British dairy farmers started out their 2018 hoping to engage with people hot off the tails of their #Veganuary challenges by inundating social media with posts filled with cheese toasties and pints of semi-skimmed.

#Februdairy was a campaign launched by an ex-vegan animal scientist to celebrate the greatness of all things dairy and even included a #MilkPintChallenge that would encourage people to drink a pint of milk and then nominate others to follow suit.  Dairy farmers were hoping to set the record straight amidst what they claim to be ‘misinformation’ about the industry and its treatment of animals — which has been widely touted from activists and pro-vegan organizations worldwide.

But even in the days leading up to #Februdairy, pro-dairy supporters were met with impassioned plant-based dieters and influencers from YouTube to Twitter.

Nevertheless, dairy farmers persisted.

Cornwall farmer, Jennifer Down, told Farmers Guardian, “Everyone should get involved with #Februdairy as I think it is a great opportunity, not just for farmers but consumers as well, to join in the celebration of dairy farming.”

“Over the 28 days of February we are looking for everyone to post positive pictures or quotes – whether it be pictures of eating yogurt or milking the cows – all are welcome in the celebration.”

Source: Farming Insight.

The dairy farming industry’s hope with its plethora of photos showcasing cute cows, cheeseburgers and tall drinks of milk was that consumers would see the more humane side of dairy farming, and start to load their grocery baskets full of butter and cheddar.

But their optimism was met with opposition – it would appear that, for some, #Februdairy was a campaign convincing them to quit dairy full stop.

#Februdairy even had its internal critics,  for example, National Farmers Union, Scotland’s Glasgow President, Andrew McCornick.

McCornick claims that the #Februdairy campaign is, “counterproductive,” stating, “I don’t think doing #Februdairy is a good idea, to be honest, because I feel it adds fuel to the fire, and opens dairy farmers, in particular, to more criticism, and it ends up being counterproductive.”

McCornick further expressed, “I think what we want to be doing is looking at the real figures of how many people are vegan, and how many people stick with it, that’s what I want to know because it is not an easy choice.”

Statistics only further back up McCornick’s sentiments, with veganism up over 340% in the past decade and #Veganuary’s participants shooting from 3,300 people in 2014 to nearly 150,000 in 2018.

In addition to activism and awareness on social media, celebrities have become a significant wave in the ever-growing body of pro-vegan water with the likes of Ellie Goulding, Jessica Chastain, and Liam Hemsworth promoting the plant-based lifestyle to their followings and beyond.

Having followed the successful #Veganuary campaign during January, some say that #Februdairy was ‘dead meat’ before the first of the month arrived.

Twitter can be a tough place to present a controversial opinion, and #Februdairy was no exception, but not all who support the pro-vegan message also support those voicing it via a platform of hateful words and propaganda.

Maybe #MeatyMarch will moo-ve some people back to the chopping board?

I’m thinking dairy farmers may receive another raw deal.

Would you switch to a vegan diet?


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Two Free HIIT Workouts I Use with My Clients

Two Free HIIT Workouts I Use with My Clients

Hey, guys!

I probably seem like a distant memory at this stage with this blog.  I hope you are all well and as cliche, as it sounds, I cannot believe that it is nearly April!

I am still working on things and pursuing other projects both personally and professionally.  I have a new coaching site and blog that you can check out and follow on Instagram.  It’s still early days, but it’s one of a couple of projects I am putting time and energy into behind the scenes.

I just spent nearly two weeks sick as a dog with the flu/cold/bronchitis/stomach trauma.  Good times! :/

Every single time I get sick like that, I am reminded how much it depresses me when I can’t exercise and have little energy.

Being forced to rest and take time out always makes me ponder how I used to be so unhappy before I made taking care of my health a top priority.

With the seasons changing and better weather on the way, people are looking for new workouts.  Or emailing me because for people I know I am the “on-call/go-to” when it comes to looking for a place to start feeling better.

I thought I would share two free HIIT workouts I use with my clients.

I am a big fan of getting in 3-4 HIIT  workouts per week for whatever your fitness and health goals may be.  One of the great things about HIIT is that it is scaleable.

What is an all out effort for you, might not be for the person next to you, but you get out of your workouts what you put into them, and these two workouts give you an opportunity to challenge yourself, have fun, and add some variety to your usual workout schedule?

They also require little to no equipment and space, so if you’ve got 30 minutes, you’re ready to go!

I hope everyone is doing well and keeping their spirits high in these transitional and challenging times in the world.

Believe it or not, despite the negativity out there, the past few months have reminded me that we are all responsible for our hustle and that our voices and actions can make a difference.

Be well and let me know if you try these out (or PIN them for later!).

Two Free HIIT Workouts I Use with My Clients




If you like this workout you should check out my workout programs curated by me through Booya Fitness!  

How is spring going for you so far?

Let’s connect!

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Is Your Body Positive Selfie Actually Empowering?

I have become increasingly immersed in the body positivity community over the past year.

I started to get interested in following Instagram and YouTube personalities who promote happiness at any size and self-love — I think it’s utterly fantastic.

I believe we do need to expand the reductive definition of what is beautiful, but having said that, do we, from a feminist perspective, need to stop objectifying our bodies regardless of how proud we are of them?

I stumbled across a fantastic podcast by Lindsay Kite, Ph.D. that covers this topic beautifully.  Kite and her twin sister, Lexie, are the founders of the organization Beauty Redefined and her podcast  “Empowerment in the selfie age – an interview with Lindsay Kite” is a must hear for anybody out there looking for a different perspective on body positivity, sexuality, and feminism.

Photo: www.beautyredefined.org

There’s no doubt that body positive social media posts spark very divided conversations, but nonetheless, they are important conversations to have.

Lindsay Kite explains on her podcast a belief which is that many women who post nude and lingerie selfie photos online may help them ultimately they feel like they “have to show their body to prove that they value their body — to show that other people’s bodies are acceptable.”

Kite also contends that self-objectification –  the obsession with what our bodies look like inside our minds – is the thing that is hurting us.

That self-objectification is, in fact, the thing that is reinforcing our body shame.

She further explains:

We need to be very critical about what is being labeled “empowering.”  This culture that we’re living in will give women “power” for showing their bodies.  It will give them money, followers, likes, magazine photo shoots, and fame — women who have risen to extreme fame because of the way they present their bodies online.  You can see how that feels like empowerment — and a lot of people think that’s true.  However, from a feminist perspective … that “power” can be taken away as quickly as it’s given, because it is being determined by a culture that only values women’s bodies as objects.  

-Lindsay Kite

What exactly does empowering mean?

As defined by Merriam-Webster, to empower means to promote self-actualization or influence.  


Influence is the power to change or affect someone or something.

And the definition of self-actualization is the process of fully developing and using one’s abilities.

So really empowerment is the promotion of the process of using one’s abilities and power to change or affect someone or something.  

I don’t believe that showing bodies in and of itself is a bad thing.

If bodies are a form of our consumption, then, yes,  I think all bodies have a right to be promoted and seen.  

But, this often becomes a ‘chicken and egg’ conversation.

If it’s the obsession of what our bodies look like inside our minds that hurt our self-image, then it is most certainly stemming from the influence of bodies seen day in and day out in the media.

To that effect, are women showcasing these selfies for body diversity the best chance we have at a silver lining of capitalism, patriarchy, and exploitation?

Kite suggests before you post an image as a statement of feminist empowerment that you ask the following important question:

Who determines your power?  If it’s coming from the outside, it’s probably not real.  Showing and sharing bodies online isn’t ever going to get us there.  You’re still pre-occupied with your looks, and you’re still feeding off external validation.

So, the important question:  what does empowerment look like?

Being able to accomplish what you want to achieve and having self-efficacy brings empowerment …most women are not happy with themselves and judging and defining themselves based on what they think other people think about them.”  

The bottom line:  We have to set goals for ourselves that yield actual feelings of accomplishments outside of what other people see when they look at us.

My last question is this:  Is there a way that external validation can encourage internal validation in a healthy manner?

I say there’s nothing wrong with feeling happy and comfortable with yourself nor is there anything wrong with posting photos on social media.

The central questions of this post are strictly these:

1.  Are pictures of nude and semi-nude female bodies at any size just a continuation of the general objectification of women?

2.  How, as women, can we create a shift away from external validation to create lasting feminist empowerment and ultimately reject the notion that what a body looks likes should ever matter in the first place?

Is your body positive selfie empowering?

Please listen to this podcast; it is a 40-minute conversation worth having.

To learn more about Beauty Redefined, you can visit Lindsay and Lexie Kite’s website www.beautyredefined.org to find out more about body image “resilience.”

How do you feel about the body positive selfie movement?  What’s your take on “empowerment”?  What does it mean to you?






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How To Identify Toxic Relationships And Attract Healthier Connections

How To Identify Toxic Relationships And Develop Healthy Connections

You know that saying, “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are?”  I used to think that was such a bs thing to say.

Do you want to know why?

For years, I surrounded myself with some very toxic people.

I know how it feels to be on both sides of this issue and, frankly, neither situation is healthy.

This post is going to help you determine if the people you surround yourself with are toxic or uplifting, and how these different types of folks impact your overall happiness.

Identifying a “toxic acquaintance”

First, a toxic relationship doesn’t have to be with somebody who necessarily pushes you to do unhealthy things.  A toxic acquaintance isn’t an entirely toxic person either; it’s their toxic behavior that can be detrimental to your personal growth.

It isn’t easy to determine whether or not an acquaintance is toxic.

For example, I had a toxic boyfriend for nearly two years before I started to realize (with the help of a great psychologist) just how toxic his behavior actually was.

It was nearly another 18 months before I finally broke off all communication with him, moved out, and moved on.

Take a moment now and think about the people you surround yourself with — even family members.

Think about your relationships objectively for the time being.

Is there a person in your life whom you’ve started to dread being around? Or an individual who makes you feel completely drained after you spend time with them?

If either of these sound familiar, it is possible that you’ve got ties to a toxic acquaintance (or relative).

If any of this sounds familiar, it is possible that you’ve got ties to a toxic acquaintance (or relative).

Five traits of “toxic acquaintances.”

  1. They have distinct narcissistic tendencies.  Not sure what I mean by this?  Do they talk more than they listen?  Does everything have to center around them?  Do they interrupt you?  One up you?  Belittle your problems?  If a person in your life is doing this, they are struggling with narcissistic tendencies.
  2. You are directly affected by their drama and behavior.   Toxic people tend to live from crisis to crisis.  There is always something happening to them, and when there isn’t something there, they’ll create it.  When you’re friends with a toxic person, you are expected to nurse their wounds and listen to their carrying on.  Often a solution is offered, and often it will be responded to by a direct refusal of even considering your advice.  Toxic people are full-time victims and view themselves as never at fault for what’s happening in their life.  As such, they are not responsible for trying to make their situation better.  If this sounds like somebody you know, you’re sadly fighting a losing battle.  Until that person acknowledges their victim mentality and narcissistic ways, they will continue to refute any and all of your advice.
  3. They lack empathy and support for others.  Toxic people, though they seem to bounce from crisis to crisis, will find other people’s problems trivial at times.  They will use their experiences as a reference point for the circumstances of others around them.  Not sure what I mean?  Take the following, for example, “I don’t know why she’s complaining about, it’s not as if she was with him as long as I was with my ex.”   For a toxic individual, they cannot separate their experiences (and outcomes) from the experiences of those around them.
  4. They are controlling.   A toxic person is not only controlling in the sense that they want you to be available whenever they need you or they question your loyalty to them.  When you’re with this person, you can’t think for yourself or challenge their opinions without automatically having them discount your opinion or belittle it as being “silly” or “ignorant.”  All of this happens without any consideration of your point of view.  Are they overly critical of you and yet, fail to be able to accept any constructive criticism you have offered them?  Any aspect of an attempt to control the relationship is a sign of narcissistic and toxic behavior.
  5. You’re exhausted after being around them.  Healthy relationships require a certain amount of giving and taking.  Toxic acquaintances tend to be takers and exhibit little give.  If somebody in your life leaves you feeling drained, after you’ve been in their company, ask yourself when the last time was that person asked you how you are feeling.  If you can’t think of one, it’s time to consider the possibility that this person might be toxic for you.

How To Handle Toxic Relationships

If you’re like me, you like to see the good in people before you accept other people’s “warnings” about them.

Over the years, I’ve had people come up to me in a public place and ask me, “why are you friends with ______?”  I would be put off by this, naturally.

There’s nothing wrong with being a compassionate and accepting person — those are terrific qualities. Unfortunately, toxic people (consciously or otherwise) prey on folks with those qualities.

About the ex-boyfriend I mentioned previously, I went on to discover over the ten years before our relationship that he had left relationships with previous partners either on medication or in therapy as a result of his mental abuse.

Unfortunately, some people are master manipulators, and it can take months (even years) for their reign of control over you to show itself.

If you feel that any of the five descriptions I’ve provided are present in any of your current relationships, you don’t have to scrap the relationship just yet.  There is still some hope.

Three steps you can make to try and mend a “toxic relationship”*

  1. Be honest with them about how you’re feeling.  This one is a bitter pill to swallow for most people with toxic behavior issues since they rarely accept responsibility for their role in anything.  However, as an enlightened person with toxic behavior issues, if it weren’t for the people who cared enough to call me out on how my behavior was affecting them, I wouldn’t have been able to change my ways.  The bottom line is:  If they aren’t willing to take your feelings into consideration or make you feel bad about trying to have a rational conversation, you’re better off with them out of your life.  Wish them well, send them love, but move on for your sake.
  2. Use ‘I-statements’.   While studying interpersonal communication, I took a class that centered around conflict resolution.  One of the most memorable things I learned during this course, was the importance of using  ‘I-statements’ when confronting others regarding their behavior.  I-statements are an assertion about the feelings and emotions of the person speaking.  They let the person listening know that this information is about the speaker.  An example of an I-statement would be, “when you tell me I’m oversensitive, I feel belittled.”  In that case, the speaker is owning the feeling of being belittled rather than blaming that feeling on the recipient by saying, “when you tell me I’m oversensitive, you make me feel belittled.”   If taking ownership of your feelings and using I-statements while you attempt to salvage this relationship isn’t given the appropriate consideration then, again, you’re better off without this person.
  3. Seek the help of a professional.  I only advise this personally if the relationship is worth saving.  If you absolutely must try everything to help the toxic person see where you’re coming from in an attempt to save your relationship (this is mostly for spouses and relatives) I would advise seeking out a mental health or personal development professional to see it through. It does require that both parties enter the situation with an open mind and willingness to work things out.  If this approach doesn’t work, this relationship (and individual) are most likely beyond repair.  Protect yourself and wellbeing and move forward.

* I must stress:  If you feel threatened or in danger, never attempt to handle the situation on your own.  

How to attract healthier connections

Now let’s discuss acquaintances and friends who lift us up and make us feel inspired to be the very best version of ourselves we can be.

These are the people we can go to when we’re down, inspired, angry, frustrated, and anything in-between.

It can be difficult as an adult to befriend these types of people, but it’s not impossible.

Five traits of positive people (they’re not always obvious)

  1. They are kind to others.  They don’t have to like everybody they come in contact with, but regardless of their personal feelings, they are always kind and considerate to others. An admirable quality.  If you’re somebody who struggles with separating connection and kindness, this is a type of person you need more of in your life.
  2. They make friends with other people with ease.  As we get older, it becomes more challenging to develop (and maintain) genuine friendships.  When I connect with new people, I often find myself (and the other person) saying, “I feel like I’ve known you for years.”  Discovering people you can connect to in ways that feel unforced and comfortable is an amazing thing.  We all need more people like this in our lives, right?
  3. They are present and listen to others with intention.  Have you ever been out with a friend and realized they’re attached at the hip to their phone?  I mean, we’re all guilty of expecting a call or text that may overlap with a coffee date or get-together, but there’s nothing worse than being with another person who isn’t fully engaged in your quality time together.  Whenever possible, I try to turn my phone off while I’m with others or leave it in my bag.  If I am waiting for a text or call (which, living in a different country than my friends and family is often for me), I will let the person I am with know, “if I’m checking my phone it’s because I’m expecting a text from a family member, I will keep it as brief as possible.”
  4. They don’t take you (or your time) for granted.  Okay, there’s always going to be unexpected things that happen in life, and occasionally plans may have to be broken or rescheduled.  It happens to the best of us.  However, if it’s continuous, that’s another story.  Positive people and acquaintances will not take you or your time for granted.  They will appreciate the time you’re both making to maintain and evolve the relationship.
  5. They encourage you to take (calculated) risks.  We all need to break up with our comfort zone occasionally.  So, it’s best to surround ourselves with people who give us that positive nudge we need to take a plunge into something new.  Not every idea you ever have will be one that a positive thinking friend will back 100%, but you can be sure they will have your best interest at heart when they share their two cents.

That’s a stark contrast, isn’t it?  Some of this information may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many people spend years surrounding themselves with people who don’t encourage them without recognizing it.

When you spend any length of time with people, you can tend to not pick up on how the relationship is evolving — or going nowhere.

Being able to see the other side of something gives you a different perspective than you could ever have if you had never challenged it.

Sadly, not all connections we make with others in life meet our (or possibly theirs) needs.  When this happens, it’s best to save what you can and walk away from what you can’t.

Free your life up for those who will support and encourage you.

Can you think of a time you were in a toxic relationship?  Do you consider yourself to be a positive person in your relationships?  Have you ever experienced toxic behavior in yourself?




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Advanced Stage Cancer and Nutrition


This post is part one of a two-part series on advanced stage cancer and nutrition.  I have two sides to my reason for writing this series of posts.  The one hand is my personal reflection on traditional medicine (with particular attention to oncology) and the (lack of) focus on nutrition, and the second side is to discuss the connection (and powerful tool) between diet and disease.

Part One:  For What (Nutrition) Is Worth

I am currently studying to become a nutritional therapist, so, I’m just going to go ahead and say this here and now:  There is simply too much confusion  — and a lack of guidance out there — to help people live their healthiest life possible.   The reason adding this certification to my collection is so important to me is,  I honestly feel there is a disconnect between the prevention and treatment of disease and nutrition.  Not just a disconnect, but a negligent disconnect.

There is simply too much confusion and a lack of guidance out there to help people live their healthiest life possible.

The purpose of this post is certainly not to derail, dismiss, or argue that oncologists are not medical professionals who face one of the worst diseases of all time because they certainly are amazing people.  I have an enormous amount of respect for doctors, believe me when I say this.   However, I had the first-hand experience with the issue I will be discussing today while my father was treated for his stage IV colon cancer in 2011.  I have reflected long and hard about what I am posting, so this is not something I just decided to discuss offhand.  I also know that I am not the only person who could recount a (similar if not identical) story about the subject I’m about to reference in my discussion.

Nutrition is such an intricate part of life in sickness and (good) health.

Stage IV cancer is terminal, and it is heartbreaking to hear that diagnosis.  When my father was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer in February 2011, the two options his oncologist had for him were as follows:  Chemotherapy with a life expectancy of 12-36 months, or do nothing and live six months.  My father chose to fight and underwent an aggressive form of chemotherapy.

My father’s drug combinations included substances that would make him unable to breathe in cold weather and unable to drink liquids colder than room temperature.   Drugs that caused him chronic nausea and fatigue.  Drugs that caused him skin lesions, hair loss, and chronic rashes.  Drugs that ultimately corroded his liver and ended his life eight months to the day of his prognosis.  During my father’s treatment, he was in the hospital between 20-30 times for treatment, regular appointments, and surgeries.  He saw his oncologist and the oncology nurses regularly, but he was only referred to speak to an oncology nutritionist once in 8 months.  

I would accompany my father to his appointments, and more than once his oncologist dismissed my comments about types of foods we were encouraging my dad to eat, including getting him a juicer.  In fact, her response to our buying a juicer was this, “at this point if he wants to eat McDonald’s and he’s eating, just let him have what he wants.”

I was floored by such an answer.

Really, Doc?  McDonald’s?

Yes, that’s what she said.  What this comment told me was, “the end is near, so let him eat whatever he wants.” — which was not only a dismissive, but very upsetting (not to mention, frustrating) message to hear.

Now, I’m not suggesting that juicing was ever going to cure my father’s advanced stage cancer, but what I am saying, outright, is that every person — regardless of their current health profile –should be encouraged by their healthcare provider to eat a balanced and healing diet.

I’m also not suggesting that all specialists should be required to obtain a degree in nutrition, or that this is what your doctor would say to you.  However, going back to my frustration with the comment made by my father’s oncologist, how could she be so blatantly dismissive about what my dad was eating?  It was ignorant, in my opinion.  Maybe that was it, ignorance, but even if my father’s oncologist was not in the position to comment on his nutrition, surely she knew that — regardless of his current health — eating processed food would not be the best choice for him.  Period. Why be dismissive about nutrition — for any reason — at any stage of life?  

Practitioners and Nutrition Education

The National Academy of Sciences sets a guideline minimum of 25 hours of nutrition education for medical school students.   However, findings from the Nutrition in Medicine Project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, conducted from 2008-2009 show that this requirement is often not met.

A total of 105 schools completed the portion of the survey regarding the number of nutrition contact hours. According to these responses, U.S. medical schools provided an average of 19.6 hours of required nutrition teaching (range: 0–70 contact hours). Only 27% (28/105) of U.S. medical schools responding to this question indicated that they provided the minimum of 25 hours recommended by the National Academy of Sciences in 1985.3 Thirty medical schools (29%) reported requiring 12 or fewer hours of nutrition instruction (Figure 1). Most of these contact hours took place during the first two years of medical training when students received an average (standard error of the mean [SEM]) of 15.4 (1.0) hours of required nutrition instruction. The third and fourth years provided an average (SEM) of only 4.2 (0.6) additional hours.

– Nutrition in Medicine Project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Of course, some specialists are educated specifically in nutrition and, yes, they would be better to consult with for matters specifically concerning diet.  I also know you wouldn’t go to a chiropractor for a heart condition any quicker than you would go to a gastroenterologist for a back problem.  However, despite my father’s disease, I never heard any real advice or encouragement about the power (or possibility) of nutrition as a way to heal or comfort him from any medical professional.

Again, this account is based on the experiences I (closely) watched my father have, but I can’t help but feel, when it comes to advanced cancer (or any condition, for that matter), it is a common attitude often to “throw in the towel” on nutrition. 

If so, this is an attitude in need of serious reconsideration.  

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!

Further information on medical school and nutrition education: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/16/health/16chen.html?_r=0


Information on the Nutrition in Medicine Project: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4042309/


Do you think nutrition is not emphasized enough both in prevention and treatment of diseases?




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