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As I head into the new year, I’m returning to the core principles that I have pieced together over the past 8 years around creating true health from the inside out.  It’s not a secret that I’m passionate about taking a proactive approach to wellness. The reason I love posting about places that promote a healthy lifestyle and pics of healthy food on Instagram and Facebook is because I feel happy and inspired when I eat foods that make me feel good and are good for me and I want to inspire others to do the same.

I’ve realized, however, that many people have a perception that I “only” eat healthfully because I’m usually posting pics of smoothies, juices, salads, and rice and veggie bowls , and because for a couple of years I was following a vegan diet and still purchase mostly vegan products.

What you may not know is that I polish off my 11 year-old diaghter’s leftover Annie’s Macaroni & Cheese and sulfite-filled Knorr Alfredo Noodles a couple of nights a week. Or that I had a recent reunion with the Quarter Pounder with Cheese and fries from good ole McD’s recently. Or that I house the Cheetos and Fruity Pebbles that my soon-to-be-ex husband has been bringing into the house despite my pleas not to (that’s not why we are getting divorced…at least not 100% why, lol).

I no longer crave these foods and don’t buy them for myself, but put them in front of my when I’m hungry, stressed, angry, and/or tired, and I may partake. I guess this is why they tell recovering alcoholics to stay away from “people, places, and things” that they were surrounded by when they were still active.

What to do when loved ones bring processed crap into the house?!?

Being the product of divorced parents, my Dad took us to McDs literally twice a week from when I was about 10-17 years old. My mom worked full-time and didn’t cook much growing up other than meals out of a box (Kraft) or freezer (Stouffers French Bread Pizza and Eggos), so this, apparently, is my “comfort food”.

I don’t “really” eat meat or dairy. Except when I eat the leftovers off of family members’ plates, or we stop for fast food on a road trip. And last time I checked, McD’s ingredients are not ethically sourced and their burgers are not grass-fed. When I first started following a vegan diet, I would be prepared by bringing healthy meals and snacks with me on the road, or find a Panera Bread or somewhere to get a salad if I knew my family would be partaking in fast food. This past year, not so much. So I guess that makes me a Flexitarian.

The Flexitarian Diet is more a lifestyle than a diet.

It’s based on the following principles:

  • Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
  • Focus on protein from plants instead of animals.
  • Be flexible and incorporate meat and animal products from time to time.
  • Eat the least processed, most natural form of foods.
  • Limit added sugar and sweets.

So I no longer call myself a vegan, at least for the time being.  I may go back to a a more disciplined approach from a 100% no animal-products perspective. Sometimes I wrestle with living in alignment with what I stand for and what I say is important to me from an eating perspective as it relates to health, animals, and the environment, and because truthfully I feel and look my best from vitality and mindset standpoint. If I eat this way 80% of the time, then for now, that is good enough. I’m learning to embrace “good enough” because right now, that is apparently what I am able to offer myself.  And that’s still pretty great. Perfectionism is an impossible standard. At the end of the day, flexitarian, vegan, vegitarian, pescatarian – they are just labels. For where I am right now, I’m a combo of them all.  And I’m cool with that. I follow a primarily Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet, and yet I subscribe to a “when in Rome” philosophy.

After attending Tony Robbins’ “Unleash the Power Within” seminar in 2011 before my 40th birthday, I left the seminar taking his 10-day Challenge to reduce or eliminate sugar, caffeine, meat, dairy, and processed foods for 10 days. The first day sucked, the second was not much better, but the third day and beyond I felt a-ma-zing. I had more energy than I had in years after having young kids, so I continued on a  WFPB diet for a couple of years to follow.

As I paid attention to how different foods made me feel, I naturally felt pulled to eating food “from the earth”  There was no sacrifice or discipline. I felt good when I ate “real” food. I felt shitty when I ate animal and processed foods. And as Tony Robbins says, “Nothing tastes as good as fit feels”. I loved being lean and fit, and I was eating such high quality foods that when I “cheated”, it had little impact and I wanted to get right back on the beam. And as I dug deeper into the appalling horrors of our hidden factory farming system, I could no longer give my money to the meat and dairies industries and began finding even better tasting altertnatives that were better for my my body, the animals, and the environment.

The Kindness Solution was birthed from this realization that in order to show up as our best selves in our families and relationships, careers, and contribute in meaningful ways to the world around us, we must start with being kind to our minds, bodies, and spirits first.

This recognition has led me on health and wellness adventure that includes becoming a Certified Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and changed my understanding of what good-for-you foods entail, contradicting much of what I had spent learning and consuming for my first 40 years of life. I have come to see food as a source of much-needed nutrition, energy, and yes, even a source of healing!

I’ve redirected my spending from the vast majority of foods and products I grew up on to brands that are ethically sourced and produced, prevent exploitation, and do no harm to its employees, animals, and the environment. Many of these companies have multi-missions of creating products that are good for you and good for the world, balance business and profits, and give back.  This is why I love sharing these brands on Instagram and Facebook. It feels great to support these companies who are committed to making an impact on so many levels!

I’m not going to lie.  Being willing to open up and learn about the lies and deceptions of Big Food, Big Pharma, and Big Ag, which are basically the brands most of us grew up on, is not super fun. Lifting the veil on the mass atrocities and unnecessary cruelty of factory farming that we turn a blind eye to despite our love for our pets, the corruption in the USDA, Department of Agriculture, and FDA, the agencies that are supposed to be protecting our health, and the pro-business model vs. pro-health model that is causing much suffering, including the global health crisis we have on our hands.

So what does all of this have to do with treating this love letter I want to share with you? Everything. By re-writing this letter to myself today, I’m returning to genuine and profound love and appreciation for all my body does for me. The human body’s performance and resilience is astounding. Just think about the 37.2 trillion cells and how they repair themselves, how your digestive and endocrine systems, brain and nervous systems, and heart and circulatory systems, lungs and respiratory systems, and muscular system all work together in harmony without us even thinking about it!

Today, I am once again, recommitting, to treating my body like the temple it is. Not because I want to get to a certain weight, or look good in a bikini, but because I was genuinely, whole-heartedly want to be kind to it and lavish it with love, and give it the goodness it truly needs and so rightfully deserves.

I’ve learned that progress beats perfection, so today, I begin again.

Dear Body of Mine,

After careful thought and consideration, I hereby promise to:

Accept you and be grateful for you just the way you are.

Love and appreciate you for what you do.

Offer you healthy foods and drinks.

Overcome the addictions that hurt you.

Realize that laughter, play, and rest help you feel good.

Exercise regularly and appropriately for my body type.

Adorn you with nice, comfortable clothes and shoes.

Understand that my unexpressed emotions and thoughts affect you.

Listen to the messages you are sending me when you are tired or sick.

Accept that I have the power to heal you.

Realize that you deserve to be healthy.

Honor you as the temple of my soul.

I love you so much,

Veronica

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Health + Wellness Journal
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Meet Veronica

Veronica is an Executive of a Cyber Security Search and Software firm aspiring to "balance" being an entrepreneur of a high-growth start up while meeting the needs of her family and her own mental & physical sanity. She is using the ups and downs of marriage and parenting as a pathway to forgiveness & growth, and thus, a recovering Type-A perfectionist, who is learning to practice patience, compassion, non-judgement and kindness towards herself and others on a daily basis. Veronica is also a Certified Health Coach who doesn't cook and is obsessed with finding the best juice and smoothie bars in every city she travel to. She's committed to hacking true wellness and vitality from the inside out and loves promoting people, places, & brands who do the mind, body, spirit, animals, & the environment good. She lives for dancing to 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and today and dark chocolate. She's happy you're here, and welcomes you to join her on this journey towards practicing kindness in all aspects of our lives and sharing real solutions.

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Truth searches for no one. It waits to be found.
- Suzy Kassen