Perfecting Meal Portions

I know that I have an issue with my portion sizes, especially at dinner time! I do pretty well all day and when it’s dinner time, I’m not starving because I ate healthy all day but I find myself going for seconds. I say it’s because it tastes so good but in reality, I know that I do it because something is missing in my life so I fill that emptiness with food. I know I do this so why do I keep doing it instead of filling the emptiness with the thing that I truly crave?

Making changes in our lives is difficult and exciting. Making change means going out of your comfort zone, getting creative and being bold to an extent. Making changes sometimes means letting go of the fight inside of us and accepting what is if even just for now. Finding happiness isn’t as hard as we make it out to be, happiness is a choice we make; change is a choice we make.

Portions out of control is something we do that hurts our body and makes us feel bad about ourselves emotionally. Portion sizes are our way of gaining our own control of a situation that we feel is out of our control – but the price is high.

It’s time to make changes. It’s time to fill the emptiness with the truth, the thing that is missing, the thing we long for but haven’t worked out how to grasp it. When you want something badly enough, you can achieve it. You can have that dream, lose the weight, travel to that place of your dreams, have that item you can’t live without – it just takes a little work and a lot of heart.

Begin shifting your focus from food to fulfillment. Write down what you feel is missing from your life, keep that note in clear view so you will see it every day as a reminder of your deepest desire. Take control of portion sizes, if it helps, use a 6″ appetizer plate so you can fill it twice and feel okay with it, or stick to a dinner plate and strictly have just one plate of food. Eat slowly so your brain registers that you’re eating and always remind yourself of why one plate is enough.

Fulfillment of life isn’t filling the emptiness with food, it’s filling it by making your dreams and wishes reality. One plate – fulfillment.


Worn Our Behaviors

Do you get in your own way? Do you make excuses for not meeting your own expectations? These repeated habits are worn out behaviors that don’t bring you closer to your achievements. Think of something that you mentally plan to do upon rising each new day but find at the end of the day that you didn’t end up doing.

Failure is only achieved when you don’t try. Success is the result of every small step you take toward leaving those worn out behaviors behind.

Keep the reminder of worn out behaviors close by and focus on eventually leaving them behind for good; for more successful behaviors.

“Failure is only achieved when you don’t try. Success is the result of every small step you take toward leaving those worn out behaviors behind.”

Dawn Silva – Initiate Wellness

Self-control is easier when your mind and body is busy…

I was deep into my work and didn’t think about food until my stomach growled ‘feed me’. Hunger felt good. We, too often, eat for several reasons from it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner time-even though we ate a big snack 10 minutes ago or because we’re meeting friends and that always involves food; a restaurant or at someone’s home, because we’re bored, watching TV, and many more self-justifying excuses.

I skipped breakfast, bad practice, because I was running a little close for work so decided I’d eat after my first client. Immediately after the client, I began more work, putting food off again until the growling began. I made a sandwich of ham and loaded it with spinach. That was my lunch which held me surprisingly until dinner. Remember, my mind was preoccupied with work all day and it was a welcomed relief.

Three-thirty p.m. came around and I knew I needed to make a dinner plan. I rummaged through the refrigerator, reached for organic stewing beef I had, browned it in a large Dutch oven, added a dark locally brewed beer and some Italian herbs and simmered it for a few hours. It smelled delicious and warming. About 1/2 hour before serving I added potato chunks, carrots, celery, onion, 6 cloves of garlic, and simmered until the potatoes and carrots were tender; I tossed in a half bag of peas, warmed them and we enjoyed a warming, healthy hearty meal. The beef was fall apart tender and the entire meal was fast and simple to put together; I could continue working while it simmered gently.

As each day comes to a close with food choices under control and satisfaction with my food choices, I can look forward to tomorrow with a positive outlook. I look forward to inspiring you to follow your dreams, your goals and intentions and find great success in your self-satisfaction too!

Connect with me via email at Dawn.InitiateWellness@gmail.com


Pantry & Refrigerator Clean-Out

20180319_182341Spring is right around the corner and it’s a perfect time to renew and re-energize all parts of our lives. The first thing I urge you to do is to clean out your refrigerator, cabinets and pantry. Don’t just toss things out to start over – not just yet. The following steps will help you eliminate junk foods and outdated foods, save money, plan a week or two of simple meals using up what you have and clear space for fresher, healthier items.

Grab a trash bag, (and a recycle bin if you love recycling) a pen & paper and a bucket of sudsy water and a cloth.

Step 1 – Go through one shelf/cabinet at a time. Check dates and toss expired items. (if boxed, remove from box and recycle box, toss contents). Wipe shelves down with your wet cloth – wiping out shelves is part of the purge the bad stuff activity.

Step 2 – Write down what items you have left, try to keep them categorized for quick reference.

Step 1 & 2B – Repeat the steps for your refrigerator.

Step 3 – Decide on the coming week’s meals using what you have on hand. Search through recipe books and the internet to find recipes using the ingredients you have. Plan on a few crock-pot meals to make meal-time quick and easy during your busiest days.

Step 4 – Commit to making the chosen meals – commit to eating clean and – commit to being frugal by using up what you have on hand before shopping for more.

When you have used up all of or at least most of your stock and it’s time to shop again, buy the foods that will help you stay on track with a healthy diet and don’t buy in bulk. By buying only what you know you’ll use up, you will save money and time in the future.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be confusing or time consuming. Getting back to basics and stocking up on only what you will use keeps your closet, your trash barrel and your mind uncluttered and it keeps your wallet fuller!


Find Your Freedom from Sugar with These [Easy to Do] Changes

20180228_142413If you’re addicted to sugar it might not be completely your fault. Sugar is found in so many items that you wouldn’t expect to find it. For instance, just today at the grocery store, I needed sour cream and thought why not low-fat since all they truly need to do is skim the fat off and that’s it right? Wrong. The brand I was looking at had three choices, fat-free, low-fat and whole milk. Here’s what I found: the fat-free had 3 grams of sugar per tablespoon, the low-fat had 2 grams and the whole fat had 1 gram; puzzling, yes, to me it is. Why add a bad ingredient to something that doesn’t need it? To make you like it more, crave it more, and want it more. This is the case with so many items. I teach my clients to read labels. You don’t have to study and know every tiny detail about labels but there are basics that help a lot.

You’ll find sugar and lots of it in expected foods such as pastries, cookies, candy, soda, and other desserts, so limiting your consumption of these sweets is very important. It’s sometimes hard to do but once you learn how to curb and even eliminate your sugar cravings, you’ll be amazed at how great you will feel how much energy you will gain and how much weight you can lose!

Some common items that you didn’t know had added sugar; don’t actually need added sugar and to be aware of and steer clear of are:

  • Salad dressing-especially low-fat & fat-free options
  • A variety of drinks, soda, energy drinks, fancy coffee drinks, juice – diet drinks are a bad option as the artificial sweeteners are all chemicals and toxic to your body
  • Mayonnaise – again the fat-free/low-fat options as well as so-called healthier options made with olive oil (they have added sugar!)
  • Ketchup – added sugar, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) is worse than plain sugar
  • BBQ sauces – also with HFCS, brown sugar and white sugar, a better option is to make your own
  • So-called healthy cereals – many have a load of sugar; even if they don’t taste sweet, they are
  • Breakfast bars & meal replacement bars – opt for the brands with higher protein that carbohydrates
  • Weight loss shakes – meal replacement shakes – again choose higher protein that sugar/carbs
  • Yogurt – choose plain, whole fat Greek yogurt and add your own nuts, berries/fruit, cinnamon, oats & seeds
  • Maple syrup – if it’s not 100% pure maple syrup it’s most likely 100% pure HFCS (high fructose corn syrup)
  • Instant oatmeal – particularly the flavored choices
  • Most foods that are low-fat/reduced fat/fat free have increased amounts of unhealthy sugar

Next time you’re at the grocery store and you’re shopping for items you typically buy, read and compare the labels. Try this for example; Italian dressing and low-fat Italian dressing compare how much more sugar is in the low-fat option. Also, often times, people will use or eat more of the lower fat product figuring it has less fat so it won’t hurt; but more sugar does hurt. The type 2 diabetes rate is increasing every year and it can be reversed if you choose to eat healthy and be informed.

When you begin to decrease the amount of hidden sugar in your foods and body you begin to decrease your cravings for more sugar and increase your health. Your body craves what you feed it most – choose less sugar and more naturally sweet, whole food.


Meditation Integration


What do you imagine when someone says they meditate or that you should try meditating? Meditation is a good habit to integrate into your daily routine. It’s easy to learn and beneficial to reduce stress, ease breathing and anxiety and to help you re-center and ground yourself.

Here’s how to begin a simple, uncomplicated meditation practice. Right now, where you are, take a deep breath in, close your eyes ——- then let it out. How do you feel? Repeat it if it feels good. Just this simple step can bring calm to you.

Try a 5-10-minute daily meditation. Choose the best time for you, early morning, midday, after work or before bed, do whatever works for you. Find your ‘spot’ and make it your space for meditating. Start simply by just taking full breaths with your eyes closed and your body relaxed either sitting or lying comfortably. Repeat full, slow, mindful deep breathing while thoughts scatter your mind…let those thoughts come and let them go. When you feel that your thoughts have left, open your eyes and exhale. Exhale the negative and breathe in the positive.

Give it a try! Make it a regular practice. Do it when you think of it. Inhale and exhale fully throughout the day, it will make a positive difference!


Quick Tips on Staying Warm

20150526_202602With winter months comes the chill factor. Sometimes even layering up doesn’t seem to chase that chill away, so what else can you do to get warm?

Let me first start by admitting that while it might sound like a fun way to warm up, though not very healthy, a shot of whiskey doesn’t actually make you warm; here’s why: “Alcohol may make your skin feel warm, but this apparent heat wave is deceptive. A nip or two actually causes your blood vessels to dilate, moving warm blood closer to the surface of your skin, making you feel warmer temporarily. At the same time, however, those same veins pumping blood closer to the skin’s surface cause you to lose core body heat – the heat you need to survive, especially if you’re stuck in a snow-drift. This effect could lead to fatal hypothermia.” (http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/mythbusters-database/alcohol-warms-up/)

Here are a few quick tips:

  • Layer up, yes, it does help a little bit.
  • Stay well-fed, it stokes the body’s furnace – make sure you eat quality food, fruit, veggies, nuts, lean proteins, etc.
  • Drink water! Staying hydrated even in colder months keeps your body water balanced
  • Acclimate – reduce your ‘set point’ by exposing yourself to cooler temps which in turn increases your body’s calorie consuming “brown fat” which releases energy as heat.
  • Increase humidity in your home or office – humidity increases temperature.
  • Eat hot soups and stews – they warm you from the inside out!
  • Use a bean bag or rice bag heat pack. Warm it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes and keep it close, in a pocket or hold onto it near your stomach to warm you. They are simple to make, fill an old sock and tie it or get more creative and sew together a few attractive pouches for pockets, laps, and even your bed. Make various sizes. Make a few for your kid’s pockets for those cold days of waiting for the school bus.

I have found that fleece sheets are a necessity in my home. They’re warm when you get in and they keep you warm all night!

Stay warm!


The Disorderly Mess of a Chaotic Mind

Your head feels like it’s spinning just as fast as your thoughts come and go. You have a list of things you have to do, want to do, should do, wish you could do and dream about doing. You have another list, probably written, of things you wish you didn’t have to do, things you have already done, and things you will probably never do. You have sticky note reminders reminding you to make a list for this and a list for that and the list goes on and on and on…

You have errands, chores, work, indoor and outdoor household responsibilities, kids, pets, appointments and extracurricular activities. You want to start checking items off of your list but feel overwhelmed, tired, weary, exhaustion, mental and physical tension, confusion and fatigue. You have no idea where to begin and just the thought of it stresses you to the max.

You might feel alone, but take a deep breath and rest easy because you’re not alone. Today’s fast paced society and gadget gallery world that is supposed to make things easy and more convenient for us somehow brings on more confusion, stress and distraction.

Sometimes it might be helpful to take a step back, take a break, take a personal day to get your ‘lists’ and priorities lined up. Take a day away from technology overload and bounce back refreshed with a new and positive outlook. Put all your lists together and pool them into one big categorical TO-DO sheet.

How? Here are a few tips:
1. Decide on what items are priorities and put them above all
2. Make categories: Urgent, Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Must-Do, Want-to-do, Dreams, Optional…etc.
3. Put each item under the appropriate category
4. Use 3×5 index cards for list items and 8.5×11” papers for categories and assign each item appropriately; by using this method, you can change the category or importance of a particular item and file away what items have been finished; a true feeling of accomplishment!

Don’t let chores and must do activities burden your emotions, mind and mental clarity. Take control of the things you can do and let go of those things you have no control over. Take a personal day every month or two to clear the disorderly mess of your chaotic mind and begin to feel the overwhelm lift!


Aluminum Foil & Health

Recently I have been cooking meals and freezing them for a very sick friend. I like to do my part in helping others feel comfort, peace and love. In doing this I have used foil pans a few times for convenience both for my friend and myself. This got me wondering about aluminum foil though so I did a little research and this is what I found.
Aluminum foil is convenient to use when we bake or grill foods in allowing for quick clean-up and keeping moisture in but here is why you should stop using it.

Our bodies can excrete small amounts of aluminum efficiently but exposure to excessive amounts are harmful. Studies have shown that too much aluminum in our bodies increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, anemia, bone disease and dialysis encephalopathy. Less common sensitivities resulting in recurring eczema come from continuous application of aluminum containing antiperspirants, topical solutions and occupational exposure to aluminum dust.

Aluminum exposure increases depending on the cooking temperature, length of cooking time and type of food being cooked. Higher temperatures raise the amount of aluminum leaching into the food at double the rate. Higher acid foods allow aluminum to leach into food at a higher concentration as does added acids and salts. Red meat has a higher pH than white meats, therefor will leach more aluminum into the food. Chicken breast meat has been shown to have a higher concentration than the darker meat. The same goes for baked or grilled fish in aluminum, and also increases with acidic additives and marinades. Also, it doesn’t matter if you use the shiny side or the dull side, the results are the same in all applications.

Aluminum foil used in cooking provides an easy route for aluminum to enter your body. Higher temperatures and higher acids increase the amount of aluminum you will ingest.
Parchment paper is a better alternative but it’s not completely innocent either. Parchment paper is coated with silicone and is put through a sulfuric acid bath and/or zinc chloride. If you use parchment, use it only occasionally and choose unbleached paper. You can also find nontoxic baking/cooking supplies at If You Care

Tips to flush your system of aluminum:
Silica for aluminum flush [different from silicone – silicone is a synthetic polymer of silicon-unhealthy for us]
Silica (silicon dioxide) is a compound of silicon and oxygen (Si02)
• Silica can also be found in certain foods including cucumbers, oats, brown rice, wheat, strawberries, onions, avocados, and root vegetables.
• The silica content in natural waters is commonly in the 5 to 25 mg/L range, although concentrations over 100mg/L occur in some areas.

Resources| http://www.electrochemsci.org/papers/vol7/7054498.pdf


Habitual Eating

What is habitual eating?
We each have hundreds of habits that we do daily; they’re not all bad. Many of our habits help us get through our day; they’re the things we do regularly that we don’t have to think much about. Some habits we have aren’t good for us though and while we often realize this, we find it difficult to break them.

Why do we keep doing things we don’t particularly want to keep doing?
Well, when it comes to eating too much or eating when we’re not hungry, it most often is because food is available everywhere. No matter where you live you can always find food stands around every corner. You can buy food that isn’t in season because it is shipped nationally and internationally. We find ourselves indulging because it’s there. We see it and want it. How many times have you made a grocery list that you vowed to stick to only to find that you strayed outside the list and bought compulsively? The snack for later, the candy bar for the ride home, the bad of chips… which in the end leaves you feeling defeated by non other than yourself.

We eat when we’re with family or friends, we have another drink, another bite, half a scoop, a tiny slice for the fourth time this sitting. We don’t really taste or register what or when we are eating. We eat that snack while watching our TV shows – every night! We want to stop the madness, we need to stop it!

But why stop?
First and foremost, our body needs a break. It needs to have time for fasting every day, even a few times a day. A small hunger pang before each meal is a healthy thing. I’m not suggesting that you become famished, but allow yourself to be hungry, truly hungry. Secondly, weight. It’s important to maintain a healthy weight, for your organs, blood, energy level and even your emotional well-being.

How can you stop?
Now that you know why you should stop habitual eating the next step is how. How can you stop habitual eating when it feels comfortable & familiar like a best friend or an old pair of jeans that are worn in, soft and snug in the right places? Stopping bad habits is never an easy task but it is always worth it. When you stop things that aren’t good for you, you open up a whole other world of possibilities. Change takes time and practice so be patient and forgiving with yourself.

Begin breaking your bad habits by first listing a few of the major habits you’d like to break and next to them, the reasons you want to break them and then the benefits you will gain by breaking each habit.
Next, find a phrase that will help you feel aware of your actions each time you are tempted to eat out of habit; use a phrase that is supportive/positive. And thirdly, take small steps. Small steps help you feel less deprived while staying connected with your personal goals and intentions. For instance, if you’re meeting friends at an eatery, set your intentions beforehand to order a salad or something from the healthy options section, stick with that plan no matter what. I know it’s tempting to order something deep fried, cheesy, gooey, rich and dripping with sauce once you are with friends but use your self-control; we all have it, we just don’t always use it. At home take smaller portions, leave pictures or messages in sight as reminders to eat mindfully and not habitually. Easier said than done, but eliminate junk and unhealthy snacks from your home, replace them with healthy options like nuts, fruit, plain yogurt that you can sweeten with cinnamon, honey, nuts, fruit, berries, seeds. Think before actions take over. Realize what you’re doing; be aware of why you’re doing it, why you should stop and what to do instead of eating it.

List habits you want to stop. Set and stick with your intentions. Take smaller portions. Get rid of the triggers that lead you to eat habitually. Be mindful every time you eat. Get help to guide you through the steps with ease. Do it for your mind, body and spirit.

In love & light!