Traci Anello

The Power in Food


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Mamis Portland, Me

Portland, Maine is a haven for a variety of restaurants, food trucks and cafes. I’m always in search for good food, local food. Sometimes it happens by a search but more often it happens just by driving around Portland and something catches my eye. In the last couple of years I’ve been fortunate to discover not just one of the best food trucks I’ve ever eaten at but a restaurant to match.

I’m talking about  Mami’s Restaurant in Portland, Maine on 339 Fore Street and their Japanese Food truck. Just a couple of years ago I was leaving the Portland Farmers Market at Deering Park and headed over to Urban Farms Fermentory.  As I drove by Rising Tides, I saw a beautiful food truck. It was all black with a delicate drawing and the words “Mami” on the side. I was with my daughter, Ronni and we pulled in the parking lot without hesitation. The menu was intriguing. The Yokasoba noodles caught my attention first followed by the grilled  rice ball, the Yaki Onigiri. We each ordered the noodles and decided to share the rice ball. The customer service was very good. These people were obviously proud of their menu. When that happens, the meal already taste good and you haven’t gotten it yet. I couldn’t help but peak at the people around me to see what they were trying. The plates were colorful and every single person was focused on the food in front of them. Another great sign that this is going to be good.

Our name was called and when I went up to the truck, the person who helped us said,”Thanks guys! Enjoy!”. I love that!  As always with me (and get used to it if you eat out with me) the camera came out. This was a photo opportunity I wasn’t going to miss. The food looked and smelled incredible. It photographed just a well. The colors popped and the pure art of their presentation made it easy to take pictures.  As we dove in, the taste was like nothing I’ve ever had. It all worked. The flavors, textures and aromas were happily doing their thing all together. The only disappointing moment was when we realized we should have ordered two rice balls. They were crispy on the outside with beautiful fresh scallions and when you got inside, the filling just tasted like heaven. If heaven made grilled rice balls, this would be it followed by the Yakasoba noodles. This is real food. Before I even got up from the picnic table, I was following them on social media.

This year we saw some really good news. Mami’s opened a restaurant with the same delicious options from their truck. My daughter surprised me with a special lunch there. It was as good as our first meal with the Japanese Food Truck. The customer service was enjoyable and engaging. They are as proud of the menu they’re serving as we experienced from the truck.

Owners Austin and Hana know food, good food. I love local and supporting local business and the farmers they support. Their restaurant and food truck are at the top of my list when I want to have good local, fresh, well made good eats. It’s a whole experience from the moment you look at the menu to placing your order, receiving your meal to the pure enjoyment.  Food should be celebratory. Maimi’s  offered all of this. Visit their website: http://www.mamifoodtruck.com


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Living a Plant based lifestyle

Those of you who know me, know how celebratory I think food is. Those of you who haven’t met me yet will learn from me that it is just that,  celebratory.

My mission in life seems to be to discover ways that people can have the foods they miss because of dietary restrictions, self diagnosed allergies or just wanting to do nicer things for their bodies. This has been a life long process for me. I once opened a 100% gluten free café ahead of its time. There, people with gluten allergies, sensitivities and celiac disease, to name a few, could come in and have a full meal enjoying foods they thought they could never have again. It was a clean, peaceful, allergen free environment where food was enjoyed to its fullest without any fear of having tummy troubles later. My café was also dairy free and peanut free. It was a fun place and a creative place that most people referred to as “Anello’s Café” but to me it was my lab.

From there I started to research a more healthy alternative to reach a broader market. This brought me to experimenting with the “Elimination Diet”. For the record, I despise the term “diet” and prefer  “Lifestyle” but in this case, diet was appropriate. This “diet” consisted of no meat, dairy, eggs, sugar, gluten or alcohol. After one week I felt really good. The weight loss actually noticeable and my fatigue was turning into new found energy. I was on to something. The one thing I really enjoyed was eliminating the meat. Not eating cheese for me was like a life sentence. I went the entire month and really felt great. As time went on, I added a few things back in but meat and dairy were out for good. This “diet” was turning into a “lifestyle”. I began to research Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s China Study. I bought the book and watched his talks. My next step was to take his class at Cornell online and become certified in plant based nutrition. In the Spring of 1016, I did just that. It’s a wonderful course and the research was extensive. Rouxbe is a cooking school that offered a discount if you took this Cornell class. Rouxbe is a plant based school so I signed up. I highly recommend this course. The techniques and recipes will easily send you on your way to a nutritious lifestyle. You’ll learn how to cook a wide variety of grains and legumes as well as making delicious sauces and dressings from plants and plant products. You’ll learn correct knife cuts as well as the correct way to use a knife.  Check them out: http://www.rouxbe.com

Knowing how important food is to people, my chef background motivated me to learn a new way of cooking and eating. I was up for the challenge. Dr. Campbell’s son Tom is also a plant based doctor like his father. he explains how to reverse heart disease and diabetes and his documentary “Pure Plant Nation” explains it all. I highly recommend this film. His wife wrote a cookbook which is completely plant based. Her recipes are nothing short of amazing. I love reading about their family get togethers and how they all share this lifestyle.

My research then took me to Dr. Michael Greger. His vast knowledge and sense of humor were the beginning of a beautiful relationship with food. I purchased his book “How Not to Die”. It’s about nutrition, his “Daily Dozen”, what food does for you and the different illnesses it can help. He breaks food down into groups and explains how they work, why they work and the best way to consume them. He loves what he does and it shows. He also has his own pod casts which I love to listen to while I’m driving. The thing I love about this doctor is he gives you the information based on extensive research. The information is there. It’s up to you to you how and when you decide to use it. He’s not going any where. The information is there when you’re ready. his website is: http://www.NutritionFacts.org.

My best advice when thinking about trying a plant based lifestyle is to start out slow (unless you’re ready to commit 100%). I have done “lunch and learn” oncology talks.  My best piece of advice to someone who is just not ready to give it up is this: You don’t have to take it all out at once. If you’re eating 6oz of meat with your dinner, try 3oz of meat and double the volume of your vegetables. Then next time go down to 1 1/2oz of meat and a few more vegetables. Eventually you train your pallet to finally eliminate the meat all together. Then move on to the elimination of dairy. I felt my very best when I finally sent the cheese packing for good. I have never looked back on the casein train. Casein is that nasty protein that cause havoc in your digestive track.

Ready to give this a try? Add colors to your plate. Reach for the rainbow and try to add one of each color to your meals. There are a host of beautiful vegetables and fruits always at your local farmers market. I’ve been cooking for over 30 years and I can tell you I always find something new at the market. It’s a great way to meet your local farmers and they always have a wonderful way to enjoy their harvest. If cooking isn’t a strong point for you (yet), Indian, Japanese and Thai cuisine offer many plant based entrees that you can try first and then have fun recreating at home. There are many vegetarian restaurants and plant based as well opening up all over the country. They offer different ways to enjoy sandwiches, pastas and salads with a colorful boost. The internet is a host of recipes. You can learn how to make cheese spreads and sauces with cashews that are dairy free, nutritious and delicious. Once you see how easy this is, you’ll be making your own meals at home before you know it. I love making my own spreads and dressings. I know exactly what’s in them. You can also make them for friends and family to try. At my daughter’s wedding, I put out some plant based options and guests enjoyed them as much as the other choices. It opened up the group to talking about this way of enjoying food. recently at a cookout I made my sundried tomato and basil spread and the men were taking chips and dipping into it without realizing all it contained was sundried tomatoes, fresh basil, cashews, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, shallots, chopped red pepper and garlic. Honestly, they didn’t really care what it was. They just cared that it tasted good. Fair enough.

If you’re interested in giving this a try, visit the sites I’ve included or send me a message. One day at a time is the best approach. The food is rea, whole and wonderful. The people are supportive. The journey is definitely worth it.

#plantbased  #plantpurenation  #plantstrong  #chef  #cheflife  #farmers #farmersmarket #Chinastudy  #nutritionfacts #restaurants #healthy #wellness

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Anti-inflammation journey update :)

I used to be the person who started something with all of the intension of making it work, over and over and over again. Something had to change.
Prior to a month ago, I was talking with a nurse about her new food choices. She decided to take white flour, sugar and processed foods out of her daily meals.A chef I know also decided to do the same thing. They are two different friends that work in two different places and just happen to be doing the same thing. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for just about ever. So I read a great article by JJ Virgin and Dr. Andrew Weil and decided it was time. My body wanted it. My body needed it.
Once I decided my body deserves this, I was going to do this. And I have.

I’m into week 5 and the way my body has responded has been astounding. I’m down a size in jeans, I’m sleeping better, my skin looks healthier, no joint pain and my mind seems much clearer. I tried so many crazy ways to lose the weight. Even Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig weren’t helping. The article I read by JJ Virgin said her clients who felt they were eating very healthy and in moderation had trouble losing weight.She suggested the 7 trouble foods that could be the culprit: Gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, peanuts, sugar and soy. She suggests for 21 days to take all of them out and then slowly add them back in one at a time. I thought it had to be the gluten. I’ve been working with gluten-free clients for years. My specialty is creating recipes for people who can not have gluten in any of their meals. It’s a very different lifestyle. From celiac disease to joint pain, skin rashes, tummy troubles and eczema to children diagnosed with ADD and ADHD. I have seen the remarkable effects removing gluten can do. Why did I not think this applied to me? The answer was right there the entire time through the work that I have done for years. Within three days, I stopped a nagging cough I had for 5 weeks. Dairy?? I started sleeping through the night better. My skin was beginning to look healthier. My body is happy. My insides want to dance but right now it’s still working over time on repairing the damage I’ve caused over the years. It will dance soon.

I decided to take my favorite wine out while I was on this journey. That was a bit tougher than the gluten. After the first week, I really didn’t want one so something was working.

Now that I’m into week 5, I have decided that this is my new lifestyle. I love the way I’m enjoying my meals. I love what I’m learning. I especially love what I’m able to share. I’ve said before that one of my friend’s is a chef who has no adopted the same lifestyle. How lucky am I! We talk often about different ways to prepare vegetables, proteins and great delicious ways to add various types of beans. I’m very happy with how everything is going. One of my favorite things is to make a topping with artichokes, tomatoes, kalamato olives, onions, green peppers and jalapenos. It’s something I keep in the fridge and add to fish, chicken and salads. Today I added garbanzo beans and pinto beans, sea salt and a wonderful piece of sliced turkey.

Every morning starts with a great tasting shake: Organic raspberries, baby spinach, flax or hemp seeds, almond milk, RAW protein powder and spring water. I love it! Every morning it’s a great way to start my day! Mid morning is an organic gala apple with two tablespoons of almond butter with sea salt.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is this has been a wonder journey! It’s one that I just started and one that I’m going to love to continue. I’m looking forward to my physical next month and full blood work. My body is happy. When your body is happy, it certainly tells you.

The best news right now is starting next month the farmers markets open up. I can’t wait. last year I was a regular customer buying veggies to juice. This year I will be that regular customer except it will be more than just juicing vegetables. This year I’m going to seek out new vegetables to try. I love my salads and I love creating new sides for fresh fish.

It’s a wonderful new beginning. I’m happy that you’ve taken the time to read my blog and I hope it inspires you to give this a try. Your body will love it.

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My anti-inflammatory journey…Day 14

Today I’m happy to say completes 14 days into my anti-inflammatory journey.

The benefits I have experienced have been nothing short of amazing for me. I’m finally losing the weight, no joint pain and my skin is looking much better. I’m finding more energy and I see and comprehend things much clearer. What I finding to be very exciting is what I can’t see that’s going on inside. I’m sure my body is in extreme repair mode. I guess that because I do have some periods of exhaustion and after what I’ve put this body through with years of unprocessed foods, I would be exhausted too.

I started with an article from vegetarian magazine that turned me on to JJ Virgin’s book. From her book I found a wonderful challenge. Seven days, seven foods, lose seven pounds.Then I was at the book store and saw Dr. Andrew Weil’s magazine/book about the anti-inflammatory diet. educations makes all the difference.

Now I have one more week to go before I start adding in one by one the seven foods I took out. Honestly, I’m good. I really don’t have any one of the foods I want to put back in. I’m considering eggs but so far so good without them. The real challenge has been reading the labels and making sure non of the seven foods are in anything I consume. The one food I think is the real culprit? Gluten. There is no doubt in my mind. dairy is the close second. For almost six weeks I had a cough that wouldn’t go away. My doctor said it’s going around and you have to wait it out. I hate taking over the counter meds but this cough was annoying. I was hooked on Mucinex DM. It really was helping but I was taking it like a multi vitamin. Once I started this new way of eating, within three days, the mucus and coughing stopped. I mean completely. I woke up one morning and realized I didn’t cough all night and I didn’t have to clear my throat. That was my first good sign. The second was I noticed no joint pain in my knuckles. This is pretty cool. There’s something to this new “lifestyle”.

I’m fortunate to have a supervisor at work who is doing the same thing as I am. The fact that he’s an excellent chef is simply a bonus. I think the hardest thing is to make dressings for salad. After a few discussions and bouncing ideas back and forth, he had some pretty good suggestions. Sometimes a dressing is as easy as fresh lemon juice or a quick Dijon dressing. use olive oil and whisk in some Dijon to make it creamy and then a little cracked mustard seed dressing for fun. There are some really good balsamic vinegars out there as well. This whole new eating lifestyle is about taking fresh whole foods and creating what you want. Even a fresh squeeze of an orange with balsamic can be a nice treat on a salad. For dinner tonight I had roasted Brussel sprouts, sautéed green beans, turkey breast and lentils (see picture). It was more than enough. It was wholesome and delicious.

Eating healthy actually can be affordable. We’re coming into farmers market season. I can’t wait. In the mean time I find Trader Joes is very helpful place to shop. I buy my organic beans there as well as almond butter, avocados and apples. Another tip is to go to the various organic companies and print our their coupons. That’s been a big savings. I drink unsweetened coconut milk and love organic greens. There are coupons for them online. Since I have the room for my own little garden, I’m going to grow the vegetables I need to juice: Kale, parsley, spinach, cucumbers and beets. Luckily I live in New england and we’re still expecting snow this week, so I have time to finalize a plan.

One of the hardest things about doing all of this is trying to explain it to people you love with hopes they will give it a try. It’s like any life change. Just because it works for you doesn’t mean everyone else is ready. All you have to do is just share what you’re experiencing and then maybe it can be helpful.

I guess in time. It’s all about education. Sharing Dr. Weil’s magazine has been a nice way to give someone the choice. Facebook is a good tool for posting articles and various stories about anti inflammation.

In the meantime, I’m very happy with my new lifestyle. I feel healthy. My walks are more vigorous. My nights are relaxing with a new article or writing some new recipes. I have a book ready to be published with gluten-free and dairy free recipes that will make your life so much easier and taste better. Now I have the motivation to write a new book with recipes for the major allergens. I’m a chef who has been given the gift to create recipes for people who thought they could never have their favorite foods again. This is a gift I love to share.

Sometimes it all starts with an article. Then by just applying it for one day at a time, you can accomplish more than losing a few pounds. Making the effort seemed like a big accomplishment for me. After completing 14 days, I have one more week to go to finish the twenty-one days. Life is good and staying on this path means it’s just going to keep getting better.

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This was no coincidence…

Today completes day 7 in my food intolerance journey! I couldn’t be more excited for a few reasons. One, I actually completed something I started. Two, My body has been pampered for 7 straight days. I’m sure my major organs and my gut are celebrating their first vacation from horrible intruders. It’s amazing how I actually look at food now.

Today is my day off from the hospital so I knew I wanted to spend it researching more about inflammation, which I have dubbed the new buzz word. I decided a trip to the book store would be a treat. This is my reward for completing 7 full days. My daughter and I drive to Portland (about a 30 minute ride) so I thought it would be a good time to talk to her about what I have learned. She listened and was actually interested so I was pretty happy and relieved. There are so many things we could have talked about but I knew this was important. We have a very close relationship so if she had told me that she wasn’t exactly interested in this subject, I would have probably changed it. But…she was all ears! I found myself saying things like “I feel really good” and “I’m sleeping better than I ever have” and so on. it was saying affirmations. After our conversation, she was very interested in creating a plan that could work for her.I couldn’t ask for anything more. she already knows that gluten is a poison. When she was in college, she took gluten out for almost a month and realized she wasn’t getting her usual migraines. I was fixing her meals for her then and she was also shopping at Trader Joes which was very helpful. But as college went on, the gluten was reintroduced and the problems started all over again.So knowing that it has worked in the past is good reason enough to give this a try.

We get to the book store and head to the magazine section. I notice she is looking at outdoor magazines and canning and self sustainable living magazines. Ah ha! She was listening. I head over to the natural food and health section to see who else is chatting about inflammation. I pick up a couple and flip through them but nothing really catches me. Then I see a Dr. Andrew Weil magazine and the top says “The Anti-inflammatory Pyramid in-depth”. I looked over at my daughter and said,”Is this the new buzz word? Is this that word I’m going to see everywhere now? How weird is this?”.I pick up his magazine and flip through it and every article is about inflammation. This was exactly what I was looking for. This was no coincidence. There are hundreds of magazines to choose from and this one catches my eye. It’s wonderful too! It’s very in-depth. I include a picture copy of the magazine below so when you look for it, you’ll recognize it.

I’m convinced that I’ll be reading some of his books now. As a chef, I will also be creating new recipes to share. This is what I do. I find foods that people feel they no longer can enjoy and recreate them to their specific allergy so they can enjoy them. After all of these years, why wasn’t I ever doing this for myself? Why did I not feel I deserved to treat my body with the utmost respect? I’m ashamed. But I’m also happy that I have finally woken up to realize this is about me too. This is self-care. So why not take the gift I was given and share what I know with everyone.

I decided to share my first recipe with you. It’s full of flavor, gluten-free, dairy free, soy free, sugar-free and corn free. I use this mediterranean dressing on everything. It’s wonderful on chicken and fish or just over rice and lentils.

Mediterranean dressing

In a medium bowl, chop and combine:
1 Vine ripened tomato
1/2 Vidalia onion (or red onion)
1 can artichoke hearts
1 small green pepper
12 kalamata pitted olives cut in half

Combine and add:
1 tablespoons of the olive juice (for the salt)
Fresh cracked pepper to taste
1/4 cup of good olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (optional)

Mix in with the bowl of pure goodness. let sit overnight.
It’s wonderful!! Add fresh herbs if you want too. I chopped a few chives in there because I had them. I also cut up an avocado for the salad.
You can also spoon this over flatbread and add goat cheese (For those people who can tolerate goat cheese) and broil until the cheese melts.

This such a nice recipe. The colors are beautiful. In season, chop fresh parsley and maybe even a red and yellow pepper for more color.

So as my journey continues, I have two more weeks to go to complete the 21 days. As I said before though, I’m in no hurry to put any of these foods back into my body. They just don’t belong there. The fact that I saw Dr. Weil’s magazine was simply re-enforcement that I’m on the right track. It was no coincidence. Here’s to whole foods and positive cooking.

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Inflammation??

There comes a time when you have to take complete responsibility for your own health. A doctor is a handy person when something feels broken or not quite right. That’s the ‘go to” person when it feels like it’s someone else that needs to make the decisions for you. It usually starts with routine blood work. You get the blood work back and everything looks good. That’s good news right?? Until you decide to Google the results and see what they actually mean. What are these letters, abbreviations and numbers? Less than and positive signs that you learned in elementary school. Together they all mean your health status but together to the untrained eye, they’re whatever the doctors tells you they are. Fair enough.

Not good enough for me at that particular moment. I notice one that looks to be a bit higher than the Google results say it should:CR-P. What is this?? So I call the doctor and I’m fortunate enough to talk to one of his nurses. She says it’s inflammation. So I ask what that means and she says it doesn’t pin point the source. She said it’s a little high but not to worry. So we end the call and of course, I worry. As time goes on, I’m at ease with the thought that maybe it was from a sore back or a head ache and next time it’ll be fine. Fast forward three years and I go for a routine blood check as part of a physical. Well, well. Once again the CR-P comes back “a little” high. It’s the first thing I ask the doctor to look at. Once again, she asks me if I have any pain or if I’ve had a headache. I say no and it’s dismissed anyway. this just didn’t sound right to me. I was having trouble losing weight even though I was going to the gym. I was exhausted more than usual. I just couldn’t concentrate. None of these were red flags?? So I decided to pay more attention to my body.

I was at a local health food store and saw a magazine that caught my attention. It said “The 7 hidden causes of weight gain”. So I picked it up and that night I made a cup of tea and sat down to relax and read my magazine. What kind of help could this magazine possibly bring. The article really got my attention. One word in particular: Inflammation. There’s that word again. Certain foods become an intolerance. I’m very familiar with gluten and the host of problems it causes. There it is on the list along with dairy, soy, eggs, sugar, peanuts and corn. It dawns on me that a few years ago, I had taken the gluten out for quite a while and remember not having any joint pain. There’s some validity to this article. I read the entire thing and I’m convinced I need to try this. They recommend a book by JJ Virgin so I download the book and read it in two days. In the meantime I find two co-workers are taking out flour and refined sugars. I’m happy that one of them is a chef so I know we can bounce some good ideas off of each other. They seem to be doing pretty well.

I thought “I can do this”. Then I started to think about what I had to give up. I love cheese. Taking dairy out is like ripping the pacifier out of a baby’s mouth. And bread?? Wait, eggs with cheese too?? This was a good time to go for a walk and think about what I was about to get myself into. It didn’t take long. The compromise is weight loss and no joint pain. I CAN do this. I get home from my walk and immediately throw away what’s in the fridge. The new groceries I had just bought earlier that morning got bagged up and given away. Back to the grocery store, Trader Joes to be exact. I love brown rice and lentils. I can have that along with organic meats and fish. Every morning I make a breakfast shake with organic spinach, raspberries, coconut milk, spring water and some protein powder.

I want to say that today is day 6. I feel pretty good. I have periods where I feel like crashing. My co-worker says that the support group he goes to talks about that as a common occurence. the support group leader explained that your body is working over time to repair the damage. That will exhaust you from time to time. Makes sense to me. I never weigh myself because I refuse to measure my accomplishments with the scale. there are so many variables with a scale. For me, it’s how I feel. JJ Virgin says “7 pounds in 7 days by taking out the 7 foods”. I had a pair of jeans that I was hoping to fit into. I have to say, they fit pretty good!! That’s the motivation I needed. More importantly, it means there must be a lot of really good things going on inside. Things I can’t see but I sure can feel.

You’re supposed to keep these 7 foods out for 21 days and then slowly re-introduce them back into your system one by one. Tonight I decided that I actually like this new life style. I like knowing I’m doing really good things to my body.

I think the most important thing I’ve learned is to listen to your body. If it doesn’t sound right or feel right then you need to pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you feel as though your doctor isn’t listening to you, then find a new one. That’s what I did and my new doctor is wonderful. She’s open to listening to what I have concerns with. She gives me the time to explain and then she gives me very good advice. She’s open to natural remedies and doesn’t pick up the prescription pad as soon as I say the word “discomfort”.

Inflammation is not a kind word. It’s something that I have decided to pay more attention to. I can only hope that through diet and education, I will continue to improve that number with my next physical’s blood work. Every single thing I put in my mouth is my decision. I enjoy whole foods and juicing fresh vegetables. I love making new healthy dishes that I can share. I’m looking forward to going to the “Farm-acy” as soon as the farmers markets open up. I’m doing good things for my body now. I need to take the best care of it because it’s the only one I have. As long as I keep in mind that what goodness I put into my body I will get out, I’ll do okay.

Love these new jeans!

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Day one: Self care

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and wrote anything. Life gets in the way sometimes and when the focus is taken off of self, chaos looms. I say this because in the last 90 days what were actually some pretty marvelous events that have happened were perceived as losses not gains.

Recently I started a new job. I left my former job because of the negativity that surrounded every working moment. In a business where I developed the entire product line (gluten free products to be exact), it should have been celebratory to the gluten free community. It was quite the opposite for me. So in a sense, I guess leaving that job was my first step at taking care of self. It was a very large sacrifice in income, about 50% but what I gained was far more rich. Leaving a negative environment is like releasing the body of harmful toxins. Making the step to leave is the hardest but once you walk away, you feel the presence of light, a very calming light. You can breath better, sleep better and give yourself a nice pat on the back for what you did achieve. What they do with it is beyond my control so I needed to appreciate what I did and created and move on. My new position doesn’t pay as much but I have benefits that are very important. I have a daily commute of 30 minutes each way which instead of being a nuisance is actually My Time. It’s 30 minutes every morning and evening that I have to relax and reflect.

It wasn’t until the last couple of that I had time to think about it. I’ve been home sick. Something I have never done before. I have never missed a day of work until today. The stress and anxiety it brought me when the doctor said to stay home a couple of days was incredible. Until today. Today was the day that gave me time to think about why it’s okay. It’s about me. I have to take care of me. You would think a woman in her mid 40’s would already be doing that but not me…until now. While I was laying on my bed, I thought of what was important to me. I’m the third day into my antibiotic, so I know it’s getting better. I wanted to go to the gym. Then I wanted to take a nap instead. So I looked over at my cat and gave him a little lovings pat and decided today I’m going to the gym. I got up, got dressed and put my sneakers on. I got to the gym and did the 45 minutes of cardio I struggled to do.

The hardest part of this struggle is before I lost everything, I was going to the gym 6 days a week and loved it. It was my life. I was in great shape.Everything evolved around the gym. I had confidence and I could do anything. I had the energy. Every morning and lunch was a yogurt shake and then a salad for dinner. I loved it.  Then, life took some turns that I didn’t ask for help with. I thought I could do it. I hated asking for help. I would help anyone, but I just couldn’t ask for it. That was a life lesson I’ll never forget. Soon I was depressed. I stopped going to the gym. The 50# I had lost were right back on. I couldn’t think of exercising. It was horrible. First the business and then the house. I felt like some source larger than life itself was just plucking things from me left and right. Eventually I tried to get back into it but I think I was just too depressed. It didn’t matter. Why try. It was a self pity party that lasted 4 years. No time off or vacations. No flying to NYC twice a year to visit the city I love so much. It was all done. I lost it.

The last couple of months I would buy fitness magazines, take an occasional trip to the gym and start juicing. I would juice everyday.I loved it and I still do. Every morning was going to be the one. Back to the gym 5 days a week to start and I’ll be back into it. Then something or some thought would send me back. I’d buy a bottle of wine and a fitness magazine determined to start tomorrow, or the first or on Monday. Ugh.

This time at home has given me time to think about me. I want to get back to the gym. The only way I can is to just get up and go. It seems as though the only thing I can control is my body. Only I have the means to make it work or not. Yes, I’m determined. It’s not a Monday, or the first and I didn’t wait until tomorrow. I got up and went today. It’s a struggle but I’m determined. Eventually I’d like to run a 5K race. That’s my long term goal. My short term goal is to return tomorrow and repeat today.

 I can do this. I can build my life this time for me. I built a home and a business. I have to stop looking at them as losses and see them as knowledge gained, lessons learned.

Today I am asking for the help. I’m asking for support. I’m just looking for encouragement. If you’re a runner, any beginner tips would be helpful. If you’re someone who has thought you lost everything and now see that from a different perspective, I’d love to read your story.

Today is the first day.

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