How to maximize your walk time


Some time ago a ViREO Life community member asked me about how I use my walking time. She also shared her ideas, which I'll include below, too.

  • Focused Problem-Solving: Take a question/issue in my mind plus an index card (old school) or smartphone (new school) and allow the question to roll over gently in my head.  No pressure to solve it, just let it be there.  Usually by the end of the walk I'll have a few ideas written on the card or recorded into the smartphone.
  • Mindful/Awareness Break - External: To occupy my mind with something completely opposite solving issues, I'll try to notice as much in nature as I can.  I always had trouble with this until Doug taught me how.  I would usually be pre-occupied with thinking through things, that I would not see squirrels or birds (unless it was unusual, like a heron in the middle of a field).  As we walk he points out animals and plants and I am now noticing nature on my own.
  • Mindful/Awareness Break - Internal: This one came more naturally to me.  While walking I'll pay attention to releasing any tension in my shoulders or back or abdomen.  Sometimes I'll breathe deeply to a count of 4-6 to relax.
  • Work Meeting: A favorite way to get brainstorming done with co-workers is to walk and talk. This is now such a universal productivity trick it is not a trick anymore.  On this morning's walk I went into a city area and heard at least 3 sets of co-workers creatively discussing work while walking (actually one set jogged past me talking work).
  • Prayer and Confession Time: Most mornings I do not get all of the praying or scripture confessions I want to do during my "devotion" I enjoy talking with God or quoting His Word while I walk.
  • Daydream: This is something I've done since childhood while walking.  As a kid I would walk and talk with my imaginary friends about my future.  (Give me some slack.  I grew up on a farm.  It was either talk to imaginary friends or cows.)  Now when I walk I still daydream out loud, but my imaginary friends don't have names now.

Thank you, Vanessa McPeak, for asking for this.  And thank you for allowing me to share what you do, as well.

"I love this time. It is a time for me. Some times I go alone, sometimes I get my hubby to join me. It doesn't matter as I love both scenarios. I commune with nature during this time. I silence myself and pray and listen for God's message to me. I take this time to thank God for my many blessings and to practice gratitude. I talk to the deer who are grazing in the yards. I make way for the numerous geese crossing the road in front of me. I feel the breeze, smell the smells, hear the sounds of nature. Some times I work thru issues, some times I place a call to my mom and we catch up. 

However I spend my walk I always end up happier than before I went. It is good for me in countless ways!" - Vanessa McPeak

Now it is your turn - How do you maximize the time and pleasure of your walks?


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Take Three: Healthy School Lunches and Snacks


I don't mean take three lunches.  (Though, if you can take a mid-morning snack, a lunch, and a mid-afternoon snack that's great.  However, not all schools allow a place and time for snacks.)

Here's what I do mean: a reader asked for ideas for healthy lunch options for her son going back to school.  My response:  Powerful Plate, of course.  A whole-sprouted-grain bread sandwich with chicken or turkey (no nitrates or junk), lots of cut veggies with hummus or peanut butter, and fruit.  But a year of just that would get boring and the ice cream bin at school would become a very tempting substitute.

So, I reached out to some friends and got three great takes (hence the "Take Three") on Healthy School Lunches and Snacks.  One of the coolest things I noticed -- there is a lot of overlap PLUS a lot of individualization, depending on likes/dislikes and personal schedules. Just the way it is supposed to be. 

Enjoy (and personalize) their ideas --

"I do try to have fresh fruit in my kids' lunches, and buy lots of healthy protein bars for snacks- I'll mix a big salad and put it in separate containers for the week and add dressing the morning of and mix. I buy whole grain bread and make sandwiches and I do cheese and crackers a lot, string cheese, and peanut butter or ranch dressing and carrots. (My girl likes pb and my boy likes ranch) I also do yogurt a lot for snacks and lunches. And I actually feed my kids a full meal after school, because they both have sports until later in the evening. So after sports they will snack."  Thanks for sharing...Christine Carter at

"From Pinterest I make batches of healthy breakfast cookies. There's all kinds of recipes. And then I send one or two with each of my kids to eat when they get hungry. Could be snack time for my young ones or after school on the bus for the older ones. They decide. It's homemade, healthy, and tasty. They loved it!" Thanks for sharing...Lois Pearson at

"I provide my kids with healthy snacks to have during school time, and they only bring water to drink. I make their lunches so I know they're eating healthy. They have lunchmeat that qualifies for the heart check program, whole wheat bread, baked chips, yogurt or fruit." Thanks for sharing...Brenda Melendez at

The other thing I noticed...all of these ideas work for adults, too.  Prep ahead the salad, make the breakfast cookies, and toss in some yogurt and fruit.

Share what you do for healthy lunches.

What to plant in your fall garden


It's spring

again, kind of

Thanks to one of the ViREO Life readers for asking what to plant in a fall garden.  The answer is "Like spring, almost."

The cool weather (spring/fall) crops will germinate faster in the fall, due to the warmer soil.  And some spring pests (cabbage worms, especially) I have found less of an issue in the fall.  The real difference for me is have available floating row covers for when killing frosts begin, to extend the harvest into November and December.

What I plant and why:

  • Beets - the green leaves to blanch and freeze; the beet root to store in the fridge through the winter
  • Lettuce - but much less, since we eat fewer salads in the fall
  • Greens - kale, swiss chard, spinach, as many as the beds will hold, to be able to freeze for the winter (or if a mild winter, cover and eat out of the garden in December).
  • Radishes - I can get two batches of radishes in because they grow quickly.  I won't eat as many radishes as we grow, but I blanch the radish greens with my other greens for freezing.  We get a lot of food grown in a small space because of the 30 days maturity time.  (This means if you live near me and like radishes, you may end up "gifted" with a few.)

Broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts - I do not plant these in the fall, simply due to space.  In the spring I plant them in the same bed where sweet potatoes are started.  By fall the bed is covered to overflowing with sweet potato vines and there is no room.  If you have the space, plant them again as you would in the spring.

Plants I have tried unsuccessfully to "over-winter" are leeks and onions and garlic.  If you want to try planting them in the fall, do so.  If you are successful, let me know what you did so I can try again.

When to start your fall garden?  Late August and early September seem to work for us to sow seeds.  By the time seeds have germinated the weather is cooler.  If I was planting broccoli and cabbage plants, I would not plant them in August, due to the heat.  Other gardeners plant in August, in a shadier spot.

One last note about fall gardens:  if you are planning to plant cover crops (oats, vetch, winter rye, etc.) where your summer crops were, let me know and I'll blog separately about cover crops.  That has been a study-then-learn-by-oops experience for us that I'm happy to share.

Happy and healthy gardening!

A Challenge to the Bakers

Photo by Cala on Unsplash

Photo by Cala on Unsplash

I had read rumors in several books and websites that pastries in France were not as sweet as in America.  I had even read that the spices were subtle.  Neighbors who go to France regularly confirmed these rumors.  But, still, I wasn't sure.  

Then we went on vacation to a little town in Florida that has a La Macaron French Pastries cafe. I was hungry.  I ordered a pain au raisin.  It looked vaguely like the cinnamon-rolls we popped out of a can and baked on Sunday mornings growing up.  But that is where any similarity ended.

After I took a bite (yes, with the fork and knife served with the pastry on a china plate), I encouraged Doug to try a bite.  "So?  What do you think is different?"  His reply was exactly my first thought, too.  "It's not sweet."

And the subtle spice?  Yep.  No overpowering cinnamon or nutmeg.  However, the pastry wasn't bland either; I just could not detect exactly which spices were used.  The pastry was the opposite of bland - it was intriguing.  Since there was no taste of sugar I could try to taste everything else.

Even more strange was several minutes later I could still taste the pastry, but not in an "my mouth is drawn from too much sugar" way.  Just a delicate flavor when I paid attention to it.

My lessons:  

  1. Eating with a knife and fork really does enlarge the experience of eating.  
  2. Eating food with less sugar allows the flavors to be tasted.

The challenge: If you bake, try cutting the sugar in your recipes drastically, experiment with level of spices needed, and then get out your knife and fork to savor the difference.  (I'm going to try it with a family blueberry teacake recipe.  Here's to experiments in the kitchen.)


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5 Books and 5 Articles to Re-Charge Your Life

Stop giving "lip service" to the idea that "I take better care of others when I take care of myself."  Actually do something to recharge yourself.  I was talking with a friend just this week who felt guilty for investing time for herself in the most simple of things (a long shower).  But she knows renewing herself will help her be a better wife and mom, along with performing better with work.  

Look outside at a tree or flowers or at a potted plant nearby.  In nature what is not renewing and growing is dying.  We are the same way.

Take action.  It is time for renewal.

When I need rest, sitting down with a cup of tea to savor a book is high on my list.  When the book is about renewal, even better.

The following 5 books and 5 articles can start you on your path to refreshing your spirit, mind, and body.

Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller

A great read to understand the rest we are to get daily and weekly, as part of our rhythm of life.

Clinician's Guide to Self-Renewal by Robert Wicks and Elizabeth Maynard

An in-depth detailed guide on renewal.  Not just for clinician's, but for anyone in a "helping" role - whether moms or pastors.

What to Say When You Talk to Your Self by Shad Helmstetter

I love how the title separates "Your" and "Self" - what you say to the Self you call "You" impacts your daily renewal.  A must read.  This one stays in our library.

The Woman's Comfort Book by Jennifer Louden

Not sure where to start with ideas for self-nurturing?  Tired of turning to food for comfort?  Start with this guide.

The Art of Extreme Self-Care by Cheryl Richardson

A month-by-month action plan to put balance back into your life.

The following links are some videos and articles to help you learn and practice renewal.  The last article, by Regent, is a must read for anyone who helps people as part of their work.






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5 Tips (and Products) to Create Your Spa Weekend

You feel like you need to get away from it all.  You want to spend a week at a spa, refreshing your body and mind.  But arranging life to do that?  Maybe later, you say. 

Don't wait until life hands you a week to take care of yourself.  Create a weekend - or at least a day - for an in-town spa retreat.


A spa setting is typically clean and quiet, with a lot of nature.  So plan to get the house clean before the weekend, perhaps even hiring a residential cleaning company (or your teenagers, if they have a clean-streak).  This is a great time to purchase new bath towels, if needed.  Or break out the plush bath towels you saved for guests.

Quiet?  What a great excuse to have the younger kids visit the grandparents overnight.  The teens may stay with friends, or perhaps they want to join you in a spa-weekend.

Nature? Inside the house, add fresh flower arrangements in each room.  Outside the house, enjoy a nearby park for journaling or walking.  Another way to add nature is candles, especially beeswax candles.  The purest I have found is  The way the wax is processed makes a difference in what you breathe.

If these ideas don't work...there's always a nice hotel or bed-and-breakfast option.


One of the joys of a spa is letting your mental-to-do list take a break.  That is another reason to have the house cleaned ahead of time.  Plan on Thursday and Friday evenings to have the laundry, grocery shopping, and any other weekend chores already complete.  

If cooking is a relaxing pleasure, you can leave that for your weekend spa.  If cooking is a chore, then arrange catering.  (If you live in the Nashville area, check out Linda's Perfect Platters - she cooks from scratch whatever you'd like.  You can find her company on Facebook.)

Turn on your "out-of-office" messages and leave your calendar behind.  Don't check your social media.  Unplug.  Scary?  Maybe.  But I promise you will be grateful by Sunday night.


Speaking of cooking, spa food is delicious and good-for-you.  Focus your menus around fresh vegetables with lean poultry and fish.  Add lots of cucumber-lemon water.  Perhaps visit a farmers market mid-week to pick up your in-season vegetables.  

If you do not want to cook during the weekend, pre-cook your meats and enjoy as leftovers on salads.


An occasional class is nice at a spa, so include a video or a book on a self-care topic.  If you are wanting to learn about exercise, read LePersonal Coach by Valerie Orsoni.  If eating and living healthy are your desire, then The Self Compassion Diet by Jean Fain or any book of the French Women Don't Get Fat series.  (Of course, this would be a great weekend to start Go Forward: 28 Days to Eat, Move, and Enjoy Life God's Way.)

Don't forget that your best expert on you is, well, you.  So journal each day; see what insights are revealed.


Here we get to the essence of a spa.  A spa should include novelty and familiarity.  

  • Hike or walk in a new park.  
  • Try a Pilates class at that boutique studio you've wanted to visit.  
  • Take your journal and stretch mat for a few hours at a park.  
  • Of course, a massage from your favorite massage therapist is "practically" mandatory for a spa weekend.

Enjoy next weekend at your personal in-town spa.


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Lemon and Rosemary Chicken - Yum!

The in-laws were in for a long weekend, which meant a lot of cooking.  I wanted to spend less time in the kitchen than this recipe was great because it roasts two chickens to use many different ways.

The rosemary scent also helps with memory.  I just read this from the Herb Society of Nashville:

"A recent study suggests that one very effective strategy for remembering to remember to do something is to inhale the scent of rosemary. A study involved a group of volunteers over 65 years of age who were divided into two groups. The groups were put into 2 separate rooms and then given tests of their memory. In one room, four (4) drops of rosemary essential oil were diffused, and in the other, no scent was added.

To quote the article, 'Scores on prospective memory tests among the participants in the rosemary-scented room were 15% higher than scores among those in the unscented room, according to a paper presented at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference in April 2016. The study’s author attributes the memory boost in participants who had inhaled the aroma of rosemary to the presence in their blood of traces of eucalyptol, a compound found in the herb that increases brain levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter linked to memory. The compound appears to have an effect on the brain similar to that of drugs used to treat dementia. Further research may lead to new drugs to treat cognitive decline.'"

So, while the chicken is cooking, enjoy the smell of rosemary.  (Yes, the delicious smell of chicken roasting is stronger than the rosemary on it.  But you can keep a few sprigs on the table to smell, right?)



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How to eat healthy from your back yard

What to plant in the spring and fall to enjoy fresh healthy food for most of the year? Here is what we planted in the spring. And a quick tip: radish seeds fell late spring when we left them to flower (the mess you see in the video) and planted themselves for our surprise summer harvest, too!

You don't have to have a large garden for spring and summer healthy eating.  A single bed for greens and lettuce, with some peas growing up a trellis.  The brussel sprouts we found better for harvest over time, for the same space, than cabbage or broccoli.  Eat healthy from your back yard this year.


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How to come home from vacation feeling great

We've all been there.  You're set for a great vacation - it is planned, booked, and anticipated. Then the lines, the hot sun, and the funnel cakes (at best) leave you drained and dragging.  When you get home you need a, well, another vacation.

You can enjoy your vacation and come home refreshed with a few simple tips.


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How to fit in fitness...easy everyday ideas

Is your schedule sometimes (often) too busy to get in a "regular" workout?  Would you rather go play than go to a gym?  Watch this quick video for some ideas for everyday activities to use as your exercise.


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How to make, use, and freeze pesto

What to do will the wonderful basil you are growing or buying at your farmer's market?

Pesto:  A few cups basil, 1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts (great for the omega fats), olive oil, garlic to taste (fresh or jar).  Puree in a food processor.

What to do with the pesto?  Freeze it in ice cube trays.  Once frozen, pop out and into a freezer bag to enjoy in soup, pasta, or rice during the winter.  For now, you can store in the refrigerator for a week, and cook it on baked chicken.  Enjoy it anyway you like.

Drizzle some extra oil on top, if you wish, to make freezing easier.

Preparing to store in the refrigerator for a week.

Preparing to store in the refrigerator for a week.


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10 Tomato Tips and Recipes

Whether you enjoy your summer tomatoes from your backyard, patio, or farmers market, you'll want to try these recipes. Not only are tomatoes fun to eat, the lycopene is a powerhouse nutrient for you.

If you like to grow your own tomatoes, the 5 tips discussed in the video will help you to get your best harvest.  


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Men: Mind Your P's to Keep Well

It's Men's Health Week and I want to thank all of the men in my life who have led by example in their pursuit of health.  Over years, here's what I've seen these healthy heroes do:

1.  Prioritize time for Physical Activity.  One man consistently rides his stationery bike each morning while he studies the Bible and prays.  He also plays golf.  Another man uses his breaks at work to exercise and then hikes on the weekends.  Find what works for you.

2.  Portion control.  I've seen these healthy men eat everything from salads to birthday cake.  The portions are always "reasonable."

3.  People.  One man, who is an introvert, makes an effort to invest time with family and close friends.  Why?  He knows that individuals with good social ties stay healthier than those who isolate themselves.

4.  Peace.  While social ties are important, peaceful time alone to reflect and rest is also vital to health.  These men find ways to manage their stress - time alone, exercise, talking through issues, and mindfulness techniques.

5.  Phyto-nutrients.  Specifically lycopene in tomatoes and other red fruits/vegetables, which has been shown to lower risk of prostate cancer.  I will admit, I have not talked with the healthy men throughout my life to learn if the reason they eat vegetables is for the lycopene.  However, I do know they eat a variety of vegetables.  So, I'll just choose to believe it was for the phyto-nutrients.

Mind these 5 P's a few times each week and you'll be a healthy hero.


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Fitting in Fitness on Vacation...Part One

When you are planning vacation, you think about the places you'll see or the beach you'll lounge beside.  You pack your favorite book and the tropical print you wear once a year.  You plan your route, how long it will take to get there, and what distractions to have for the kids if it is a long drive.  If you are flying you compare airline deals and you pack your essentials in your carry-on and your liquid items according to regulations.

But where does fitness fit in on your vacation?  Here are a few ideas.

First, decide if you want to Use, Maintain, or Increase your fitness.  

USE IT - If you want to Use it, try hiking, skiing, learning to kiteboard, kayak, or surf in the ocean. Keep your eyes open for opportunities.  A few years ago we were in CO and a rock-climbing gym was having a grand opening.  Doug likes to rock climb and I had never tried it.  So, off we went for a free afternoon of indoor climbing.  (I'm glad it was free, because I discovered I find facing a wall for hours boring, despite the physical challenge of climbing.)

MAINTAIN IT - If you want to Maintain your fitness, consider the length of your vacation.  If it is a long 4 day weekend, your fitness will maintain itself and your body will appreciate the rest.  Don't plan any workouts, just stay generally active (shopping, sight-seeing, and so on).  

If your vacation is 1-2 weeks, you can ease back on your workouts and maintain.  For example, if you usually walk 4 miles on 5-6 days each week, then cutting back to 3-4 days will maintain your fitness.  If you usually lift weights or do yoga for an hour 3 days each week, make sure you get in 1-2 days to maintain your strength and flexibility.

If you are going for more than 2 weeks, you will need to keep up some of your normal routine.  

INCREASE IT -'s where the adventure spas come in.  You can create your "stay-cation" spa, too.  I'll post a whole blog on creating a wellness stay-cation.  

Next up?  Questions to ask yourself when planning vacation.


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Hiking Food: What and How to Pack

Pre-hiking lunch at John Muir Woods, California

Pre-hiking lunch at John Muir Woods, California

Live on energy bars and a jar of peanut butter?  Not if I can help it.  They make a quick snack, but one that doesn't satisfy and keep energy up for the miles.  (Plus, if I'm hiking in a bear area, I don't want the sweet smell.) 

On a recent hiking vacation, I took time to record the process I use to pack for full day hikes.

Questions to ask:

  • What will be the temperature?  
  • Is the day one 8+ hour trail, or several shorter trails with driving between them?

Water - Plan for way more than I need.  I drink 4 cups of water before hiking.  I take 12 cups or more with me for a full day hike.  More if the weather is warm.  I mentioned in another post that Camelbak's make consuming your water much easier.

Water Foods - To increase my fluid intake even more, I pack fruits and veggies that do not spoil easily when out all day.  Apples, oranges, celery, cucumbers.  You can take whole fruit and put the remains in a sandwich bag, or you can pre-cut them.  Cucumbers sliced long-ways are great on a sandwich.

Protein - If an all day hike in one location, freezing the sandwich meat will help it to last until lunch.  Also, nuts and the above mentioned peanut butter and energy bars are good for snacks. However, I don't recommend relying on them for the whole day.  For an afternoon protein, I usually pack a turkey-jerky stick.  (Nicks Sticks is the brand I currently use.)

Sandwiches - Hearty bread that won't fall apart.  A slice of meat and cheese (frozen). Lettuce, cucumber, tomato (if you don't mind the mess).  If the hike is all day, the afternoon sandwich might be peanut butter, since even frozen meat would thaw and be risky after 7-8 hours.

How much to pack - I plan on a small meal or snack for every 2-3 hours.  I would rather come back with food still in my pack than to hike hungry for the last few hours of the day.  If the day includes driving between hikes, then keeping the afternoon food and water in a trunk cooler means my backpack is lighter and the food fresher.

How to pack - My backpack has two main pouches and two side pouches.  Heavy food, like apples and celery, go on the bottom of a main pouch.  Then first aid supplies, sunscreen, bug spray, etc. go on top of that.  At the very top are crush-ables, like sandwiches.  The side pouches work great for the energy bars and nuts, giving quick access if my blood sugar drops while hiking and I need food immediately.  When I've gotten "suddenly really really hungry" it's been difficult to try to find a bar buried underneath everything.

Of course, if you are packing for a short hike, less than 2 hours, water is your main concern.  On the other hand, if you have never done a full day hike on one trail, I encourage you to experiment.  Hike several short trails with breaks in between to test how much food you would need for a full day of hiking.

Whatever length of hiking you do, congrats on getting out there and enjoying the trails and keeping healthy.


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Basil in a Bag ... now you can try it at home

A few weeks ago I planted some basil seeds in pre-bagged product.  (See video here.)

Four of the six seeds germinated.  Now, what to do with them?  Eat with tomatoes, of course. Make a basil tea as medicine (yep - details are in the video). Store for the winter.  (Watch to learn how.)

Happy growing.

Remember, you can find your path and fulfill your potential.

10 Tips for Great Hiking Trips (mostly learned the hard way)

It is time to plan your summer fun ... 

Planning some hiking as part of your summer fun?

We just returned from some hiking in the Redwoods and South Lake Tahoe, CA.  So, I thought I'd share Ten Tips we use when planning our hiking trips.  (Yes, we've learned these the hard way.)

  1. To keep sore muscles at bay, alternate days of long trails and short trails, with perhaps a little driving between the short trails for rest.
  2. Camelbaks.  These make drinking your water so easy.  Always have more and drink more water than you think you need.  We've hiked "all day" with Camelbaks and without them.  They made more of a difference than I expected.  If you are hiking on two or more days of your vacation, a Camelbak is the best investment you can make.  This trip, because we only planned one "all day" hike, we only took Doug's Camelbak.  (We were trying to save room in the luggage.)  I carried bottled water in a lay-flat backpack, but we both drank from his Camelbak for convenience on the hikes.  So, at least invest in one Camelbak per couple.
  3. Food.  I'll post a whole separate blog on packing food for hikes.
  4. Stretching.  Lots of it.  And often.  The days leading up to your hiking trip, during your hikes, and at the end of each hiking day for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Have a few "extra" trails picked out on your route.  Once you get to your destination, you may find out that a trail has been closed (snow, bear-issues, landslide, whatever).  It is better to have already decided an alternate than to spend hours trying to locate another one and your day of hiking is gone.
  6. Plan on a few hours before your trip to map out the directions to trailheads.  And be patient.  Usually the directions to a trailhead are written by locals.  So it may say "the trailhead is located on Hwy 72 after the big waterfall."  Sounds simple, until you get to the area and see that there are several big waterfalls.
  7. That means an opportunity to get to know the locals.  Stop at hiking stores, gas stations, etc. and show them your directions.  Ask, "Any idea which is the big waterfall?"  If they don't know, just count it as part of your adventure.  (Admitted:  tough for me to do.  I just want to get there and hike.)
  8. First aid:  Depending on how deep into the woods you are going and how well traveled the trail, take at least basic first aid supplies (alcohol wipes, bandaids, allergy med for stings)...and whatever else you might need if you were alone a few miles into the trail.
  9. If not a very well traveled trail or the trailhead is away from the parking/ranger area, let someone know (either at the ranger station or the front desk at the hotel) what trails you plan to do and approximately when you will return.  For most trails, an average of 1.5-2 miles per hour is typical.
  10. Massage.  Schedule a massage for the latter part of your hiking trip, or at least for when you get home.  You will have earned it.  (And, if you have challenged yourself, you will need it.)
  11. Bonus.  I said 10 Tips...but this one you must remember.  2 Ziploc bags.  1 empty.  1 with toilet paper.  And a sturdy spoon.  I'll say no more.

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Is your exercise right for you?

There are tons (and tons) of exercise programs out there.  How do you know if yours is right for you?  

What exercises do you like?  What programs have worked well for you?  Share your thoughts with me (and the rest of our ViREO Life community).


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Sleep ... not just for kids

Spring is a time for renewal.  To renew and maintain your body and brain, sleep is essential. If you want to succeed in life, sleep is not a luxury.  It is mandatory. 

Here are a few renewals that happen when you sleep ...

  • REGULATE YOUR HORMONES – including hormones that impact your appetite and stress levels, so it helps with weight management
  • SLOW THE AGING PROCESS (I would have loved the "R" for Reverse, but I've not seen a lot of compelling research on reversal.  But sleep definitely slows the aging process.)

(Cue music) Here's a story, of a man named Sleepy...

One gentleman I’m working with was tired of being tired.  He used to deprive himself of sleep by staying up late reading blogs or watching videos.  While he didn’t like being tired and wanted to change his habit, the tiredness itself was not enough to motivate him to turn off the devices and go to sleep on time.  That is fairly common, so don’t feel alone if this describes you. 

The times he did get enough sleep he was more productive in his business, in a financially measurable way.  You can guess where this went.  I asked him to quantify his tired productivity vs his alert productivity.  We attached those dollars to segments of time.  It was then his choice:  “I’ve played enough to relax.  If I watch more videos it will cost me X hundreds of dollars tomorrow.”  The devices got turned off and he’s now living alert. His income has increased to the level he said “This is the first time I’ve not had to worry about having enough money for me and my family. I've never been this focused on my health, and I've never had this much success in my business.  I'm happier with my business and income than I ever have been on almost 7 years of business.”

So if you want to be healthier and have greater energy for work and family and do you get better sleep?  Follow a few Don'ts and Do's ...
The Don’ts
O    Don’t put your blood sugar on a roller-coaster.  Don’t eat a lot of simple carbohydrates – like desserts, a bowl of cereal, or sweet drinks – before bed.
O    Don’t drink caffeine – or at least cut way back.  Why? It increases your stress hormones (which as a side note can increase your appetite and weight) and can remain the body for 20 hours.  So those extra cups of coffee in the morning and the energy drinks during the day, can keep you awake at night.
O    Don’t use Nicotine.  Don’t drink alcohol before bed.  Both of these disrupt sleep and often cause insomnia.
O    Don’t do intense exercise right before bed.
O    Don’t watch TV or use computer screens an hour before bed.

The Do’s
O    Evening snacks that aid sleep?  Plain yogurt, peanut butter, turkey.
O    Take a warm shower/bath before bed, especially with magnesium (Epsom) salts.
O    Drink a hot herbal tea that is known for its relaxing properties (like chamomile or valerian root) an hour before bed.
O    Take a break during the day.  Why? It lessens the stress hormones, so you fall asleep faster at night.  And if the break is a walk in sunshine, even better.
O    Exercise.  30 minutes of exercise, such as walking, 4 times a week significantly improves sleep.  Numerous research studies show that people who begin exercising for just 30 minutes 4 times a week are able to sleep about an hour longer and fall asleep in half the time compared with before they started exercising.
O    Keep your bedroom clutter-free, dark and at a cooler temperature.
O    Take care of personal “keeps me awake” issues…cold feet, drinking too much water right before bed, going to bed “too hungry.”
O    Experiment with various relaxation techniques before bed: journal, light candles, look through pictures of nature, read something uplifting, meditate on scripture, pray and cast the cares of the day on Jesus…
O    Do seek professional help for more complicated issues – hormonal imbalances, a snoring spouse.

Happy Sleeping!


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My 3 Favorite Asparagus Recipes with Spring Savings!

Asparagus is in it is usually in abundance and on sale.  Plus asparagus is on the Environmental Working Groups "Clean Fifteen," which means it is low in pesticides.  Purchasing conventional asparagus saves even more money.

Asparagus is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and an amino acid which acts as a natural diuretic.  (Leeks, included in the third recipe, are also a natural diuretic.)

When I am tempted to buy several bunches (which I did this week), I get home needing several ways to cook the asparagus.  Here are my 3 favorite:

Steamed Asparagus

Steamed Asparagus

1.  Traditional steamed:  If you are planning to eat the steamed asparagus as a finger food, buy the thicker stalks.  If you are planning to eat with knife and fork, purchase the thinner stalks.  

Rinse.  Snap off the hard ends.  If using thicker stalks for finger food, you may want to peel the lower half with a vegetable peeler.  (Or when eating, just hold the end and eat down to the tough area.) 

Either place asparagus in a steamer or in a shallow pan with a little water so the asparagus does not stick to the pan.  Do not cover the asparagus completely in water.  Boil the water, cover the pan, and steam for 2-4 minutes.

Serve with mayo, flavored olive oil, no-salt butter, or even salsa.  Delicious chilled the next day, too.

roasted asparagus

roasted asparagus

2.  Traditional roasted:  Best to buy the medium or thick stalks.  Though, I have roasted then stalks and the results are acceptable.  Rinse, pat dry, and snap off the tough end.  Toss with olive oil and herbs of choice. 

Line a baking sheet or shallow pan with parchment.  Roast at 475 degrees F for 10 minutes, stirring once.

(If you are roasting other vegetables, add the asparagus for the last 10 minutes, as other vegetables usually roast for 15-20 minutes.)

asparagus and leek frittata

asparagus and leek frittata

3.  Frittata with Leeks:
2 leeks, white/light green parts, cut/washed
One bunch of asparagus washed and cut into bite size pieces (again, removing tough end)
1/2 onion diced
Saute these veggies until soft, in coconut oil preferably
Hand whip 6 eggs with herbs of choice
Pour egg mixture over the veggies. Cook until bottom is set.
Add shredded cheese on top. *
Then cook in 350 degree oven until top of egg/cheese is set.

Enjoy for dinner or the leftovers for breakfast or lunch.

(*If you are wanting to rid your body of excess water retention, limit the amount of cheese you use in the frittata.)

So, there we have my 3 favorite asparagus recipes.  Please share yours!


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