins with hot lemon water, and I get all those ounces in me before the work day ends. My body tells me when I blow it – I can feel the difference if I haven’t had enough water. I actually like the hydrated “me” better…the water has truly worked its magic!

A favorite bible verse – even those who don’t pay that much attention to the bible enjoy this description of love. It’s often read at weddings and hung in homes so that we all remember how to treat one another. I wondered…if I apply these words to myself – to my relationship with “me” – what would I discover?
Love is patient: Am I patient with myself? Do I give myself time to learn and grow?
Love is kind: How about it? What do I say to myself? Do I belittle and berate myself? Do I get angry with myself easily? Blame myself for everything? I am learning to be kind to myself on this wellness journey – and it matters. My mindset and my feelings towards ME really matter.
Love keeps no record of wrongs: How about it? Are our thoughts filled with the woulda-coulda-shouldas? Or do I accept myself today? Sure, I can learn from past health mistakes and patterns of self-sabotage…but starting each day with a clean slate seems vital to me.
Love rejoices with the truth: For me this means learning more. More about all things health. If I love myself I will learn to accept, cherish and rejoice with all that is beneficial to my body. No resisting. No half-hearted surrender. Nope I’m looking for an acceptance that turns to rejoicing as I walk the walk.
Do I protect myself? Trust myself? Have high hopes for myself? I’m learning where I do and where I don’t. These questions are so revealing!! Let’s face it…none of us are perfect. I won’t always persevere. And I will fail sometimes. Somehow, though, connecting these realities to the notion of self-care and self-love gives me the vision I need to get up, dust myself off and keep going.
Let me know which questions help you!

Change. Real, internal and long lasting change is not, in my opinion, an easy thing to come by. We all have strengths and weaknesses, areas in which we excel and areas of our lives that seem to drag us down no matter how hard we try and fight against them. My perspective on health, wellness and weight has always – and by always I mean from early childhood through my early 50’s – been an area of my life and character in which I’ve been defeated. Over and over again!
This past week I was sick and spent several days home from work by myself. My life history would tell you that dark winter days + illness + alone time = guilt and discouragement. And we all know the only “sane” response to guilt and discouragement is self-sabotage!! Self-sabotage that begins in the refrigerator and ends in the cookie jar… I’m sure some of you know what I’m talking about and understand the downward spiral that follows those cookie jar encounters.
This past week showed me that there is genuine change occurring in my life. When those “must eat something comforting right now to soothe the guilt and discouragement” moments came bulldozing their way into my brain, I went bulldozing into my kitchen. The joke was on me though! You see, I’ve focused all my energies these past months on “building the new.” So my only fridge/cupboard/pantry choices were GOOD choices. There were greens, and gluten-free grains, and fruit and all things whole. Not one ounce of soda. Not one teaspoon of refined, white sugar to be found.
So I’m learning - learning that I can find comfort from whole foods. I can fill my belly, return to resting and allow myself to heal. I’m learning not to fight the old me, the old patterns, but to build for the new.

As winter melts away and spring has yet to burst into color, we find ourselves poised in between…. In between cold and warmth, between stark and stunning, between brrrrr and ahhhhh. As the season shifts, I am reminded that so very much of life is lived in between. In between birthdays. In between vacations or holidays or projects or appointments. I’m learning that in between all the notable, remarkable and well-planned moments, there is so very much space. So very much of life.
This really hit home when I thought about posting a “before and after” photo. On the one hand, a photo of me “before” I walked through the doors of Atlantis and an “after” photo that shows what I look like today could be pretty motivating. There are fifty or so less pounds, clearer eyes, better posture and less stress that would show up nicely if we compared the me of last spring to the me of this spring. But the more I thought about it, the less I liked this idea.
First of all, I’m not done. I am becoming. I am a work in progress. So the thought of an “after” picture seems extremely premature. And secondly, my “before” was, in all honesty, a “during”… right?!? My first step through the doors of Atlantis was, in fact, a next step. The next step in a life long journey. To label the “me” from last spring a “before” would make of that “me” someone “less than” … a person who shouldn’t even be showing her photo unless there’s an “after” shot to prove she’s not that person any longer.
So, I think not. I’ve decided that all photos of me should be called “during” shots. Each shot, whether I love it or not, is a snippet of the beautiful-in-between-life I am so blessed to be living! 

It’s tough.
When all the reasons “why not” seem so obvious.
When the path of least resistance feels safer.
When the bad habits of our daily routine appear to have power over us.
It’s just plain ol’ tough some times. Tough to change. To start. To keep going.
And yet…
Take the crocus. Just last weekend I was walking through a friend’s yard after our spring snow, and sure enough the crocuses were ignoring the chill and doing their crocus thing. PUSHING THROUGH. There they were, peeking out from beneath the snow. Showing up. Bringing spring - in spite of the harsh winter that had buried them for months. So, of course, I snapped an iPhone shot of this exploit.
When I looked at my little photo later that same day, I noticed that one of the stems had not only pushed through the cold ground and the new snow, but had literally broken through a dried up old leaf in order to find the light of day!! I was so inspired!
Over this past year, I have watched a lot of my “obstacles” fade away as I’ve walked this path to wellness… but still, deep inside, I mostly feel like that weak little girl that can’t make a basket in gym class and who will always be a wee bit awkward. Oh sure, I’m lighter, have fewer aches and pains and am sleeping well. I really do try to hold on to all the positives….but sometimes the mountain left to climb is all that I can see. I’ve tried to get motivated to MOVE – to become more physically active. But geesh – it’s been a long winter!! So I’m putting this out there…it’s time for me to MOVE. To stretch, hike, walk faster…dare I say run??!? It came to me this week. I want to be strong. There, I said it.
I mean, if a little bitty crocus stem can bring it, I can too….right?!? Who’s with me?

“525,600 minutes. How do you measure, measure a year?”
I’ve been singing that question to myself these past few days…and the answer is somewhat elusive. I could tally up the ounces of water I’ve swallowed, or try to figure out how many nights I slept a full eight hours. I could take note of the fifty plus chiropractic adjustments I’ve had or try and figure out how many adjustments were needed before my stiff neck, with its degenerated bones, started to move. I could count the miles hiked or hills climbed. I could ask the scales how many pounds I’ve lost. But all those numbers, as encouraging as they might be, only begin to explain what this last year has meant to me.
When I took my first steps into the Atlantis office, I knew that it was time for change. I just didn’t believe in change. For me. I was 53 years old, tired, run-down, achy and very overweight. I had set the same new year’s resolution to “get healthy” so many times that it hardly even seemed worth imagining that possibility any more. But as I stand on the threshold of my second year as an Atlantis patient, I’m not saying “here I go again.” I’m not saying “if only you’d listened….or tried harder…or done what the doctor said.” Nope. This spring I’m saying, “OK. That worked wonders. Now, what’s next?”
It’s the mind change. It’s that fundamental shift – the one that turned my “I just can’t” into an “Of course I can” which is the most precious gift I’ve been given over this past year. It doesn’t even matter that every day’s not perfect or that every single meal’s not “green” enough. Even my worst moment of self-care this past year is better – more nurturing, whole and healthy – than most all in years past.
My mind has been changed….made new. My body is following right along. And my heart is forever grateful. Thanks, Atlantis, for a GREAT first year in your care.

I don’t know about you, but I am so glad to see sunny skies, green trees and to feel the warmth of spring return to Boston! Without meaning to, I turned into a bit of a bump on a log this winter, and I have felt the need to get moving again for some weeks now. Feeling the need and finding the motivation are not always, as we know, the same thing. I’m glad to say that my weekend hikes and morning walks are returning to my routine….and wow! That does the soul and body good!
One thing I did when I started going to see Dr. Martone was to adjust my work schedule so that travelling to his office several times a week wouldn’t create more stress than his treatments were treating. Now that I’m only seeing him once every other week, I’m left with nice, long mornings to myself as I don’t have to be at work until ten. It’s been wonderful to fill some of that time with movement, fresh air and sunshine! It’s astounding to me the difference in my attitude, appetite and all around energy during a day when I’ve started off with a long walk!
For over a year now, the first thing I do each morning is to drink a large mug of hot lemon water with a dash of cayenne pepper added to it. It’s become second nature. I even travel with cayenne pepper and lemons so that I won’t miss a day! I often read a little something and do some personal writing in the morning. I’m also currently reading about mediation. My mornings do not, yet, always look like I envision them in my mind…but I’m pursuing a vision. A vision that I believe will enhance everything else that I’m working on each day!
What about you? What are some of the essential pieces of your morning routines that set you up for a successful day? I’d love to hear about them!

We are so lucky that, at this time of the year, the earth is showing us the power of renewal! Where there were gray, dark skies, we now have blue hues and longer days. The barren limbs are now lush and green! Everything feels so new! And isn’t “new” always exciting?
This time last year I did my first cleanse. All my habits radically changed. And I literally felt like I was being made new (which, apparently, I literally was….on a cellular level)! As I look back, there was such an energy and sense of awe as I found better health and a new lease on life. It struck me recently, that some of these basic habits now feel “same old, same old” – I know they’re still good, and I’m grateful to be living differently, but they’ve lost their ‘awe’ factor. As I was thinking about this, my social media was showing me photos from this time last year. And…guess what? They skies were clearing, the days were growing longer and the trees were turning green. I had to laugh…cause spring returning to us once again hardly feels “same old, same old!”
That’s when it hit me. Time to RE-new. To RE-commit. Look at those basics. Am I really getting ALL my ounces of water each day? ALL the hours of sleep I need? Are my meals almost green enough, or really green? A few days ago, during my quiet mornings, I began a forty-day renewal program of my own. Taking each day, one day at a time, and keeping track like I did at first. Re-reading my notes from the first Atlantis classes I went to. And writing about what’s going right, what could be better and asking myself what more can I do? Just a few days in, and I can feel the cobwebs clearing. And I’m wondering if RE-newal isn’t, in fact, what teaches us to live each day as if we were brand new!?!!
What helps you to stay motivated on your wellness journey each day?

As I share about my wellness journey with friends and family, these are the words I hear most frequently: “Are you allowed to….” Fill in the blank. Allowed to eat this? Allowed to count this as water? Allowed to catch up your sleep on the weekends? No question – people want to know what I am and am not “allowed” to do. And I understand the question. I have spent most of my life judging my own sense of well-being based on pre-printed diet lists or someone else’s sense of what my current exercise plan should be. It is very freeing to be able to respond to all the questions with, “I’m allowed to do whatever I want!”
Choice is a powerful tool. Over this past year, this little bit of bible wisdom has come to life for me in a way that it never has before. “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” Oh, sure, I’ve always understood this theoretically. Makes perfect sense. But I’ve never lived it. I have never given myself permission to live it. Somehow it always felt a bit like a back handed compliment to me…sure, everything’s allowed, but since it’s so obviously NOT beneficial, why’d you bother telling me that?!? So I dismissed the sense of choice that’s hidden in the phrase. And gave up my power.
Having broken free of the addiction to processed sugar, and having learned how good it feels to have a well rested and well hydrated body…well, the choices I make now are really all about keeping me in this place and becoming even stronger. Be it a food choice or a scheduling choice, I’m owning my sense of well –being like never before. Not only do I genuinely believe that everything is permissible, but I’m continually surprised by how much I genuinely want what is beneficial.

This July marked my 32nd summer trip to Central Oregon. I love this place. Not only do we have most all of my husband’s side of the family there, but the scenery is breathtaking. Heart stopping. Soul refreshing. And because it’s a trip we make at almost the same time every year, I find myself reflecting on the previous 365 days and setting my sights on the next chapter.
Last year our trip took place after about three months of my treatment at Atlantis. I was able to, albeit very slowly and cautiously, climb Smith Rock – a climb I’d been wanting to make for decades. This year, I was not only able to climb this 3.8 mile loop trail that gains 1000 feet in elevation, but I EASILY completed the trail BY MYSELF!! This feat was such an incredible victory moment for me!
During our two week stay in Oregon, I also completed several six mile loops up and down the hilly street where my in-laws live. The crazy part of this piece of the story is that I was able to walk for three miles, RUN for two miles and then do the last “cool down” mile while walking back up the grade to their home. Last year that mile walk up the grade was a killer. This year it was my “cool down” mile after a run! Now… just keeping it real… the “run” was really slow. More of a gentle jog. But I did it – two miles without stopping!
Oh, what a difference a year can make! I truly believe that my {54 year old} body is re-creating itself from the inside out. The chiropractic treatments, the rest, the water and the whole food nutrition are working their magic on me. And I am being made new!

There I was, on the top of Smith Rock in central Oregon. As I was lingering in the shade of a juniper tree, taking photos and drinking in the scenery, I heard someone cry out, “That’s far enough, Ralph!” I turned to my right, and saw a woman who was watching her {I assumed} husband venture out to the very edge of an off-the-beaten-path cliff. She had a camera and was waiting to take his photo…. He got right to the edge and stood for a while, peering into the divide and looking out towards the mountains. After a bit, he turned so his wife could get a photo, and I began my descent down the back side of the rock.
Several hours later, as I was almost back to the spot where I began the climb, I noticed Ralph’s wife leaning against the side of a bridge, waiting for him to explore another off-the-beaten-path piece of wilderness. I stopped to speak to her, mentioning that I had been up top when she’d beckoned him back from the edge. She replied, “Seventy-five years old, and he still can’t resist getting as close to the edge of everything as is humanly possible.” It was said with a grin. And a hint of pride! I explained to her that I was pretty new to this whole hiking/climbing thing, and that I really admired their spirit and health and energy. She said, “Do you want to know our secrets for good health?” I indicated that I would, very much, like to hear what keeps them going. “It’s simple. Drink lots of water. Rest well. Exercise – outside if you can. And stretch often.”
I just smiled and nodded. And thanked her for the inspiration that she and her husband had been to me that day! I’ve caught the vision – the vision of many more years, many more climbs… the vision of good health as I age and a life lived as close to the edge as I can humanly get.

I’ve been in the valley. Let’s be honest, it’s mostly been a “valley” of my own making. You know the kind of valley I’m talking about. The kind that forms because a small annoyance wears you down and, before you know it, you’ve shut the world out and your pity party is in full swing. Well, my most recent annoyance has come from a stubborn cold that wouldn’t loosen its grip. And the longer it held on, the more annoyed I became and the deeper my valley seemed.

Let’s back up. Before my “valley” felt deep, I think I had settled into what I’ll call The Valley of the New Normal. My husband and I have been making very healthy choices for well over a year now, and we’ve been enjoying the energy and positive life changes that these choices have brought our way. By now these choices are pretty much routine – our new normal. We get the sleep, drink the water, eat the whole foods, get our chiropractic adjustments and stay active. What is so very interesting is that what felt like a “mountain top” experience at this time last year would now describe our every day life. The Valley of the New Normal could be described as health…without the “wow” factor.

It was a simple comment that my husband made the other night that restored my perspective. He reminded me that feeling run down used to be our normal….and that good health makes all the difference to our quality of life! Well, just like that, the passage through this valley made sense and the pity party was shut down. That peak - that “normal” peak of healthy living - all of a sudden looked grand and majestic again. And well worth whatever discipline it takes to stay there. 

Oh boy - do I need an autumn make-over!

I've had a rough, rough, rough few weeks. I was socked by a miserable, lingering virus. A virus which did a number on me physically....and mentally. I am really not good at being sick. With sickness comes guilt and laziness and all sorts of old negative tapes that take over my mind. YUCK! Then, just as I was feeling better, I sliced open my pinkie finger while prepping a salad. A few stitches and a tetanus shot later, I was sent home...only to have an awful reaction to that icky {albeit necessary} shot in the arm. Phew!

I am finally back to myself. Back in my right mind. And back to wandering in the woods. This weekend I spent tons of time outside. Satisfying my thirst for fresh air and replenishing the loss of vitamin D. The weather was perfect! The fall scenery was breathtaking! Most of all, hanging out with Mr. Fresh Air and Ms. Sunshine gave me the spark I needed to make a grocery list, stock on greens and prepare for a high energy week!

If you can't tell, this post is part status update, part pep talk. If you have any refresh/renew/restart motivational tips, go ahead and share them in the comments. Let's all help keep each other on a healthy path!

It's that time of the year again... Comfort food time!

As early evening darkness becomes the norm and the air takes on that end-of-autumn chill, the desire for casseroles and heavier, traditional food sets in. Those crispy summer salads seem to loose their appeal, and my desire to deal with food prep seems to fade with the setting sun. It's just always been one of my toughest challenges ~ spending time in the kitchen.... I've been the type to master a hand full of easy to prepare dishes, and avoid the chopping, mixing, pots, pans and cleaning that come with those 'good for me' kinds of dishes. I'm always on the lookout for things that get me into the kitchen and keep me cooking.

This week, my two favorite bits of inspiration were scrapbooking and soup! Why scrapbooking, you ask? Well, I often find that in order to accomplish something that doesn't come easily it helps to turn to something that does. I love to scrapbook. So, I've been working on a very special recipe book. I'm taking all the recipes that I've learned and enjoyed since making changes to my diet last year, and creating a special place for them. It has brought me joy and has given me the motivation to keep adding to it.
And soup! I really enjoy making a big pot of soup. We enjoy it for dinner with a salad and I take it for lunch as leftovers.

Anna's Butternut Squash soup is one of my favorites. As the weather's begun to turn, I've been so please to truly find "comfort" in the soups that I discovered last year. It's been like visiting with old friends.

Here's the recipe:

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

32 ounces cut up butternut squash
16 ounces water or gluten free veggie stock
2 medium onions chopped
¾ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 TBS maple syrup
Sea salt to taste
*1/2 cup coconut milk

In a large pot over high heat combine squash, broth/water, and onion. Cover and bring to a boil. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and maple syrup. Allow to boil with cover off for 5 mins. Put cover back on and simmer on low for 30 mins. Check to see that veggies are fork tender. Working in batches, add half of contents into blender. In order to vent remove the small top of the blender cover ( it is a good idea to place a dishtowel over opening to avoid a mess). Blend until smooth and creamy. Salt to taste. Place back into pot and simmer over low heat to re-heat.

*If you are feeling creative, you can add ½ cup coconut milk to soup once all pureed and back in pot warming.

What are your go-to-good-for-you comfort foods? Please share!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I sure did! We had four days away from our normal routine. Four days of family, friends and home cooked feasting! I enjoy preparing our Thanksgiving meal ~ and even more since I've learned to cook with real, whole foods. My homemade cranberry sauce is my new favorite thing. The gluten free, honey sweetened crumble I've mastered is a close second! ...but I digress.

It's that most wonderful time of the year. That time when we add events and people and projects and decorating and charitable service and on and on and on. It's that time of the year when our lists have lists. And when saying no seems, somehow, to render us un-festive. And no one wants to be that person. I sure don't.

The question we've got to ask ourselves as we head into December, is ... at what cost? All the preparations and plans .... will I allow all the goodness to cost me my health? To render me exhausted? Or will I continue to get my eight hours each night? Will I, amidst the madness, take time for myself so I can exercise and find moments and places of peace? What will I choose?

I know, for me, that the hours I spent outside this weekend were precious to me. The time to walk and climb and tune into nothing but the rustling leaves and chirping birds fed my spirit just as fully as the Thanksgiving feast fed my belly. And four straight days with no alarm clock....well that was just a small slice of heaven!!

Let's remember this basic. To sleep. To rest. As we head into this season of celebration, let's not forget to give ourselves the gift of health and self-care!

New year. Time for a re-boot! I love that I’m already in my second year of accepting the Atlantis Gluten Free Challenge and joining in on the two week cleanse. It’s a great way to get the year started. I find that focusing on gluten free recipes and following through on all the challenges to clean out the pantry, cut out the extras and really get back to the basics when I cleanse is not only a great physical re-boot, but an emotional and psychological re-boot as well.
Each year, as January rolls around, I seek to find a word or phrase to define an intention for my year. This year, the phrase that found me was: Lean and Mean.
Now, if you know me at all, those are not words I'd usually be drawn to! But they seem to be ringing true as I look ahead to 2016. I love the following description that I found of this phrase:
Lean and Mean:
(idiomatic) efficient because of having nothing in excess of what is needed, and single-minded in one's objective
As I head into 2016, these are two words that really motivate me to take it to the next level on my wellness journey. NOT - let me repeat - NOT in the sense of being mean to myself, or hard on myself...nope. Wasted way too many years on that nonsense. But... Look at that definition I found of 'lean and mean' ...what a GREAT wellness motto! I want a body that's efficient. A body that has nothing in excess of what is needed to live well! I'm in love with this thought!
Combine this with the call to “Eat Clean in 2016” and we’ve got some great motivation for the year!
Lean. Mean. Clean …. and Green! Let’s do this!

There are few things as satisfying in life as fulfilling a dream. Reaching a goal. Over these last few weeks I have begun, once again, to fulfill an age-old promise I made to myself thanks to the team at Atlantis.

One of the things I told Dr. Martone when I first started to see him was that I wanted to get strong enough to practice yoga. My body wasn't ready to take on this challenge at the time, but through continual chiropratic care, I was able to begin yoga classes with Anna this past December. And these hours of gentle, restorative yoga have already given me so very much!

Not only is my body responding to the physical challenge of the practice, but my mind and spirit are continuously refreshed by the calm and stillness of the studio time. I love all the stretching - and the work on core and balance are changing me and will bring so many benefits as I age. I am also learning so much about breath, the quieting power of deep breathing. This aspect of the practice has already found its way into my daily life. In the middle of just about any situation I can find 'mountain pose' and pay close attention to my breath. My attitude and energy changes dramatically in mere seconds. 

As we all know, this wellness path is a daily walk. And the path doesn't always feel clear or smooth. But I'm learning that as we stretch our boundaries and make progress...as we find ever-increasing wellness, we dare to imagine that even greater victories lie ahead for us!

It’s madness, they say! 
I’m not talking about basketball. Or the weather. Although both contribute to the madness that is the month of March! No. This year, for me, the madness is coming into my life in the form of a move. Yes, we are moving. From one house to another. From one state to another! And, while this journey is exciting, it also brings with it all the fatigue, stress and routine-disruption that you can possible imagine.
Enter Dr. Martone and the Atlantis team! My husband and I are both joining Dr. M on his Paleo Meal Weight Loss journey. Not because of the weight loss – although that will be grand! But because of the calm that it will provide in the midst of this blustery storm of stress! I am so looking forward to the simplicity. To knowing exactly what I’m going to drink and eat for two solid weeks. I’m looking forward to planning MORE sleep into our lives. It is such an incredible blessing to know that we will come through this tumultuous time healthier and stronger than when we started. 
This is such a big {huge} deal to me! I have a very long history of stress induced eating. I look back on different times in my life when my emotions are profoundly unsettled – times of sadness or stress or uncertainty – and I know that my go-to-self-soothe solution is to eat more comfort food. As we all know, moving carries with it all these emotions {the sadness, stress and uncertainty} and so many more. I’m so very excited to face this challenge and this new chapter in our lives by breaking old habits and patterns! 
So here’s to a wild-mad-tumultuous and HEALTHY month of March!!

If there is one thing I love about spring, it is watching "something" come from "nothing." I love seeing stems push their way up from beneath the cold, hard ground. It fascinates me to watch delicate, colorful buds emerge from beneath the tough bark of each and every tree. I’m moved and motivated by this wonderful transformation!

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to our habits and wellness practices, breaking old patterns is hard, hard, HARD! Like the tough old bark of a winter tree, I can feel stuck. I can feel like I’ll never see change or break the life-long patterns that have kept me from being my best self. Something about this season – this break through season – opens my mind and heart and makes what’s impossible seem possible!

If you read my post last month, you know that we were in the process of moving. During that oh-so-stressful time, my husband and I were also participating in the weight loss cleanse with Dr. M. I’m thrilled to report that we are now successfully moved into our new home, and that I lost a little over TEN pounds this month!! The victory that I feel is, however, NOT in the numbers on the scale. This is a victory of transformation. Of true, deep and long-lasting change. This is a victory that comes from two years of doing what is necessary and possible. Of following advice and guidance. Of making better choices. Of changing those old habits – one by one and day by day. I’m here to tell you it’s possible to move and NOT live off of pizza and take out. It’s possible to manage stress without comfort food and no sleep. Two years ago I wouldn’t have believed I could do this! But I did! We did! We are living the impossible and loving it!! 

A friend of mine brought me a bird feeder as a housewarming gift this week. I just love it! I’ve got it hanging in the back yard in a pink, flowering tree. I imagine all sorts of birds visiting – from cardinals to goldfinches. They’ll sit and nibble the, free food, I’ll snap their pics and listen to them sing. This morning, however, I looked out, and sure enough there was a bushy tailed squirrel, hanging upside down, “stealing” the birds’ food and ruining my idyllic plan.

I often find, on this journey to health, that I get an idea in my head of how something is going to go - what a cleanse is going to “produce” or how an increase in physical activity is going to change me. I imagine a time that I won’t struggle with motivation, or that a certain magic number will appear on the scale. But I often feel like there’s a bushy tailed squirrel hanging around and stealing bits of my ideal vision.

For example, these last two weeks I participated in Dr. M’s Paleo Meal Weight Loss Cleanse. Now, I’ve done this before, and have been losing weight fairly consistently since the beginning of the year. Somehow I got in into my head that this time around I was going to be one of the folks that lost 10 pounds. Well, I wasn’t. Another example – I attended Dr. M’s exercise class. Took notes. Decided that I was going to work my way to running a 5K. Two days later, I mapped out my route and ran my first ½ mile. Then it rained for a week. And I did nothing.

Normally these two things would send me into a downward spiral. But one of Dr. M’s favorite phrases kept going through my mind. “If the WHY is big enough, the what doesn’t matter.” And my why is LONGEVITY. I’m 55 years old, and still have a lot to do. So I’m grateful for the 4.5 pounds I did loose these last two weeks and I will conquer this 5K goal. I just will. And my ideal vision will become a reality in spite of the obstacles I encounter along the way!


Am I awake? Am I as awake and self-aware as I would like to be? When I am honest with myself, the answer to these questions is … No. When I am honest with myself, I know that I have spent long periods of my life avoiding and numbing the swirling, vigorous quest for the answers to some of life’s deepest questions. My numbing agents of choice have traditionally been food. And television. The food/television combination is, for me, the ultimate escape route. Just give me the corner of a couch, a Netflix marathon, a blanket and something to munch on….and I let go. My mind lets go of the questions and the lists and the perpetual analysis of life. This pattern of escapism began at a very young age, and continues to be the route I take when I’m not ready or willing to take whatever next step life lays out before me.

Well, I think it’s time. Time to break the cycle. Time to learn new patterns. Time to take this health journey that I’ve been on to another, deeper level. Though I am healthier right now than I have ever been as an adult – thanks to Atlantis, chiropractic and many fundamental lifestyle changes – I know that I am not yet thriving. Though I may be 55 years old and an empty nester, I am longing to live fully, to keep learning and to reach my full potential. I long to discover and define the next part of life’s journey. I’m determined to get to the heart of the matter. To my heart. To the most fundamental part of what makes me, me.  And I’m determined, not only to discover these truths, but to make whatever changes I need to make in my life in order to live according to all that I discover.

Yes. It’s time to wake up.

As the air begins to change, I find myself heading into the second half of my third year under the care of Dr. Martone and Atlantis Wellness. Over the summer I completed Lifestyle University and I am two weeks into a 90 day cellular detox program. Sound like a lot? Well, funny thing is... It doesn't feel like a lot. It feels good. And right. I'm learning so much and getting stronger and stronger both physically and mentally!

This weekend I was thinking back to the fear and self-doubt that I had to fight through when I did my first cleanse over two years ago. At the time my wellness journey was about changing myself. It was about correction and being tough on myself. About fixing all the many mistakes I'd made with my body over the years. Truth be told, I've spent much of my adult life associating all diet, exercise and health challenges with punishment. It absolutely SHOCKED me this weekend when I realized that I was living this new detox program in an ENTIRELY different way!
I was in my car, on my way home from a mundane, weekend errand, and I caught myself thinking about how this program, and everything associated with it, feels like a reward. I feel like I'm rewarding myself by caring for myself. And not in an "I'm self-talking my way into believing this feels good" kinda way - no! Not at all! I actually pulled into a parking lot, took out my iPhone notes and wrote "Health journey about rewarding self. Caring for self. Comforting self. Discovering self. Not about punishing self."
This was a good moment. A really, really good one. And I cannot wait to discover what the rest of this year has in store for me on this wonderful wellness path!

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