Monday, January 16, 2017

Paka Baking Mix Review

I received these two boxes of Paka Baking Mix from Silver Fern Brand for free in exchange for my honest review.  I only expected to be sent the lemon bars mix so I was pleasantly surprised to see the blueberry muffins as well!

Silver Fern Brand currently has a baker's dozen of Paka Baking Mixes that are good for healthier breakfasts or desserts.  All the mixes are lower in sugar (therefore carbs) and calories as well as higher in protein and fiber content.  All but the pancakes are gluten free. Silver Fern Brand created their own proprietary sweetener called Kakato that includes an added boost of dietary fibers and probiotics. Other key ingredients are whey protein isolate, oat bran, whole algal flour, acacia gum, and flaxseed meal.  Pricing of these is about the same as what you see in the store for other gluten free baking mixes.

FREE Shipping on orders of $35 or more

Sunday I made both mixes so I could bring them with us to DC this weekend.  I want to have some healthy snacks for the road and evenings.

I started with the Lemon Bars.  I've eaten lemon bars before but never made them (as far as I can remember).  The crust was pretty easy to whip up and I didn't even have to mix it up as long as the instructions said.  I popped the crust into the oven and worked on the filling.  (To me the filling is something on the inside so I found it odd that's what it was called.  Searching recipes online I see some others calling this a topping instead.  Neither name seems fitting but I don't know what other name would work better.)

Once the bars were baking I started on the Blueberry Muffins.  My silicone muffin pan must be a little small because the box says that this mix makes 12 muffins.  I emptied the rest into one of the pans I normally use for banana bread so it wouldn't go to waste.  Austin laughed at me because I'd forgotten to keep the same bowl to use for both mixes, resulting in needing a second pair of hands (his) to scrape the glass bowl.

I don't know what it is about me and baking desserts (other than Austin's birthday cakes) but I seem to burn the bottoms every time.  Whether I've used a spray or a liner it still happens.  I embrace the suck (I can't remember where I heard this phrase but it seems fitting) with my baking skills and still enjoy what I prepare.  Austin wouldn't try any.  I think Benny was only eating them because they were there.  It must be an opposites attract type situation because he prefers the lemon bars and I prefer the blueberry muffins (and I'm not much of a blueberry fan).

It's been a while since I had lemon bars before so I don't have anything to compare but they didn't have an overpowering lemony taste.  Silver Fern Brand's Lemon Bars do have a cheesecake like flavor.  I cheated a bit and used lemon juice from a bottle instead of a fresh one so I'm not sure if that changed anything.  I mixed the lemon bar crust and filling by hand with a spatula and whisk.  The Blueberry Muffins didn't turn out light as shown on the box because I used the blender, therefore squishing some blueberries in the process.

What flavor(s) of the Paka Baking Mixes would you try first?

If your baking skills are worse than than mine or just want other dessert options, Silver Fern Brand also has chocolates and popcorn available that are boosted with fiber and probiotics.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Yoga vs. Pilates

While both yoga and Pilates take an integrated mind-body approach to fitness and well-being, their origins, approach to these objectives and methods differ greatly.

The emergence of mind-body classes like PiYo and Yogilates can make it difficult for people to distinguish between the two. Although the two can be pursued as complementary activities or integrated into one style, like PiYo, they are not the same.

It can be beneficial to practice each independent of the other and which one you practice depends on what you want to achieve.

The Origins


Yoga is a spiritual practice with a physical aspect. It evolved in India 3,000 to 5, 000 years ago. Yogis, people who practice yoga, use breath work (pranayama), physical poses (asanas), meditation (dhyana) and personal practices to pursue the full integration of mind, body and spirit or samadhi. Samadhi refers to attaining the state of enlightenment, bliss, or union with the divine.


Pilates emerged in the late 1900s, introduced to the world by its namesake, Joseph Pilates. Pilates developed his method as part of his efforts to heal himself. He suffered from physical weaknesses, rheumatic fever, asthma, and rickets, during his childhood. In his efforts to cure himself, he studied Eastern and Western forms of exercise, Greek and Roman exercise practices like wrestling, gymnastics and calisthenics as well as yoga.

How Yoga & Pilates Differ

In general, Western yoga practitioners are most familiar with the physical postures of yoga. Asanas, are only one component of an extensive system of philosophy, spiritual practices, and science. The poses are intended to build strength in the body and encourage mental focus. The asanas develop and strengthen every part of the body, joints, muscles, organs, glands, bones, and metabolism.

During yoga, the breathing is deep and continuous linked to each movement and asana throughout the practice. Yoga’s extensive and currently exponential growth in popularity in Europe, the United States, and Canada supports the development of a broad range of yoga asana styles, including the more popular styles:
  • Ashtanga
  • Vinyasa
  • Anusara
  • Hot Yoga
  • Yoga Therapy
  • Restorative
  • Chair Yoga
  •  Bikram

How Pilates Differs


Pilates differs from yoga in several ways. Both yoga and Pilates focus on integrating the mind and body, but Pilates does not include any spiritual pursuits. It does generally increase practitioners’ sense of well-being, but this is not its primary purpose.

Pilates also takes a less organic approach to movement. All Pilates exercises extend from the body’s core, also called the powerhouse. The powerhouse spans the center of the body from the pelvic floor to the top of the shoulders.

Pilates practitioners focus on stabilizing the powerhouse and allowing other limbs to move freely to guide the body through the Pilates regimen of movements. Pilates also incorporates the use of exercise machines to offer support and take muscles through their full range of motion with optimal levels of extension and contraction.

During Pilates, the breath is coordinated with the execution of each exercise. The primary focus of each move in Pilates is perfect execution, versus repetition of any particular move.

The Mindfulness Element of Yoga

Overall, yoga offers more than 60 different health benefits for mind, body, and soul. It reaches into every aspect on one’s life and goes way beyond fitness and physical achievement. For example, the mindfulness approach taught in yoga that is not a part of Pilates helps one to improve many elements of life, including weight loss, where you're getting in touch with the true needs of the body, such as hunger helps to reduce incidence of emotional eating or eating for any other reason but hunger.

The mindfulness aspect of yoga can be viewed as “life skills” training. In addition, this training can help deter many emotional and mental health problems, and the associated physical manifestations that result from them. Mindfulness during yoga brings calm and peace to your mind, body, and life. Through the process, you become more in touch with how you really feel, and that includes symptoms of stress. Such a heightened state of awareness allows you to better manage the triggers and affects that stress can have, thereby allowing you to avoid its serious health complications.

Many scientific studies have demonstrated the practice of mindfulness to have impressive and wide reaching benefits, including:
  • Greater sense of well-being
  • Stress and anxiety reduction
  •  Better mood
  • Reducing risks for depression
  • Better immunity
  • Better social relationships
  • Improved cognition, memory and focus
  • Improved awareness of oneself
  • Improved ability to make decisions
  • Improved sleep
  • Reduction in chronic pain
  • Lower blood pressure and reduction in risk for heart disease
  • More enjoyment of life in general
  • Overall improvement in quality of life

So Why Choose?

While yoga and Pilates provide similar benefits, a strong and toned body, endurance and a sense of well-being, their end goals differ. Pilates focuses on strengthening and rehabilitating the body for optimal physical health; the mind or will is employed to achieve this goal. Yoga's physical postures and breath exercises strengthen the body and discipline the mind in preparation for meditation and spiritual evolution.

In short, Pilates is outwardly focused and yoga is inwardly focused.

Making the choice between doing Pilates and practicing yoga comes down to one of intentions. If the intention is simply to form a strong and balanced body, Pilates will serve. If the intention is to achieve a strong and balanced physical body while gaining mental and spiritual benefits, pursue yoga. If both outcomes seem like something you would like to experience, try them both and see which one you find most accessible and beneficial. It just may turn out that you are not willing to let either one go.

Do you prefer yoga or Pilates?  What's your favorite style of yoga?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

6 Ways Women 50+ Can Benefit from Pilates

Pilates is a type of anaerobic exercise that is designed to increase the strength and flexibility of your core muscles.  The beauty of Pilates is that it can be done by just about anyone at any fitness level (see me & Pilates on Facebook).  It involves very little in the way of exercise equipment and can be done anywhere.

Pilates isn’t just for the young, athletic person.  Because it doesn’t put undue strain on the heart, it can safely be done by older adults, including those over the age of 50.  It can improve the health of woman over 50 and doesn’t take a heavy toll on the body.

There are many reasons why Pilates can be a good exercise for women over the age of 50 years of age.  Some of these benefits include the following:
  1. Pilates involves an invigorating mind-body workout. Pilates places a heavy emphasis on using proper breathing techniques, aligning your spine correctly, and keeping your pelvic aligned.  It involves concentrating on flowing, smooth movements that help you become more in tune to your mind and body.  When you do Pilates, you learn to control your movements by practicing quality exercises that focus on the core.  There is a focus on breathing to the tune of your movements so that you can use your power to efficiently move your body.  By being a mind-body workout, Pilates teaches you how to breathe better, which can be great for women who are under a great deal of stress.
  2. Pilates helps you develop strong core muscles. Much of the focus in Pilates is the strengthening of the core of your body.  The core of your body is the central part of your body—both the abdominal muscles and the back muscles.  Pilates helps you strengthen these muscles so that you can move with ease as you go about your day with complete control over these essential core muscles.  Pilates can help you find integration between your pelvis, trunk, and shoulder muscles so that they function as a strong unit.
  3. Pilates helps increase flexibility and allows your muscles to lengthen.  Many anaerobic workouts, such as weight lifting or using weight machines will only lead to muscles that are bulky and short.  These muscles tend to be more likely to be injured and aren’t the kind of muscles you want to have.  Instead of bulky “body-building muscles”, Pilates helps you elongate your muscles, strengthening them at the same time.  Your muscles will become more elastic and you will have increased flexibility of your joints. When you achieve these kinds of muscles, you are less likely to become injured.
  4. Pilates can help you prevent muscle injuries and can improve your performance in other sports. Most other anaerobic workouts work the same muscles over and over again, such as the biceps muscles or quadriceps muscles.  Sometimes these muscles are exercised to the exclusion of other muscles.  You can easily over-strengthen certain muscles, while other muscles are under-strengthened.  In Pilates, all the core muscles are strengthened at the same time so that you have a decreased chance of becoming injured while working out or by doing your ordinary activities of daily living.
  5. Pilates conditions the entire body. In doing Pilates, you strengthen not only your core muscles but also strengthen the muscles of your extremities.  Pilates doesn’t emphasize one set of muscles to the exclusion of other muscles.  When you do Pilates, you can function better in daily living and will be better at sports with a decreased chance of becoming injured while doing other types of sports.
  6. Pilates helps you move with better efficiency.  When you do Pilates, you train many different muscles at the same time.  Pilates involves doing smooth and continuous motions so that you can train your body to move with more safety, decreasing your risk of falls and the fractures that can come with falling.
As you can see, Pilates is an activity with many benefits for women over 50. If you are interested in doing Pilates as a form of anaerobic exercise, take a Pilates class or purchase a DVD (such as those in my Amazon store below) that will teach you how to safely do the exercises.  You can practice Pilates every day with a low risk of suffering from any kind of overuse injury to your muscles.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Reflections of 2016

I don't know about you but this year flew by fast!  So much went on around the world it's hard to think what to cover in this post....

2016 in Review



  • Group Exercise Instructor and Wellness Coach certifications
  • Soft launch of the Brand New Me Wellness Coaching Programs
  • Announcing the launch of Fit Indy Parties 
  • Hired on at the Baxter YMCA as a Wellness Coach on Wednesday nights (stop by and say hi!)
  • Purchased a tablet and laptop
  • Enjoyed Fitbloggin'
  • Walked in The Great Pumpkin Run


  • Finding the elusive first paying client (the only goal I did NOT accomplish this year)
  • Gaining back ~30 lbs
  • Making the decision to quit Beachbody since I had no clients 


Looking Ahead to 2017



For 2017 my focus is on relationships.  According to Jennifer Dunham's Happiness Quiz I crave improved relationships, with both family and friends.  There are two aspects of this for me.
  1. Heart Happiness (aka romantic love):  Greater relationship satisfaction, feeling Benny is there for me.
  2. Family/Friend Happiness:  The fundamental need to belong.
Relationships with potential and actual clients will also come into play.




I shared my main business goals on Instagram during The Recharge Challenge.

To work on these goals I could use your help.  Please share this little video clip with your networks.
Now that the presents are bought for everyone else it's time to invest in something for yourself. I'm looking for 5 women in the US aged 40-60, who are looking to kick off the new year on a journey to discover their brand new healthier selves. 

Please complete this form to schedule a Wellness Strategy Session.  Together we can find your path through exercise, healthy eating, personal development, and self care.


At my physical earlier this month my doctor said he's OK with my weight being up but my clothes are too tight.  So one of my goals is to lose the ~30 lbs I've gained back.

As you may or may not know Benny doesn't work and hasn't since he came here from Germany to marry me.  He tried to run a flea market type shop early on in the marriage but that failed miserably.  He has not tried to work or find employment since and, as far as I can tell, has no legitimate reason why.  On top of that Benny's not supportive of this whole coaching business, thinking it's a fad and not my passion/purpose, telling me I have to quit.  This has created much tension that occasionally bubbles to the surface, greatly decreasing my heart happiness.

Normally for improving heart happiness Jennifer recommends things like
  • Hug your spouse when they get home every day.
  • Go to bed together each night at the same time, even if you aren’t tired.
  • Set aside 10 minutes each day to simply sit and have a conversation with your spouse.
  • When you feel angry at your partner, practice the habit of breathing and counting to 10 before speaking. 
  • Actively replace critical comments with supportive, loving words.

Some of the things she has recommended for me:
  • Start happy every morning.  What the heck does this mean?  Starting out your day with a positive attitude sets the tone of the rest of your day.  So while you brush your teeth or shower, set your intention for the day.
  • Create a safety net.  A safety net is used so you can bounce back faster when negativity or difficult situations arise throughout your day.  I call this your “Recovery Plan”.  You can re-program negative thoughts by actively thinking ahead of time of how you will react. 
    By reacting differently to and handling the situation with your planned reaction it will deflate the situation before it turns negative. So plan ahead to all the things your hubby might say when you ask him to do something and attempt a different reaction.
  • Learn a new language.  I don’t mean that you will literally go learn German, Spanish, or Russian.  The language you need to learn is what you tell yourself.  Nine times out of ten, we tell ourselves things that just aren’t true.  We only speak them to ourselves because it’s been a habit for too long.
  • Every night, while you brush your teeth or put your PJs on, practice appreciation.  While writing down gratitude or appreciation is suggested, it’s not necessary.  So long as you make it part of your happiness practice as part of your nightly routine, you will end happy.
  • Plan 1x per month do a day trip 

Family & Friends Happiness is the necessity for people to belong and feel happy together. We don't have any local friends to hang out with since the Bible study I was involved in disbanded.  I did sign up for my first book club but am waiting to find out where it'll be held before I commit.

Examples of what to do to improve family & friends happiness:

  • Leave a note for a loved one to surprise them each week.
  • Smile and give direct eye contact when talking to your family and friends.
  • Make a habit of thanking someone with a hand written card as soon as possible after they give you a gift or do something for you.
  • Choose to stay in regular contact with your family/friends and to see them frequently. 
  • Create special traditions that involve your friends or include them in family

How was 2016 for you?  What are some of your goals for 2017?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Wear A Posture Brace and Make Your Back Worse?

With so many people sitting in front of a computer all day, it makes sense that they will spend a good amount of time seeking out ways to improve posture. They usually start off the same way, trying to remember to have good posture.

When that doesn’t work, they start scouring the internet looking for gadgets that will make them have better posture – and the posture brace will soon look like a tempting option. But don’t make that mistake!

Here’s why a posture brace can’t possibly give you better posture…

Wearing a brace for extended periods of time won’t make your muscles stronger, it will only make them weaker. Sitting in front of a computer all day makes the muscles in the front of your body short and tight, while making the muscles in your back long and weak.

The only way to really make positive posture changes is to stretch the front of the body and strengthen the back, but what do most people do? They pull their heads down and then they bend over to stretch out their back.

They are stretching areas that are already too long!

Then you add in the posture brace. Let’s say your back is functioning at 100% strength and then you add in a support like a brace. It increases the “strength” of your back to 110% and you feel immediately better, so you start wearing the brace all day every day.

Your muscles will begin to weaken at a pace of about 1% each day. Just a week later, you need the brace just to feel like your back is okay. Soon after, you’re fully dependent on the brace just to get through your day and you’re back to the internet to seek other options.

Here’s what you should do instead…

Start working on improving your posture through posture exercises. Not sure where to start? Try doing the opposite of what you do all day. Do you sit hunched and rounded in front of a computer? Then you’ll need to spend time stretching your chest and the front of your body.

A simple and effective exercise is one commonly referred to as the “superman” exercise. That’s when you’re lying face down on the floor with your arms extended in front of you. Then you slowly lift up both arms, both legs, and your head as high as you can go.

Initially, it won’t go well. Your muscles are likely very weak! You’ll be doing great to just get in about ten repetitions of each movement. After a week or so, you should be able to feel that your muscles are getting stronger as you are able to do more reps without taking a break.

The key is to go slowly and build up over time. Doing a little each day is better than trying to do 100 repetitions and then not doing the exercises anymore. It took a while for you to notice that your posture was getting bad because it didn’t happen overnight.

It won’t take years to fix your bad posture, but it will take more than a day!

Dr. Philip Cordova is a chiropractor in Houston, TX and a 1997 graduate of Parker College of Chiropractic. He is a speaker on health and wellness topics with a focus on spinal care and posture. He grew up in Glendale, Arizona and practices with his wife, Dr. Natalie Cordova at CORE Chiropractic. Click Here to Read Dr. Cordova's Full Bio

Monday, December 12, 2016

4 Ways to Increase Your Confidence

One of the most powerful assets in your mental arsenal is to increase your confidence – to feel good about yourself so that you can attract the things you want and so that you can give off an aura of being in charge and being passionate about what you’re saying.
But if you’re naturally someone who struggles with self-confidence, how can you simply ‘switch off’ that self-doubt and become more confident. Confidence is what turns thought into action – which is kind of what we’re all about. 

Understand What Confidence Is 

Confidence is a very broad term that gets thrown about a lot with careless abandon. This is a bit damaging because we tend to think of it as a single term that encompasses so much about who we are. We either have ‘good confidence’ or we have ‘bad confidence’.
In reality though, confidence is much more contextual than that. You can be confident in one domain and you can lack confidence in another. Maybe you think you’re ugly but you know you’re a fantastic writer – does that make you confident or not?
So you can make yourself confident simply by focusing more on the things you’re good at in order to spend more time ‘at the top of your game’. At the same time though, you should also make sure you remember that your ability can improve in most areas. If you think you’re ‘bad’ at something, then remember that you’ll get better with practice and that everyone is bad to begin with. We’ve seen how neuronal connections strengthen as they fire and this is how you can become great at any given sport or activity over time.
What about your looks? Well, you can improve those in a lot of ways too. But it’s also useful to remember that everyone is different and that beauty is a very subjective matter. If you focus on your good qualities and own what you’ve got, you’ll be attractive to a lot of people. 

Take Challenges 

As mentioned, it’s useful to learn and to develop the things you’re not good at. This is why the hypothesis testing to become socially bulletproof is so useful – you’re exercising your social skills, just like you exercise a muscle.
As you get better in these areas, you’ll find that your confidence naturally improves because you have more strings to your bow and fewer areas that you consider to be flaws. But more important than this even is the psychology of simply trying new things and taking on new challenges. Each little ‘win’ will flood your brain with positive hormones and reward you and that will make you more inclined to try again. Try learning small things like juggling or learning to count in another language, each time you have a little victory it will improve your confidence and help you become better at taking on newer challenges.
Meanwhile, the failures you encounter will help to make you more accustomed to sometimes picking yourself back up and more desensitized to the feeling of failing at something. Again, this builds confidence.
If you’re looking to increase social confidence and self-worth, one of the very best things to do is to throw yourself into a challenging and outward-facing job. You’ll then have no choice but to make calls, great clients and learn new things and each time you do, your esteem will grow. 

Visualize Success 

Before trying something new, visualize yourself succeeding. This can help you to activate brain areas as though you really had succeeded and that will help to quash any doubt and boost your confidence. You can enhance this further by listening to some empowering music and reminding yourself that it’s a challenge and not an obstacle.
Better yet, if you keep practicing this it can eventually become habit – meaning that you’ll automatically visualize yourself succeeding in future when taking on any new challenge! 

Power Poses 

Power poses are positions you hold that have been shown to boost testosterone and thereby confidence. Try standing up and holding your arms over your head in a ‘V’ shape as though you had just crossed the finish line in a race. This is a universal stance that symbolizes success and it can really help to increase your drive and determination. 

Invest in You 

Finally, invest in yourself. If you treat yourself well for long enough, you will feel as though you deserve to be treated well. What’s more, wearing nice clothes, maintaining good health and having a great home all help to build that internal picture of who you are and give you more self-esteem. It’s not a waste of time and money to buy a good suit – it’s an investment.
Next week we'll talk about staying positive.