Commit to the Change

By Robin Fannon of RSVP Robin

Whatever habits you are trying to improve, here’s to achieving your goals for the New Year and New Decade!

My dieting and working out for the new decade are hopefully gong to continue with the healthy changes I made about seven years ago. Here is my story: For more than twenty-five years I lost and found the same twenty pounds several times! It seems like I was either dieting, or I wasn’t. And I tried them all, from Atkins to Weight Watchers, and they all worked…until they didn’t.

Food journals were meticulously kept along with tracking my exercise, water intake, the mood I was in while eating, and where I ate. I watched my four older sisters struggle the same way with their relationship with food, and I learned from an early age that being thin was “in”.  So what has changed?  I found myself approaching 50, still struggling with my weight, my energy level was non-existent and I was basically a pretty unhealthy woman.  I had come to a crossroads in my life and some decisions had to be made. Doctors confirmed that my numbers were all off the charts, and I felt terrible. In my usual “that’s the way I roll” reaction, I dove head first into a full-blown vegan lifestyle. Going organic, juicing and a morning green smoothie became the norm. Kris Carr and Kimberly Snyder became my gurus. Processed food, animal protein, and dairy became verboten.  A walking/running routine was incorporated and alcohol entirely eliminated. Maintaining this way of eating was fairly easy for about two years. Then boredom set in, and the planning and preparation it took to maintain this lifestyle started to become stressful. The exact opposite of what I was trying to achieve.

Working out on a regular basis also had me craving protein. I know there are some amazing vegan athletes out there that would beg to differ. But I’m a firm believer in listening to what your own body is telling you. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to health and fitness. So, I have incorporated some parmesan, goat, and sheep’s milk cheeses back in to the program, as well as wild caught fish and organic chicken. Fresh organic fruit and vegetables (especially avocados!) are a joy for me, and a small amount of organic dairy feels right. I’ve always fought against my sweet tooth and felt guilty if I indulged it. Limiting processed sugar and trying to make healthier choices when the urge strikes, like dark chocolate, dates, or fresh fruit has helped alleviate the angst I feel. Making peace with the emotional struggle of my choices is part of the process. It’s about—and here comes the current trendy buzz-words—self-care. Eating from the earth, eschewing processed junk food that is laden with unhealthy fats, sugar, and salt from my diet is the plan now.

The goal is to keep the body in an alkaline state and avoid inflammatory foods about 80% of the time. It’s not a game of perfect. When indulging, I try to enjoy it fully then let it go and move on.  Finding a healthy food balance, and freedom from guilt, has been a rewarding experience, both emotionally and physically. Prayer, meditation, and tons of reading and research are helping guide the journey. Here’s to the new decade and to hoping you have found, or will find, your food balance too.

Brick City Spa

When I started working on this New Year/New Decade article and what experienced local health experts to include, Rachel Wilkerson immediately popped into mind. She positively radiates health! A professional aesthetician and owner of the popular Brick City Spa in Ocala, Rachel is a trusted source for skin care. On a personal note, if you haven’t experienced one of her facial treatments, stop reading this right now and book one! Here she shares her skin care plan for the New Year:

“Glow in the new decade with just a few new skin practices. Our skin is forever changing, so integrating new products or changing your routine is a great way to kick off the new year! Add a vitamin C brightening serum in the morning, a rejuvenating treatment cream at night, or a completely new regimen altogether if you haven’t done so in a while! I change things up every few months. Daily practices should always include a proper cleansing every morning and especially every night before your body enters its “repair phase” while you sleep. Find a daily moisturizing SPF you love, this is the key to protecting your skin and aging gracefully—guys this applies to you too! A visit to your esthetician will help guide you in picking the right products for your skin type. Receive a facial monthly, as we continue through the decades our skin cycle naturally slows down. Just like going to the gym, we want to give our skin and facial muscles a workout every 3–4 weeks. Right now, I suggest brightening facials, like my “CyroAlgae Glow Facial,” featuring a three step process including dermaplaning, a licorice and bearberry brightening peel and a CryoAlgae firming mask (my clients favorite—it’s very cooling and restorative). Cheers to the New Year and healthy skin practices in the decade to come!”


Faithfully Guided

Their company taglines are “Connecting Spirit, Mind, and Body” and “Leading the Way in Lifestyle Health,” so it was the perfect place to start for some positive lifestyle changes in the New Year. Sitting down with these two accomplished and confident women was a treat, and their enthusiasm was contagious! I presented them with the following scenario and pearls of wisdom started to flow. Imagine you are a stressed out mom, wife and full-time employee with a house to run, meals to plan, errands to run, taxi service for kids activities, you get the drift. Things like working out, taking time to worship and personal time are on the back burner. Can you relate? As I spoke, both Ashlee and Jamie were nodding with knowing smiles and compassionate eyes.  So where to begin?  Jamie’s first response was a practical approach;  “Embrace where you are, stop mentally beating yourself, and ease up on the pressure. Recognize that we all struggle and you are not alone!”  She adds that baby steps can add up fast. “Start with trying to develop a culture of health mindset.”

Ashlee adds, “Simple pivots can change the trajectory of your life. That may sound overwhelming, but some simple suggestions for example is to try to commit to giving up sodas for a month or take a break from fast food. Move your body for 20 minutes a day, whether it is walking, swimming, or yoga. Chose something that you truly enjoy and you’re much more likely to stick with it.”

Both ladies agree that like any fellowship, connecting with like-minded people can help immensely in achieving your goals, staying motivated, and holding each other accountable. As for reconnecting with your faith, they offer this: “God loves you right now, as you are, and is your biggest cheerleader, always in your corner and guiding you to live your best life. Acknowledging that faith, and cultivating that mindset, will help propel you along!”

Faithfully Guided is a one-stop shop that can help in so many aspects of life in which you are trying to make improvements. Check out the Faithfully guided website for all of their services: Faith-Based Counseling, Lifestyle and Integrative Medicine, Restorative Therapeutic Services, and Fitness and Nutrition.


William H. Shepard

Are your finances in need of some TLC in this New Year/New Decade? Do your eyes glaze over and your heart starts to race when you think about money? Fear not! Thank goodness expert financial planners are plentiful, and today we get some sage advise from one of the best in the business. Whether it is for yourself or you are looking to start some basic financial planning for your children, here are some simple tips and guidelines.

Are you thinking about purchasing a home in the future, starting your own business, or perhaps just retiring comfortably? A comprehensive plan can be the framework you need to achieve your goals. With a plan in place, you will be better able to understand what it takes to reach them. Mr. Shepard (Bill) suggests beginning with a simple plan:

• Develop a clear picture of your current financial situation

• Establish and prioritize your goals and the time frame to achieve them

• Implement strategies that address your strengths and weaknesses

• Choose products and services tailored to meet your objectives

• Monitor your plan, making adjustments as needed

See, that wasn’t so hard!  Bill goes on to say, “Working with a professional can give you objective information and help you weigh your alternatives, saving you valuable time and ensuring all your angles are covered.”  Life-changing events happen to all of us: the birth of a child, job loss or changes, and health problems. Make sure you review your plan to modify accordingly.   Here are some tips to teaching your children how to handle money wisely:

• Give your child an allowance with parameters: what it should be used for and how much should be saved.

• Make allowance day a routine, like payday.  Give the same amount on the same day each week.

• Consider “raises” for those who manage money well

Bill goes on to say  “piggy banks” (savings accounts) teach children about real banking concepts such as interest and the power of compounding.  As children become older, teach them about responsible shopping and spending habits, saving for larger purchases.

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