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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Fitbit Challenge Update- Week Four--Almost Over!

Who said I was only supposed to walk 70,000 steps per week? 94,121 steps for week four!

It is hard to believe my personal Fitbit challenge is almost over. It is pretty wonderful to think I have walked over 10,000 steps each day for the past 30 days. Today is my last day to go for the challenge! Remember my goal was to walk 10,000 steps a day for 31 days for a total of 310,000.

There were days that were a challenge to get the steps done but over all I would say the steps just kept escalating towards the finish each and every day without much hassle, just a lot of mindfulness.

I did learn a lesson. Never go from one time zone to another--from later to earlier, specifically-- and start your final steps at the end of the day without making sure your Fitbit has updated to the new time zone! I did the steps but when my Fitbit did update it lost some of my steps! Ouch!

Here is the lowdown on my steps:
Week One- 82,504
Week Two- 100,829
Week Three- 78,228
Week Four- 94,121
Total So Far- 355,682

Yep, I achieved far beyond my stated goal. I can hardly believe it. Honestly, my husband coached me to declare a range with the top of the range 310,000 when I initially set my goal. He knew the busy life I lead and all the travel we do. I decided to go for it. I am so glad I did. There is nothing better than thinking big and achieving bigger!

It feels great to have gone above and beyond before the final day is even finished! I look forward to announcing the total and the resulting donation I will be making to the CU Art Museum as part of the  effort to acquire the very special Sharkive for students, faculty and public to enjoy, learn from and celebrate in perpetuity.

Thanks for cheering me on. It made me feel I could do it. And I did! Not bad for someone who is celebrating 60 years today. My sneakered feet are ready to move forward!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Healthy Lifestyle Tip-- Know Your Go-To Healthy Meals


Friday, August 26, 2016

Guest Blog: 5 Baking Hacks to Make Desserts Healthy

Chef Vanessa Musi
Desserts don’t have to be fattening or full of sugar. Pastry chefs around the world are discovering that the fourth course can be just as delicious without processed, high-fructose ingredients. Chef Vanessa Musi of Austin, Texas is one such baker. As the first healthy pastry chef since 1994, she’s been redefining the way we make desserts by adapting them for hypoglycemic, vegan, paleo and gluten-free diets. The hacks below are some of Chef Musi’s favorite ways to adapt everyday sweets into wholesome, yet heavenly pastries.

1. Ditch the White Flour

Flour power, not so much. While you probably know by now that white flour is devoid of any nutrition, you might not realize that it can actually increase your risk for diabetes. Yikes. Although wheat flour is the obvious substitution, you can make desserts paleo and gluten-free by using almond flour or coconut flour instead. Chef Musi likes to use a combination of the two for optimal texture and flavor. Check out this paleo pumpkin cake recipe as an example of the two-flour technique.

2. Substitute Peanut Butter

Need a guilt-free version of the peanut butter cookie? Swap out the P for almond butter – it’s higher in healthy fats, vitamins and fiber. And in addition to all those benefits, almond butter has the same thick, creamy texture as peanut butter, so you won’t miss a thing. Want to get more experimental? Try tahini. It’s made from sesame seeds and has lower sugar and saturated fat than peanut butter. Healthy pastry chefs are going nuts for it right now.

3. Heal With Lavender

Sweets don’t have to make us feel sluggish. In fact, they can soothe us. After all, we’re most likely to eat a dessert right before bed, so why shouldn’t it have some calming properties? Lavender is becoming popular in healthy pastries because it’s good for our well-being. Among its many health benefits are reducing stress, improving sleep and balancing blood sugar. All are good things. Lavender has a strong taste, so you’ll want to use it sparingly and combine with other flavors like lemon. Take a peek at this lemon lavender spelt cake that does just that.

4. Add Superfoods

Who says you can’t sneak a few nutrient-rich spoonfuls into your sweets? Try mixing wholesome ingredients into your desserts for extra energy and vitality, like hemp seeds, turmeric, cinnamon, and maca powder. Chef Musi likes to toss in golden berries and cayenne pepper for an extra healthful boost and savory taste.  This paleo phat fudge recipe is so full of superfoods that you could eat it as a post-workout recovery snack.

5. Leave Out Sugar

Sugar is kind of the worst; we know that. But what to use instead? Maple syrup is a slightly healthier substitution, but still has a moderate glycemic impact. If you really want to cut out the sweet stuff, try brown rice syrup, which is even lower in fructose. It can be difficult to bake with, however, so you’ll need to warm it up before using.  If you have a restrictive sugar-free diet, you can also try a natural sweetener with no artificial ingredients or preservatives, like Swerve.

As with everything, eat sweets in moderation, even the healthy kind. Be sure to pick up your Livliga LivSpoons to create mouthwatering desserts for guests at your next dinner party.

About the Author

Avery Shackelford is a writer and creative consultant living in Austin, Texas. Her favorite food is definitely pizza, and she likes to think that adding a heap of vegetables on top makes it somewhat healthier. Give her a shout at

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Fitbit Challenge Update- Week Three- Feeling hungrier and thirstier

Week Three Steps Achieved During My Month-long Fitbit Challenge
Good news is I have kept on racking up the 10,000 steps per day, every day during my month long Fitbit Challenge. I am actually amazed at myself! Twenty-three days into it and I have managed to get to 10,000 steps each and everyday (or more!). It has not always been easy to do. For instance last week I had more than one day with over 4,000 steps to attain and it was already after 9PM. I am lucky enough to have an old treadmill in the basement I can turn on, watch some TV and work on those additional steps not yet trekked.

What I have noticed as I have continued this Fitbit Challenge is that I am on average hungrier and thirstier than before. It is true; you do feel hungry when you exercise more. I have read articles about people who train for runs and marathons and how they can actually end up gaining weight because they feel hungry more frequently. I find this is true, particularly the days I run as part of my exercise. I seem to burn through my oatmeal faster at breakfast so I end up being hungry mid-morning and stay that way unless I eat something. At first you want to use the added exercise as an excuse to eat more. This completely defeats the point of the added exercise. Why do we do this to ourselves?!?

I decided my goal had to be to remain mindful and not gain any weight during my month long challenge. With my family obligations and travel schedule I figured focusing on the challenge and not gaining weight was as much as I could sustain. Losing weight, if it happened, would be an added bonus. This hasn’t happened, but I have maintained my weight, which makes me happy.

My thirst has me drinking more since we are still in the hot days of summer. I am drinking water but I have to admit my sugar-free soda pop consumption has increased. Good news is I love Bai5 drinks. They are delicious and promoted to be nutritious with only 10 calories per bottle. I use them as a treat for myself. The coconut flavor is something to savor. It seems like a good strategy for keeping me going, managing my weight and still getting in the necessary fluids I need.

There are days I have imagined I needed a break from the rigor of my 10,000 steps a day challenge yet once I get up and get going I have surprised myself in managing to get to that number everyday. Different days need different tactics. All for the good of the goal. Kind of fun showing myself I can do this! One more week to go!

Still going strong!


Monday, August 22, 2016

Healthy Lifestyle Tip--Starve Your Fears


Friday, August 19, 2016

The Joys of Walking Meditation

Finding Beauty in my Surroundings on a Walking Meditation

Meditation has been a skill that has been hard for me to acquire. Like many people I know, it has been hard for me to let go of my thoughts and pressing concerns. Sitting still seems to actually exacerbate my efforts to clear my mind and find the stillness I seek. So when I heard about Walking Meditation it immediately appealed to me.

When I went to research more about Walking Meditation I found there are many resources regarding this ancient practise. The most important element of Walking Meditation is to think of it as a contemplative practise where close attention is paid to the actual action of walking. The idea is to be present while you walk, paying specific attention to your feet touching the pavement, the length of your stride, the rhythm of your breathing as well as taking in your surroundings. Walking Meditation is not thinking about problems, worrying about what you have to do next or working through something. It is about being in your skin in the moment. I don’t know about you, but this is much harder than is sounds.
Seeing Perspective in the Views I see on my Walking Meditations

One resource listed the abundant benefits of Walking Meditation for not only our mind and spirit but also for our physical health:

Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
    •    Reduce Stress & Anxiety
    •    Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
    •    Lower Risk of Disease
    •    Greater Self Acceptance
    •    Improved Feelings of Happiness
    •    Lower Blood Pressure
    •    Improve Health & Vitality
    •    Cultivate Innate Wisdom
    •    Higher Creativity
    •    Reduced Risk of Heart Attack
    •    Boost Immune System
    •    Age More Gracefully
    •    Greater Compassion
    •    Improve problem solving skills
    •    Better Concentration

Many methods are recommended to help you stay present and sustain the rhythmic benefit of Walking Meditation. Here are some I have found helpful:

Repetition of movement. It is amazing how just by putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again you can create a rhythm that is compelling and sustainable. It is tricky, though, to stay in the moment and maintain awareness of the movement. Sometimes I drift and have to get back to paying attention to each step to keep myself present.

Feeling all number of sensations. I tend to walk first thing in the morning when the world is still waking up. I truly enjoy listening to the sounds of the different birds, hearing the rustle of the wind through the leaves of the trees, experiencing the smell of the flowers that are in bloom, feeling the sun on my back, seeing the softness of the light and the shadows that play with my eyes and sometimes I can even taste what is in the air. It is joy for me to work out how I am experiencing all my senses as I walk.

Being open to every sound. Concentrating on just sound helps me avoid wandering off in my thoughts. I am astounded at how many different sounds I can hear each morning from the songs of the different birds, to the chatter of the squirrels, the rustling of leaves, the rush of the wind, the buzz of various insects, to the bark of dogs, the hum of the traffic, as well as so many other noises I continue to discover. Each day is different.

Seeing my Surroundings on My Walking Meditation

Seeing your surroundings. Just looking around allows you to relish the beauty of the day and be ever mindful in the moment. I am fortunate to live near the mountains. Part of my walk allows me the joy of seeing their majestic. Some days I see every part of them, otters days there are clouds, mist or haze. The colors as the sun rises are nothing less than glorious. I go from the macro view of the mountains to the micro experience of bees climbing around flowers to ducks gliding on water. Just taking notice helps with your Walking Meditation.

Acknowledging what you are seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and smelling. Not only does doing these various practises help with a successful Walking Meditation but also acknowledging what you are doing helps. In essence you are having an ongoing conversation with yourself about what you are doing, how you are feeling and how the various sensations affect you. This ongoing conversation keeps you present. You are so busy you don’t have time to have your mind wander! (or so you wish…)

Continuously touch base with the basics. My mind does wander. Some thought creeps into my head and I start thinking about other things other than what I am doing at the present moment. What I have found is that when this happens I go back to the basics. I start over by thinking about my feet, how they are touching the pavement, how that feels and being very aware of my movement, one foot in front of the other. It gets me back on track. It also does get easier the more your practise Walking Meditation.

Be mindful of your attitude and how you express that on your face. Some days are just harder than others. You get up tired, you are mad about something or frustrated. It is nearly impossible to have a constructive Walking Meditation if you hold on to those thoughts. You have to let them go. Attitude is everything. I find by taking a few deep breaths and literally putting a smile on my face I can shift my thinking, let go of the negative and get into the benefit of my Walking Meditation. It is quantifiable how much better I feel at the end of my walk compared to how I felt at the beginning.

Everyday I see Something New on my Walking Meditations
Taking photos to capture simple beauty. One of my favorite activities on my walks is to stop occasionally to take a picture of something I find particularly beautiful, especially flowers. IT is such a peaceful action for me. I find it heightens my enjoyment and allows me to focus on the present and where I am in that specific moment. It also gives me an image to look back at to further extend the enjoyment.

During my month long Fitbit Challenge my Walking Meditations are a particular pleasure. I typically walk for just over an hour and achieve around 7,000 steps towards my daily goal of 10,000. It is a great way to start the day.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Fitbit Challenge Update--Week Two

First 15 Days of My Fitbit Challenge

This past week I was concerned I would have a hard time fitting in enough steps each day to reach my 10,000 steps per day goal. It was a travel week for me that included 4 days exhibiting in our Livliga booth at the AADE conference. So much of the time when we are exhibiting we are standing in a 10 x 10 booth and not walking around much. This may be better than sitting but it is not great for accumulating steps.

I guess it was good that I was worried about my steps because I ended up sailing past each days goal. Here are some of the ways I ensured my success:

  • Each morning we worked out in the hotel fitness center for an hour
  • We made sure to walk to and from the convention center each day (fortunately it was within walking distance)
  • Each night we chose a place to eat that we could walk to
  • When I got my bathroom breaks during the day I made sure to pick a restroom that required a nice walk to get to it
  • And then the one half day, after setting up the exhibit, we had to play we rented bikes and did a 21 mile bike ride. I knew that wouldn't count towards steps. In the past I would have skipped working out knowing I was going to cycle. Not this time. Instead I worked out for an hour, set up the exhibit, cycled and walked a long the shore by our hotel to make sure my steps were covered

It just goes to show it is a good thing to be mindful and aware of choices. Clearly by being motivated to make my steps I consciously made choices to help me achieve my goal. These were choices I would not have ordinarily made. I am proving to myself that I have more capacity than I thought I had and that goals can be very motivating. In the past I might have rationalized an averaging of my steps so I would achieve just the minimum amount of steps for a rolling 10,000 steps per day. At this point in my life I am interested in actually getting to 10,000 steps each and every day.

This past week I achieved 100,829 steps. Overall I have accumulated 198,829 steps for the first 15 days of my Fitbit Challenge (150,000 steps would be the expected goal). Feels great!


Monday, August 15, 2016

Healthy Lifestyle Tip--Find Your Healthy Lifestyle Peeps


Friday, August 12, 2016

How to Deal with Foot and Leg Swelling During the Summer Months

Nothing Fun About Swollen Feet
 It is so interesting to me that more often than not when it gets hot outside, my legs begin to swell. I have always wondered—is it the heat that confounds my body or do I end up eating saltier foods in the heat of the summer? Or maybe it is that I need to be drinking more water because of the heat. In researching this conundrum here is what I found: Heat edema occurs when heat causes the blood vesicles to dilate while the person remains in a prolonged upright sitting or standing position. This condition is inconvenient and uncomfortable. It is also very common for a lot of people, particularly those that are older, pregnant, are menstruating or overweight.

There are things that can exacerbate the swelling like being in the heat, eating too many salty foods and sitting too long or standing too long. Being aware of these contributing factors may help to moderate them. We can cool down by getting in the shade or jumping in a pool. We can get up and move if we have been sitting too long or standing in one place too long. Elevating and massaging our feet and legs helps too.

When it comes to limiting the salty drinks and foods in the summertime, it seems a little more challenging. We eat more barbecue, potato chips and, of course, indulge in summer drinks like salty dogs or margaritas. I have found by making my own versions of our favorite summer foods I can cut down and even eliminate a lot of the added salt.

Even with knowing all the things I can do to help my swollen feet, I still struggle to keep the swelling down during the course of a day. That is when I decided to research what foods can act as a natural diuretic. It turns out there are many of them and a lot of them suit our summertime eating sensibilities. One of my favorites I discovered is watermelon! Who doesn’t love an ice-cold slice of watermelon in the heat? Other foods that act as a natural diuretic are lemons (think fresh lemonade with stevia), celery (think dip with crudité), tomatoes (think fresh cold gazpacho soup) and asparagus (think cold with a mustard vinaigrette drizzled on top). The best natural diuretic, believe it or not, is water. Lemon water, hot or cold, is a great way to add health and keep the fluids flowing as part of a daily routine.

Once I started designing menus that incorporated foods that are natural diuretics, along with being conscious of moving around more and using a lot less salt, my swelling has been virtually eliminated.

Enjoy! And Live Vibrant!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fitbit Challenge Update--Week One

First Nine Days of my Month Long Fitbit Challenge

Challenges can be great motivators. They are for me...just so long as I think they are achievable. This Fitbit challenge is all about getting the steps in. The goal is to get to 10,000 steps (or more) each day for the month of August. That is 31 days of 10,000 steps per day. By the end I want to log 310,000 steps.

So far we are ten days into the challenge. Good news is I have gotten to 10,000 each day. Has it been easy? Not exactly. But it has been doable.

What I have found is that there is method to the madness. Working out first thing in the morning is key for me. By focusing on cardio first for about 50 minutes I can jump-start my day and my step count. If I can get over 5,000 steps first thing the rest of the steps I need are much easier to achieve. It is even better the days I run as part of my work out. I can get over 7,000 steps running.

It is fun reporting out where I am in my steps. My husband signed up to do the challenge with me. Competing with him makes it fun to get up and get going. Fitbit even has an easy way to have others join in a daily challenge with you. It provides a way to be accountable and mindful. It also provides a good nudge.

I may only be 10 days into the challenge with 21 more days to go but I feel good about my ability to get to 10,000 steps on an ongoing basis. The weekends are harder I have found because we regularly cycle on Saturdays which doesn't help me with steps so I have to consciously figure out how to fit in additional exercise and steps over and above our couple of hours of cycling. Then Sunday's have classically been my lounge around days where I have barely logged steps, often just getting a few over 3,000 steps. That has changed!

Now I am on an airplane headed for a conference. My next challenge will be figuring out how to fit in steps standing all day as an exhibitor in an exhibit hall. Usually my feet are tired by the end of the day but I haven't managed to log many steps. More on that next week.

So far I have discovered getting to 10,000 steps on a daily basis is not easy but it is doable no matter what day of the week it is, as long as I remain mindful of the goal. Let's see what next week brings.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Healthy Lifestyle Tip--Positive Attitude for Positive Outcome


Friday, August 5, 2016

My Guilty Pleasure #2

My Guilty Pleasure #2: Listening to Disney Music while Working Out
You know those articles, like in People magazine, where a famous person is asked to share what their guilty pleasure is? Well I thought it would be fun to imagine mine. There is definitely something sinfully enjoyable about confessing things you secretly do that give you pleasure.

My Guilty Pleasure #2 is listening to Disney music while I am working out. I confess, this mature adult loves to listen to this feel good music. Disney music has an upbeat tempo which helps motivate me and keep up my pace. The message in the music is empowering and positive. A great way to start the day.

The more I listen to my Disney morning music the more I have also noticed how female focused it is. Disney has been promoting and celebrating strong female characters since its inception. Everyone of them has to realize who they are and how to access their strengths in order to overcome the odds they are faced with. In recent years the female protagonists have become the singular heros in their stories, saving themselves and others. Of course, their strengths are founded in relationships, caring about others and intelligence.

As a female entrepreneur I thrive on the Disney Amazon Female Warrior message. My morning Disney music fix while I am working out makes me feel engergized, capable and maybe even a little invinsible. When attitude is such a key part to success a little boost from Mulan and Belle to Elsa, Tiana, Cinderella and Pocahontas is welcome.

There is something pretty fun and empowering about imagining what people might think if they knew I was receiving my mojo from exercising to Disney Animated Female characters singing schmaltzy songs. A guilty pleasure? You bet.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

My personal Fitbit challenge--310,000 steps for the month of August!

 Fitbit Challenge Begins!
August is my birthday month. The years I have significant birthdays I have challenged myself to something out of my comfort zone, usually physical in scope. This year, since I will turn 60, I have been thinking about my next challenge. I have climbed numerous mountains and covered over 100 miles on a bicycle, so what next?

This year I want to do my own Fitbit challenge. I want to average 10,000 steps per day each day of my birthday month. I am lucky to be born in a month of 31 days. My birthday also falls on the last day of the month. So by the end of day on August 31 I want to have walked 310,000 steps. You read it right--310,000 steps.

To make it extra meaningful, and with my husband's blessing, I want to also benefit a charity through my efforts. We will be giving a penny a step to the Sharkive Initiative at the University of Colorado Boulder. The goal is to give this outstanding project $3,100 for my achievement of 310,000 steps.

This is going to be a lot of organized effort to keep on track with my steps over the entire month. To keep me motivated and accountable I plan on providing Weekly Wednesday Updates. I also hope others will take on the challenge with me, even for a day, a week or two. We will all be healthier for it and have some fun along the way.

If you are a Fitbit user please reach out to me as a user and we can connect and mutually challenge each other.

Okay, here I go...310,000, one step at a time, for my birthday challenge during the month of August!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Healthy Lifestyle Tip--Keep Track of What You Eat