What to Do When You Are Being Way Too Hard on Yourself (And How It Affects Your Physical Health)

What to Do When You Are Being Way Too Hard on Yourself (And How It Affects Your Physical Health)

I am a strong proponent of learning and mentoring. I’ve enrolled in many online courses and business programs over the past decade. I’ve learned a ton, made some great friends and have had the privilege of learning from some incredible mentors.

The online world has opened up incredible opportunities to learn and connect. And there’s still nothing quite like being with amazing people in person. So, when an opportunity came up to meet my current business coach, April Beach, in my home state of MA, I was super excited.

April lives in CO and was only in MA for a few days while two of her three sons were playing in a Lacrosse tournament. I joined her on the lacrosse field about an hour or so from where I live. It was a super-hot day with temperatures in the 90’s and high humidity to boot. My favorite description of such weather is steamy.

I am very mindful about dressing for optimum comfort no matter what situation or weather I’m faced with. So I dressed very light and was pretty comfortable, despite the extreme heat & humidity. And I really enjoyed the time I had with April!

But I have to say that this picture makes me incredibly uncomfortable!

Honestly, my first thought was to delete it. But it’s the only picture I have with her and it has sentimental value that surpasses my discomfort.

But I think I look SO frumpy and am totally embarrassed to share it.

And that’s exactly why I’ve sent it to you. I know I’m judging myself harshly and comparing myself to standards that are often not real. Photo editing and other techniques that slim, shape and change the appearance of real people distort our perceptions of what people look like, which is obviously way more diverse than what shows up onscreen and all-over various forms of media.

Our beliefs, and how we feel about ourselves, are important aspects of our ability to be well. When we feel bad about ourselves, chemical responses are triggered in our brain and nervous system that change the physical functions in our bodies. So we feel bad AND it triggers chemical signaling inside us, which interferes with the health of our physical body!

And this is why our beliefs and thoughts are such a vital and integral part of overall health.

And it’s why I’m pushing myself through my discomfort over sharing my shortcomings and self-judgement about my body with you. It’s a challenge for me to move past it and be kinder to myself. And it’s an invitation for you to consider your own judgement and beliefs about your body, your appearance, your thoughts, your lifestyle – anything and everything that makes up who you are.

I’ll keep working on acknowledging and busting through the beliefs and constructs that are not serving my ability and desire to be the truest, healthiest version of myself possible. While it’s not always easy, I know that whatever aspects of my health, life and body that I’m not happy with, can be shifted in a healthy way that is right for me. I’m committed to discerning what isn’t as healthy as it could be for me, and then doing the work to get to a healthier, happier place.


What Drives Your Healthy Choices?

What Drives Your Healthy Choices?

We all know that health is important. But being truly health is MUCH more complicated than we’ve been led to believe, especially with an ever-increasing number of threats to our health such as toxins, EMF’s, stress, etc.

Being healthy is not a passive process or just an absence of disease or illness. We must choose to be healthy and be highly intentional about consistently making choices that create and enhance our health. Education and effort are key.

But you also have to know YOUR “why” for being conscious, intentional and selective to stay motivated and on track. Without this understanding and constant drive, it’s easy to slip into default mode and choose what is easy, which more often than not, means unhealthy.

When you go into default mode, you fall in with the majority, who pay dearly for their lack of attention by losing their health, quality of life and all too often, their lives. It may sound like I’m being overly dramatic, but this is our current reality. And I highly doubt you’ve been spared the suffering of losing a loved one to a fatal illness, so I’m sure you can easily relate to what I’m drawing attention to.

You need to stop living in fear that you’ll be the next victim and take control of your own health destiny. You can’t control everything, but you can control more than you’re likely aware of. And you are the only one who can properly care for YOUR body.

My initial “why” was to be able to enjoy the greatest desire of my life – being a mom. Committing to and recovering my health is still the best thing I have ever done for myself. And enjoying my children has brought me indescribable fulfillment and joy.

While my children are young adults now, I’m still motivated to protect my health for them. This is partly so I can continue to witness the unfolding of their lives, but also because they need my continuous support. They are amazing individuals, and I have no doubt that they are now fully capable of managing on their own. But having a family that has their backs allows them greater freedom to explore who they are and experiment with different paths. I hope that will translate to them having incredibly fulfilling and happy lives, rather than having to choose the mediocrity that is sometimes necessary for survival.

My “why” has grown over time. It has brought me a purpose-driven career that I’m deeply passionate about. It has fueled an insatiable desire to be the best version of myself possible. And it’s opened my mind to the possibilities of what life can offer. My bucket list grows longer by the day!

I believe that life is a gift, and recovering and expanding my health and my idea of what health is, has changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. Now I can see AND participate in all the opportunities the world has to offer, in ways that weren’t possible before.

I believe we all have a unique purpose to fulfill if we’re willing to see and accept it. And I know, with absolute certainty, that we can only live our best lives when we have the health to take us there.

What’s your “why”? Consider it deeply and make it crystal clear in your mind. And then make healthy choices from that magical place.

I know that discovering your “why” can be very personal. But if you are willing to share it, I’d love to hear it. Hit reply and let me know.

Why More Farmers Are Making the Switch to Grass-Fed Meat & Dairy

A lot of great information comes my way through the organizations and individuals I choose to be connected with. But it’s rare that I find anything with the positivity I try to live by. That’s why I knew I had to share this article with you. Many thanks to Tim Gardner and Ridge Shinn for bringing this piece to my attention! Maple Hill is one of the brands of organic whole milk plain yogurt that I regularly purchase, and one of the top rated brands by the Cornucopia Institute in their yogurt scorecard.


Why More Farmers Are Making the Switch to Grass-Fed Meat and Dairy

March 22, 2017

Cows graze at Dharma Lea Farm in Sharon Springs, N.Y. Advocates of grass-grazing cattle say it’s better for the environment and the animals. But there’s another upside: Grass-fed meat and dairy fetch a premium that can help small farms stay viable.
Courtesy of Maple Hill Creamery

Though he didn’t come from a farming family, from a young age Tim Joseph was fascinated by the idea of living off the land. Reading magazines like The Stockman Grass Farmer and Graze, he “got hooked on the idea of grass-fed agriculture — that all energy and wealth comes from the sun,” he explains, “and the shorter the distance between the sun and the end product,” the higher the profit to the farmer.

Joseph wanted to put this theory to the test, so in 2009, he and his wife Laura launched Maple Hill Creamery, an organic, all grass-fed yogurt company in upstate New York. He quickly learned what the market has demonstrated: Demand for grass-fed products currently outstrips supply.

Grass-fed beef is enjoying a 25 to 30 percent annual growth rate, while sales of grass-fed yogurt and kefir have in the last year increased by over 38 percent, compared with a drop of just under 1 percent in the total yogurt and kefir market, according to natural and organic market research company SPINS.

Joseph’s top priority became getting his hands on enough grass-fed milk to keep customers satisfied, since his own 64-cow herd wasn’t going to suffice.

Tim Joseph, 44, founding farmer and CEO of Maple Hill Creamery, turned his dream of living off the land into reality through his grass-fed yogurt company.
Courtesy of Maple Hill Creamery

His first partnership was with Paul and Phyllis Van Amburgh, owners of the Sharon Springs, N.Y., farm Dharma Lea. The Van Amburghs, too, were true believers in grass-fed. In addition to supplying milk from their own 85-head herd, they began to help other farmers in the area convert from conventional to certified organic and grass-fed in order to enter the Maple Hill supply chain. Since 2010, the couple has helped close to 125 small dairy farms convert to grass-fed, with more than 80 percent of those farms coming on board during the last two years.

All this conversion has helped Maple Hill grow 40 to 50 percent every year since it began, says Joseph, with no end in sight.

Joseph has learned that a farmer has to have a certain mindset to successfully convert. But convincing open-minded dairy people is actually not that hard, when you look at the economics.

Grass-fed milk can fetch up two-and-a-half times the price of conventional milk. Another factor is the squeeze that conventional dairy farmers have felt as the price of grain they feed their cows has gone up, tightening their profit margins. By replacing expensive grain feed with regenerative management practices — grazing animals on grasses coaxed from the pastureland’s latent seed bank, and fertilized by the cows’ own manure — grass-fed farmers are completely insulated from spikes in the price of feed.

Champions of this type of regenerative grazing also point to its animal welfare, climate and health benefits: Grass-fed animals live longer out of confinement. Grazing herds stimulate microbial activity in the soil, helping to capture water and sequester carbon. And grass-fed dairy and meat have been shown to be higher in certain nutrients and healthy fats.

In the grass-fed system, farmers are also not subject to the wildly fluctuating milk prices of the international commodity market. The unpredictability of global demand and the lag-time it takes to add more cows to a herd to meet demand can result in events like the recent cheese glut. Going grass-fed is a “safe refuge,” says Joseph, a way for “family-scale farms to stay viable.”

“Usually a farmer will get to the point where financially, what they’re doing is not working,” says Paul Van Amburgh. That’s when they call Maple Hill. If the farm is well managed, has enough land, and the desire to convert is sincere, a relationship can begin.

Through regular regional educational meetings, a large annual meeting, individual farm visits and thousands of phone calls, the Van Amburghs pass on the principles of pasture management. Maple Hill signs a contract pledging to buy the farmer’s milk at a guaranteed base price, plus quality premiums and incentives for higher protein, butterfat and other solids.

While Maple Hill’s conversion program is unusually hands-on and comprehensive (Joseph calls sharing his knowledge network through peer-to-peer learning “a core piece of our culture”), it is just one of a growing number of businesses committed to slowly changing the way America farms.

Last summer, Massachusetts grass-fed beef advocate Ridge Shinn launched Big Picture Beef, a network of small grass-fed beef farms in New England and New York that is projected to bring to market 2,500 head of cattle from more than 125 producers this year.

Early indications are that Shinn will have no shortage of farm members. Since he began to informally announce the network at farming conferences and on social media, he’s received a steady stream of inquiries from interested farmers.

Shinn says he will provide services ranging from formal seminars to on-farm workshops on holistic management, to “one-on-one hand-holding and an almost 24/7 phone hotline” for farmers who are converting. In exchange, he guarantees an above-market price for each animal and, for maximum traceability, a calf-to-customer electronic ear tag ID system like that used in the European Union.

Though advocates portray grass-fed products as a win-win situation for all, they do have downsides.
Price, for one: Joseph says his products are priced 10 to 20 percent above organic versions, but depending on the product chosen, compared to non-organic conventional yogurt, consumers could pay a premium of 30 to 50 percent or more for grass-fed.

As for the meat, Shinn says his grass-fed hamburger will be priced 20 to 25 percent over the conventional alternative. But a peek at the prices on online grocer Fresh Direct suggests a grass-fed premium of anywhere from 35 to 60 percent.

And not every farmer has the option of going grass-fed: For both beef and dairy production, it requires, at least in the beginning, more pastureland. Grass-fed beef production tends to be more labor intensive as well.
But Shinn counters that if you factor in the hidden cost of government corn subsidies, environment degradation, and decreased human health and animal welfare, grass-fed is the more cost-effective model. “The sun provides the lowest cost of production and the cheapest meat,” he says.

Another grass-fed booster spurring farmers to convert is EPIC, which makes meat-based protein bars. Founders Taylor Collins and his wife, Katie Forrest, used to be vegan endurance athletes; now they’re advocates of grass-fed meat. Very soon after launching EPIC’s most successful product – the Bison Bacon Cranberry Bar – Collins and Forrest found they’d exhausted their sources for bison raised exclusively on pasture.

“When we started digging into the supply chain,” says Collins, “we learned that only 2 to 3 percent of all bison is actually grass-fed and grass-finished. The rest is feed-lot confined and fed grain and corn.”
So two years ago, the company created a secondary, clearly labeled line of “natural” bars using animals that had eaten grain as well as grass. Collins wrote this post to explain the move to customers.

But after General Mills bought EPIC in 2016, Collins and Forrest suddenly had the resources they needed to expand their supply chain. So the company teamed up with Wisconsin-based rancher Northstar Bison. EPIC fronted the money for the purchase of $2.5 million worth of young bison that will be raised according to its grass-fed protocols, with a guaranteed purchase price.

The message to young people who might not otherwise be able to afford to break into the business, explains Collins, is, “‘You can purchase this $3 million piece of land here, because I am guaranteeing you today you will have 1,000 bison on it.’ We’re bringing new blood into the old, conventional ranching ecosystem, which is really cool to see.”

There’s more than enough bad news to go around these days, but there are lots of people who are trying to do the right thing. Let’s focus on the good that is happening in the world, and support those who align with our values and goals. Your purchasing dollars are extremely powerful and can go a long way to supporting the changes you want to see in the world! I encourage you to support farms like Maple Hill, by purchasing their products, and looking for other companies who are doing good things in the world. You can make a difference, and even small steps can lead to big change over time.