The New Kind of Beautiful

We live in a society obsessed with outer beauty. We are all about our Facebook image, our Instagram likes, living off complements, needing the latest fashion trends, constant dieting, the magic pill, cream, and solution to all our problems.

We get so fixed on our outer appearance that we ignore our inner soul’s cry for help. We are ignoring what matters most… Our hearts. We are in a cycle of abusing ourselves. We see the magazine covers with the airbrushed supermodels and we think, “Why don’t I look like that?” We believe there must be something wrong with us because we don’t look that way.

So we do WHATEVER it takes to try to achieve perfection. We take diet pills that poison our insides. We skip from diet to diet plan because they are too difficult and restrictive. We put ourselves down because we can’t diet and exercise our way to a “perfect” body. We constantly compare ourselves to others, making us feel like we are never good enough.

But guess what… You ARE good enough. You ARE worthy. You ARE deserving of love, happiness, and respect. If you think that those models are happy just because they are a size 0. you’re mistaken. Happiness does not come from a number on the scale. Happiness comes from within.

So who I am to be telling you all this? I am someone who was right there with you. I’m a recovering binge eater. I’m someone who hated myself for most of my life. I never thought I was pretty enough or good enough. I was disgusted with my own reflection in the mirror.

But I am now a graduate and mentor in the Plant Empowered Coaching Program. When I discovered the program, I didn’t even know it was what I needed. But it completely transformed my life.

This program is a mind, body, and soul program. It really gets to the core of the eating issues, because, news flash, disordered eating is not about food at all. The food is just the way we cope with feelings of emptiness, hurt, loss, rejection, and fear. Food is the easy part.

When I first found the program, I was totally enamored with the idea of a vegan weight loss program. I have been an ethical vegan for 12 years and vegetarian for 22 years, and finally I was finding a program that was in line with my values.

People assume vegan automatically means healthy but that’s not true. I was a junk food vegan. My passion was to help, protect, and save animals. I didn’t care about what I put in my body, as long as it wasn’t animal products.

But I quickly began to learn from the program that food is our fuel. Food is how we nourish ourselves. It gives us the strength to accomplish our goals. It supports our brains. How can we expect to think straight when we fill your bodies with candy and chips? Just like a traditional car won’t run well on canola oil, your body will not work properly without the proper sustenance. When we eat junk it makes our lives a lot more difficult because poor fuel equals poor performance of mind and body. Now, reflecting on how I used to eat, it’s so clear how negatively it poisoned my mind.

You may be wondering, “Where do I go from here? Where do I begin?

Step one is to start showing yourself some compassion. You are doing the best you can with the tools you have. If you join the program, you will be opened up to a whole new toolbox of tools. The most empowering thing about it is, it all comes from within you. You learn this for YOU. YOU take action. YOU heal yourself because you deserve the moon, the sun, and the stars, and the program coaches you through this process, one baby step at a time.

I share this all with you, not as some sort of promotion but as someone who needed an extra boost to get to where I wanted to be in my life. The Plant Empowered Coaching Program helped me get there.

My mission in life is to help others see their beauty. We all have amazing gifts and importance in this world. I want to help you realize this and shine as bright as the light you are. I now look in the mirror and say “Wow I’m incredible.” I love myself with all of my heart. I approve of myself. My focus is on love, health, and feeling my best. I invite you to join me, and it all starts inside you.

All my love- Lindsay K.

The Extraordinary Gifts of Loneliness & a GIFT!

If you caught me on the summit, click HERE for your gifts…

And then check out this incredible article by our head mindset coach Stephanie Aguilar!

I’d been wanting to crawl out of my own skin for weeks.  

My generally humorous approach to life had left me shivering in my own unbidden sadness. My normal focused and analytical head was traded for a mush-mind that I did not recognize. I felt as if I were simply walking through my days in a misty disconnect from myself and everyone around me. In the middle of my chest was an ache, one that radiated at times to my throat, arms, and belly. Tears entered my eyes with every sad song, heartfelt gesture, and beautiful quote turned into an internet meme.

One Saturday evening, I was alone in the kitchen, and I was struck, almost to the floor, with a realization.  I was lonely. I was profoundly lonely. In my bones, I was lonely. In my eyes, I was lonely. In my heart, I was lonely. Through my entire body, I was lonely. Instead of pushing this loneliness away with a bag of Doritos and a Netflix binge of House of Cards, I decided to dig into the loneliness and see what was there for me.  And here’s where my lonely-heart story gets interesting.

Giving My Loneliness a Wink

Loneliness is an emotion that we humans avoid and deflect with everything we have.  It’s an emotion that we rarely HAVE to face, though it is as common a human experience as any. Yes, we feel it, but do we really have to face it? I didn’t. With endless ways to distract myself and make superficial connections within seconds that would put it off, actually looking my loneliness in the face seemed not only terrifying but completely foreign. Yet, I was compelled to dive in to see what was there.

I wasn’t interested in the WHY… that was simple enough… but I wanted to know what was in the loneliness for me. David Gandelman, founder of, says in his meditation on loneliness, “The more we try to avoid loneliness the more we feed it… but what happens if we walk deep into our own hearts and meet that loneliness?” And with that terrifying inspiration, I walked deep into my heart and gave my loneliness a wink.

I found in my loneliness that I was ashamed. I was embarrassed to be lonely. I have love in my life.  I have friends and family and colleagues and clients that I am connected to and love deeply. And, still, my chest ached with feelings of isolation and being misunderstood and alone.

In my curiosity, I uncovered something really unexpected. I am ashamed of my loneliness not because I believe I have no reason to be lonely but because I am afraid my loneliness diminishes my independence. It is my most cherished quality and yet, my irrational shame was centered on this thought that if I am lonely, I must be weak. If I am lonely, I must not be able to stand alone. If I am lonely, I must be unlovable.

Whoa! That wink had just turned into a full-on, in-your-face, slap-your-mamma-to-Tuesday kind of moment. And just as unexpectedly, my loneliness gave me some gifts.

The Big Reveal

First, my loneliness gave me the gift of vulnerability. I am an open book when it comes to my past shame. I will tell you about my failed relationships. I will talk for hours about my eating disorder. I will even tell you all about my early false starts at motherhood. But, sharing my in-the-moment, private thoughts and inner-most shame is another matter entirely.

Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat. It’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.” And so, in this loneliness and shame, I was all in. I bared my present shame to three people in one day… my two best friends and a complete stranger on Instagram. I said these exact words, “I am profoundly lonely” not knowing if I could trust myself to actually say the shameful words or the people I chose to tell and doing it anyway. And the remarkable thing was this: With the shame exposed, the loneliness lost its power.

My chest still ached. I still felt incredibly alone and misunderstood. But, I was in the light of vulnerability, and the loneliness lost its power. No longer did I feel the need to hide and run away from this emotion. I no longer felt like I needed to hide in a sleeve of oreos or scroll Facebook for hours.  Instead, I was ready to “say hello to my loneliness” as David Gandelman further invites in his meditation.

After exposing my shame, I found that I have the strength to be lonely. I am capable of being lonely while still being me. I did not fall apart. I was not a mess. I found I can sit with my loneliness and carry it around until I am done with it and it is done with me.  

Susan David, author of Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life, says, “We still don’t like the things we don’t like—we just cease to be at war with them.  And once the war is over, change can begin.” I don’t like being lonely, but I am now willing to lay down my ineffective weapons against loneliness because I found that the battle was not one that could be won.  And when I did that, I stepped into the realization that the loneliness was bringing me to the warrior heart I had completely dismissed.

Discovering the Irony

I think that we often fight against our emotions not because we are strong but because we believe ourselves to be completely incapable of sitting with the difficult emotions. We go into battle with distraction and incomparable replacements and all of those other weapons that ultimately fail.  The truth is if I did not face my loneliness, I would not know my capabilities, and isn’t that the irony here? My avoidance of loneliness was due to my shame and perceived dependence on others, when in actuality, my loneliness brought me to a strength I had not yet realized I had.

Through this strength, I started to uncover the causes of my loneliness. I am lonely because I love easily and yet, accepting love is very hard for me.  I am lonely because I have spent the last decade and a half nurturing everyone around me and neglecting to cultivate the friendships that feed my soul. I am lonely because I have often chosen isolation over adventure. I am lonely because I am human.

“Life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility,“ Susan David says in an unparalleled way. I am human and fragile, and that is part of my beauty. My aching loneliness is preparing me for a gorgeous dance, one in which I will feel that inherent beauty and one that only I can create. I am not empty;  I am raw.

Since I am now fully available to accept the penetrating awareness of my loneliness, I am finding that I am deepening in compassion for all. The startling fact is, the loneliness is creating more space for love and purpose and a fullness that I have not yet experienced because I was too busy keeping loneliness at bay.

As Peme Chödrö states in her work, The Places that Scare You, “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” Let me know my darkness. The world needs my compassion. It does not need another pretender.

My work, both as a client and as a coach in the Plant-Empowered Coaching Program, didn’t bring me to the superficial conclusion that I must be positive at any cost. Working through the process brought me to the belief that I am strong beyond the thoughts and emotions that fuel me as a human.

Only I am in charge of my happiness and meaning in this life. No one else has that contract with me but me. And despite my fragility and loneliness, I love all that I am enough to give every emotion a wink and say hello, then take it for a fantastic, terrifying ride. It isn’t enough to recognize the emotion, and through the Program I learned that I am powerful enough to take control of the thoughts that don’t serve me and view my emotions with compassion and curiosity rather than shoving them to the side to be dealt with at a later date.  This is the power of the process. This is the power of freedom. This is the power that is me.

10 Foolproof Ways to Be an Awesome Parent

During my 4.5 years of being a mother, I have noticed myself go from, “I am rocking this mom thing” to “I am screwing my child up for life” in a matter of 60 seconds.

I strive (daily) to be a good mother but this is the most challenging job I have ever had and it will be the job I am assigned to for the rest of my life… There is no retirement from parenting.  It is very stressful at times and I lose my cool more often than I like to admit.

I grew up with a screaming parent.  I had decided at a very young age that I would NEVER be that mom.  I wanted my children to feel loved and supported and for their feelings to be validated instead of shunning them for not obeying or losing my temper over their simple curiosity and comedic impulses. I wanted to be that parent who understands that children just want acceptance and hugs.  I read many books about child development and how to be calm, cool and collected at all times in this ever-changing job position.

But this morning, as I was having a screaming war with my son over brushing his teeth before school, I saw his small body trembling with anger and exhausted from the battle and I realized that I have allowed myself to lose sight of who he is… I have allowed myself to fall into patterns of behavior instead of using the tools I have learned about child-parent dynamics… I have allowed myself to be that screaming parent… and I crumbled. My beautiful boy deserves better.

So, I went back to some insights I have accumulated throughout the years to center my thoughts.  I am amazed at the calm I feel just by reading them out loud to myself. I am even more amazed that I have lost sight of so many of these thoughts for one reason or another over time.  My reality of parenting has not been jiving with my intentions and it is time for a check-in:

1)   Good parenting means taking care of yourself first.

Think of it the same as you are taught on an airplane… you must put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you can help anyone else.  If you neglect your own body and mind, you are really neglecting your child’s, as well. We cannot give a warm drink to someone with an empty carafe. Eat well, sleep well, exercise your body and take time to breathe and you can go into situations with enough understanding and awareness to make sure everyone wins. (This is something Ella certainly drives home in the Plant-Empowered Coaching Program.)

2)   Being imperfect is absolutely perfect.  

No one is perfect!  How beautiful and freeing that statement feels.  So many children are being taught that being wrong about something holds a bad connotation.  I remember being in school and being terrified to raise my hand because I was afraid of answering incorrectly and (possibly) being ridiculed by my teachers and peers over it.  

As an adult I realize that being wrong is important to learn anything. Do we ever truly learn from being right all the time? Our own focus on perfection trickles down to our children… whether it be about grades, appearance, weight or the like. Just as it is important for adults to know and practice this idea, it is even more vital for children to be comfortable with making mistakes and with being imperfect for their own mental health.  As adults, we can reason on a different level than children, whose brains are developing well into teen-hood. They are more susceptible to allowing negative thoughts about themselves and others to take over their lives.  Teach them that there is nothing wrong with a challenge and to welcome imperfection with a smile.

3)  Being mindful is more important than being in control.

The times when I am fighting for control are the times when I have lost control completely.  When I stop to take a breath to snap out of that space, my body is shaking from anger and my son is either screaming at me or crying because I hurt his feelings.  At that point, it feels like it is too late for this fight to come to a calm conclusion. If I had just opened my eyes to look at him and asked what he needed or wanted, it would have changed the course of the entire situation. Instead, I scoop him up and hold him in my arms and apologize over and over again, allowing the guilt to run so deeply that I ache in my fingertips.

Children’s feelings are often bigger than them and it is our job as the adult to help them to understand their emotions and focus their reactions appropriately.  Next time you feel that pit of anger welling up because your child is doing the exact opposite of what you think he should do… take a breath and walk away so that you can focus on his needs and to help him to work through his feelings.

4)   Take time to play and get in touch with your inner child.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is a happy talent to know how to play.”  Embracing the nostalgia of what made childhood so great is all about freedom to just have fun, to be outside, to run wildly, to explore, to play a game, to sing, to dance and to, simply, take time to laugh heartily.

While our idea of fun has changed quite a bit as we have aged, I have never seen a person, at any age, with a frown on her face while doing something she loves.  Play with your kiddo as often as possible… remind yourself what it was like to be that young… embrace it and do it often. Show your mini that you are never too old to have fun.

5)   It’s okay to be late.  

Let’s face it, when you have children, being on-time for anything goes out the window.  IT’S OK! It is not the end of the world and people usually understand (and if they don’t, that’s OK, too).  I am not saying be an hour late and expect that others will let it go… but being ten minutes late is not a make-or-break situation.  Don’t stress yourself and your child out by pushing perfection here.

6)   My house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.

My mother had this sign hanging on the kitchen wall for my entire childhood.  While we always had a clean home, my mother never worried if our toys were in the living room because that meant we were having fun and that was more important to her than having everything in its place at all times.

Before I had my son, I had a rigid cleaning schedule for my home. I even had a calendar to remind me what to clean and when.  I realized very quickly into parenthood that that way of being caused me more anxiety than anything else. I had to let go a bit and know that the “Cleaning Police” were not going to barge into my house and take me away if there was a little dust on the mantle. If there is a choice between spending time with your family or cleaning… choose family and enjoy every minute.

7)   My child loves me unconditionally.  

I am always amazed that, no matter how many times I “mess up” this parenting thing, my son always gives me a kiss and hug before bed. He never holds onto the anger or resents me for my reactions.  He only wants to know that I will always love him, back. He wants my approval, my guidance, my arms to hug him and for me to play with him as often as possible. Children tend to be more forgiving than adults… we should take a lesson from them.  

8)   It’s okay to give in.  

There are times when I ask myself, “Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?”  Not everything has to be something. If it doesn’t matter that much, then don’t make it a bigger deal than it needs to be just to prove a point.  It’s ok to let something go and give in to your child sometimes… you will not ruin him or make him a menace to society if an argument ends with you saying, “You know what? I don’t want to fight anymore… just eat the cookie for dinner and enjoy it.”  Pick your battles.

9)   Children are always testing their wings, not you!  

More often than not, children are trying to see the extent of their own abilities.  They are not purposefully trying to piss you off… it’s not personal. They want to be strong, independent and reach their dreams whether that means wearing the same Superman shirt everyday or climbing to the highest point on the playground.  They don’t know how you feel about the situation and they usually don’t care (children are naturally egocentric… their world is the only world). It’s more about living moment to moment for them rather than whatever consequences will follow.

Take time to explain to them what can happen, or why you are angry, or how they can make better choices rather than yelling at them for not doing something the way you want them to.  They might not always agree or understand, but they will likely feel more loved and respected if you talk with them rather than at them.

10)    I am enough!

There will be plenty of times when you will doubt your abilities and feel like you can do better.  I am a firm believer that the Universe gives us what we need when we need it. Our children challenge us to be better than we’ve ever been before and the Universe would never have done that if it didn’t know that we are ready for it.  You are enough.. in fact, you are more than enough. You are an AWESOME parent!


The Journey Back to Me, Embracing My PTSD

I was diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in 2014 shortly after the birth of my son. His existence is nothing short of a miracle in the truest sense.   I still feel the sting in my heart and the tears welling up every time I remember the events of that day. It was the best and scariest day of my life.

It’s Time!

It was Memorial Day 2014 at 6:30 am when my fiancé (at the time) informed me that the mild discomfort I was feeling was indeed labor pains.  My mom was sleeping in the guest room in preparation for my due date, so I woke her up and told her it was time. We were all insanely excited that we were finally going to meet this mini-person growing inside of me.  

I was worried that, it being Memorial Day, traffic would be awful during the forty-minute commute to the hospital, but we managed to get there with no delays.  I was checked-in and getting transported to the birthing room by 7:30 am. I was already getting close to full dilation so there was no time for an epidural, which was fine by me since I seemed to be handling the pain easier than I had expected (though that threshold was quickly surpassed and soon I was yelling like every woman does when giving birth- I am not Wonder Woman).  

It was 8 am and the nurse had just told me that we were about ready to push when the alarms started going off on, what seemed like, every machine I was connected to. After that, everything went so fast and seemed like slow motion at the same time.  The doctor came into the room followed by three more nurses and they all worked together to detach machines and whatever else.

The bed began moving out the door and I asked (in a very loud voice), “What is happening? Where are you taking me? What’s going on?”. A nurse was walking next to my bed on the way to the OR attempting to put an IV in my arm while the other nurses spoke medical jargon back and forth.  I just kept repeating, “What is happening? Is my son ok?”. No one answered me for what seemed like an eternity.

We entered the operating room and the doctor looked straight into my eyes and said, “We are knocking you out now. The cord is wrapped around your baby’s neck and he needs to come out.”  After that, they must have knocked me out because my memory is blank.

Lucky to Be Alive?

When I woke up, my fiancé and mother were sitting to my left and the doctor was standing on my right. I felt so confused and everything looked so blurry. The doctor asked me how I felt, and I had no answer… my mouth just wouldn’t open, for some reason.  The doctor said, “Your son is alive in the NICU. As soon as he is stable, a nurse will bring him in. You are both very lucky to be alive.” Those words both relieved me and sunk into my chest like a stone.

He continued to explain that my son was born blue and it took a while to resuscitate him.  He said that, when I am ready, we can talk about the probable issues that my son will face due to the lack of oxygen to his brain for such a long period of time.  

He told me that there were two parts to my own near-morbidity: 1) I had grown a 3lb fibroid along with my son resulting in a twin-like birth and 2) I had suffered a placental adhesion (my placenta attached to my uterine wall and, when it birthed, it ripped the connective tissues).  The combination caused me to lose too much blood resulting in several blood transfusions. I stopped listening after that…the rest is a blur.

When my son was two and a half days old, I saw him for the first time.  He was still on machines, but I was not so the nurse walked me to the nursery to breastfeed him (I was very insistent). I remember the nurse brought me to his crib and he had tubes everywhere. I was afraid to hold him even though the nurse told me I could.

“I’m Not Enough” Sets In

I had heard that a mother feels an instant connection to her child when she breastfeeds for the first time… I did not feel it.  I couldn’t even breastfeed successfully… the nurse had to match my nipple with a tube to give him formula so that he would eat. I wasn’t enough to nourish my baby… I wasn’t enough to give him what he needed. I attributed my disconnection to the two and a half days that had passed before meeting him outside of my womb.

Two hours later, I went back to the nursery to try to feed him again.  I had read that a mother will recognize her baby in a room full of babies and I wished that would be me this time… that the connection would be stronger this time.  When I went to the wrong crib and picked up someone else’s child (the nurse stopped me the moment I picked the wrong baby up), I broke down and felt like a failure immediately… just two and a half days into motherhood.  

The guilt of not having given him a gentle birth and not knowing my only child even after housing him within my body for nine months was overwhelming. All I could think was that not only had my body almost failed me, but it attempted to kill my unborn child and now it feels no connection to him and it won’t let me breastfeed successfully. I hated my body in a fierce way. I hated myself.

The Diagnosis

We finally left the hospital on day five. The next three months were a mixture of intense fears, overwhelming emotions, dramatic reactions, severe nightmares, panic attacks and random, physical pain at extremely inconvenient times. I struggled to breastfeed, and I worried that my son was not gaining weight, so I was at the doctor often.  I was so sure that my child would die from SIDS or some other, unforeseen ailment that I needed to hold him every second to be able to build as many memories of him as possible.

I literally either had him attached to me using the baby pouch or I carried him. I was terrified to let him out of my sight. The one time I let his father stay with him while I went to the grocery store, I broke down crying while getting a grocery cart and I had to return home immediately to pick my son up and bring him with me.  I knew something was off the night I was suffering from the stomach flu and was holding him while vomiting. I was diagnosed three days later.

The Journey Out of Darkness

It has taken years for me to move through my symptoms of PTSD.  It has not been an easy journey and there have been times when my terror has incapacitated me.  It wasn’t until I learned simple tools like “the power of the pause” and “if that, then this” that Ella so insightfully spells out in her Plant-Empowered Coaching Program that I really got hold of my anxiety and irrational fears. I realized that, for my son to live a happy and care-free childhood, I get to channel that energy into positive experiences for both of us.  I am finally able to feel the freedom that comes with being able to rationalize my fears.

I remind myself (often) that I am grateful for my body.  Instead of resenting it for the challenges I faced, I embrace that it held onto my son and prepared him to be the strong boy that he is today.  My body is my ally in every way, always pushing me to overcome adversity. My body allows me to hug and kiss my son and to protect him and that is a gift. Every moment is a precious gift that could have been lost on that beautiful and awful day in May 2014.

Ready to Soar!

My son is now a happy and healthy 4-year-old.  He is within normal range for height and weight and he consistently scores above-average in every physical, emotional and logical test he enters. We try things together that I would never have thought possible… like standing at the seashore enjoying the water on our feet and taking a walk in the woods together.

I have learned that I am enough because I believe in my ability to care for him in every way and to teach him to live boldly. I am a proud mamma and my mini-me is thriving.  We will have adventures together, travel together, laugh together and remind each other how very amazing we truly are, together and apart. I will let him soar when his wings are ready because I know we will both be just fine.

*If you haven’t read Jamie’s first powerful blog post, Mindfully Ever After, check it out HERE!

What is the Body Neutrality Movement?

The past few years, the media has begun to tell women to love their bodies regardless of their size while at the same time hypocritically continuing to use the same models with the same “ideal” proportions. While those proposing all women shower themselves with body self-love meant well, the message nevertheless often felt hollow and phony to those with physiques that didn’t match the images we’re still seeing.

Additionally, some of those in the health care field felt that while teaching women to love their bodies no matter what reaped psychological benefits, it ignored the reality of the potential health risks associated with obesity.

A recent response to all things body-positive focuses instead on a neutral acceptance of ones’ physical appearance while still admitting room for improvement exists. The body neutrality movement offers a more authentic way for women to end negative self-talk while still focusing on achieving physical fitness to avoid future health woes.

Similarly, Ella’s Plant-Empowered Coaching Program is based on the philosophy that accepting, respecting, and loving yourself exactly as you are is a PRE-REQUISITE for changing your body. This is because when you make food and fitness choices out of love for yourself, and respect for you values (e.g. compassion for animals), you take discipline and will power out of the equation. Nutritious vegan food becomes a form of self-care, which becomes a priority when you develop true self-love. (If this resonates with you, be sure to attend Ella’s powerful master class on the 5 Steps to Ditch Diets and Adopt a Healthy Vegan Lifestyle you Love.)

Let’s now explore how the body neutrality movement came about, and what it can show us about the future of helping all people accept themselves regardless of size or weight.

What Does Body Neutrality Mean?

Body neutrality encourages women to practice true self-love by accepting their physical realities and making choices that promote good health. Body neutrality challenges women to objectively evaluate their bodies, not in a critical way, but rather by honestly assessing their strengths and challenges.

Unlike the body positivity movement that preached love of self regardless of ones’ diet and exercise habits, those embracing body neutrality not only accept their physical limitations but also take proactive steps to improve their diets and overall health.

Those practicing a body neutrality path take personal responsibility for engaging in behaviors that lead to poor health outcomes. This doesn’t equate to beating themselves up over an occasional (vegan) doughnut indulgence or skipping a single workout, but they do take note of these less-than-healthy behaviors to prevent them from turning into daily habits. In addition to accepting their physical realities, followers acknowledge the factors and influences that contributed to their excess body fat without allowing them to become excuses for poor health habits.

Which Approach Works Better — Body Positivity or Body Neutrality?

Both the body positivity movement and the more recent body neutrality movement offer benefits to many women. Even experts in fitness and nutrition disagree as to which approach works better for each individual.

Experts do agree that tying ones’ sense of self-worth to anything related to physical appearance wastes valuable emotional energy that could best be spent elsewhere. Tying ones’ sense of self-worth to physical appearance can lead to mental health issues such as depression and eating disorders. Taking either approach, body positivity or body neutrality, can benefit those whose body size interferes with achieving a sense of happiness and satisfaction in life.

Some women feel most comfortable practicing a combination of body positivity and body neutrality. It’s natural to feel elated after completing a vigorous run or tough fitness class. However, we all have certain days when we feel down or experience disappointments, such as gaining a pound due to normal female hormonal cycles. Part of body neutrality involves treating the self gently and refusing to let one setback completely derail progress toward improved health.

Some nutritionists and fitness experts consider body neutrality a stepping stone toward true self-love of our physical bodies. While this may hold true in some cases, women should take care to reward themselves simply for making healthier decisions overall, not just reaching their ideal weight or pants size.

In this sense, self-care isn’t just about weight. It’s also about things like preventive medicine, scheduling annual checkups, taking care of your bones and skin, staying properly hydrated and understanding the value of eating a wide variety of whole plant foods daily. Self-care is an ongoing project that doesn’t end just because you shed that extra 15 pounds from the holidays. When in doubt, practice this kind of self-care above all else.

Embracing Body Neutrality for a Healthier Life

Those wishing to adopt body neutrality in their own lives can begin by taking an honest and objective assessment of their physical selves. Which daily practices encourage good health, and which areas can be improved? For example, one woman may do an excellent job of attending regular fitness classes after work but may also overindulge in highly processed foods with little nutritional value. Another may consume more carrots than Bugs Bunny but resists breaking a sweat.

Focus on correcting one unhealthy habit at a time. Beginning a new fitness regimen while also attempting to stick to a diet can lead to feelings of disappointment. When the inevitable slip-ups occur, avoid letting one bad day evolve into a bad week or month. Practicing forgiveness and kindness toward oneself is an important part of developing a positive mental outlook.

The body neutrality movement can offer many women a more realistic alternative to expressions of self-love that often ring hollow. By focusing on improving health outcomes over developing the so-called “perfect” body, we can learn to love ourselves by making healthier choices one decision at a time. There’s no greater expression of self-love than keeping both mind and body healthy.

Mindfully Ever After

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there lived a fair maiden who longed for her prince to whisk her away from her circumstance and help her to live happily ever after.

OK, so “once upon a time” is really about four years ago, “a faraway land” is New jersey, “a fair maiden” is (yep, you guessed it, ME) and I never really longed for a prince to whisk me away, per se… but I did wish to live happily ever after.

I was in the depression of my life.

“Quarter-Life Crisis” hit me in the middle of getting used to being a single mom of a baby, moving across the country, having no job and living on government money, and being extremely overweight and unhealthy.  There is probably a few more details I am skipping, but you get the gist.  I was desolate, confused, hopeless and I felt like it would never change.

I tried my hardest to pick myself up.  I moved in with family, walked outside with my son as often as possible, I cleansed a lot, I did a bunch of yoga and running, I even found a fun job. Things were okay for a couple of months and then… I stopped. I don’t know why… I just stopped.  I felt the burden of the job that I was in, which took me away from my son for twelve and fourteen hours a day, I stopped making time to exercise because I was too tired, and I only found time to eat on the run so my body felt cruddy.

I wanted the change to stick but, like all the years of trying before during each of the, what I call “mini-depressions”, (all of the dieting and cleansing… all of the exercise routines…all of the feeling good) I just stopped every time I started getting the hang of the routine. I knew I had the brains to do it- I reminded myself that I am a college graduate and I worked hard to obtain that.  Yet, I could not get off the cycle.  I hated that piece of myself.  I hated the quitter in me that reared her ugly head every time I started to gain some ground and get my emotions under control.

I was 36 years old and had been doing the same things I had done all of my adult life ~ When life got in the way, I left ME behind.  I always did well at the job I was doing because that mattered more than anything else.  All the other stuff (like taking care of myself) just fell to the wayside.

It took me three more years of listing my grievances with myself until I sat in the emotion.

I stood still and listened instead of spewing out the venomous words of who I imagined myself to be.  I still hated myself for my patterns, but I was finally in a place to begin to accept my faults and move forward.  Instead of trying to control my emotions, I let them do their thing and I just… listened.

After a couple of months of this, I realized that I was ready to try again.  I didn’t know what to do, but I knew something needed to change now. I figured I would begin with food, since that would help me to feel good now. I had been eyeing an add that I kept seeing on my FB page called, “Sexy Fit Vegan” and I decided that it would teach me how to become a vegan, which was a life-goal of mine (living in an Italian family made it tough as resisting cheese was not my strong suit). So, I reached out to Ella Magers and we talked.

Oddly, the discussion about becoming a vegan lasted about eight minutes but the conversation lasted over thirty minutes.  Instead of talking about food, Ella asked me questions about me and who I believe myself to be.

She literally said, “If you want an eating plan, I can send you a book.  If you want a life change, that’s where I can really help.”  I wanted a life change.

After a day of deliberation, I called her back and (hesitantly) told her I wanted in.  Something felt different this time, but I was still so apprehensive considering I was a quitter and I knew that about myself.  I questioned spending more money just to be back in the same place I always wound up in.

I didn’t know what could come of the program, but I figured I would trust the process. After all, the Universe has my back, right?

From day one, I decided to go in it full-force and be “perfect” about it (same habit as always).  I exercised that day… woke up at before dawn and meditated, did yoga and ran.  Then I played with my son and went to work.  During lunch break, I was tired, but I listed to all the module one videos and printed out the materials to begin when I got home.  Can you guess what happened when I got home?  Yep- I had to make dinner, give my son a bath, get myself ready for bed, prepare lunches for the next day and then… I crashed.

The exact same cycle happened for five straight days.  Day six, I skipped the morning meditation, yoga and run to sleep in.  I had already felt like a failure just six days in.  However, I believe myself to be the Queen of Reinvention, so I put my big-girl panties on and tried again.

I decided to take a breath and do it differently this time; start small to get big results.  I began focusing on what mattered instead of trying to be perfect.  This change needed to happen for me this time… not because I wanted to look a certain way or focus on my future self. The change needed to happen to focus on my current self… to be a better me now.

In the next few months, I meticulously worked my way through the modules.  I drank in every bit of wisdom like it was the last water on earth.  I listened intently to the videos, I participated in the check-ins, I did my homework and I began to let go little by little.  Along the way, so much came up that I didn’t even realize was on my heart- and I still did the work.

Along the way, anger boiled within me and sadness took over- and I still did the work.  Along the way, regret and shame came up quite a bit- and I still did the work.  Along the way, I wanted to quit and I even wavered on my ability to handle more- and I still did the work.  Moving away from perfection has allowed me to become my true, authentic self.

Fast forward through six months of letting go, understanding, accepting, getting angry, celebrating, disappointment, and just breathing and I have come to the realization that I am pretty freaking awesome!

I like me… I never really liked me before. And that woman who was always a quitter… I understand her now.

I understand that the obsessive exercising and cleansing and crash diets were simply a band aid.  I understand that waking up at 4:30am to do what “should” be done was not sustainable because she didn’t know why it mattered to take care of herself.  I understand that she was so broken inside that a quick fix was never going to be the answer.  She and I are best friends now and we work together to pick up every little piece one-by-one to weave together our beautiful life quilt.

Sure, along the way, I also became a vegan… but that was not until six months into the program, when I was at a place where I truly let go of the emotions I was holding onto so tightly.

It is only now that I realize that counting calories and weighing food and constant dieting is NOT the way I want to live… it is simply too stressful.  I like eating in alignment with my beliefs and I like feeling good about what I am putting into my body and THAT is why I am a vegan. But I had to clear out a lot of who I thought I was to know who I really am.

And so, she lives… mindfully ever after.

From Bitch to BFF: The Power of the Pause in Everyday Life

I was looking forward to my lunch break yoga today…

Right before I left for class though, I saw that my favorite instructor was subbed out for an instructor that I haven’t loved in the past. In addition to the fact that I didn’t love her style of teaching, she’s never been very friendly towards me.
My very first thought was, think of a reason why I can’t go, maybe blame my workload today.  I paused (the Plant-Empowered Coaching Program emphasizes the “power of the pause“), and instead of going with my immediate reaction, I chose new thoughts instead…
1.  I will be open to giving this instructor another try and maybe I will end up enjoying it
2.  This is my time for my self care so there’s no blaming work and there’s no other class I want to do during this time slot I have open.
I arrive at the yoga studio and the instructor that I’ve already said I don’t love is at the front desk. She was not present (looking down texting)  and as I walked by she tried to charge me for a mat even though I have it included in my membership.
I was super friendly about it, even though had she just looked up from her phone and at my profile as I checked in she would have seen the type of membership I have. Okay, so we are already off on the wrong foot, but I’m remaining positive. I keep telling myself how thankful I am for my membership and that I have the time to take the class.
Now I’m in class and I’m not crazy about the music that’s playing. It’s actually so loud that I’m having difficulty hearing her instruction. I decided to change those thoughts as well to how thankful I am for my strong healthy body that can do all the poses.
Then, something shifted. Just as the class is getting more difficult, she comes over and gives me a really helpful adjustment. My next thoughts are, I’m really thankful for both the time and energy she is giving me and the class itself, even though I am loathing the music and can’t hear her talk (I’m really not an old lady yet, I swear)!
I get through the class and lay in savasana, thankful and thinking loving thoughts of my body, mind, and just about everything I have to be grateful for which is so much!
As I’m leaving class, the instructor asks me how I feel in such a genuine caring way. All of a sudden she was super friendly and present. Completely opposite of how she has treated me in the past.

Okay here’s the best part…

As I’m almost out the door, she must have looked at my profile because she asked me if I could help her find a new apartment (I’m a realtor). I immediately said yes! Mid-discussion another person overhears us and asks me for the same help. I left the yoga studio with 2 new clients, and goose bumps about the power of my thoughts! It occurred to me that the entire experience, positive and negative, would not have even happened if I had not felt empowered enough to change my thoughts.
On a side note, 2018 was very stressful for me due to financial struggles, so gaining 2 new clients in a matter of an hour was evidence that 2019 is going to be a completely different year in so many ways. Thank Goodness!
Anyway, I’m now even more thankful for all that I’ve learned through the Plant-Empowered Coaching Program. As I tell people in our Breakthrough Calls, we teach “forever tools” in the program, and I love being a testimonial of how using those tools even in simple, every day life scenarios, is truly transformational!
Thanks for reading 🙂

How to Instantly Become a Sexy Fit Vegan

There it was… A comment on my Facebook post.  An unsolicited, petty cut on my generally upbeat, self-deprecating Facebook page.

“You aren’t my perception of a Sexy Fit Vegan…”

My first thought?


And this is where I earned my crown as a Sexy Fit Vegan.  Now, I know that vulgarities generally don’t inspire regal images.  But, here I am, nonetheless, A Sexy Fit Vegan Bad Ass Queen.

The struggle to earn this has not been easy.  I have lived much of my adult life avoiding all criticism, insult, and slights.  Just a short time ago, my inner response wouldn’t have been nearly so bold. I would have found myself locked in self-doubt and punishment for days upon days because that comment would have only served to validate my own beliefs about myself.  I believed I wasn’t good enough to be sexy, fit, or vegan. Frankly, my daily life was an exercise in how invisible I could be.

And then, it all changed.

I was watching my daughter look at herself in the mirror, pulling at her clothes, tears in her eyes because she hated her new body and the curves that were springing in places that had been flat just months before.  She had previously been filled with self-confidence…more than self-confidence…a fearlessness that is uncommon in most humans I have known. At her core , that is just who she is: Brave and bold is the way she was born.

Now I watched her and realized I was watching myself.  She had learned this from me. She was putting aside her natural courage and confidence to play small, just like me.

No, I had never verbally criticized my body in front of her, but I didn’t have to. My years of striving to be invisible had spoken for me. And here it was…my legacy landed on my beautiful, fearless, bold daughter.  And the younger one was watching too.

And so, that day, I decided to love my body.

And, here’s how I did it:

  1. I acted.  I didn’t think.  I didn’t feel. I acted.  I invested in myself. I connected with Ella and the Plant Empowered Coaching Program.  I threw away all that I thought I knew about meal plans and exercise and micros and calories.  I trusted the process. I let it take me where I needed to go.
  2. I became relentless with the thoughts that weren’t serving me.  I chipped away at that belief that I wasn’t enough with evidence that I am MORE than enough and never too much.  I dug into the powerful self-coaching that Ella has so masterfully honed. I stepped back with curiosity and compassion to view these beliefs from a new perspective, and then I went to work becoming the master of my thoughts.
  3. I fully engaged in a vegan life.  These are my values. I could no longer put junk and suffering in my body.  I could no longer live in a way that didn’t fit with what I knew to be true for the sake of others’ comfort.  I had to live my values in the ultimate act of self-love.
  4. I began treating my body as I would treat anyone I love.  I made decisions about nutrition and movement out of a place of love.  I wouldn’t feed my children Mountain Dew and Doritos for supper, so why would I do this to myself?  I wouldn’t let my children miss a sports practice for a game that they love, so why would I miss a workout?  I wouldn’t allow anyone to speak unkindly to my children, so why would I allow me to do that to myself?

Somewhere along the way, I began to realize that I wasn’t just acting or deciding. I was believing. I no longer wanted to hide. My butt is still big. I have a mommy tummy.  My arms still jiggle. And I am fierce and loved. Not beautiful for a big girl. Not just a pretty face.  I am fully alive and engaged and independent and strong with all my curves and every imperfection. I am a Sexy Fit Vegan who makes decisions based in love of the body I have TODAY, not the one I might have tomorrow.

When I decided to love my body, my girls decided to love theirs.  Not long ago, the three of us decided to go shopping for new jeans.  We were in the checkout line, and a woman approached me. She said something every mother longs to hear, “You’re doing it right.” She went on, “ You and your girls are laughing and admiring your butts in the mirror.  Mine is still in the dressing room crying. You’re doing it right.”

And, you know what? I am. Now, I talk about how a banana and spinach make me feel alive in the morning. Now, I discuss what a badass I am after my kickboxing workout. Now, I look in the mirror and say out loud, “Damn, Girl!”  I am the example for my girls, not just the voice that tells them they’re beautiful. I’m the example that their own voices are the most important, truly, the only ones that matter

I watched this play out in another way just after that Facebook comment.  You see, I’ve taught my daughter something else through my actions. I’ve taught her to love herself enough to not engage in self-doubt because of someone else.  She had her first, young love break up this week. And when this little boy decided to dump her through text without explanation, her response was to say, “Grow some balls.”  Not, “What is wrong with me?” Not, “Why am i not good enough?” It was, “Grow some balls.” That’s my fearless, beautiful, bold girl!

So, forgive my sailor’s mouth when I say that one of my proudest accomplishments of this decade has been to respond to outside critics with “Fuck off”.  I am a Sexy Fit Vegan. I say that without apology or caveats.

My body continues to respond to my love, and if I never lose another pound I am still a Sexy Fit Vegan. I am fit and sexy and plus size and vegan. And another’s perception of what a Sexy Fit Vegan is simply makes no difference.  The fact is, no one gets to decide if I am a Sexy Fit Vegan but me.

The Power of Plants: Superfoods You Should Not Miss

All fruits, veggies, herbs, seeds, and nuts deserve a place in our diet, but the truth is: some are simply better than others. You probably already have many of them in your kitchen – from the famous blueberries, kale, and chia seeds to the all-powerful turmeric. There’s even an entire vegan cookbook (probably my favorite) to inspire you to use these extraordinary ingredients aka superfoods. 

However,  there are some lesser known ones which have been around for ages and hold tremendous power when it comes to nutrition and medicine. So I’ve put together a list of the best superfoods that haven’t risen to fame, but definitely should. And don’t worry – although exotic, they can be found online or in some specialty stores in various forms.

Indian gooseberry

You’ve probably heard all about the antioxidant-rich acai. Well, here is something that has over twice the antioxidants! The fruit of the Indian gooseberry tree has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine and is, in fact, still used today. Aside from its amazing antioxidant potency and other beneficial properties, it’s also known to help treat high cholesterol, diabetes, upset stomach, joint pain, osteoarthritis, to reduce pain and swelling caused by inflammation, etc.

The plant is not commercially cultivated in most parts of the world, but thankfully, it’s available online and in Indian grocery stores in powder form – just look for Amla powder. You can sprinkle the powder onto your meals and smoothies. 


Sorghum is an ancient grain originating from Africa, and like most grains, it can be prepared in numerous ways – cooked, ground into flour, malted, or even to make sorghum popcorn. But what makes it better is that it is gluten-free, allergies to it are rare, and its nutritional benefits are pretty impressive. For one, it’s an excellent source of protein – it has similar protein content per calorie as quinoa, but it’s cheaper. 

It’s rich in nutrients like most grains, but its ORAC value – which is the measure of antioxidant content per 100g – is quite impressive, especially in comparison to other grains. White sorghum has an ORAC value of 2200, the red variety has 14000 and black is the highest, with a value of 21000. For measure, kale has an ORAC value of 1770 and blueberries have 4669. 


This herb, also known as Holy Basil (but not your regular basil, mind you) is another marvel and mystery of Ayurvedic medicine. It’s considered a sacred plant in the Hindu religion and the word Tulsi means “the incomparable one”. That’s because it has numerous benefits and medicinal powers, from protecting against diabetes and cancer to being used to treat pink eye due to its anti-inflammatory properties. But what’s making holy basil incredibly valuable in the modern day and getting it more attention from the scientific community are its adaptogenic properties.

Adaptogens are metabolic regulators which increase the body’s ability to (as the moniker suggests) adapt to physical and emotional stressors from the environment. Unsurprisingly, adaptogens are getting a lot of buzz lately, as we search for natural ways to cope with stress. Thus, natural adaptogens are used in supplements to balance hormones by reducing cortisol levels and promote a healthy stress response. Tulsi is an important ingredient in most of these supplements, and it can also be used in tea. 

Bacopa monnieri

Also going by the name of Brahmi, this creeping herb is another traditional adaptogen. The herb is rich in bacosides, which are chemical compounds that can repair damaged neurons and improve nerve impulse transmission, as some studies show. Thus, it is considered one of the top foods for boosting mental health and its long-term consumption is linked to improving memory, cognitive function, and mood.

But wait, there’s more: it’s also been shown to boost respiratory and digestive health, which might come as no surprise when you consider the connection between the gut flora and mental health. 


This fermented soybean food is prominent in the Japanese diet, but it has yet to gain popularity in Western households. So far, you might have encountered it in vegan sushi when dining out. Natto is very valuable for its high content of pyrazine, a compound which can prevent blood clots since it acts as a natural blood thinner. Thus, it’s an important dietary addition for anyone at risk of developing heart disease. It’s also rich in vitamin K (for maintaining bone density) and selenium, a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent cancer. However, be prepared: natto has a very pungent smell and a strange, cheese-like taste that takes getting used to. That’s why a wide number of people prefer to consume it in capsule form, but it is important to consult a physician first, especially if you are taking anticoagulants or other herbs that help thin the blood. 

So, there you have it – under-the-radar plants and herbs holding impressive power. Now, as it goes with nutrition, nobody can guarantee you that you’ll reap all the benefits because there are numerous other lifestyle factors to consider. There are, however, various studies that point to the benefits of these plants, some of which I have included in this article, and the fact that some have been used in traditional Eastern medicine definitely does hold value. At the end of the day, when you’re choosing which to incorporate into your diet – and how – it’s good to do your own research to get all the details and suggestions. Nutrition can help us reach deeper levels of wellbeing, and you might just be surprised to what extent it goes. 



Tropical Baby Potato Salad with Papaya Vinaigrette

Tropical baby potato salad

Summer cookouts are just around the corner. Impress your guests with this light spin on a vegan potato salad!

Relax in the sun and watch this unconventional potato salad disappear while the boring, fat-laden macaroni salad sits untouched at your next get-together.

Tropical Baby Potato Salad with Papaya Vinaigrette

Ingredients for dressing

  • 1/2 cup papaya, cubed
  • 1 Tbs fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tsp papaya seeds
  • 3 Tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Blend all dressing in a food processor. Refrigerate for at least one hour and shake well before serving.

Ingredients for potato salad

  • 24 ounces petite baby potato, halved, cooked al dente, and cooled
  • 1 small bulb of fennel with stems, sliced thin
  • 1/4 orange bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 2 scallions (white and green), sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple
  • 1 small handful organic micro greens

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and fold together. Gently coat with papaya dressing and mix well. Adjust seasoning if necessary and serve immediately.