5 steps to intentional health

woman-writingIntentional health.  I came up with this phrase because the word “intentional” drives me.

When I was raising my kids, I latched on to the idea of intentional parenting.  What was my goal for my kids?  What was the end goal of my parenting?  I had decided that my end goal in parenting was to raise children that were respectful, compassionate, productive citizens of our country, thoughtful, leave the world a better place because they lived in it, and finally, children who would have a strong grasp of faith and carry it into their culture and the next generation.

If you look at my list, it’s obvious these traits weren’t something that would just spontaneously occur!  Wishful thinking wasn’t going to make it so.  Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.   And so I began to parent in a way that targeted these traits.  I took measured steps to train them with these results in mind.

Health is no different!  What are your health goals?  What are your challenges?  What measured steps can you take to reach your goals?

Here are five steps for intentional living…intentional health.

  1. Write down your health goals!  Be as specific as possible!  How many inches around your arms, waist, hips, or thighs would you like to lose?  By what date?  What will be your reward?  Is there a clothing size you’ve wanted to wear?  What would you like your BMI to be?   Do you desire to run your first 5K?  When?  In how much time?  What would you like to see your blood sugar levels at?  Lower cholesterol?  Lower blood pressure?  Develop a stronger immune system?
  2. List measured steps to reach your goals.  Examples:  I will reduce my sugar intake to ___.   I will walk 30 minutes four days per week.  I will follow a 5K training program.  I will take conscious steps to eliminate processed foods from my diet.  I will drink a protein shake daily.  I will take high-quality supplements to support my overall health.  I will keep a food journal.  I will do weight training to boost metabolism three days a week.  I will participate in two classes at my gym on a weekly basis.
  3. Be vocal about your goals.  When you verbalize your intentions, you create accountability to what you’ve stated.  Skin in the game.  Some may try to sabotage you, but those who love you will cheer you on.
  4. Plan out each day.   Those who are most successful in their careers have strong calendar/time management skills.  Health is no different.  Some people like to map out a week, others like to map out each day.  Find what works for you…but planning needs to occur.  When will you fit in a workout?  Do you need to have your clothes by your bed to eliminate excuses to avoid a 6:00 a.m. workout?  Or pack them for work for an after-work exercise?  What will you eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks?  How will you get enough water throughout the day?  How far do you have to run today in your 5K, 10K, or marathon training plan?
  5. Make this your life…commit. Your goals come from YOU.  They are what burn within you and drive you.  That makes them pretty important!  So make those measured steps you outlined for success in #2 as important as your other commitments... make them as important as showing up to work, meeting with your friends, taking Johnny to the doctor, or paying your bills.  Wishful thinking doesn’t accomplish goals and no one can reach goals for you.  Commit daily to your goals.

Be intentional today and every day.  It’s the only way to a guaranteed outcome and a life of no regrets!







Sunscreen without the toxins!

So if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m into “clean living”.   It’s a journey for sure!  As we head into the warmth and sunshine of summer ahead, I’ve been thinking about sunscreen.

Our skin is the LARGEST organ of our body!  Why do you think there are nicotine patches or estrogen patches?  Because the product leaches directly into the skin and then through the body.  Sunscreen, lotion, perfume, make-up, shampoo, etc. is no different.  Don’t fool yourself.  Just read the labels on the back of your products and you’ll find a list of chemicals.  They penetrate not only your body, but your children’s bodies as well!

There’s a non-profit organization called Environmental Working Group (EWG) which is focused on protecting human health and the environment.  Their work has become so respected that they are becoming the gold standard of “clean” quality in the personal care and cosmetic industry through their EWG VERIFIED ™ program.  According to their website, “the EWG VERIFIED™ program now features 118 products allowing shoppers to quickly and easily identify cosmetics and personal care items that meet our strictest health and transparency standards.”  If you see this on one of your products, you can be assured it has passed the rigorous research of the organization.

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 6.39.57 PMSo I headed on over to their site (which I LOVE and I think you will find is awesome) and searched for SPF sunscreen.  Yup, they have MANY recommendations of “clean” sunscreen products … 235 products meet EWGs criteria to be exact!  The Babo Botanical Sport Stick is one that I found with a rating of “1” (the best EWG rating on a scale of 1 to 10).  Guess I’ll be heading over to Amazon and ordering my summer supply.

Not only does EWG provide a way to identify clean products, they also warn against the toxic ones.  Here’s just one snippet under their “EWG Sunscreen Hall of Shame” section (the page also actually lists the worst sunscreen brands by name):

“There are a lot of sunscreens on the market:  some good, some bad and then the shameful.

Those in the last category are not only a waste of money and time but also potentially harmful. Here are our picks for products to banish from your beach bag.

Spray sunscreens can be inhaled, and they don’t cover skin completely.

SPF values above 50+ try to trick you into believing they’ll prevent sun damage. Don’t trust them. SPF protection tops out at 30 to 50.

Oxybenzone can disrupt the hormone system.

Retinyl palmitate may trigger damage, possibly cancer.”


What will you be putting on your children’s skin this summer?



Perfect female body around the world?

I have three points I want to make sure to get across here… I promise the end point is encouraging!

  1.  Researchers identified the “perfect body shape” for women based on cultural preferences in various countries (click here to view – ugh).  What did it tell me?  Well, one, that “beauty” is determined by cultural influences.  Researchers found the “ideal” 5’4″ woman’s weight in China was considered to be 102 pounds, however in Columbia, it was 147 pounds.  There truly is NO perfect body shape!  NONE.  So if you’re a woman who looks in the mirror and says you don’t measure up…well, WHO’S STANDARD are you trying to measure by? Take that pressure off yourself NOW because every body standard is simply subjective to a bunch of people’s preferences in society, people who have no individual interest in YOU!
  2. Now, the really important second point is this … beauty is not defined by a body shape!  There is inner beauty of kindness and compassion.  There is intelligence that just humbles me in its scope.  There is external beauty,  like hair that is thick and wavy, or straight and smooth, or curly and out-of-control.  There is skin that is chocolate, or porcelain, or anywhere in between.  There are blue eyes, brown eyes, green eyes, black eyes.  Young and old.  There are smile-line wrinkles, wisdom-old wrinkles, and skin as smooth as a baby’s butt!  There are large bodies and small bodies.  Who is to say what is beautiful?  It’s YOUR place to say what makes YOU feel beautiful.  Have grey hair and color it and that makes you feel beautiful?  Ok!  Love your grey hair and flaunt it?  Ok, too!  Have a curvy shape and it makes you feel feminine?  Embrace it.  No one has the corner on determining whether you are beautiful or not.
  3. Here’s the third catch.  Getting HEALTHY is different than getting beautiful!  When one begins a journey of HEALTH, they end up feeling beautiful from the inside out!  If what you are putting into your body, or on your skin is poison, toxic, known-to-be-bad-for-you food or products, it affects your mood, self-esteem, energy levels, and all around well-being.  If you were worried about your beauty, transfer that energy into getting healthy.  

So don’t be deceived that your beauty is a body shape or a number on the scale!  Don’t allow a cultural preference to dictate your esteem!  Fight against that!   For me?  Well, I’m determined to work on “me” from the inside out.  I care about pursuing  compassion and kindness as a human being, deepening my faith in God, pursuing healthy eating habits and physical strength, pursuing education and learning new things, and lastly, about touching others’ lives so that I make a difference by being in the world.  Now THAT is beautiful to me…

Valerie’s Nugget:  If you were worried about your beauty, transfer that energy into getting healthy.  


The evolution of…you

Life is fluid, not static. If you’ve been on a path leading to poor health, it’s not over! There is always opportunity to make different decisions and change course.

girl skip with umbrella

I love this picture!  It captures the essence of freedom, joy, energy, abandon, playfulness.  As children, we have this in us… just watch a bunch of four year olds on the playground!

And yet somehow, as we enter adulthood, these lovely traits begin to fade.  Whether we get weighed down with responsibility, bad experiences, disappointments, or the daily grind of living, it not only affects our demeanor, but our health as well.

What does YOUR evolution look like?  Our lives are fluid, not static … which means your life is not “stuck” in one place.  We change, evolve, grow, and move in life, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.  You are who you are today due to a myriad of choices along the way of life.  If you’re in a place of poor health, it didn’t happen overnight.  It was a progression of many choices.  If you’re in a place of good health, it didn’t happen overnight either!  It was a series of good choices, sometimes sacrifice, and hard work.

The good news?  “It ain’t over till it’s over!”  Because life IS fluid and evolving, your life is in motion until your last breath.  Don’t let discouragement or the past dictate your future. What was is done.  What’s tomorrow is yet to be…  And our health evolution isn’t always a straight path.  Sometimes it’s three steps forward and one back, and eight forward and four back…but the goal is to be further ahead than where we were.   If you fell today, get back up and start anew!  And if you’re doing well, keep moving forward in it.  LIFE IS NOT STATIC.

How is YOUR life evolving?



940 Saturdays



I read something the other day by Dr. Harley Rotbart, author of “No Regrets Parenting”.  He stated that from the time a baby is born until they turn 18, there are only 940 Saturdays in that time span.  Nine. Hundred. Forty.  Wow!

The obvious realization is that we need to make time for our families and make those minutes count, as life passes by too quickly.  But what about in relation to health and wellness?  For every minute – or “Saturday” – that we put off taking an action toward wellness in body, mind, and spirit, it’s one day LESS that’s available to act on reaching these goals.  And if we’re not wise, intentional, and good stewards, we’ll have spent more days wasting the precious time available than we have days remaining to accomplish them.

And instead of feeling defeated, that energizes me!  It makes me not want to waste another day saying, “I’ll start tomorrow” but instead, “Doggone it, do it TODAY!” before I dwindle down to even less days left to accomplish what I want!   This ship is mine to steer.  I can steer it into the craggy coastline or out to the beautiful seas.  If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of “time and goals”, think of simply ONE action that will lead to a goal and do that TODAY.  And then tomorrow.  And then the next.  When you get comfortable with that, start another action step that will lead to your goal.  Benjamin Franklin had it right after all  … “Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today.”

Feel energized?