The Power of a Hug

I remember growing up and being taught to not talk to strangers, let alone give them a hug and for good reason with the world we live in and all the violence we see happening to our children, but is that the best way? I don’t think we should force our kids to hug people, we need to teach them to trust their instincts, but we should teach them about the power of a “good hug”. I taught me kids early to give “good hugs”, to the people in our circle of friends and family. They are all grown up and they still give hugs. Life is about balance with wisdom. We as human beings need healthy and healing physical touch. Studies have shown that touch is essential to our well being, even for our mortality .

But touch is even more vital than this: babies who are not held and nuzzled and hugged enough will literally stop growing and-if the situation lasts long enough, even if they are receiving proper nutrition-die. SOURCE:

Bruce D. Perry, MD, Ph.D. is a child psychiatrist and neuroscientist. He is the Senior Fellow of The Child Trauma Academy and co-author of Born for Love: Why Empathy is Essential—And Endangered.

Maia Szalavitz has published five books and written for The New York Times, Time magazine online, New Scientist, Psychology Today, and other major publications.

So here’s an experiment you may want to try and it may bring a bit of “Happy” into your life. Start a hug campaign in your home, church or community. I suggest to start some where you and the people around you will feel comfortable and open to this experiment of hugging.

Juan Mann, started a very public and controversial hug campaign, that impacted thousands of people. It was so powerful that authorities, banned his campaign. Juan went around and had people sign s petition and they had to remove the ban and the hugging party continued, Hugging is a big deal. Check out his video below and some reason why hugging is so good for us :

Juan Mann Hugging Campaign

Here’s a few reasons that may inspire you

to hug more:

Scientific research shows that a good hug, meaning at least 20 seconds is the fastest way for you to get oxytocin flowing in your body. Oxytocin, also known as the “love drug”, calms your nervous system and boosts positive emotions. Here’s how a good hug resulting in oxytocin flow affects you:

• It lowers your blood pressure, especially helpful if you’re feeling anxious.

• It lowers your cortisol (the stress hormone), enabling a higher quality of sleep.

• It can increase your social connections and a sense of belonging.

Studies have also shown that couples who hug more are more likely to stay together. Some reports have even shown hugs can reduce pain. So let’s get the hugging party started. SPREAD THE LOVE. 💕

Spa Day ~ The Woodhouse Day Spa – Avalon

I am truly a spa girl. I love taking time out from the busyness of the world and going to the spa and getting a little pampering. I had the opportunity to enjoy a media day at The Woodhouse Day Spa – Avalon. I was very excited, but since I go to so many spas. I was wondering what will be different about this one. When I walked in the spa, I was immediately greeted by their staff and surrounded by all natural and organic products. I took a deep breath and was filled with this beautiful calming aroma of their Calming Woodhouse “Escape”, pulling me in to explore this natural French country inspired space with touches of nature perfectly placed .

As soon as I entered further, I was greeted by one of the owners Kelly Bachtell with the most gorgeous and pleasant smile and southern hospitality, she handed me a glass of champagne and delicious snacks accompanied by some yummy desserts.

We engaged in a conversation about why they opened up The Woodhouse Day Spa- Avalon, but we talked about me and my needs. I felt so encouraged about how she was interested in knowing who I was and what interest me.

I love that it’s owned by a married couple, that’s a residents of the community. They decided to open up the spa to give their community a place to come and unwind and feel at home at the same time. I know I felt like that, at home, from the decor to the warm staff, but especially from the owners Justin and Kelly Bachtell.

The Woodhouse Day Spa- Avalon officially opens March 12th, 2018 with 18 treatment rooms and offers over 50+ different services, from massages, body treatments and something we all need sleep treatments. But here’s what makes them different in my opinion and spa jet-setter, lol. 💕

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y offer Shirodhara – Shirodhara is an intensely healing and relaxing technique that begins with lavender essential oil combined with warm, nutritive oils that flow onto the center of your forehead from a beautiful copper vessel to release mental tensions and mind chatter. A soothing head and scalp massage follows to continue this uplifting experience and encourage a state of wellbeing. It’s a traditional Indian technique that I have been looking for in spas for years and The Woodhouse Day Spa-Avalon is bringing to us. Please check out their website and book an appointment today for an incredible day of relaxation and a moment to just unplug . The Woodhouse Day Spa – Avalon

March is National Kidney Month and Cauliflower is a Happy Kidney Food 🤗

This is my month, because June 17, 2018 my husband gave me his kidney and my life was changed. I am so excited to celebrate national kidney month, bringing you kidney happy recipes. There so many amazing foods that actually help with kidney health, like eggplant, celery, cabbage, asparagus, red peppers and cauliflower. Eating foods that are high in water, actually helps keep the kidneys hydrated and flushed. Drinking clean fluids and getting the proper exercise is also a wonderful way to keep our kidney and other organs healthy and functioning at their best. Check out the blog for some awesome “happy kidney recipes”, like my sautéed cauliflower, tossed with herbs and drizzled with garlic oil and this low carb Gluten  free Vegetarian Cauliflower Veggie Pizza. Happy National Kidney Month eat to your health. 🤗💕

Gluten free Vegetarian Cauliflower Veggie Pizza

Hello Fear, Why are you here?

Feeling afraid is very natural and sometimes very necessary.  Fear ~ an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. We are wired with fear, it serves a purpose, like all things in our lives.  It’s here to help us be safe, it keeps us alive during the times of danger.  Our ancestors lived in a world where imminent danger from wild animals and the elements of their environment was always a life or death situation, but even now people live in societies with constant war, and physical danger around every corner.  This launches us into The fight or flight mode. 


The truth is most of us do not live in extremely dangerous environments, where we need to be in fight or flight mode, all the time But, when you think about it, we are often there in our minds. We are practicing self preservation, we are trying to keep something, SAFE. We are trying to preserve our idea of what life should look like.

When life for any reason doesn’t look the way we would like it to, fear pops up and we panic!

Our minds begin to wonder, and our “what ifs”, start to flood us like a dam that has been broken and now is taking over a calm and peaceful forest, disturbing all of life within it. What if they do not like me? What if they see me for who I truly am? What if I do not get the job? What if I am not good enough? What if he doesn’t call? What if this relationship ends? What if it’s not what I expected?  There is no obvious physical danger here, but our “idea of life”  has been threaten. I love this quote by Mark Twain, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”  Most of the time we are living in fear of things that will never happen.

When we constantly live like this we can be do serious harm to ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

pexels-photo-568027.jpegHere are a few ways that chronic fear can impact our lives: SOURCE: Impact of Fear and Anxiety
Living under constant threat has serious health consequences.

  1. Physical health. Fear weakens our immune system and can cause cardiovascular damage, gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome, and decreased fertility. It can lead to accelerated ageing and even premature death.
  2. Memory. Fear can impair formation of long-term memories and cause damage to certain parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus. This can make it even more difficult to regulate fear and can leave a person anxious most of the time. To someone in chronic fear, the world looks scary and their memories confirm that.
  3. Brain processing and reactivity. Fear can interrupt processes in our brains that allow us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cues and other information presented to us, reflect before acting, and act ethically. This impacts our thinking and decision-making in negative ways, leaving us susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions. All of these effects can leave us unable to act appropriately.
  4. Mental health. Other consequences of long-term fear include fatigue, clinical depression, and PSTD.

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We do not want to stay in a chronic state of fear, but when it comes, you can allow fear to serve you.

A few months ago my fear was over taking me and all I wanted to do is run away and put my son in a room, so he would be safe. I was in the flight mode for sure. It was about my son driving, he is 17 years old and he has been driving for a year. He is a pretty good driver, but it’s a scary thing to see your kid growing up and getting behind the wheel, with all the teenager driver accidents I hear about.  I also have PTSD.  Years ago I saw a guy killed in a car accident and his body laid in the road for awhile before the paramedics came to remove him.  This put me in the hospital and I couldn’t speak for three days.

Trauma can give the mind references to pull up, when those similarities show up in our lives and our bodies and mental state can feel as though it’s happening all over again.

So when those past thoughts start to overwhelm me, I prayed and meditated. Suddenly I heard a gentle whisper, ” Why do I have to be something you avoid, something you fear or allow to consume you?  I am here to serve your highest good.” I just sat there in tears, blown away by these words, that just washed over my soul.  Fear is here to serve me. YES!!! It was put inside of my being, to help me stay safe and survive the elements of my world. The thing is, I do not live in an environment that is constantly threatening my physical body, but I do live in a world that is constantly threatening my emotional, mental and spiritual body.  I continued to meditate and pray. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and this came to me, “Ask me why I am here?’ “Why did I show up?” So I took another trembling breath and asked fear ” Hello, fear why are you here?”

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Fear said, as I continued to meditate and pray:

I am here to remind you that you have stepped away from where you should truly stand. You have stepped away from the spirit of truth and love. I feel so strong and so forceful, because I need you to move from this place NOW.  I grip you so tight, because I need you to pay attention and listen to why I am here.   I am here to show you where you have not surrendered.  I am here to get you to look at the place deep inside you, where you first experienced me so intensely, so we can go back there and find your healing. I am here to get you to ask, Why am I scared? What do I truly want and am I afraid I will not get it?  I am here to remind you to get back to GOD, back to LOVE  and back to TRUTH.   IF AM HERE, THEN FAITH CAN NOT BE and you will not have hope. I do not give hope, I am just a reminder that you need to take care. SO LET’S DEAL with it. There is work for you to do. I am your teacher. I am a hard teacher, that will consume you until you surrender, learn and move forward.

So many thoughts flooded my mind during this time of prayer. I had moved away from God, love and truth in my thinking and I was afraid of my son getting into a bad car accident and being killed like that guy was. I had to go back and deal. I had to give that fearful thought over to God. I had to trust and plug into the million other probabilities out there, like this one, my son can be safe on the road. You see we allow fear to take us over, because we do not honor it’s presence.

We push it away, we try to avoid it altogether, but I am learning to stop, pause, breath, pray and ask fear, Hello, fear why are you here?  What do you need me to know? Where do we need to go? Once you have done that, the light comes back in, the soul feels safe from the dangers of the emotions we have not dealt with.   It maybe something in childhood, a bad relationship, a real physical trauma, a negative thought, whatever it is, we must not be afraid of fear. pexels-photo-748870.jpeg

We need to face our fears like a old friend that knows us really well and is trying to get us to see the truth. Resistance only feeds fear’s call and it starts to consume us, so surrender with lovingkindness and ask fear, “HELLO, FEAR WHY ARE YOU HERE,” so we can be FREE.

Blackberry Broccoli Slaw with a Blueberry Yogurt Dressing

Broccoli Slaw is one of my favorite things to eat. According to studies, Broccoli contains phytochemicals shown to benefit arthritis, cancer, immune system health, blood pressure levels, vision, skin health, blood sugar disorders and much more” Source:Mercola

This recipe is packed with not just the benefits of broccoli but it’s loaded with planted based protein from the pumpkin seeds, fiber from the cranberries and vegetarian protein from the greek yogurt dressing, not to mention the b vitamin power of the blueberries and blackberries. My mantra is to. Eat on purpose with lots of flavor and this salad honors that fully. You can add your favorite fruit in this salad or even zucchini and yellow squash would be amazing. However you decide to enjoy it remember to, Set the Table with Love. 💕💕Ingredients:

For the dressing:

2 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt (I use nonfat)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp Apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp grainy Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp fresh black pepper

6 oz (3 cups) store-bought broccoli slaw

2-3 Tbsp cranberries, to taste

2-3 Tbsp pumpkin seeds, to taste

1 Tbsp chia seeds

Directions:In a mixing bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Add the broccoli slaw, pumpkin seeds, cranberries and chia seeds and toss gently until all ingredients are well combined.Eat immediately or you can cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. The yogurt and mustard will tenderize the vegetables; the salad will be crunchy, but not soggy.Serve cold or at room temperature.

Simple Green ” Heart Healthy” Avocado Salad

This salad is so beautiful, simple and delicious. I love avocados. They are loaded with so much good stuff, like omega fatty acids. Avocado also helps improve digestion and they are wonderful for your heart.  I love making this salad in the summer, but it’s also delicious in the winter time as well, because I saute the green beans and sweet peas and toss them with arugula, spices and olive oil and lemon juice. I love to also add salmon to add more good omega fatty acids and protein. If you are vegan, add walnut or pistachios.  The possibilities are endless, you can also add chard, kale, even brussels sprouts would be a wonderful green option. Oh and don’t forget to Set the Table with Love.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup onions, diced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 cup green beans, fresh or frozen

1 cup sweet peas, frozen

Avocado, halved and peeled

olive oil, sea salt, Montreal steak seasonings, lemon juice

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Simple Green Avocado Salad

Directions:

In a saucepan on medium heat, add the olive oil and onions, saute the onions for about 1 – 2 minutes, then add your garlic, cook for another minute. Add your beans and cook for about 3-4 minutes until slightly tender, you still want them to have a crunch. Add your sweet peas, season with sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Remove from heat once the sweet peas are warmed through.

In a nice serving bowl, add you arugula, sweet peas, green beans, toss gently with a bit of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Cut an avocado in half and peel. Take half of the avocado and add it to the top of the green mixture, drizzle with more olive oil and lemon juice and season generously with Montreal Steak Seasoning or a medley of cracked peppercorns. I love to also add basil leaves or mint to this salad to give it some freshness. Enjoy with some crusty bread or yummy multi grain crackers.

Arugula Salad with Sautéed Peaches, Honey Harissa Almonds, Fresh Burrata topped with Organic Waikiki Honey

Valentine’s Day is all about making that special someone in your life feel appreciated and loved. My favorite way of expressing my love is through food. However, not everyone wants to be in the kitchen cooking up a five course meal all day.

No worries I have a beautiful salad you can prepare in under 20 minutes and your love will be very impressed. This recipe uses peaches , but you can easily substitute them for pears. You can have this salad as a main course or serve along side a piece of grilled salmon.

No matter how you decide to serve it, remember to always Set the Table with Love.💕💕💕

Arugula Salad with Sautéed Peaches, Honey Harissa Almonds, Fresh Burrata topped with Organic Waikiki Honey

Ingredients:

Prepackaged Organic Arugula Greens, (tripled washed)

1 tbsp coconut oil

2 tbsp organic honey

3 medium peaches, sliced

1 cup almonds

1 tsp harissa seasoning

1/2 tsp sea salt

Fresh Burrata ( Whole Foods or Fresh Market )

Balsamic Glaze

Very Good Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instruction:

Add enough arugula on to a beautiful serving dish, set aside.

Add oil to a sauté pan on medium heat. Once heated add sliced peaches, drizzle 1 tbsp of the honey over them and stir until they are coated with the honey and a pinch of sea salt . Sauté for 2 minutes, remove from heat and set aside. Using the same pan on medium heat, add your almonds, the rest of the honey, harissa and sea salt to the pan and stir constantly, until the almonds are covered completely, about a minute. Remove from heat, turn off the heat and remove the pan from the stove. Take your Burrata and put it in the middle of your bed of arugula, open it up with a knife gently in the middle, to expose the curd, add the Organic Waikiki Honey in the middle of opened Burrata. Next add the peaches on top of the bed of arugula, then add the almonds all around, creating a beautiful salad, drizzle the entire salad with olive oil and balsamic glaze.

Arugula Salad with Sautéed Peaches, Honey Harissa Almonds, Fresh Burrata topped with Organic Waikiki Honey

Sundried Tomato Risotto ~ Easy Elegant Entertaining

What I love about entertaining at home, is spending time with my friends and family, so that means, not being in the kitchen all day, while everyone is having a good time in the other room. Who doesn’t want to be a part of the party?  I even bought our new house with that purpose in mind, to be with my guest, while I am preparing food for them. We all sit around our 8 foot island and just connect with one another over an excellent bottle of wine and eat as each course comes out.

Creating recipes that are loaded with flavor and doesn’t take a lot of time, but will make your guest feel like it did, is the key. My to go to recipe, my Sundried Tomato Risotto, because it seems, difficult, it looks fancy, but psst… IT’S NOT and it’s pretty darn delicious.

Risotto is one of those dishes you can truly make it your own, you can flavor it with all kinds of mouthwatering possibilities, with spinach, sweet peas and mint or you could do butternut squash and fried sage with just a pinch of nutmeg. Just allow your imagination to run wild, serve it with steamed veggies or a nice salad, some crusty bread, excellent wine, and you will be the hostess of the year, will maybe of the month, it is risotto and not coq au vin, LOL, 🙂

So here’s the recipe I hope you will enjoy it with your friends and family as you Set the Table with Love.

Sun dried Tomato Risotto

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Sundried Tomato Risotto photo by: Noi Tran Photography

Ingredients:

1 cup of water

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup Arborio rice

1 ounce sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil, I used pre sliced ones)

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup of white wine

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

finely chopped fresh basil leaves for sprinkling the risotto after cooking

Directions:

1. In a saucepan add the water and the bring the liquid to a simmer, and keep it at a bare simmer. In a large saucepan cook the onion and the garlic in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until they are softened, add the rice, stirring until each grain is coated with oil, and stir in the tomatoes.

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Sundried Tomato Risotto Photo by: Noi Tran Photography

2. Add 1/2 cup of the simmering liquid and cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the liquid, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly. Once you have added all the water and broth liquid add the 1/2 cup of white wine remember to allow each portion to be absorbed before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still al dente)

3. Stir in the Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle the risotto with the fresh basil. I like to drizzle a little olive oil over it all at the end. Makes 4-6 servings

Penne Pasta with Sweet Peas Roasted Tomatoes Mint and Lemon Zest with a Green Apple Mint Salad

Yes! It’s winter and our bodies are craving those wonderful comfort foods, like l a big bowl of chili with jalapeno and cheddar cornbread or some creamy mac and cheese, but it’s good to give the digestive tract a little rest, even in the cold wintry months.

Today I was missing summer, so I decided to make this wonderful pasta and salad dish. I used one of my new favorite gluten free pastas, brown rice penne fromJovial Foods I love the nuttiness of their pasta and it holds up to it’s form.

This recipe honors a few of spring and summer’s produce, mint, lemons and sweet peas. I roasted some cherry tomatoes to give it a nice burst of smoky citrus flavor and a few pieces of mint leaves with a bit of lemon zest, well just say, it’s summer in your mouth.

The Green Apple Mint salad makes a wonderfully refreshing side. I love making my own vinaigrettes and this balsamic mint dressing could be one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy a bit of summer in these recipe.  Make sure you stay warm and Set the Table with Love.

pastaandsalaad
Brown Rice Penne Pasta with Peas and Roasted Tomatoes with a Green Apple Mint Salad

Penne Pasta 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Jovial Penne Pasta

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup organic sweet peas

2 tbsp lemon juice

lemon zest

mint leaves, for garnish

cracked black pepper and kosher salt to taste

drizzle of good Extra Virgin Olive oil

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the tomatoes lightly with olive oil on a baking sheet. Spread them out into one layer and sprinkle generously with kosher salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft. Once roasted set aside.

Add penne pasta to a pot of salted boiling water. Cook according to package direction. Drain and place back on the stove on low heat, add peas and lemon juice. Allow peas to just heat up and remove from heat.  Add pasta, peas and roasted tomatoes into a bowl, add lemon zest, mint leaves and gently toss. Drizzle with some good extra virgin olive oil and add a squeeze of lemon juice.

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Brown Rice Penne Pasta with Peas and Roasted Tomatoes with a Green Apple Mint Salad

Green Apple Salad

Ingredients: 

1 medium green apple

Bib lettuce or your favorite leafy greens 🙂

Cranberries

Pumpkin seeds

Sunflower seeds

Baby mint leaves, as garnish

Instruction:

Cut the apples, as desired. Gently tear the bib lettuce into desired pieces and place in a bowl, top with the cut apples, cranberries, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Add drizzle with the Balsamic Mint vinaigrette.

Balsamic Mint Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon finely minced shallot

3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Place the shallots in a small glass jar with a secure lid.  Add the balsamic vinegar, the salt and the pepper. Pour the olive oil into the jar. Put the lid on the jar tightly, and shake vigorously, and add to the salad right before serving.

 

 

 

Five things you can do to stay on track for the New Year

 

Today I am talking about “food for the soul”, but will be back to our regularly scheduled food program tomorrow. 🙂

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Does your surroundings reflect your goals?

Did you know According to U.S. News, approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February, so the odds are against you. Source: Business Insider

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Drink more water. Keep a filled water bottle next to your bed at night. A great reminder in the morning to drink up.

Wow! Really?  That means we only have a couple of weeks before most of us stop going to gym, our closets look like a hurricane hit them, and that plant based “What the Health” diet, has us pulling up to the closest fast food chain. LOL. 🙂 Okay all kidding aside, staying true to our goals can be pretty challenging,  if you do not start off with the right intention, as well as, giving ourselves a bit of grace and lots of support. I wanted to share on this blog a few things I do to keep myself focus and on track. It’s not going to cost you tons of dollars, maybe not even a dime, just a moment to breath, slow down and make some conscious decisions . So, here we go, are you ready! This is a big one!

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Keep your goals visible
  1. Be determine to not give up! Keep trying!
  2. Do not be so hard on yourself. Remember this is a journey and along the way we have to pace and reset. Give yourself grace and take time out to go back and look at your goals. Ask yourself a few questions: How is this going? How is this making me feel? Do I need to reevaluate a few things or maybe change this goal to something more realistic? We can easily be pumped up by the beginning of the year with all the it’s “A New Year, so you much become a New You” talk. There’s nothing wrong with growing in all areas of our lives, but do it with lovingkindness.
  3. Make sure you have encouragement around. Get a goal buddy, or join a Groupme, an amazing app where you can find like minded individuals, moving in the same flow of energy as yourself.
  4.  Set yourself up to win. I have throughout my home mantras, affirmations and positive words to remind me of my goals. My fridge, pantry and counters, reflect my goals for healthy eating.  My yoga mat is laid out in my yoga space, so I can see it. I put my water jug on the side of my bed every night, so I can make sure I drink my water as soon as I get up.
  5. Reward yourself appropriately. If it’s about eating healthy, do not reward yourself with a bucket of ice cream, maybe reward yourself with a massage or a new pair of shoes, and if you want the ice cream or cake, just a  few bites and PLEASE enjoy it. How we feel about food affects how we digest our food, so be happy eating that cake.

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A Bonus Tip:

Stay positive, making goals can be so much fun! It allows us to open up our minds to all the possibilities out there waiting for us. We get to try new things, connect with people moving in the same direction and possibly change our lives for the better.

YOU CAN DO IT! 🙂