Making Changes for a Healthier Lifestyle

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

Change is difficult, especially when it comes to making changes to eating and exercising habits. You can’t just change your eating habits over night.  It has to be a LIFESTYLE change.  When you’re making lifestyle changes, the first thing you have to change is your mind. Change your mind set, then work on your eating and exercise habits.

You can literally eat like a rabbit and still not be healthy.  Health is on the inside, too.  Do you have a strong heart?  How much energy do you have?  What percent is your body fat?  Do you have healthy muscle tone?  Are you limber and flexible?  Are you happy with your life, your job, your path?

Changing your body can take years, and it has to be a total lifestyle change for it to be a permanent change.

When making lifestyle changes, it’s best to make small changes that you can incorporate into your life. When Dave and I first started focusing on health, we cut out using the microwave. All of our research pointed to the microwave as a source of damage to our bodies and our food, and we believe that the dangers of microwaves are a reality. We’ve now been microwave-free for three years, adjusting to reheating food on the stove or in the toaster oven.

The next change we made was to eliminate high fructose corn syrup. It was simply a matter of reading labels and paying attention, sometimes forgoing a favored salad dressing or barbecue sauce. Finding foods without high fructose corn syrup has become easier; Post has come out with an entire line of HFCS-free cereals (Post Good Morenings) at a price point most families can abide by at $2 a pound. With a variety of flavors, Post is the perfect choice for morning cereal eaters. Hunt’s offers ketchup with no high fructose corn syrup. I found a helpful website that lists HCFS-free foods; it’s not entirely up to date, but it’s a start.

Once we’d overcome the high fructose corn syrup, we moved on to tackle trans fats.  Cutting trans fats was the most difficult change, but also the most effective. Cutting trans fats meant skipping fast food meals, paying close attention to food labels, and making more significant changes to our diets. The difference we’ve experienced in the last year since ridding trans fats from our lives has been substantial.

Even though I haven’t seen the kind of change on the scale that I wanted – mostly due to my own lack of ability to regularly prioritize exercise as much and as often as I should – removing trans fats from my diet has most likely saved my life. You see, my family history for heart disease is pretty lengthy. My great-grandmother died during an Angioplasty. My mother’s uncle died of a heart attack at age 40. Her other uncles have all had multiple heart attacks and bypass procedures. Her mother had a heart attack at age 50 and died of complications related to heart disease. My mother, who was ill with leukemia, actually died from congestive heart failure brought on by the chemo. My uncle has had a heart attack, and he is young and health.

Last year, in the midst of making changes but still struggling, I had a C-reactive protein (CRP) test. You really want your results to be <1.00. Mine was 7.85. As in, wow, you haven’t had a heart attack yet?

So we really went to work on cutting out trans fats. We switched to I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter for cooking, because it has no trans fats. We stopped – literally stopped – eating fast food. I’ve not had a cheeseburger from Burger King or McDonalds in more than a year. This year, I had a repeat of the CRP test.

It is now a 3.45.

I’m still high risk, and I still have a long road ahead of me to achieve the health I want…but I have CUT IN HALF my risk of heart attack or stroke.

Cut it in half!

I’m not worried about the number on the scale; I’m not beating myself up for not getting on the treadmill every morning.

I am going to continue to tackle my changes one at a time, making changes I can incorporate into my life.

If you’re ready to make some changes, here are some easy ones to start with:

  • Watch how many of your calories come from fat and how many calories you consume in total. Make sure less than 10% of your calories come from fat and that the fat you consume is not trans fat or saturated fat. Not only can this make a difference on the scale but it can do wonders for your cholesterol and heart disease risk.
  • Cut out fast food as much as possible and make better choices when you do go (we rely on Eat This, Not That to help guide us)
  • Cut out simple carbs (chips, white breads, etc) and replace them with high fiber (brown rice, whole grains)
  • Add exercise, any exercise. Walk to the store. Dance to music. Hop on a treadmill. Go for a walk with a friend. Park further away from the office, or better yet, get a bike. Get active!  Do you normally rent movies on Saturday night?  Go bowling instead.  Do you spend Sunday lying in bed reading the paper?  Get up and go to the park.  Walk, feed the ducks, play frisbee with your dog (he needs exercise too!)  It’s winter??  Go out in your own back yard and build a snowman!
  • Meditate. Lowering your stress levels can do wonders for everything from your blood pressure to your weight, not to mention your mind and clarity of thought.
  • Eat breakfast every single day.
  • Sleep at night (with the phone, laptop, tablet, and mind OFF)

Don’t try to completely change overnight.  If all you’ve done for exercise for the last year or more is heave the remote control,  start slowly and build up.  And remember, if your mind does not accept the change in lifestyle, you will not be successful.  Change as you can, and make the changes permanent.  Burning energy creates energy, so when you use it, you’ll have more.  The more you use, the more you lose.

All life needs balance, and balance comes from feeding and exercising the mind as well as the body.

  • Feed the mind a healthy diet: read, observe, listen, think.  Read fiction and non-fiction, for the mind learns from both.  Exercise the mind with creativity-draw, write, paint, sculpt, play music.  Be creative.
  • For your mind (and your soul) keep a journal.  Write a few thoughts at the end of the day, or the end of the week.  Speak freely, and keep it locked.  This is only for you, to get to know yourself and examine your priorities.

The key to being really healthy is to be happy and content with your life.  The more you take care of and love yourself, the happier and healthier you’ll be.

A Month of Health Articles – on a Mom Site?

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

I am participating in National Health Blog Post Month. We write about health a lot on MomsGetReal, even though it’s not a health or medical site. Why? Because moms have the power to set the example for their kids, and because moms are the best at helping other moms. From body image to living a healthy lifestyle, it all begins at home. It is important to talk about.

Writing about my health allows me to share some of my struggles – from weight loss issues to early menopause from having a hysterectomy at 37 to making healthy lifestyle changes – and encourage others to make small changes that have a big impact.

I hope you’ll check in each day to see what we’re talking about…and if you’d like to contribute your own health article to MomsGetReal, we’ll be accepting submissions all month!

I’m grateful to WEGO Health for encouraging a dedicated focus on health!

What are your health goals?

3 Components of Weight Loss Success

Does losing weight feel like mission impossible? You’ve tried fasting, cutting back on carbs, eating more dairy, going gluten-free (because you heard it was “the new thing” to do) and reading endless amounts of information—which may or may not have been helpful.

Instead of taking the “let’s try it and see” approach, you could follow three simple guidelines to weight loss and weight management. When nutrition, aerobic activity and strength training are all put into action, you shouldn’t feel like you’re starving or spinning in circles. Now, grab your calendar and start planning how to incorporate these factors into your day – every day:

  1. Nutrition – Eating to lose weight does not have to leave you feeling deprived. But, nutrition should be a major focus in your weight-loss journey. One of the best things you can do for yourself is write down everything you eat and how you feel afterward. Did that candy bar at 4 p.m. give you energy or slow you down? Take note and tune into your body’s needs – when you’re hungry, thirsty, fatigued or full. This doesn’t mean charting graphs and following formulas (unless you like that sort of thing). Just by being mindful of what, how much and why you are eating will go a long way. Food is fuel – we can’t function without it.
  2. Aerobic activity – The mere thought of “cardio” may wear you out, but because aerobic activity burns calories, it is an important element to weight-loss success. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes per day for five days each week. That is a total of 150 minutes each week at a moderate pace (walking fast, pushing a lawn mower or riding a bike on level ground) for overall health benefits. To shed pounds, though, you’ll need to increase the intensity and/or duration for optimal results. Not a runner? No problem. Find an aerobic activity you enjoy, such as Latin dance, cardio kickboxing or a recreational sport.
  3. Strength training – Don’t be intimidated by big muscle guys at the gym; everyone is welcome in the weight room. Lifting weights translates to more muscle mass, which leads to a higher metabolism. According to the CDC, strength training can increase metabolic rate by as much as 15 percent. Are you afraid of bulking up? It requires very specific training to achieve a bodybuilding stature – and it doesn’t happen overnight. Incorporate basic strength training into your workouts at least two or three days a week. You can do this on your cardio days, or on alternating days. It may be helpful to seek advice from a personal trainer, even for a short period of time. Learning proper form and getting exercise ideas from a professional is always the safest and most effective option if you’re just starting.

By: +Elizabeth Lotts writer for has been selling discount vitamins since 1994. Since then it’s grown into one of the biggest online marketplaces for healthy living essentials-with vitamins and supplements being just one of their many helpful categories! Want to read about coconut oil benefits or just buy raspberry ketones, you can at Get the best price on vitamins such as vitamin B12, nutritional supplements, whole foods and diet products.’s customers mean the world to them, and it’s their goal to provide you with the best nutritional supplements, natural foods and sports nutrition to help with your health and wellness. is not affiliated with this blog, and isn’t responsible for content outside of this article.

Paula Deen Ate A Cheeseburger

Getting Real With Kathy Winn

Stop The Presses!! Paul Deen ate a cheeseburger. On a cruise.

A woman with diabetes is eating poorly on a cruise ship. It’s unbelievable!

My response? Who cares. Having grown up with a loved one who was diagnosed with Diabetes at an early age I am going to make a shocking statement: Diabetics Eat Cheeseburgers. They eat french fries. Sometimes they… gasp… eat birthday cake!

Diabetics need to pay close attention to their diets. They need to monitor the foods they eat much more closely than the rest of us do (although shouldn’t we ALL pay more attention to the foods we put into our bodies?) But they do occasionally eat food that is not considered Diabetic Diet friendly.

They are human and they will eat a cheeseburger. With french fries.

Is Paula Deen a great example of how Diabetics – or anyone – should eat?


Has she ever been a good example in that category?


So let’s let Ms. Deen make her own decisions on what she eats and we’ll make decisions on what we (and our families) eat. She’ll live with her consequences and we’ll live with ours. And where are the photos from every other meal from that cruise? Did she eat only lean protein and vegetables for all other meals? Probably not, but we’ll never know so we shouldn’t judge. Do you want someone taking a photo of what you ate on vacation? Me neither.

And if you are looking for an AMAZING recipe, I highly recommend Paula Deen’s Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake recipe.

Just don’t eat it with a cheeseburger.

Deal Your Way To Better Health with FitDeck

FitDeck is a unique exercise tool that requires no equipment besides your body. Easy to slip in a suitcase or keep handy at your desk, FitDeck allows you to work out anywhere. You can use an individual FitDeck, or you can use multiple decks shuffled together to get a cross-training effect.

The greatest thing about FitDeck is that the randomness of which card you choose keeps your exercise from becoming boring or routine. Each deck has 56 cards, 50 of which are exercise cards while the other 6 are informational. The cards have images and instructions for the exercises, stretches, and movements you can do to improve your health and fitness.

FitDeck features these series –

  • FitDeck Bodyweight
  • FitDeck Senior
  • FitDeck Junior
  • FitDeck Yoga
  • FitDeck Pilates
  • FitDeck Stretch
  • FitDeck Prenatal
  • FitDeck Postnatal
  • FitDeck Basketball
  • FitDeck Soccer
  • FitDeck Swimming

The decks come in a handy hard case, making them easy to stow in your purse, briefcase, or suitcase for exercising anywhere you happen to be.

While you should always consult with your physician before starting a new exercise routine, FitDeck is a great solution for those who need inspiration, guidance, and motivation that is easy to carry anywhere and inexpensive.

I was provided with sample FitDecks  in order to offer my honest review. 

You can enter to win a FitDeck from MomsGetReal!

FTC Disclosure.

Contest rules.

Entry form.

Tackling Life’s Stresses Naturally with Mae’s Healing Guidance

Are you ignoring your body talk?

 The body, according to Marjorie Mae, is trying to tell us something. It’s determining what that something is that helps us make better choices in living healthy.

“Our job is to listen and recognize what is being communicated,” says Mae.

  • I need water
  • I need nutrition
  • I need rest
  • I need exercise
  • My back & knees hurt – I need to lose weight
  • I am hurting emotionally – my heart is broken
  • My liver is a toxic waste dump

How do we become overloaded in our bodies? That’s one of the first questions Marjorie Mae asks in her book, Consider Your Ways. Dedicated to helping people – especially moms – improve their health naturally, Marjorie Mae takes you through 22 “Healing Rooms” tackling everything from detoxification to ridding our households of the toxins that are killing us, Mae presents an astounding resource for living a healthier, happier life.

Each healing room offers up well-researched and documented information about the physical, chemical, and mental harms that “debit” our bodies’ health accounts. But Mae does not just lament the problems we face; she provides real solutions, including an entire section dedicated to suggested alternatives for the everyday household products we use that introduce toxins into our lives and the lives of our children.

A companion to the book is Mae’s Healing Recipes, a cookbook full of delicious meal and dessert ideas that don’t require you to eat cardboard flavored rice cakes to make healthy choices. My favorite so far is the Turkey and Mango burgers – I love being able to eat healthy foods that taste good!

Marjorie Mae doesn’t just write about it, though. She has also developed four loose leaf teas designed to address specific health issues: Red Raspberry and Lemon Balm for a natural sleep remedy; Hawthorn & Passion Flower Tea for circulation and heart health; Oregon Grape Root & Periwinkle  as a digestive aid; and Sassafras Root Bark Tea for skin conditions and for those trying to quit smoking.

Marjorie Mae is an expert in heath coaching, speaking and teaching natural remedies and foods that heal and promote health. Mae is passionate about enlightening, encouraging, energizing, and empowering all of us to take the journey to better health. Visit Mae’s Healing Rooms for more information.

I was provided a copy of the book, recipe book, and teas in order to offer my honest review. 

FTC Disclosure.


Massage for Good Health

Getting Real With Lisa Van De Graaff, LMT

For many of us, massage is a decadent indulgence we afford ourselves only when on vacation. As over-worked mothers, we fantasize about a spa getaway vacation with our girlfriends. However, massage can also be a great way to maintain good health and a vital component of a healthy lifestyle.

Massage – more generally referred to as bodywork – supports good health in a number of ways.

The state of relaxation achieved by many recipients of massage is a parasympathetic state for the body. It is the place of rest (versus the sympathetic fight or flight state most of us live in when we face the everyday stresses of life). In the parasympathetic state, the body heals itself. This also happens with a good night’s sleep or a deep meditation.

A massage therapist manipulates our body for us, or assists our movements, to move blood and lymph through the body. This process, like regular exercise, maximizes both the delivery of nutrients throughout our body as well as the processing of waste. Massage stirs things up, and with the help of good hydration, flushes toxins from the body.

Massage can also alleviate pain. The hands of a trained therapist can release adhesions in muscle and connective tissue (also known as that knot in your shoulder). Bodyworkers can help lengthen muscles with assisted stretches and reflex responses (thereby lessening your back pain). I’ve even had “Boom! It’s gone” moments with clients that suddenly regained full range of motion in a joint after a bodywork session.

These physiotherapeutic  reasons alone are enough to seek out a massage therapist for regular treatment, but the reason that I personally feel the greatest benefit from  bodywork is compassion. The practioners that are drawn to bodywork as a profession are immensely intuitive and empathetic. Even the most scientific of us, the ones that study anatomy for fun, have a tremendous capacity for love. So when a client chooses bodywork as a way to nurture their bodies, they are treated to an unconditional acceptance by the therapist that also nurtures the soul.

Where else do we receive validation that we are who we are and that is absolutely all right in every way?

One of my teachers once told me that massage is two parasympathetic nervous systems working together for mutual healing. I believe this to be absolutely true, and I know that massage is one way that we can support both our bodies and our hearts.

For Fitness and Sanity

Getting Real With Kathy Winn

If you’re asking your kids to exercise, then you better do it, too. Practice what you preach.

– Bruce Jenner

My husband and I were both “chubby” (that’s what they used to call it) as kids and we are trying to head that off for our little ones, so we take exercise pretty seriously in our house. I am a runner (for fitness and for sanity) and enjoy hitting the pavement when the weather cooperates. My husband is a basketball nut (again for fitness and sanity) and plays in several different leagues. Together as a family, we hike, ride bikes, and look for ways to get exercise into our lives. And we are cautiously optimistic about the effect it’s having on our kids.

Our 7 year old has done the myriad of youth sports (soccer, football, and currently baseball). Never more than one sport at a time and usually a few months off in between (once again for sanity’s sake – ours). But his outlook towards healthy activities is the most promising effect. He talks about exercise – and making good food choices – to stay healthy (not about his weight). In school they learn about heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions. Combined with the volunteer work that we do with cancer organizations, he’s getting a pretty accurate portrayal of the health scene in the world. He wants to exercise and make good decisions to “stay healthy.” And that makes me pretty proud.

Right now, we are getting ready to train for a one mile run that we will do together.  And that makes me even prouder.

As a country, I don’t think we move enough. We are complacent to sit and watch television or surf the web (myself included). But the attitude and outlook of our children is being shaped on a daily basis. If we teach them to love exercise and movement, it becomes a part of their life, and hopefully a part of their family’s life. And so on.

So we keep moving. For fitness and sanity.

Conversation Starter: Healthy Eating

When hot lunch for your school-age kids starts costing more than a typical utility bill, it’s time to start thinking of other options. Changing your approach to your children’s lunch menu is about more than money, though. It’s an opportunity to talk to your kids about making healthy food choices.

Schools are responsible for educating our kids, and they’re also supposed to provide a healthy lunch. Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee how healthy a lunch is when your child either refuses to eat it and it ends up in the trash, or the school serves something questionable. Worse yet, the pressure to provide the right kind of lunch may force schools into taking shortcuts.

Regardless of your children’s school hot lunch offerings, if you are concerned about your child developing healthy habits, want them to be more actively involved in making conscious decisions about what they eat and why, and want to teach them about nutrition, packing lunch together is an ideal time to focus on teaching them nutrition without it sounding like a lecture and without your child feeling sensitive about their own body image. You wouldn’t hesitate to talk to your kids about the dangers of smoking or drinking, but consuming the wrong kinds of foods on a regular basis is just as harmful and can have just as many negative affects.

Your kids don’t have to be unhealthy or overweight for conversations about nutrition to be a good idea, but because childhood obesity is a growing problem, it’s never too early to start talking about healthy habits and eating right. In fact, if you have toddlers at home who have not yet started school but have started developing preferences for certain foods, talk to them, too.  It’s never too early to start teaching your kids how to be in control of their health.