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Saying Good-Bye to 2016

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It’s almost time to say good-bye to 2016 so before I head out for vacation, I am posting my last blog for the year.

I started the year out in Hawaii – one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited – spending time with one of my most amazing friends. This trip created the tone for the year: intentions were set, wishes were cast, and my actions were aligned with my goals for the year. Albeit rocky, 2016 was a great year! As I scrolled through photo album on my phone, I was reminded of just how blessed I was during this year. From professional conferences and publications to an abundance of quality time spent with family and friends to so many chapters of my life ending – including finishing up my doctoral coursework 🙂 – this year was a wonderful one. I retreated more than ever and am now preparing to heard to my 3rd retreat for the year :-). I traveled; I celebrated; I cried; I laughed; I loved … real hard; I danced; I rested; I renewed and re-found me. I fell in love with my life all over again, remembering that I have the power to decide at any moment that “this is not how my story is going to end”.

As the year comes to a close, I continue to take moments to give thanks for all the ways that I received love, light, and favor.  In addition to all the memories that were created, I must say that 2016 has been my launching pad for what I anticipate to be an even better year in 2017! I look forward to sharing my world with you in the New Year and I hope that somewhere along the way, I inspire you to CREATE your best life.

Happy holidays and Happy New Year! #grateful

Seasons Change

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seasons-change

This week I welcomed fall with open arms! After an adventurous, active, and somewhat rejuvenating summer, the end of one calendar season and beginning of the next seemed to bring with it much chaos and shifting in all areas of my life. New arrivals, deaths, sickness, and a whole host of other events happening in my family, friendship circle, and across the globe escorted summer to a frenzied end. And all the same, the new season brings with it opportunities to embrace change, new beginnings, and reasons to celebrate. While I don’t long in any way for a replay of the not so pleasant happenings of the last three months, I am reminded that there were many reasons to smile AND of the beauty in recreating. So here I am here and here we are just a week away from October. Ongoing dissertation stuff, a long awaited weekend retreat, a professional development conference and presentation, in addition to a wonderful group of students who I get to share space with twice a week all linger just around the corner. I’ve been spending more time journaling … a lot more time engaged in leisure reading and quiet time … more nights spent reflecting, reprocessing and rebuilding. I am taking more steps to embrace the new and carefully pack away what is no longer.

Hello Fall! Hello New Beginnings! Hello Opportunity to Recreate, Rediscover, Reinvent, Re-purpose, Renew … Rewrite another chapter of my life’s story. Hello World!

#allsummer16

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All summer 16

This summer has been an incredible one for me! After an intense four years of course work; a year of teaching again; more pounds added on than I care to share; comprehensive exams; getting going with my dissertation; and all sorts of other life events in between, I was exhausted at the start of the summer. However I knew I needed to make some changes for my mental, physical and spiritual health. This post of dedicated to what I did to get my life back this summer ~ enjoy!!!

  1. I started the summer out by changing my eating habits. I knew I needed to get back to meal planning and meal prepping so the start of summer break was a great time to do so. You can read more about my final resolutions here.
  2. I got back to a regular exercise routine. Although I started slow, by the middle of the summer I was working out twice a day two to three times a week. The goal was to retrain my mind and body to crave physical activity and make it my go-to during times of stress versus emotional eating.
  3. I continued my therapy sessions. I have seen a therapist off and on for a number of years now. I believe that therapy is one of the most underutilized resources we have access to. Therapy has done wonders for me during seasons of turmoil, uncertainly of stress, and confusion; this summer was no exception.
  4. I paced myself. I had a long list of things I wanted to do this summer, but I knew I couldn’t do it all! I started small and kept going. Each week I added and adjusted my goals – sometimes I wrote more, sometimes I wrote less; sometimes I exercised more and other times I exercised less. Regardless of where I fell along the spectrum, I kept going.
  5. I made an email adjustment! Up until this summer, I checked email chronically. I receive emails about school, about work, from students, in relation the Board I am president of, and everything in between. Opening my email and seeing 50 emails stresses me out, but I realized that checking email so frequently was also stressing me out so I removed my work email from my phone. Best decision ever!
  6. I learned to tune out. In addition to email, I am usually checking and responding to text messages, looking for updates on social media, and just doing too much. This summer was about me learning to turn my phone OFF, check social media less frequently, and just enjoy some quiet time.
  7. I checked my relationships! Second only to getting my physical, mental, and spiritual health in check was checking my relationships. I realize more and more than I tend to keep in touch with a lot of folks from previous seasons in my life: undergrad, Peace Corps, grad school etc. While some of these relationships have proven to be invaluable, others have continued solely on the strength of memories. This summer – by force – I allowed a few people to become permanent fixtures in my past. Had a series of events never happened, I really don’t think I would have had the courage to separate myself from these people. But thankfully the universe intervened so there you go.
  8. I checked the negativity. Related to #7, I learned that I have to constantly and consciously choose to separate myself from negativity – even from people who I consider to be friends. This summer I chose to honor my peace and take as much space as needed from folks who weren’t doing the same.
  9. I danced!!!!! I love dancing and one of the things I have hated most about my school and work schedules has been not having a lot of time to dance. This summer I took as many dance workshops as I could. I have a FABULOUS time and it felt so good to be doing something else I love doing so much.
  10. While I was checking friendships and checking negativity, I also embraced my friendships that truly are treasures. I spent time with my friends – much needed, long overdue, quality time. I made time for lunches, dinners, and other social outings. It was wonderful to have time to spend time with my friends. It did my soul good.
  11. I learned to honor me. I am who I am. It has taken me a LONG time to accept who I am as I am. I honor that I am a hard worker. I honor that I see MYSELF as my greatest competition. I honor that I don’t give up. I honor the hustle in me. I appreciate how and the extent to which I honor my word. I have learned to not make apologies for any of the aforementioned. This is me and this summer was all about honoring me.
  12. I accepted who I am ~ see # 11 :-).
  13. In relation to numbers 11 & 12, I also spoke up for me! In more than enough instances I could have chosen silence when I felt others had wronged me. But this summer I truly embraced speaking up and advocating for ME!
  14. I made a financial investment in my health. This summer I attended workshops, retreats, seminars, and webinars. I purchased books and whatever else I thought I needed to get my life together. I invested in me.
  15. And finally, I LIVED! School has really taken over my life in more ways than I imagined. Now that my course work is done, I am looking forward to having more time to make my summer practices a regular part of my life. My goal for this summer was to focus on me in such a way that these practices become my new norm. I know it’s a daily choice, but summer allowed me to get a taste of how fulfilling my life can be – even with multiple responsibilities.

My summer ‘16 has been all that I needed and more. Unfortunately it’s over – classes resumed on Thursday and I am back with a new group of eager students <3. Let’s see if I can carry a little bit of my summer along for the ride :-).

What Have I Been Eating?

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I’d planned to blog today about what I have been eating during my raw food detox, but woke up today to somber news about Alton Sterling. I’ve wrestled much of the day with my sentiments about the incident and the state of affairs in our country. While I continue to process my thoughts and feelings, I have decided to proceed with my original post.

I have been eating raw 99.9% of the time 😉 for the last six and a half weeks. In addition to the typical “where do you get your protein” question, several people have asked me if I have only been eating salads. The answer is no! For breakfast, I typically have some sort of smoothie – they vary day to day and week to week. I also made my own almond milk  :-)! Because it’s summer and it’s super hot here, I have been eating a variety of salads with homemade salad dressing. For dinner, I’ve tried an assortment of raw meals including zoodles (my first time), raw hummus with veggies, and cashew cheese also paired with veggies. Below are a few low-quality pictures of meals I have made and a few recipes from my Everything Raw Food Recipe Book. I also included a pictures from two of my favorite restaurants in Atlanta that serves raw meals. Enjoy!

Part II: My Experience with dHerbs’s 20 Day Full Body Cleanse – 1 Week Post Detox

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It’s been exactly one week since my dHerbs 20 day detox ended. As mentioned in my previous post, I postponed my long awaited cheat meal to figure out how I’d like to proceed in re my eating habits and overall diet. But before I get to that, let me update you on how I am feeling. One week after I stopped taking my supplements I still feel wonderful. I still feel extremely full on much less food than I imagined. I still feel light and refreshed after my meals. And I am still experimenting with new recipes. I am not sweating as much which affirms that a part of the elimination process was increased perspiration. I miss that … I miss knowing that my body is eliminating in multiple ways on a regular basis. The photo below is me after a moderately intense workout.

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But otherwise, I have no regrets about the detox and highly recommend it for anyone who is serious about pressing “restart”.

I stuck with raw food through the week and up until last night when I finally had a cooked, vegan meal. After deciding that I was finally ready for a cooked meal, I visited Green Sprouts Vegetarian Restaurant. I read the reviews in hopes of making the best choices related to my meal. My spring rolls were delicious and so was the Mongolian “beef”. I didn’t care for the acclaimed “chicken” drumsticks or my Empire “chicken”. In spite of this, I still enjoyed my meal. The sauces were amazing and having steamed brown rice after weeks of no refined carbs created smiley faces in my mouth 🙂 (meals pictured below).

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Nonetheless, I am back to my raw meals today and this week. So … what’s next?

I began experimenting with following a vegan diet in 2000 – 16 years ago. Up until that time I’d never even heard of anyone following a vegan diet or thinking of not eating meat. There aren’t many vegans in rural South Carolina 🙂. I enjoyed my phases of transitioning from vegetarian to being vegan. I was surprised at how many alternatives there were and how satisfying my meals could be even without meat. Enter Peace Corps and living in a remote village in West Africa and there went me following a vegan diet. But I didn’t feel bad about my choice. I knew exactly where my food was coming from; eating the same food as my host family allowed me to eat with them on a regular basis; and meat was considered a side dish – not the main staple of a meal. I returned to the U.S. in 2003 and maintained a vegetarian diet until I relocated once again in 2005. Since that time my diet has fluctuated from being completing vegan to eating almost everything under the sun. And unfortunately, my weight has followed these same fluctuations – not exclusively because of me being vegan or not, but because of how I tend to approach food overall when I’ve not followed a vegan diet.

After giving some serious thought to my experience with this detox, my overall health and what I have learned over the course of 15 years as a health educator, I am returning to a vegan diet. I’d like to emphasize that I am not returning to a vegan diet because I think it is the only way to maintain a healthy lifestyle, nor am I returning to a vegan diet because I think it is the best decision for everyone else. I wish I could say that I am joining the ranks for people who protest on behalf of animal rights or only buy vegan leather goods, but that is not a part of my present journey. I believe in compassion towards all beings, including animals, but that is not the main focus of my journey. I believe in a holistic lifestyle and perhaps that is the foundation of how I live much of my life – this overflows to how I spend my money, how I wear my hair, the products I purchase and use on  my skin and even in my home so it only seems right to complete the circle and allow this same care to overflow to what I eat.

With the aforementioned in mind, I am doing this because time and experience have proven that being vegan is the best decision for me. I tend to eat better, take better care of myself, practice healthy doses of indulgence and eat more intentionally when my options are focused on whole foods. I fundamentally believe that there are some serious issues with the way food – meat and dairy especially – is produced here in the U.S. This belief has never wavered regardless of what I ate.  And I also know that in my years of educating others about healthy choices, managing chronic diseases, decreasing risks of cancer and other related matters diets focused on whole grains, fruit and vegetables in abundance and limited animal products have always been consistent recommendations.

I am doing a few things differently this time. Unlike before, my diet will not consist of an overabundance of meat substitutes. You can read more about some of my new favorite recipes at Crazy, Sexy Wellness, LLC on Facebook or DrCherryBound on Instagram. As I prepare for another wonderful birthday here is to me taking better care of myself :-). Thanks for reading and stay tuned for additional updates throughout the summer!

 

My Experience with dHerbs’s 20 Day Full Body Cleanse

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Detox

I won’t bore you with you the program details, so please go here to read more about the dHerbs 20 day full body detox.

As previously mentioned, after putting so much energy into school during these last two years I am committed to spending the summer refocusing on my physical health. I have found that detoxes or fasting of some sort gives me time to step away from the table – literally – exercise some discipline and really decide what the next steps to achieving and maintaining my ideal of optimal health will be. These practices in self-restraint have always served as a physical restart for me, but the trick is finding the right one that also fits into my schedule. This time around I decided to try something new … dHerbs’s  20 day full body detox.

I found out about dHerbs from a friend and classmate. She highly recommended the product so I made plans to start the detox at the beginning of the year. I ordered my shipment from a 3rd party retailer and after waiting for over a month with numerous failed attempts to find out the status of my order, I found myself awaiting a refund and without a detox to jumpstart my year. This time I decided to go directly to the vendor; my order arrived in less than 5 days! After my package arrived I still had about a week to review the contents, get my recipes together and create some sort of game plan.

The first week was novel – almost exciting. Each day I woke up to eagerly see if I noticed any changes: had anything different occurred in the way my body looked or felt; did I have more or less energy; what was happening with my skin; what about my weight? The second and third weeks were painful. While I had begun to experiment with more raw food recipes, I found myself craving cooked food. And my last few days seemed like a breakthrough. After planning my post detox meal carefully and excitedly for nearly two weeks – down to the dessert – I realized that a cheat meal could wait.  I wanted to bask a little longer in the feeling I’d gained from doing the detox; push myself a little harder; and sort of what the remainder of my summer would look like in reference to my fitness and weight loss goals.

The remainder of this post will focus on what the challenges and rewards were for me during my detox. While I am satisfied with my weight loss, that is not the focus of this post. You can hear more about the weight loss experiences of others on YouTube.

What I loved:

  • Surprisingly, I had tons of energy during the day. I was expecting to be tired and drained after such a drastic change in my diet, but my experience was quite the opposite.
  • I found new food choices! I have been experimenting with vegan and vegetarian food for nearly 20 years now and have NEVER even heard of cashew cheese! I made my own almond milk for the first time. I made raw hummus and loved it. I made chocolate coconut chia pudding (YUM!). I made a salad dressing that I actually found addicting. The point is I discovered and made great food … and actually enjoyed it!
  • I was a lot more satisfied than I thought. I expected to be hungry all the time. I’ve done the master cleanse, Weight Watchers, calorie monitoring using MyFitnessPal and more; I experienced hunger in all of these programs, even if only during the first week of two. It was surprising to me just how filling raw nuts, a huge salad with an assortment of veggies or even a well thought out smoothie could be!
  • I discovered new communities! Who knew there are so many raw and vegan foodies out there. There are more restaurants, Facebook groups, Instagram pages and bloggers than I ever knew – way more than my first experience with being vegan in 2000. It’s wonderful to have access to so many recipes, folks giving product reviews and simple e-encouragement.
  • With all of this focus on intentionally choosing what I ate, it should be no surprise that I felt better mentally and spiritually. I just felt and still feel a bit calmer – I am sure this is also because of me exercising regularly again – clearer and a lot more confident. I felt and feel like I am investing in myself, which just helps me feel more in tune inside and out.

What I didn’t care for:

  • If you read the product description, you know that the detox includes taking 6 rounds of supplements each day plus an activated charcoal drink before bed. While I didn’t experience any noticeable side effects from the supplements, it was a lot to take pills every 2-3 hours. I set 7 extra alarms on my phone just to help me remember.
  • THAT’S IT. Taking the supplements was the only thing I didn’t like.

Final thoughts: I feel amazing! Could I have initiated these feelings by making other changes in my life? Of course! But was this the best route for me during this time in my life? ABSOLUTELY! This was just what I needed to refocus, recharge and RESTART! I will continue blogging about my #90days2wellness throughout this summer, but feel free to follow me on Instagram @DrCherryBound or Facebook @Crazy Sexy Wellness, LLC to see what recipes I am trying, fitness routines I am dong or learn more about my journey (back) to wellness :-).

Embracing Womanhood

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Delta

In just six months, I will celebrate my 30-somethingth birthday :-). 10 years ago, this would have made me cringe … I would’ve thought about how old I’d be and how many things I couldn’t do anymore. Today the thought excites me! I am excited and celebrate because my life truly has gotten better with time and for that I am thankful. My dreams has slowly unfolded, been recreated and come true in ways that could never imagine. I am surer of myself – who I am, what I love, what I cannot and will not tolerate – more than ever before. I love me more and am more forgiving of my not-so-great choices. I choose wisely and am not afraid to change courses. And this year for once and for all, I embrace ALL of the person that I am!

This is significant for me because at various times in my life I have worked hard to still one part of myself or another … my inner wild child or flower goddess 🙂 or inquisitive seeker of knowledge or overzealous academic achiever or loyal girlfriend or intimate lover or peace seeker and the list goes on. Today more than ever I love my complex, complicated, goal- setting and dream achieving self. Today, more than ever I distance myself from those who do not support me in being my best version of me.

While listening to a podcast last week I heard the quote “the way you do one thing is the way you do all things”. This has quickly become my favorite quote of the month – this defines me. I am a dream big or go home type of woman! I love hard and give my all … in every way in everything I do. I am all in and if/when things shift I am done. I am me and I love it all!

Last thought: this past weekend I bought a new tube of lipstick. This may be a small deal to women who have dozens of tubes of lipstick or endless mountains of make-up that they can’t seem to keep organized (or maybe they do :-)). But for me it was a practice in self-care – to put just as much time in my physical health and appearance as I do in academics or soul-searching. It was another small drop in the bucket of being my best self and embracing the process. To me, this is womanhood: growing, learning, loving and finding new ways of expressing the aforementioned – all the while remembering who I am and why I was created!

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