5 Teas for Healthy Mind and Body

I drink water. Lots and lots of water.

However, around a decade ago, I read that echinacea was good for the immune system. I had been getting a lot of colds and laryngitis, so I added a daily cup of Traditional Medicinals Echinacea Plus tea to my regimen. I noticed a dramatic improvement in my immunity and became a believer. I have continued that practice every day, and I have recommended it to friends and family, who have also found it to be a beneficial addition to their self-care practices. To be fair, results are mixed in scientific trials of echinacea for immunity, but my experience has demonstrated that it makes a difference for me.

Over the years, the tea shelf in my cabinet has become fuller and fuller, as I have learned more about the potential uses of herbs and spices for health. I decided to share some of my current favorites here.

Traditional Medicinals has continued to be my brand of choice. I have no affiliation with that brand, but it is where I started, and years ago, I read about potential contamination risks with some tea brands. Traditional Medicinals got a clean report, and that stuck with me.

In additional to Echinacea Plus, other teas that have helped me with mind and body include:

  • Ginger Aid: Ginger is great for settling the stomach and for reducing inflammation. If I ever have digestion issues, I drink a cup of Ginger Aid, and it helps. I also use this tea to help with body aches or headaches. I have found it to be highly effective for these purposes.
  • Peppermint: Peppermint tea can also help with tummy troubles, in particular with bloating and intestinal discomfort. It is fragrant and soothing.
  • Cup of Sunshine: I have been needing a mood boost lately. My bike is the best boost, but I am working really long hours at the moment and can’t get out on my bike in the middle of a long, challenging day. Cup of Sunshine contains kanna and honeybush. I was familiar with neither when I purchased this tea, but the name gave me hope. It has proven to be a good choice. It’s a subtle lift, not agitating, but I notice that it does help to brighten my mood.
  • Stress Ease: This has also been a recent addition to my cabinet. Containing skullcap, cinnamon bark and licorice root, this does take the edge off anxiety for me. I can feel the butterflies in my stomach settle down with a cup of Stress Ease.

There are other teas I use on a regular basis, including assorted green tea blends. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants and is so good for us that Dr. Michael Greger recommends drinking three cups a day in How Not to Diet.

I hope this short post gives you some easy ways to enhance your well-being with tea. I am neither an expert nor a connoisseur, but Traditional Medicinals tea has helped me, and I wanted to share those benefits with you.

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Do You Have a Morning Routine Yet?

There’s a lot of talk about morning routines these day. And with good reason.

I developed my own “morning routine” instinctively long before I ever heard the term. I like order and structure (my own), and a morning routine sets a tranquil tone for the day.  My routine has evolved over the years, and it varies a bit, depending on the day or time of year, but there are several elements that are always there.

In case you are not familiar with the idea, a morning routine is a set of habits that we perform in the morning before moving into the responsibilities—work, school, family, etc.—of the day. Some authors and influencers recommend getting up extra early and/or at the same time every day in order to ensure that your morning routine happens. Ultimately, we all have to find our own best way to reap the benefits of a morning routine.

So, what are those benefits?

  • A morning routine is grounding. Engaging in positive, familiar practices helps orient us to the new day. It imposes the order of knowing what to expect and controlling our first actions over the chaos of indecision and lack of direction. Once our morning routine is established, we don’t have to make choices or decide if we are going to take certain actions or not. It is our routine, so we do it, saving precious mental energy. The peaceful feeling that brings centers us and allows us to take on the day from a more powerful internal position.
  • A morning routine contributes to the cultivation of an internal locus of control. Our locus of control is a continuum from external to internal. One end of the spectrum is not necessarily better than the other, but an internal locus of control may mean that we are more likely to take constructive action in our lives, simply because we believe that it will matter. The farther we toward the external end of the locus-of-control continuum, the less we believe that our actions influence outcomes in life. Instead, we assign control and, sometimes, blame to outside forces, whether that is God, government, the system or fate. Clearly, reality falls somewhere between the two extremes. We can’t control everything, but we can control some things. Acknowledging that positions us to help ourselves more effectively in life. By taking deliberate, meaningful actions every morning, we reinforce that what we choose to do makes a difference in the results we achieve, making it more likely that we will eat nourishing food, move our bodies and act in ways that improve our chances for health, happiness and success.
  • A morning routine allows us to begin with intention. One of the most potent techniques we can use in our lives is the pause. Pausing before we act—whether on the day or in the moment—can help us live in better alignment with our values and our highest aspirations. A morning routine is a form of pause, allowing us to start the day with, as Stephen Covey would say, “with the end in mind.”
  • A morning routine creates opportunities for success from the very start. Although life makes no guarantees, we are more likely to accomplish the things we want to accomplish in a given day if we start it on the right foot. We can set a pattern for success by starting the day with habits and actions that align with our values and goals. That feels good! Our early success helps fuel our sense of self-efficacy so we can build on that success throughout the day.

What counts as a morning routine? There are no “rules” about what constitutes a morning routine. It is what you need it to be to start your day in a positive way. That looks different for everyone, but a solid morning routine will generally encompass these elements:

  • It creates a sense of peace. Starting the day with activities that promote inner peace increase the likelihood of living the day in equanimity—remaining calm and grounded even if the world feels frantic around us.
  • It connects mind, body and spirit. Ideally, a morning routine addresses and integrates all three realms, honoring our nature as complex beings. A great example of this is physical activity that affords the opportunity to go inward. For me, this is best accomplished in a solo (or at least quiet) form of exercise, like yoga, cycling, walking or running—something with time and space to think and to listen for inspiration.
  • It generates self-satisfaction. Put simply, we feel good about ourselves when we do it. It feels like success, no matter how big or how small. There is truly freedom in discipline. When we have the discipline of a morning routine, we experience the freedom of doing those things that we truly want to do—the things that are aligned with our highest selves—rather than starting the day from a place of disappointment in ourselves for failing to live up to our aspirations, instead hitting the snooze button repeatedly and finally rolling out of bed to grab a donut or other non-nourishing excuse for breakfast.
  • It promotes mental and physical well-being. It may go without saying, but beneficial morning routines should include healthful behaviors, rather than activities that undermine our wellness.

How do you establish a morning routine? The best way to establish a morning routine is to think about what you want it to accomplish for yourself and to consider how much time you intend to give it. Some people have their morning routines broken down into strict segments—say, 20 minutes for each activity—or they have specific times for doing certain things. That is certainly one way to do it, but not the only way. You may just have a time to rise and an order of activities within an allotted time frame.

If your mornings are currently unstructured, I recommend starting small and building the pieces of your routine gradually, so that it is manageable and feels like a natural progression. There is nothing to be gained by taking on too much and becoming overwhelmed, so that you decide to scrap the whole idea.

Plan ahead. Think about what needs to be in place for your morning routine to be successful and take the necessary steps before you go to bed. This might include making your breakfast, so it is easy to eat nourishing foods in the morning. It could include setting out your exercise clothes, so you don’t have to spend time or energy thinking about what to wear and gathering them in the morning. It may include determining an order for your activities. The most important thing is not to leave your morning routine to chance. Elevate it to a place of honor and hold it sacred by making the preparations to ensure that it happens.

I will share the basic components of my morning routine, not as a prescription, because what works for me won’t necessarily work for you, but as inspiration and example to get you thinking about what you would like to include in your own.

As I mentioned above, my morning routine has evolved and changed as I have moved in and out of various seasons of life, and I expect it to continue to do so. While some elements will likely remain constant, others may give way to something new.

For many years, I got up at 5 a.m. every single day of the week. In some ways that routine was healthier because it also meant that all my evenings (including weekends) ended earlier. Those are good sleep habits. But, the needs of my family have changed. We are going through a challenging season right now. Having a teenager in the household has introduced different stressors than we have previously experienced. It also means that our evenings look different—admittedly, not always with the evening habits I would choose if I were on my own. Kenny and I often need distraction these days. He’s a ruminator—out loud. That stresses me out. To stop his speculation and catastrophizing around Logan’s activities, watching a movie at night often works best. This means I don’t always set my alarm for 5 a.m. on weekend mornings. I may allow myself to awaken naturally. This is never late, but, if I am lucky (Insomnia is another side effect of parenting a teenager, I am finding.), it is somewhat after 5 a.m.

On weekday mornings, I still arise at 5 a.m., and my mornings follow this basic pattern:

  • Turn off my alarm.
  • Find a quote in the volumes of self-collected quote books that are my bedtime companions. Using my booklight, I randomly select a quote to give me something positive to contemplate right off the bat. If the first one I choose doesn’t speak to me in that particular moment, I open to a different one, until something resonates.
  • Think of three things to which I am looking forward in the day. Although I am tempted on some mornings, I don’t allow myself to get away with saying, “Not much.” It may be a warm shower, my yoga practice, a bike ride, time alone or the book I am reading—sometimes seemingly mundane things—but I identify three positive things awaiting me before I get out of bed.
  • Make my bed. Easy. Quick. Done. Order and structure.
  • On weekday mornings when I am not riding my bike after work, I get up and change into my waiting exercise clothing.
  • Choose another quote to ponder while I am exercising.
  • Do a breathing exercise to put myself in the right mindset to move my body.
  • Set my intention for my workout.
  • Move my body with yoga, strength training, indoor cycle trainer, a walk or foundation training.
  • Meditate.
  • Make Traditional Medicinals Echinacea Plus tea.
  • Eat the breakfast I made the previous night. This is usually a smoothie filled with foods that nourish my body—some of which I include every day. (See a future post for more about that.) I generally drink/eat my smoothie, my water and my tea while I am getting Logan’s lunch (which I packed the previous night) and water bottle ready and washing and putting away dishes in the kitchen (usually left from Logan’s late-night feeding frenzies). If I am alone in the kitchen, I listen to an inspiring and/or educational podcast. This has the dual benefit of feeding my mind and spirit while I feed my body and preventing my mind from going places I don’t want it to go.
  • Occasionally, I will have time to do some creative work, like writing or posting to my business Facebook page, while I am supervising Logan’s morning activities (which are far less structured and orderly than mine 😊).
  • Once I get Logan off to school, I take my shower and move into the next phase of my day.

Weekends look a bit different, although every day includes some form of exercise, meditation, quotes, intention setting and a nourishing breakfast.

In the warm months of cycling season, I meditate, eat and prep to ride on weekend mornings. Then, I get out on my bike! This is the ultimate culmination of my morning routine—especially a long ride, when I can really think and open to inspiration. (Join my free course to learn more about making the mind-movement interaction work for you.)

The bottom line is this—Consider adding a morning routine to your life if you don’t have one. It is a way to make good things happen for yourself before you face whatever the day will throw at you. We can’t control how our days unfold, but when we take initiative to start the day in an intentional way, we position ourselves for success and positivity, and we are better equipped to handle disruptions and stressors with a greater level of equanimity. There are no guarantees, and I haven’t perfected it. But, I shudder to think how I would be handling my current level of parenting (and other) stress if I didn’t have a reliable, secure practice in place to reground, realign and start fresh each day.

Talking about fresh starts, if you haven’t registered for my FREE Spring into Action Move for Your Mind 30-Day Kickstart Class, be sure to save your spot. It starts this coming Saturday, March 20, in my private JustWind Coaching Community Facebook group. When you join, you will have the opportunity to gain access to the free companion workbook. Read more about the class in last week’s post.

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Let’s Spring into Action together!

“All things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation of all things. You have to make sure that the blueprint, the first creation, is really what you want, that you’ve thought everything through. Then you put it into bricks and mortar. Each day you go to the construction shed and pull out the blueprint to get marching orders for the day. You begin with the end in mind.”

–Stephen R. Covey


FREE Spring into Action Move for Your Mind 30-Day Kickstart Class

Did you know that the way you think about the physical activity you do affects how your body responds to it?

Do you realize that our mental interpretation of the signals our bodies are sending during exercise can be more important to success than the actual signals?

Are you aware of the way that physical activity affects our ability to remember and think as we age?

How would you like to activate the production of “Miracle-Gro® for the brain”?

Do you know what cost-free, drug-free intervention has been shown to be at least as effective as pharmaceutical methods in combating depression in many people and also has benefits for supporting individuals experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or recovering from addiction?

The synergistic relationship between body and mind can benefit all of us. It is a bi-directional relationship; the mind influences the body, and the body influences the mind.

Some forms of movement, like yoga, Pilates and SoulCycle, intentionally seek to emphasize the interaction between body and mind, and sport psychology has utilized the connection since the late 19th century.

We are just two weeks away from spring. This is a great time to start moving if you have spent too much time on your couch or been otherwise sedentary this winter or to step up your activity level if you are already someone who moves your body on a regular basis. All of us can benefit from setting appropriate physical goals and taking action to achieve them.

“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.”

–Andrew Carnegie

Setting a physical goal—and it doesn’t have to be anything dramatic like running a marathon or cycling across the country—and using techniques to actively engage our minds in the process of achieving it can be a tremendous boost for our mental and emotional well-being.

I am very aware of how much physical activity has done for me over the last few decades and how much it continues to do for me every day. I teach a Wichita State University online, self-paced, 0.5-credit-hour badge course called Mind & Movement. (You can still register for this semester! Click here to get started.)

Because I believe so strongly in the symbiotic relationship between mind and body, I am offering my totally free Spring into Action Move for Your Mind 30-Day Kickstart Class inside my JustWind Community Facebook group. I would love to have you join us.

Registration opens today and will run through the first day of class, March 20, 2021—which happens to be the first day of spring!

In this class you will:

  • Set a physical activity goal of your own choosing, incorporating both outcome and progress (strategy) targets
  • Learn how to set a goal that is both achievable and motivating
  • Understand more about how our body and mind interact to support each other, enhancing both mental and physical well-being
  • Be guided to progress safely toward your physical activity goal
  • Experience actionable techniques that enhance the interaction between body and mind
  • Utilize positive psychology to improve your quality of life and increase your chances for success
  • Receive practical tips for supportive nutrition and hydration—regardless of how gentle or intense your physical activity is
  • Become motivated to take your progress during the 30-day class into life beyond the class
  • Get inspired to use your improved mental, emotional and physical well-being to make the difference you want to make in the world
  • Have access to the free companion workbook I have designed for the class.

All of this will take place within the safe and supportive environment of my private JustWind Community Facebook group. (If you are already a member of the group, simply send me your email address in a private message to let me know you are interested and receive access to the companion workbook.)

Along with other content, during the 30-day class, there will be:

  • Weekly Facebook Live lessons
  • Weekly Q & A sessions where you can submit questions ahead of time or ask questions live during the broadcast
  • Replays available after live sessions
  • Guided visualizations
  • Journaling exercises

I would love to help you Spring into Action for yourself. Please click here to request to join the JustWind Community Facebook group. You will be prompted to enter your email address if you want the companion workbook.

You’ll have access to existing group content as soon as you join, and the class will begin on March 20, 2021, the spring equinox.

I’m setting my own goal and working through the process as I guide you through it. Let’s motivate each other!

While you are waiting for the class to start, click the button below to subscribe to my newsletter and receive a link to download my Blossom 2021 Self-Coaching Workbook to get you inspired. (This is a different workbook from the one you will receive in the course.)

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I want to reach as many people as possible with the inspiration and information in this class. Please share this post with your social media connections and/or invite individuals to join the course with this link.

Let’s Spring into Action together!


Boost Your Brain Health with These 5 Foods

In freshman PE class at Mount Saint Mary High School in 1983, Sister Jean told us that drinking alcohol kills brain cells. That got my attention and stuck with me, undoubtedly influencing my future decisions. Even then, I considered my brain one of my most valuable assets and wanted no part of killing my brain cells! While the acute brain damage caused by consumption of alcohol is more a matter of disruption of communication between neurons, alcohol is a neurotoxin. Just as what we take into our bodies can harm our brains, there are foods we can consume to nurture brain health.

Ever since I was young, I have been interested in fueling my brain for short- and long-term health and optimal function. Between my recent reading of Jim Kwik’s book Limitless and thinking about the fuel our brains consume for the blog post I wrote last week, brain nourishment has been on my mind even more than usual.

I thought it might be beneficial to share some of my favorite foods for nourishing my brain. While not an exhaustive list, here are five great foods to eat for brain health:

  • Berries contain powerful antioxidants that protect the brain from damage and reduce inflammation, which can protect brain function as we age. This is important because of the amount of glucose that our brains use, which produces a lot of free radicals, creating the potential for damage to our cells, including neurons. Eat fresh or frozen blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and cherries in smoothies, with oatmeal or another whole-grain cereal or even as a delicious frozen treat using a Yonanas machine.
  • Avocados, full of monounsaturated fats and lutein, are not only great brain food, but also promote eye health. (And who doesn’t love guacamole?!) In addition to turning them into guacamole, slice raw avocados and enjoy them in salad or on sandwiches or wraps. Mash them on whole-grain toast for avocado toast, plain or with raw veggies and/or fresh herbs.
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables, (kale, spinach, broccoli, chard, arugula, collard, etc.) also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, benefitting both brain and eyes and possibly delaying or warding off age-related cognitive decline. These can be eaten raw or cooked, in smoothies, as salad, toppings for wraps or sandwiches, as side dishes or in this terrific lasagna recipe. (It really is great—one of my go-to recipes for special occasions.)
  • Turmeric has potent anticancer benefits and can reduce inflammation. It has been shown to improve cognitive function in people living with Alzheimer’s. Put ¼ teaspoon in your smoothie or on your cereal every day. Include turmeric in pasta sauces, casseroles, soups and curries.
  • Walnuts are great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E, magnesium and zinc, all valuable nutrients for brain health. Eat walnuts raw, by themselves or with fresh or dried fruit. Blend them into smoothies. Put them on cereal and in salads.

There are so many great ways to incorporate these foods into your daily diet. You could even make a smoothie containing all of them. (more on smoothies in an upcoming post)

Feed your brain and put it to good use creating the life you want to live and making the difference you want to make. Click the button below to subscribe to my newsletter and receive a link to download my Blossom 2021 Self-Coaching Workbook.

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6 Key Ingredients in My Healthiest Year+ Ever

There are so many wonderful ways we can take care of ourselves. What a gift that we can continue to learn new techniques and practices throughout our lifetimes!

I gave a presentation a couple days ago on self-care for academic advisors at the University where I work. I addressed inherent job risks for advisors and the importance of setting boundaries in our lives (not just important for advisors!). I also shared some of my favorite self-care practices, including some that I have discussed in previous blog posts, like square breathing, 3 Good Things, quotes, mantras exercise and meditation. It was fun for me to reflect on many of the things that have been most helpful in elevating the quality of my life.

I am grateful to enjoy excellent health, in general. I attribute this to many things, including rich blessings, which I believe obligate me to make a positive difference in the world in proportion to the gifts I have been given. In addition, I believe that I have a responsibility to take excellent care of the strong, healthy body I have been given.

For over a year now, I have been particularly fortunate to have very little trouble with colds or any other ailments. More than ever—and I really do mean ever—I have stayed exceptionally healthy.

In this post, I want to share with you six key ingredients I have used to create my recipe for my healthiest year plus.

This is not an exhaustive list. There are certainly other important things that I do to stay healthy and feel well.

This is also not medical advice. I am not a health care professional, and you should consult yours for medical advice specific to your situation.

I am a certified health and life coach, and I am a human with half a century (egad!!!!) of caring about and being interested in contributing to the creation of a healthier, more compassionate world—starting with how I treat, and what I do with, my own body. Through trial and error and lived experience, I have found certain things that I have incorporated into my life on a permanent basis because they made a noticeable difference in my health and well-being. I thought about listing the six I am featuring in this post alphabetically, because there is not necessarily a hierarchy of contribution to my wellness. I do think they have been additive over time, though, so I decided to list them chronologically, in order of when they became part of my regular practice. Each “ingredient” I list here has added to the previous ones to create a recipe for health that really serves me. They have made such a difference that I decided to share and explain.

1982/2008: Whole-Food, Plant-Based Nourishment

A pot of lentil and vegetable stew
Lentil Veggie Stew

This one has evolved over time. My journey to plant-based eating started in 1982, when I was 12. I became vegetarian (I didn’t even know vegans existed back then.) because I had never liked the idea of eating animals. From the time I was very young, it made me sad. Finally, after several upsetting experiences, including having the butchered flesh of a cow named Blackie, whom I had met, come into our home, I took the announced that I was never eating meat again. It was a lonely world for an adolescent vegetarian back then. I was the only vegetarian in my family or my group of friends (although my friend Quynh’s mother was vegetarian, but there was a language barrier between us). There was no internet. I had to go to an actual brick-and-mortar bookstore or library to get any information. And there wasn’t much in those days. Still, I knew I was on the right path for me.

I cut meat from my diet for ethical reasons, but I was pleasantly surprised to notice an increase in stamina between my seventh-grade basketball season and my eighth-grade basketball season. I first noticed it when running laps for basketball. This is anecdotal, of course. There was no scientific study isolating vegetarianism from other possible contributing variables, but I wasn’t consciously looking for a difference, and I found one. I was maturing, too, but I decided that my vegetarian diet was the main factor in my improved stamina. I still believe that.

So, the internet and better information came along, but, honestly, I wanted to believe for many years that I was living my values by being vegetarian. Even once the tools were there for finding out the whole truth about the egg and dairy industries, I avoided researching—until my conscience would no longer let me. In early 2008 I decided that, since one of my core values was integrity, I needed to find out if I was really living in integrity. I researched the egg and dairy industries and found out that some of the most horrific animal living conditions and some of the worst cruelty exists in the production of eggs and dairy products. Learning the truth was painful, and it was not convenient. A fair amount of guilt ensued for not trying to learn this sooner, but it became clear that, in order to live according to my professed values (Compassion is #1!), I needed to become vegan.

So, I did.

It has become easier and easier to be a plant-based eater. The internet is not only a source of information, but a source of community. Books abound these days! You can have them delivered to your electronic device instantly, 24 hours a day. Such a different world. Being vegan is not lonely. It is joyful. I have wonderful, caring vegan friends.

In addition to improved mental health, due to living in alignment with my values, my physical health improved. My skin became clearer. My colds became milder. I stopped having bladder infections, after having spent a couple rounds of two years each on prophylactic Macrodantin (until I developed resistance). True story. These things really got better, and my vegan diet was the difference.

I eat a mostly whole-food, completely plant-based diet. This is one of the most significant factors in maintaining my excellent health. It is easier than ever. If you would like my help transitioning, email me at sheri@justwindcoach.com. Or, get 28 of my favorite recipes when you join my email list here.

1992: Consistent, Intentional Exercise

Two people on road bikes
BAK 2017 with Logan

I was reasonably active as a child and teenager. I played basketball from 4th through 9th grades (proudly helping my Sacred Heart 5th– and 8th-grade teams win Oklahoma Catholic Grade School Athletic Association state championships! 😊). I played my freshman year at Mount Saint Mary High School, but we played public schools, and I found out I was not anywhere near as good a player as I had thought I was. After a season mostly on the bench, my basketball career reverted to driveway pick-up games with neighborhood boys (while my brother was planting the seeds for his future career as a technology genius by working inside on his Commodore VIC-20 and 64). I did sporadic exercise in fits and starts from then until 1992, when I was working on my undergraduate degree at Wichita State University. I worked full time and went to school at night. I finally started going to the Heskett Center (the building where I now work full time) to exercise between work and my 7:05 p.m. classes. I also did step workouts at home. I cringe at flashback to the then-fashionable tights and leotards I wore in public in the Heskett Center. I can only hope that there were never any pictures taken that might turn up in building archives.

Eventually, I started running, and in 1996 I committed to run the New York City Marathon as part of the Leukemia Society Team in Training. My life changed when I crossed the finish line in that first marathon and started thinking of myself as an athlete.

Ever since, endurance sports have been a major part of my life. Cycling came into it when I met my husband and trained for Biking Across Kansas in 1999. I got hooked and now serve on the BAK Board of Directors and love that week in June more than any other each year. (Registration for BAK 2020 opens this Friday. Register on 11/29 for a free jersey.)

I know that consistent, daily exercise is a major factor in my mental and physical health. In addition to cycling, I incorporate yoga, weight training, walking and other forms of exercise. I do something virtually every day.

I have a Master of Education degree in Exercise Science and held a personal training certification for 10 years, until I had to let that go in 2011, when a personal tragedy prevented me from recertifying. I am considering adding certain future certifications in physical activity. In the meantime, intentional movement is an integral part of who I am and why I am healthy.

2012: Echinacea

A picture of a tea cup and a box of tea bags.
Traditional Medicinals Echinacea Plus Tea

Specifically, Traditional Medicinals Echinacea Plus Tea. I am a believer in this stuff!

2011 was a difficult year for me. It ended in a very painful way that shook my world. I decided that 2012 was dedicated to recovery. This took a variety of forms in my life, but one thing I did was research what could enhance my immune system because I was getting sick more frequently than I wanted. Some of my research led me to echinacea. Admittedly, scientific research has shown mixed results, but I decided to give it a try. I think I first tried it when I felt myself coming down with a cold, and I just didn’t want to be sick. I was pleasantly amazed at how mild my symptoms quickly became and how soon I was well. It could have been coincidental, but I was convinced. I adopted this tea into my daily routine. I drink a cup every, single morning. When I am on Biking Across Kansas, where it may not always be easy to make tea, I cut open a tea bag and include it in the magic mix of nutrients I put into my preworkout energizer. If I feel like I am getting sick, I will drink extra cups—up to five a day. It almost always stops or dramatically lessens my symptoms and shortens the duration (based on my history with colds) of my illness.

I have recommended this tea to many people over the years. My skeptical husband even became a believer after he tried it.

Whether or not the science backs up the efficacy of echinacea for immune health, my anecdotal experience has been unequivocal. It made, and continues (over years) to make, a noticeable difference.

2014: Algae

Bags of spirulina and chlorella
ENERGYbits & RECOVERYbits

I honestly can’t remember how I first learned about ENERGYbits. It might have been through Brendan Brazier’s work on plant-based eating for athletic performance, but I am not sure. Anyway, at some point, I was looking for a way to enhance my energy level on the bike, and I found ENERGYbits, which is the name of both a company and a specific product made by the company. Initially, I only used ENERGYbits, which is 100% spirulina algae. I would swallow the spirulina, conveniently compressed into easy-to-swallow tablets. It’s food, not pills, but I do prefer to swallow, because it sticks to my teeth if I chew it. There is controversy around spirulina because it can be contaminated, if it is not organically grown in controlled conditions. ENERGYbits prioritizes the safety of its algae, so I feel great about using their products. Company founder Catharine Arnston learned about the benefits of algae when she was researching ways to help her younger sister heal from breast cancer. She concluded that a plant-based diet, heavy on greens, was a powerful healing strategy, and she learned that algae contains the highest concentration of alkaline-promoting chlorophyll of any food. Using algae as part of her plant-based diet, her sister healed and has remained free from cancer for 10 years.

For several years now, I have used ENERGYbits before my bike rides and RECOVERYbits afterward, often blended into my recovery smoothie. They truly make a difference in my energy level and endurance on the bike, and they help me recovery quickly and fully after tough rides. I sometimes give them to Logan before and after his training runs and races. He has noticed a benefit on his long runs.

ENERGYbits products aren’t just for athletic performance, though. They can be incorporated into a healthful, plant-based diet daily to energize, clear toxins and enhance overall nutrition. For an answer to the ever-popular question all vegans get asked, “Where do you get your protein?” take a look at this information comparing usable protein per acre of various animal and plant protein sources. Algae is also an outstanding source of B12. In addition to ENERGYbits and RECOVERYbits, there are also BEAUTYbits and VITALITYbits, although I have not used those products personally. If you want to make this a part of your nutritional plan, you can get 20% off when you use my discount code JustWind. Type it in the discount code box at checkout. (Full disclosure, I receive a free bag for every 10 bags bought using my discount code. Although I have been an affiliate for years, I have never promoted it, so I have bought all the bags under my code, up to this point. 😊)

2018: Meditation

My New Meditation Cushion

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I thought for years that I couldn’t meditate. When I was in my health and life coaching certification trainings, my constant, nagging concern, when I traded coaching sessions with my training partner, was stress and what it did to me and how I couldn’t get it under control.

Finally, in early 2018, I decided to give meditation a real try. I called it “mindfulness” for quite a while because “meditation” didn’t feel quite right. Until it did one day. After a short time of consistent, daily practice, I noticed how much calmer and more peaceful I felt. I was managing stress so much more productively. To my surprise, I started to look forward to my daily meditation in the same way that I do my bike rides.

What I noticed most is that my health took a dramatic turn for the positive. I went over a year without a single cold, even when students, coworkers and family members around me were sick. As I said above, I think all these “ingredients” have been additive, but this one has been huge. Since I have practiced meditation daily, I have only had one real cold and no laryngitis, which used to plague me on a regular basis. Even the cold I did get was quite mild, and most people didn’t even know that I had one.

I attribute meditation to taking my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health to the next level. As I taught in my presentation to fellow advisors this week, there is no one right way to do it. This was a limiting belief I had to overcome in order to allow meditation into my life. My practice incorporates breathing exercises, mindfulness, visualizations, affirmations and Kundalini yoga, depending what feels right on a given day. Now, I would not skip a single day. I meditate anywhere from about 10 minutes to around 30 minutes, depending on the time I have. I do it first thing in the morning or immediately after my morning workout. It is a game-changer.

2018: Mindset

A person posing for the camera

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This is probably the most difficult to explain concisely. Maybe that is why I am writing a whole book that addresses the topic. The picture is of a content me. Life is not perfect, but I have made a choice to live consciously and to choose my perspectives carefully. I still experience stress, but I have learned how to think of it differently and to choose an empowering approach to it. Kelly McGonigal’s book The Upside of Stress: Why Stress is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It was life changing. I’ve written about it previously because it had such an impact on the way I view stress and how I allow it to affect me. It took a while for me to fully internalize her message, but it started percolating right away. The biggest takeaway from McGonigal’s book for me was the idea that a meaningful life is a stressful life. The same things that bring us the most stress—family, work, school—are the same things that bring us the most meaning. Recognizing that can change everything.

I don’t live in constant bliss, but I am healthier and happier, and part of that is my mindset. Meditation supports my chosen mindset, and so do several other practices, but consciously and actively choosing the mindset I want to hold is the first step. It is a big step that has made a rewarding difference.

So, these are some of the most important things that have contributed to my healthiest year plus ever. My guess is that any one of them added to your life could make a positive difference in your physical, mental, emotional and/or spiritual health. Adding them together has compounded their benefits in my life.

I know I am not invincible. I could drop dead or be stricken down with some horrific illness (or a cold) tomorrow. I am committed to doing my part to take care of the gifts I have been given, though. These are some of the ways I do that.

I can be reached at sheri@justwindcoach.com or through a comment on this blog post or social media. I’d love to hear your experience with any of these or other practices that have made a healthy difference for you.