Surviving Burnout – How to restore your health and happiness starting right now

surviving burnout

surviving burnout

I haven’t always lived a healthy lifestyle. In fact, it was quite the opposite until about seven years ago. My “aha moment” came at a time in my life when I was at the peak of my career and going downhill fast. Surviving burnout was one of the biggest struggles I have ever had to deal with. But truly, it was also a gift in disguise.

My story

It’s 5:30am and still dark out. The wind howls outside and my partner is fast asleep beside me. I have just reluctantly turned off my alarm clock for the second time. My body hurts.

In the darkness, I grab a white t-shirt, a pair of baggy, greasy, stained chef pants; underwear and socks and walk to the bathroom. I turn on the light. It’s bright, too bright. I squint my way over to the shower and turn it on. I shiver as I undress and hop in. My shower won’t even be long enough to warm my body through.

I get dressed, throw my hair up in a bun and pop my contact lenses into my squinty, burning eyes. I grab a hoodie, pea coat and scarf and a Yoplait yogurt on my way out the door. My morning routine is now complete.

As I walk to the subway station, eating my yogurt, I call my fish purveyor to place the day’s order. Talking to him for ten minutes is the highlight of my day. He is kind, makes me laugh and sympathizes with me. I need it. It starts my day off on a good foot.

If there aren’t any issues with Muni that day and my train actually shows up I get to work at 6:45am. The linen truck and my prep cook are already there waiting for me. I joke around with them for a minute, push aside the homeless man who has made a bed in front of the back door to the restaurant, and walk in. I relish the few minutes I’m in the chef’s office putting away my coat because it’s warm in there.

I get my prep cook going on the tasks for the day and then assume my duty of going into the walk-in cooler for a half an hour to gather items I need for the day. By the time I finish I’m so cold I can’t feel my fingers or feet.

If I don’t get continually interrupted by deliveries while I’m in the walk-in, then I can resume my day on schedule not feeling like I am starting off on the back foot. Though, this pretty much never happens.

The next twelve plus hours are spent on my feet half way in panic mode and half in an adrenalin high. I try my best to get through a never ending prep list, deal with line cooks and their personal problems, try not to lose my shit when I’m hit with large surprise catering orders (that I don’t have time for) and two fast and hard lunch and dinner services. In between “putting out fires” and covering cooks, so they can take breaks,  I have to magically find time to complete my administrative tasks and be “creative”.

With the exhaustion I am feeling I don’t have a single creative thought in my brain, nor do I have the time to steal one out of a cookbook or magazine. The daily specials start to look the same and I can see the line cooks growing bored with them. Shit, I’m bored of them. But, I’m in survival mode. Every day.

When I get home that evening I cook my partner and I dinner, we eat, drink a few beers and then I go to sleep and do it all over again the next day. I do this over and over every day like a rusty drone ready to short circuit at any given moment.

This used to be my life. I was pale, skinny, malnourished, had chronic headaches and backaches. My feet hurt all the time. I had a horrible diet, didn’t exercise, didn’t rest and had wicked mood swings. Sure there were people in my life who made me smile and who I loved but for the most part I faked a smile to cover up how I was feeling inside, which was exhausted and miserable.

I remember being so stressed out one day that I had to stop in the street and sit down. My heart was racing, I couldn’t breath and tears were streaming down my face. I was having my first panic attack. On my day off.

I had never had a panic attack before. Was this the new normal? Was this going to be my life? I couldn’t even enjoy a day off without panicking about what was happening at the restaurant? It was then, that I knew.

I started to think about my life. What I had missed out on, what I would continue to miss. How little joy was left. When my father passed away I hadn’t seen him in almost two years. He was my best friend but I barely had time to talk to him when he would call. I thank god now that I had at least picked up the phone. I missed him terribly and I blamed work for not being able to have had more memories with him.

After twelve years the restaurant industry had finally won. I had officially been defeated mentally and physically, and I was done.

A career that I had worked so hard for and given my whole life to had chewed me up and spit me out. I felt weak and embarrassed. But I also felt free. My last day managing a restaurant kitchen was probably one of the happiest days of my life.

A new normal

The healing process began immediately afterward. I took about two months off where I didn’t even think about work. I started traveling – going to places I had never been, visiting family and taking time to relax, eat and sleep.

I started eating three meals a day, sitting down even. And although my hips were so tight I couldn’t even sit Indian style, I started a yoga practice, which I now accredit to saving my life.

It took a while for me to slow down. Being a chef had trained me to do everything in my life fast, from brushing my teeth to walking down the street. Impatient didn’t even begin to start to describe who I was. I was a “master” at multi-tasking (at least that’s what I thought) and I planned everything I did for efficiency rather than enjoying the process. I was also extremely pessimistic, sarcastic and pretty closed off emotionally to my friends and family.

I had a lot of work to do.

After bumming around a couple years working part time in a few friends’ restaurants, helping out with prep and doing some consulting, I decided it was time to get serious and get back to work. But this time, on my own terms.

I became an entrepreneur and never looked back.

I was motivated by one thing and one thing only — a flexible schedule. Until now, I had never had that in my life, since I started working at the age of 15.

I realize now, that in that moment I started living my life according to my own personal values instead of chasing status, recognition or money. It was one of the most important shifts I ever made.

Over the past several years I have changed my life dramatically and have never felt better. There are so many things that I have learned that I wish I knew back than.

There is a combination of healthy habits that I have adopted slowly overtime since leaving the restaurant industry. I truly believe that with the right mindset and framework that anyone can make these changes in order to restore their health and bring peace to their life whether you are in a demanding job or not.

Surviving burnout

When you are experiencing burnout it is hard to see anything else. You don’t have time for anything. I mean, that’s one of the reasons why you are burning out in the first place.

For the sake of your life, and the lives of those you love around you, you need to stop, look at your situation and reassess it in order for things to change and get better.

Take one afternoon and think about how you are going to do the following:

  1. Set boundaries: Before you can start to do any type of work on yourself no matter what it is you have to build the courage and strength to set boundaries and reclaim your life. This might mean pissing people off, letting others down, being made fun of and/or having to isolate yourself temporarily. It does not matter. This is the first and most crucial part of recovering from burnout. To do this, you must first figure out how much time you need to take back for yourself in order for you to regain your health and sanity. You will then make yourself an “ideal” daily schedule and share it with the people whom it will affect the most. Then you do your very best to stick to it, not allowing anyone to alter it with their own personal agendas. This is where you learn to say NO (for probably the first time in your life).
  2. Get on a sleep schedule: If you are burned out chances are you are not getting enough sleep every night. Sleep is absolutely crucial for your mental and physical health. Get yourself on a schedule that allows you to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Not getting enough sleep every night can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, low energy, lowered immune system, poor mental health and can lead to diseases like Alzheimer’s cancer and diabetes. According to Matthew Walker, the director for the Center for Human Sleep at UC Berkeley and the author of Why We Sleep, “..after just one night of only four or five hour’s sleep, your natural killer cells – the ones that attack the cancer cells that appear in you body every day – drop by 70%” and “the shorter you sleep, the shorter your life”. So, make sleep your first priority.
  3. Look at the way you handle stress: Are you in panic or worry mode everyday? Do you feel constantly frustrated, pissed off, tense or anxious? Do you feel like “nothing can ever just be easy” or that you can’t seem to get your life into a good place? Chances are this is something you have actually manifested yourself. Is it really just a coincidence that something “goes wrong” every day? The reality, is that even with jobs that are more stressful like a police officer, a fire fighter (or a restaurant chef!) you always have a choice in the way you handle yourself. It may not seem like it, but you do. Have you ever noticed that there are people in your life, maybe even people you work with, that just never seem phased by anything? You are running around like your hair is on fire trying your hardest to keep up and keep the proverbial “boat” from sinking and they are just cruising. That person should get fired you say or maybe you just personally loathe them. But why? Isn’t what you want for your life for it to be easier and less stressful? In a way, you want what they have. Harping on the past and worrying about the future rarely brings anything productive to the present moment. Know that you are doing your best. Trust that you are doing everything in that moment that you can, in order to be successful in the future, and just let life happen. If you are working with integrity and effort than that is all you can do. Are you worried that someone is going to say you didn’t try hard enough? Are you worried about being a failure? That is your ego taking over. Tell it to shut up and go about your day being the rock star that you are at an even keeled pace. And just remember this, the way you do anything is the way you do everything. So the next time you have to manage your emotions or a situation, no matter how big or small, keep that in mind. Make sure the way you handle yourself is the way you want to show up in this world, to yourself and to others. That, and the proven fact that stress causes the same major health issues that sleep deprivation does. Eventually it will literally kill you.
  4. Create a solid morning routine: The old days of me giving myself a half an hour between waking up and running out the door are over. The best way to ensure you have a good day is to set yourself up for success. This starts with making your to-do list the night before and getting a good night’s sleep. Give yourself at least an hour before you have to hit the shower and leave for work to mentally prepare yourself for the day. For me this includes, drinking a full glass of room temperature lemon water, to cleanse my liver and boost my metabolism; meditating, journaling, reading and having a healthy breakfast. Everyone should create a custom morning routine that fits their own needs yet gives you ample time to ease into your day with intention.
  5. Eat healthier: This has just as much to do with the food you eat as it does the way you eat it and think about it. You could be eating the cleanest, most nutrient packed food everyday but if you are shoving it in your mouth on the run, eating more than your body needs or moralizing every piece of food you put (or don’t put) in your mouth than you are not eating healthy. Find the foods that make you feel good and give you energy, drink lots of water and enjoy what you eat. Food restriction does not help you maintain a desired weight and it screws with your head. You know deep down what you need and how much you need of it to thrive. Less processed foods, more REAL food. Don’t over complicate it.
  6. Move: It may sound counterproductive to someone who is on their feet 12 hours a day to develop an exercise routine. After all, “I’m running around moving all day, aren’t I?” Working on your feet all day and exercising are not the same thing. You need at least 30 minutes a day where you are moving without having to think about anything except the movement that you are performing. My current favorite workouts involve swimming, TRX and yoga. I also sold my car and walk a lot more now. It doesn’t matter what you choose as long as it gets your blood pumping and helps strengthen your muscles. Yoga is my favorite because it incorporates mindfulness, meditation and movement all in one – three things crucial for balancing burnout symptoms. If you are lethargic and tired from being burned out exercise will actually give you the energy and mental clarity that you need.
  7. Practice self-compassion: Above all give yourself a break. You have been pushing yourself past your limits for too long. It is time to show yourself some love and care so that you can then show the same to others. It is OK to be a hard worker but not at the cost of sacrificing yourself.

It is time to take back your life right now. Good luck.

Do you have a burn out story? How did you survive? What were the changes that you made in your life that helped you recover? Tell us all about it in the comments section. And if you liked this article I invite you to subscribe to The Healthy Locavore for more health tips, cooking ideas and resources. I am so grateful for this community, thank you so much for being a part of it!

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

21 Reasons To Meditate Everyday

21 reasons to meditate

21 reasons to meditate

If you do not think meditation works than it will not work for you. This is how powerful your mind is. If you are a believer or at least have an open mind then read on….

There are many reasons why meditating everyday is beneficial for your mental and physical health. Here are 21 of them…

  1. Neuroplasticity – You are literally re-programming your brain by developing this practice.
  2. It’s affordable – This form of stress-reducing, self-care doesn’t cost a thing.
  3. Increases intelligence – With a consistent practice your cerebral cortex will strengthen overtime helping you to better process and retain information.
  4. Stress reduction – Meditation activates the parasympathetic nervous system which shuts off the “fight-or-flight” response in your body. It does this by releasing calming hormones to counterbalance stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which if always activated cause chronic stress.
  5. Strengthens you immune system – When your body is in a constant state of stress it can lead to high blood pressure, poor digestion, increased fat storage (Ever wonder why you eat a healthy diet and exercise but still don’t lose weight? Look at your daily stress level.) increased blood sugar and a compromised immune system. Since meditation deactivates stress it is capable of reversing all of those things. Always remember, your thoughts manifest in your body.
  6. It creates mindfulness – Your probability of acting more mindfully throughout your day will increase enabling you to make wiser decisions by responding versus reacting.
  7. It’s easy – Meditation doesn’t take any skill, you can do it anywhere and at anytime. Just close your eyes and sit.
  8. To gain clarity – Meditating shines a light on what is truly important to you so you can spend less brain energy on the thoughts that are less important or even worse, debilitating.
  9. To understand yourself – You will start to notice thought and emotional patterns which will reveal to you your true nature.
  10. It enables you to be present – Once you start noticing that your thoughts are only thoughts then you can start to detach from them and instead concentrate on enjoying the present moment. Let go of the past and stop worrying about the future.
  11. Increases patience – You will start to notice that the things that annoyed or upset you easily and quickly in the past will no longer trigger you.
  12. Increases focus – You will be less likely to want to skip around between tasks. Your mind will be more at ease and you will start to catch yourself when you become distracted, enabling you to gently bring your mind back to the task at hand.
  13. You will be more in touch with reality – Meditation allows you to see that the only thing that is really true is what is happening in that exact moment not the stories that you create in your head.
  14. It’s enjoyable – Ok, maybe not so much in the beginning. But once you get past the first several days of squirmy restlessness you will start to enjoy being in a state of peace and your brain will want more of it. I look forward to meditating every morning now.
  15. It helps you build and maintain other healthy habits – Stress and not understanding how to deal with your emotions can sabotage your efforts when trying to build a healthy lifestyle. Meditating helps you stay true to your values. A daily practice creates a domino effect enabling other healthy habits to become easier and more likely to form.
  16. You will be more in tune with your body – It increases your ability to listen to your body and learn what it is telling you so that you can respond accordingly. For example, you will start to understand things like, why you have a headache, if you really are hungry or if you’re just anxious or why your heart is racing.
  17. Increased lung performance – You will start to become more aware of the way you are breathing, not just while meditating but throughout your day. This not only allows you to control how deep you breath but also to make sure you are breathing and not holding your breath.
  18. It builds confidence – When you stop holding on to limiting thoughts and stop rushing from one thing to the next you start to trust yourself more. You start to believe that everything that needs to get accomplished will and that you will remember everything you need to remember.
  19. It heals suffering – By sitting with yourself everyday you are able to start seeing and accepting the root cause of any suffering you may be experiencing rather than resisting it, wishing things were different and therefore staying stuck in it.
  20. Increased success – “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet” – Bobby Unser. Meditation helps you become more mindful in your preparation and better able to see opportunities.
  21. Increased happiness – Chronic stress leads to depression. Meditation creates internal peace, which leads to contentment.

These reasons have both been scientifically proven and experienced in my own life, and only after just a short while of practicing daily. The longer you practice the more engrained the habit becomes, the stronger your mindfulness muscle becomes and the more you will reap these benefits. Happy meditating!

Have you noticed any benefits to having a regular meditation practice? Tell us all about it in the comments section. And if you liked this article I invite you to subscribe to The Healthy Locavore for more health tips, cooking ideas and resources. I am so grateful for this community, thank you so much for being a part of it!

SaveSave

SaveSave

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

The Magic of Mindfulness

mindfulness
mindfulness
Photo by Ketino Photography

Mindfulness is having awareness of the present moment. It is something to be practiced. The result overtime is experiencing less suffering and more joy in your life. Simply put, savor each moment as if it were your last.

What Mindfulness does

Once you start practicing mindfulness you will start to notice many interesting things in your life….

  • You are less likely to react negatively to emotionally charged situations.
  • You will start to transform pain into healing and darkness into light.
  • You will create an awareness that enables you act instead of react.
  • You will start to think about what you truly want, need or feel, making decisions based on your values instead of temptations or the desire to escape.
  • Challenging moments become less intense and no longer consume you.
  • Your physical immune system will become strengthened.
  • Your relationships will grow stronger.
  • Accidents will be prevented.
  • Your true nature will start to show unadulterated.
  • You will experience more success and joy in your life.

Why Mindfulness works

Your ego is a powerful force. It tries to define you and make you feel like you are a separate entity from the rest of the world. But you are not.

It seeks out ways for us to hide from who we really are, what we really think and what we actually need by finding ways to escape our discomfort. It creates resistance in your mind and forms a hard outer shell that separates you from reality, keeping you in your comfort zone. Only it’s not actually comforting.

In challenging times, you may show emotions of anger, fear or anxiety. These are all emotions that arise from identifying with your ego, or your perceived reality. When you practice mindfulness it is you who is in control of your thoughts instead of your ego.

Do you overeat, drink too much, fight constantly with your spouse, hate your job or stress about your future? Believe it or not these are all things you can change by practicing mindfulness.

Practicing mindfulness puts these actions into perspective, forces you to pause and think and allows you to act with intention. The gap that you create in the constant flow of your thoughts enables you to start becoming aware of why you are in these situations and how to make better choices before you do or say something you will regret.

For example, let’s say you had a hard day at work so you come home, prepare dinner, open a bottle of wine and pour yourself a glass. There are several scenarios that could evolve from here. Below are two of them, one being a scenario where you are mindless and one where you are mindful….

A. You turn on the TV plow through your dinner and look up an hour later to realize that the glass of wine you started out with is now an empty bottle. You start to feel ashamed and regretful knowing that tomorrow you are probably going to have a headache, which is not going to make your day any easier than today was.

B. You swirl the wine in your glass inhaling the aroma of the wine taking small sips throughout your meal savoring the nuances of that particular varietal and enjoy the feeling of getting a slight buzz. Once the meal is over you put a cork in the bottle and save the rest for another night feeling satisfied and happy. With a clear head you go to bed thinking tomorrow is a new day.

Scenario B is a good example of participating in an activity mindfully. The actions are deliberate, done with intention and executed using value based decisions. You are completely aware of what you are doing and why you are doing it.

Alternatively, scenario A is a good example of a mindless act. When you react, like eating or drinking on autopilot,  instead of acting with intention it is because you are seeking a particular result. This result usually comes in the form of a quick fix that you think will bring you comfort. Since the decision was not based on your values you end up feeling regret, shame or angry with yourself instead of comforted. When you don’t get the result you were hoping for you start to experience more suffering than what you originally started with.

How to practice mindfulness

Observe your thoughts and actions as they are. Do not let them define who you are or let them turn into bad habits. Instead become curious as to why you have certain thoughts or do the things you do. To find out who you really are all you have to do is sit back and watch.

There are many ways to do this such as……

  • Meditation – Sit with yourself and experience what is. When thoughts arise, acknowledge them without judgement and let them pass.
  • Yoga – A moving meditation. Notice your breath and how you attempt each pose. Are you holding your breath? Are you clenching? Are you angry that you can’t get the pose down perfectly? Yoga can be a perfect metaphor for how you live your life. Do you tense up and judge yourself when it gets hard or do you treat yourself with compassion and know that you are perfect just the way you are?
  • Live in the present moment – Give your attention to what you are doing instead of thinking about the result you want to achieve. You do this by trying not to dwell on things that have happened in the past or what will happen in the future. Use all of your senses here. What do you see, smell, hear, taste or feel right in this moment? How can you bring more awareness and engagement into your current situation?
  • Constantly check in with your body – Do you have a “pit” in your stomach? Are you clenching your jaw or tapping your fingers? These are all feelings that stem from non-acceptance. Your thoughts can materialize in your body. Notice where you feel pain or tightness and try to release any gripping or fidgeting.
  • Catch yourself complaining – Next time you find yourself doing this stop and ask yourself, “What action can I take to resolve this issue?” If you cannot find an answer either leave the situation or accept it as it is.
  • Breath work – There are many helpful breathing exercises that you can do but simply paying attention to your breath is a great way to start. Next time your thoughts are racing stop and see how you are breathing. You might be breathing fast, or shallow or not at all. Stop and smooth out your breath, breathing deep from your belly and then resume your day.

Use practices like these to gain insight on who you really are and what you really need. Practicing mindfulness all of the time even in ordinary situations, not just when times get tough, is the key to growing the skill. Over time your mindfulness muscle grows stronger enabling you to cope with anything life throws your way. The more you practice the more skilled you become. The more skilled you become the less suffering you endure. This is the magic of mindfulness.

Is mindfulness a practice that you have adopted in your life? If so, what positive results have you noticed so far? Tell us all about it in the comments section. And if you liked this article I invite you to subscribe to The Healthy Locavore for more health tips, cooking ideas and resources. I am so grateful for this community, thank you so much for being a part of it!

Resources

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

The Mindful Meal Challenge by Darya Rose (Summer Tomato)

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

Eric Ripert Lessons in Mastery and Mindfulness, The Tim Ferris show

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

The Importance Of Wellness Retreats

wellness retreat

wellness retreat

Picture yourself completely relaxed and taken care of. You are staying in comfortable (maybe even luxury) accommodations in a beautiful part of the world away from the city and in touch with nature. Nutritious meals are fed to you three times a day, you can sleep in or nap as you wish, there are no expectations of you and you have no responsibilities. Sounds nice right? This is the beauty of the wellness retreat.

Yoga, meditation and/or overall health can be the focus of any wellness retreat. Although there are usually classes scheduled each day they are intended to be restorative and more importantly, optional. The intention is more to provide a space where you can focus on your own needs rather than follow a strict schedule of activities.

Going on a retreat for the first time can be a life changer. Even a short retreat can be enough to create a lasting impression.

Re-entering the “real world” after going on retreat is a fascinating phenomenon. On the one hand the over stimulation can be a bit of a shock to your system, on the other hand you feel re-energized and ready to take on the world.

At the first retreat I ever attended on the north shore of Oahu, our host, Jennifer Reuter explained something to us that would stick with me forever. She explained the difference between a vacation and a retreat.

Vacations

Vacations can be a blast. They are often highly anticipated, packed full of fun activities and designed to take you out of your normal day-to-day routine. I have learned so much from vacations I have taken over the years. I’ve traveled to new places, learned about different cultures and tried new foods. They are the perfect time to bond with friends and family or reignite the spark between you and your partner.

The downfall of all of this fun and excitement however is the fact that there is often a lot of energy that has to be put into these occasions. There is a lot of planning that goes into them. You may need to travel on multiple planes or do a lot of driving, you have to be mindful of other peoples schedules, personalities and needs and work around them. There is usually a tendency to over indulge on rich foods and alcohol and stay up much later than your usual bedtime. There could be hours of sightseeing packed into each day or schedules to stick to. It can be mentally and physically exhausting.

When it is all over, and I’m sure many of us have said this in our lives, we need a vacation from our vacation. We come home and go back to work more tired than before we left. We are thrown back into our worlds starting off on our back foot trying to play catch up with life, our energy and getting back into our daily routines.

Vacations are joyful events but they can also be extremely depleting.

Wellness retreats

A retreat lives up to its name. It is a time to pull back and withdraw from all external commotion. Instead of accommodating others, you focus on yourself and your own needs. It is a time to fill your cup back up. To look inside and see what it is you really need in order to become re-energized.

On retreat you have all the time you need to relax and just be. Time to reflect and be quiet. The food that is served is designed to be nourishing, cleansing and to take no effort on your part.

Activities can include things like yoga, nature hikes and swimming. They are intended to cause you to reconnect with your body and move in a way that makes you feel good.

There are no substances or events that are depleting, only ones that are replenishing. It is a time to meditate, read, journal, reflect, move your body in a restorative way, hydrate, nourish and re-energize.

When you return from a retreat to the “real world” it is common to feel more focused and full of energy.

There are many life-changing events that can occur on retreat but the real take-away is always how you feel afterward. You feel like a new person – inspired, motivated and like your cup has been filled back up. This is the importance of wellness retreats.

Want to know more about the retreat I went to on the north shore? Click this link for more information about Jennifer Reuter wellness retreats.

Jennifer Reuter
Jennifer Reuter

Jennifer Reuter is a yoga and meditation teacher on the island of Oahu. She offers retreats, sound healing baths and yoga teacher trainings. She is extremely gifted,  passionate and knowledgable. Learn more about her philosophy and offerings here.

SaveSave

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

How The Power Of Inertia Might Be Stopping You From Achieving Your Health Goals

HOW THE POWER OF INERTIA IS STOPPING YOU FROM ACHIEVING YOUR HEALTH GOALS

HOW THE POWER OF INERTIA IS STOPPING YOU FROM ACHIEVING YOUR HEALTH GOALS

According to Sir Isaac Newton, in his first law of motion, inertia is the tendency for an object to either stay at rest or stay in motion unless changed by an external force.

This relates to people too.

Sometimes we underestimate the power of inertia. We think that we can just simply talk ourselves into doing or not doing things whenever we want. That may be true but there is also a way to give yourself better odds.

Think about it in terms of trying to build a new healthy habit. Let’s take going to the gym after work for an example.

Is kicking off your shoes and plopping down on the couch the first thing you do when you come home from work? If so, you are making it much harder on yourself to make it to the gym.

The power of inertia is a compelling thought when you think about it in terms of getting things accomplished in your day.

How likely will you go the gym if you go home first and rest for 15 minutes on the couch before packing a bag and going to the gym?

The odds are against you, when you put yourself in rest mode, to continue doing what you have planned to do.

Rest is important but momentum can be key when trying to accomplish everything you want to in a day.

Setting goals that align with your values and building habits that you enjoy are important but you also have to have an element of self discipline. Keeping that discipline is so much easier if you never sat down on that couch.

This is a better plan – Pack a gym bag to bring to work with you and go strait to the gym after work. When you get home, instead of heading to the couch, prepare dinner. When you finish dinner and bring the dishes to the sink wash them right then and there. You are already up and moving!

It may sound exhausting but approaching your day like this is actually a lot easier. Because of the power of inertia.

The minute you put yourself into rest mode on that couch is the minute you have potentially derailed your whole plan. Why not make it easier on yourself to succeed?

Where in your life can you apply the power of inertia to achieve a health goal?

SaveSave

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

How To Make Value Based Life Decisions

How to make value based life decisions

How to make value based life decisions

When it is time to make necessary life decisions it is important to make value based ones. Whether it is changing careers, changing your diet or implementing a new exercise routine, value based decisions will ensure that you are doing what is best for your overall happiness and satisfaction.

If you are struggling to make healthy new habits stick, getting clear on your values is the first step. Prioritizing those values is the next step and then living in alignment with those values is the final step.

So let’s start at the beginning.  By answering these questions honestly we can start to find out what are values are.

What is truly important to you?

What do you believe in or feel strongly about?

What inspires you?

What makes you happy?

What makes you fulfilled?

When have you felt the proudest? Why?

What makes you sad or angry?

When do you most feel like yourself?

When do you not feel like yourself?

Do you often have feelings of regret or longing? In what context?

Do other people know what you stand for?

Do you “stick to your guns” or follow the pack?

Now let’s take it a step further and get really specific on how you are currently making life decisions.

How do you spend your time?

– How much time do you spend each day on work, self-care, your social life     and with your family?

– Are you happy with those percentages? Why or why not?

What do you spend your money on?

– How much of it is on experiences and how much of it is on material         things?

– Which ones make you feel more fulfilled?

What do you eat?

– When you make food choices is the source more important or is cost? Why?

– How do you feel physically and mentally after you eat? Do you see any patterns with the types of food you are eating and how you feel afterward?

– How much time do you spend on sourcing, cooking and enjoying your food?

Are you happy at work?

– Why or why not?

– What about it could be better?

– How do you feel when you explain to others what you do for a living?

How is the quality of your relationships?

– How much time do you invest in them?

– Do you have many friends or just a few and why?

How much thought or care do you put into your appearance?

– Why? What is the outcome?

– How do you want others to perceive you? (Think about first impressions.)

And what about balance?

Often times when you are thriving in one part of your life you are not doing so well in another. This may be because you are avoiding certain areas of your life or believing a story that you do not have time for them. Balance is about self-diversification. Investing time in all of the areas of life that you value. Give yourself a reality check. How much time are you actually really spending in all of the areas of your life that you care about.

How to tell if you are being true to your values.

Do your values make you feel internally rewarded or is your reward coming from an external validation? Determine your values based on what makes you happy, proud and fulfilled.

Prioritize your values.

The phrase “I don’t have time” is often associated with things that are not at the top of our list of priorities. Everyone has the same amount of hours in a day. The way you spend those hours is a personal choice.

When setting priorities ask yourself what is really true.

Are you working so many hours that you don’t have enough time for self-care? What would happen if you worked one less hour each day? Would you get fired from your job?

Is picking up take out instead of spending 10 minutes preparing your lunch at home before leaving for work actually saving you time?

Sometimes a simple act of re-organizing your schedule is enough to make time in your life for the things that you want to prioritize. If they truly are indeed a priority.

Living in alignment with your values.

When you are aligned with your values you enable yourself to live a happier more satisfied life. You are able to make clearer life decisions such as what job you should take, how to spend your time and who to spend your time with.

Although your own personal values may change over time, checking in on them and continuously prioritizing them can enable you to live a more balanced life and make healthy habits stick.

Values guide us to make clear life decisions with confidence and make time for the things that are important to us.

So what are yours?

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

How Eating Local Food Supports Your Health And Community

support local

support local

Eating local food is very important to me. When it comes to what I eat I try my best to select foods that are whole or minimally processed, organic and local. This practice results in eating seasonally as well.

Sometimes finding foods like these can be a challenge depending on where you live. Not everyone places this much importance on the foods they eat. If there isn’t a demand in a particular area there is often low availability. Cost and climate can also be factors. This is why if you have a farmers market pop up in your area or see local food in your neighborhood grocery store it is important to support it.

I believe eating local food is important for two reasons. It promotes good health and it strengthens your community. These are both very strong values of mine and something I encourage everyone to at least consider when buying food.

Eating local food for your health

This idea does not involve micro and macronutrients. However, food grown near to you, eaten soon after it has been harvested is more nutritious than commercially grown foods shipped from long distances. So, even though organic apples grown in California are just as nutritious as ones grown in New York, if you live in California and eat the locally grown apples they will be more nutritious because of the length of time between harvest and consumption.

Aligning yourself with nature

As I mentioned above, this idea is more than just getting the most nutrients out of your food. It is also a matter of aligning yourself with your environment or, living in harmony with nature. Eating local food ties you to the land you live on.

When I decided to leave San Francisco to move to Hawaii I had to prepare myself for the fact that my diet was going to change. Sure, I would no longer get to enjoy the bay area stone fruit season and Hass avocados but instead I would get to taste fresh lychees strait from the tree and make interesting dishes with breadfruit. I didn’t see it as a challenge or something I would miss but rather an exciting opportunity.

Eating for your climate

San Francisco in general has a very cool, dry climate. I would start every morning with warm lemon water, drink hot tea everyday and eat hot cereal, soups and stews to keep me warm.

 

One of the things that drew me to Hawaii was the climate. As a person who tends to run cold and dry, San Francisco’s climate was not a good balance for me. The warm humid climate in Hawaii already has my skin looking healthier and my immune system feeling stronger.

My diet has shifted here. I am constantly mindful of staying hydrated and regulating my body temperature using water and food. I now drink room temperature water in the morning instead of warming it first. I crave iced teas instead of hot teas. I eat more salads, fish and rice. I eat completely different types of fruit. I seek cold or room temperature foods as opposed to hot foods. I crave ice-cream way more.

Even though the weather doesn’t change as dramatically throughout the year, like the Midwest or east coast, San Francisco still has seasons that determine which fruits and vegetables are available. Hearty squashes and Brussels sprouts in the winter, asparagus and artichokes in the spring, heirloom tomatoes and melon in the summer are all examples.

Seasonality is significant because nature produces what will make your body thrive during that time of the year. Heartier vegetables keep you warm in the winter and lighter produce like lettuces, cucumber and stone fruit cool you down in the summer.

Giving your body what it needs in order to thrive in the environment you live in is very important for your health.

Balancing our bodies with food

Our bodies are constantly looking for balance. It is one of the reasons why we have cravings. All of the foods we eat have the potential to create warming, cooling, drying or moisturizing effects in the body. It is up to you to understand what you need in any given moment in order to thrive. This is the principal of yin and yang, opposite energies that compliment each other and create balance.

By being in tune with your body and environment you can choose foods that bring you back into balance. Alternatively, ignoring those two things can bring you out of balance with nature and have the potential to make you sick.

Eat with the seasons and let your climate determine diet. If you live in a warm climate and continue to eat foods grown in cold climates it could cause an imbalance. For example, a diet rich in red meat, high in fat and alcohol could overheat someone living in warm climate. However, if you live in a cold climate you need foods that pack more eat. Living off fish and raw vegetables may not keep you warm enough.

Here are some examples of foods that are cooling (ideal for warm climate) and foods that are warming (ideal for cold climate).

Cooling foods –

– Sweet spices (chai, fennel, elderflower)

– Mint

– Cucumber

– Lime

– Light proteins like chicken and fish

– Dark leafy greens

– Raw fruits and vegetables

– Chocolate

– Cabbage

– Watercress

Warming foods –

– Red meat, pork, duck

– Hot soups and stews

– Ginger

– Garlic

– Onions

– Oatmeal

– Winter squashes

– Peppers

Eating local food for the health of your community

Buying food from the local farmers market brings us closer to our community and environment, which results in a deeper connection to our food.

By buying your food from local farms and artisans you are supporting your neighbors and strengthening your local economy. This act unifies people, it keeps people employed and it allows you to really know where your food comes from.

Eating foods that are shipped in from somewhere else (at least on a regular basis) alienates us from our environment. You may not be physically equipped to consistently eat these foods and over time doing this may confuse your body and weaken your immune system. By doing this you are also supporting the excessive use of fossil fuels which is unfriendly to the environment.

Support local. Support community. Support your own health. It just makes sense.

For more information on how to eat local food in Hawaii check out my Hawaii Local Food Guide.

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

How To Get Rid Of Acid Reflux

How To Get Rid Of Acid Reflux

How To Get Rid Of Acid Reflux

Your chest is burning, your throat hurts and your stomach is not a happy place. Sound like you? If this is happening on a regular basis you may have acid reflux.

If you want to get rid of acid reflux you need to understand pH balance in the body. There are two things that determine pH  – acidity and alkalinity.

A high pH in our body means it is more alkaline, a low pH means it is more acidic. Knowing how to balance the pH level in our body can keep us in good health and prevent those uncomfortable bouts of heartburn caused by acid reflux.

Strive to have your body be slightly more alkaline than acidic. This is crucial for controlling our metabolism and hormones, promoting healthy liver function and preventing acid reflux.

Acidity

Many things can produce acidity in the body. When our body is too acidic it can cause digestive issues (like acid reflux), skin blemishes, brittle hair and puts too much stress on our liver. Acidity is not completely a bad thing. Our stomachs produces acid in order to properly digest food. The problem arises however, when there is too much acidity and not enough alkalinity. Our body naturally tries to balance our pH for us but only at the expense of pulling important minerals like calcium from other vital parts of the body.

Things that can produce acidity are:

  • Stress
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Sugar
  • Dairy
  • Fatty, factory farmed Meat
  • Trans Fats
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Yeast
  • Cigarettes
  • Medications
  • Pesticides
  • Chemicals (in house-hold cleaners, skin products, etc.)

Alkalinity

Lucky for us there are many things we can do to counter balance acidity in the body. It can get a bit tricky sometimes however. When it comes to eating, you want to balance out the acidity in your body but you don’t want to completely eliminate it. For example, water is very alkalizing so you don’t want to drink too much of it when consuming food. Doing so could lower the acidity level in your stomach causing it to not be able to break down your food as well. On the other hand, when you are not eating you want to consume as much water as possible in order to balance the acidity back out.

Things that help alkalize your body are:

  • Seaweed
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, etc.)
  • Sprouts
  • Seeds
  • Beets
  • Lemons
  • Most vegetables!
  • Olive oil
  • Water (high mineral-alkaline water is best)
  • Green tea
  • Liquid Chlorophyll, Spirulina
  • Exercise/movement

How to get rid of acid reflux:

Play around with some of these and see where you may be out of balance in your life.

  • Start each day with a glass of lemon water
  • Eat a diet rich in unprocessed plant-based foods (especially greens)
  • Eat acidic foods sparingly
  • Drink acidic drinks sparingly
  • Drink plenty of water daily (around 8 glasses)
  • Quit smoking
  • Eliminate as much sugar as you can from your diet
  • Exercise
  • Reduce stress (practice self-care such as – meditation, yoga, breath work, being in nature, etc.)
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Promote waste movement in the lymphatic system (massage, breathing exercises, dry brushing, yoga)
  • Eat less/better portion control
  • Eat slower and more mindfully
  • Lose weight (if overweight)
  • Don’t eat 2-3 hours before going to bed
  • Maintain good posture

All of these things are crucial to living a healthy life in general but they will also alleviate your acid reflux symptoms when adopted as part of your lifestyle. So which of these things are you missing in your life? How can you add them in?

Acid reflux can be a pain. But, it doesn’t have to be.

It is important to remember when treating any type of symptom that everyone is different and there aren’t any “quick fixes”. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is always your best bet at prevention and treating medical conditions. Eat more vegetables, get plenty of sleep, don’t stress too much, be active, don’t smoke and stay social. It doesn’t have to be much more complicated than that.

Do you have an acid reflux success story? What are you doing that works for you? If you have a fool proof plan I would love to hear it in the comments section below.

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

3 Proven Healthy Lifestyle Changes For Healing Burnout

Shannon Bronson
Shannon Bronson
Photo by: Karolina Zapolska

A story of one woman’s path from burnout to bliss using holistic healthy lifestyle changes. 

How does a woman go from being a successful landscape designer, designing city parks and working in high level design firms, to teaching yoga full time? She burns out.

Shannon Bronson is a friend, a fellow community supporter and one of my most inspiring and brilliant yoga teachers. Her story is like many who have adopted a yogi’s life. It’s one of heartache, awakening and compassion.

Whether you think you may be experiencing the early signs of burnout, or you are completely there, Shannon’s story just may inspire you and possibly even save you.

Shannon’s story starts out the same way a lot of ours does. She discovered her passion, she worked her ass off and she landed the job of her dreams.

And then she became completely miserable.

Although her intentions were good the culture of the environment she had found herself in was toxic. Her and her co-workers worked very long hours, did not take care of themselves and had unhealthy ego-driven relationships with one another.

Shannon found herself becoming extremely competitive. Her self-esteem was fueled by her performance at work. Everything from the way she worked out hard in the gym to going out power drinking with her colleagues reflected her “work hard, play hard” mentality. It was her intense way of achieving success.

Until all of that “success” got torn down.

While Shannon was burning the candle at both ends she was concurrently destroying her home life and her body. The alcohol consumption and her routine of going out partying all night were now taking over. This competitive lifestyle she was living had led to complete self-destruction and burnout.

Her “aha moment” came when she lost her job and almost lost her husband.

A weekend alone, after her husband having walked out on her, led Shannon to self-reflection and the realization that she might never see her him again. Shannon knew she had to start making some very significant lifestyle changes.

These lifestyle changes not only healed Shannon from burnout, but they saved her marriage, improved her overall health and lifted her self-esteem as well.

Shannon’s 3 proven healthy lifestyle changes for healing burnout –

  1. She dropped the unhealthy addiction.

The first thing Shannon had to come to grips with at this point was that alcohol was destroying her life. Like prying a chew toy out of a puppy’s mouth this was not an easy thing for Shannon to let go. Going out binge drinking was engrained in her lifestyle.

The first step Shannon took was to meet with a healer. Shannon chose a modality called somatic experience therapy, which teaches you how to identify, sit with and accept life trauma instead of using self-destructive behavior to treat it.

During her initial sessions she addressed her alcohol addiction. She looked at her life in two ways. The life that included alcohol was one of suffering, loneliness and an endless cycle of fighting and making up with her friends and husband. In the life that did not include alcohol she envisioned herself having a child, a beautiful garden and a happy family.

She drank two more times after that session. Both times her and her husband had blow out fights. She told her husband she had, had it and was giving up booze for good. She hasn’t touched alcohol since.

With the toxic job and substance abuse now out of the way she had removed the root of her burnout and was now ready to heal.

  1. She started practicing yoga.

During what Shannon calls her “process of dissolution” she found herself starting over again on her yoga mat. She said she had never believed in angels before meeting her yoga teachers.

She started practicing daily soaking up anything and everything she could learn about yoga. Her thirst for healing her body and emotions were quenched by it. She became clear and her life started to accelerate. This time at a healthier speed.

She loved this tool for treating burnout because it did many things to get her body out of the fight or flight response. It got her to breathe, to slow down and to listen to her body and pay attention to it.

Shannon believes there are two ways people get involved in yoga in a serious way. The first is a point of crisis. Things in their life start falling apart and they use yoga to lift them back up. The second is the realization that the things that used to make you happy no longer make you happy anymore. She says, “until one of those things happens most people aren’t really going to feel like they need yoga.”

Eventually her practice led her to rediscovering her passion for art, paying more attention to nutrition and learning how to shift her personal relationships from hateful to loving and supportive ones.

As dramatic as it may sound, yoga is what probably saved her marriage.

Through all the pain and suffering she now looks back to that “aha moment” when she lost her job and almost lost her husband and thinks, thank god that happened. Because if it hadn’t, she would have never discovered the life she was meant to live.

Shannon is now one of the most unbelievably gifted yoga instructors I know teaching in San Francisco.

  1. She began studying Ayurveda.

As many yogis have experienced, yoga eventually gives way to studying the magical world of Ayurveda – the science of life healing system invented in India thousands of years ago.

Studying Ayurveda taught Shannon that what she ate strongly influenced her mood and how in or out of balance she was.

The book Absolute Beauty, by Pratima Raichur was Shannon’s primer to Ayurveda. Shannon had very bad skin. Cystic acne and blackheads had spread all over her face. The book taught Shannon that what her skin was expressing was what was happening on the inside. She stopped putting chemicals on her face and switched to natural skin products and began to change her diet. She learned about her doshas, or body constitution, and how to balance them by reading Dr. Vasant Lad’s book, Ayurvedic Cooking For Self-Healing.

She learned that when a person’s doshas are out of balance they crave the things that make them more out of balance. Her strong cravings for alcohol, caffeine and pizza were starting to make sense to her. Shannon is a kapha-pitta dosha type and all of the fiery and wet beverages and foods she had been consuming could be seen all over her face. After cutting those things out of her diet for 3 months her skin had completely cleared up and she felt amazing.

She was able to re-introduce certain foods back into her diet in moderation, no longer having those intense cravings, but continues to abstain from alcohol.

Ayurveda created an intrinsic awareness in Shannon. She is now capable of using foods to strategically bring her back to a state of balance when needed.

As a yoga instructor Ayurveda has also taught her how to understand and read her students. She can just look at them and know where they are out of balance and what kind of practice they need.

Genetics has a lot to do with a person’s dosha type but lifestyle plays just as big of a role. Shannon says, “you can see it on people’s skin, in their disposition, how they move and how they talk.” Being able to ‘read’ her students has brought her closer to them, which adds to the fulfillment she now gets from her new job.

The telltale signs you are burning out

Shannon and I thought about our own experiences with burnout and how we saw it show up in others. Being in a state of mindless action, experiencing physical symptoms, exhaustion, anxiety, depression, negativity and numbness were all things that came to mind. We reflected that during a state of burnout nothing ever seems good enough and nothing ever seems to bring you real joy.

The sad part is that many of us will never admit, let alone treat burnout. In our society people are praised for setting their own personal health aside for their jobs and their families.

It’s common to think that spending money on things like coaching, therapy, massage, acupuncture and yoga are all luxuries and can’t be “afforded”. Maybe we think we don’t deserve the things we really need so we don’t spend the time or money on it.

Expressing her concern Shannon said, “I can’t think of anything a person could spend their money on that could be any better. It’s your brain, your heart, your mind. They’re precious goods.”

The idea of giving up a job or a career we worked our asses off for is a scary one. Many (including myself at one point) fear that all the time they put in to going to school and working their way up the ladder would end up being for nothing. But as Shannon says, “your job is not the most important thing in the world. It is there to serve you and help you live the life you want to live. Renegotiate your relationship to your job so that you aren’t a slave to it and admit that if something isn’t working you don’t have to keep doing it forever.”

Her advice to those suffering from burnout is to talk honestly and sincerely with someone who knows you well. Know that you are not alone. Admitting you need help is the first step. Set your ego aside, humble yourself and re-examine your life. Realize that what you are going through is not the end of the world. Be compassionate with yourself. You may have had the best intentions but think about where you are in your life right now.

Did it really work out the way you wanted it to?

Reflecting back on burnout

I asked Shannon, if she were to live her life all over again, what would she of told herself or did differently to ensure less suffering. With a tear in her eye she said she remembered being in a pattern of self-hatred for most of her life. Despite her talent and passion she never believed in herself enough to really direct it towards what she really thought she could do. She said, “ If I were to do it all over again I wish I could look back and tell myself you are good enough.”

 

Shannon Bronson
Shannon Bronson Photo by:Karolina Zapolska

Shannon is yogini and artist. She’s dedicated her life to interweaving these modalities to live her truth, with the intention of inventing compassionately creative expressions to change the world in positive ways.

Shannon’s life radically blossomed when she fully embraced yoga. She hit the mat hard and allowed yoga to be the safe space in which heal her own traumas. Yoga evolved into the foundation on which she has built a new life in the pursuit of happiness and freedom. Daily asana and meditation as well as a commitment to the 8 limbs of yoga gave her the courage to leave the Urban Design world. She believes it is her path to instead teach yoga, create her art and practice Reiki healing.

Shannon understands that to be a great teacher is to also be continual student. She has an RYT200 from Triveni Yoga and continues to advance her studies with her teachers and Triveni Yoga creators Jessica and Stéphane Dreyfus. Triveni is a vinyasa-based style of yoga that combines asana, meditation with a focus on the subtle body to profoundly transform the practitioner inside and out. She travels internationally with the Triveni team to teach teacher trainings and conduct art, yoga and meditation workshops. She also bows in gratitude to her teachers Elise Lorimer and Betty Roi for sending their light into her life.

For upcoming workshops, guided meditations and schedule and location of where Shannon teaches yoga visit her at:

 www.shannonbronsonyoga.com

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

Why I’m Picking Up And Moving To Hawaii

moving to Hawaii

moving to Hawaii

When I decided to move from my beloved city of San Francisco to Honolulu, Hawaii it wasn’t a difficult decision. I was ready.

When I was 14 years old my Mom relocated us from my hometown of San Diego to the Bay Area. I was devastated. I missed my friends. I missed my Dad. I missed the warmer weather. As I got older and started to look at my life from a deeper perspective I realized I was right were I belonged.

San Francisco is the land of opportunity. If you open yourself up and let it in it will provide you with everything you need. It was here that I developed my passion for cooking, where I landed my first Chef position, where I earned my first 3 stars from Michael Bauer, where I started my first business, where I started my first blog (and then my second) and where I became an entrepreneur. I never had to look hard for work or connections. Opportunities for both were all around me.

But as I’ve moved from phase to phase in my life here in the Bay Area over the last 20 years I have started to find myself and San Francisco has started to lose itself. The colorful, quirky and highly cultural city has started to turn more and more vanilla. The onslaught of major tech companies and start-ups drove gentrification and luxury condos and pushed out mom and pop shops and affordable housing. The service industry has been dealing with a major staffing crisis for years now because of rents we can no longer afford.

My partner, Spencer and I sat out on our balcony one crisp cool night and talked about life. The employees he could no longer hang on to at work, the scare of our rent increasing, the traffic that was getting worse and worse and old times. We were becoming jaded.

Hawaii had always been a special place in our hearts. We flew out to Kauai every year for years during the time Spencer consulted for a restaurant there. Every time we left we knew that it would not be our last. There was something very special about that place that spoke to our souls.

After a dear friend (more like my older brother) moved to Oahu a few years ago I flew out to visit.  I had never been to Oahu and it was love at first sight. It was Hawaii, but with a city full of action and life. The restaurant scene was just starting to explode in Honolulu, local artisans were popping up all over the place, organic farming was becoming more prevalent. I could see that this was going to be the next major food city. I hopped on a phone call with Spencer during that trip and basically told him that we would be moving there. I visited one more time a year later with Spencer to seal the deal.

Sitting out on our balcony that cool night in San Francisco we decided it was time. Were we waiting until we retired? What if retirement never happened for us? What exactly were we waiting for? My argument was there is no better time than the present to be somewhere that truly makes you happy. Lucky for me Spencer did not take much convincing.

We made a plan a couple months after our decision and a year later here we are scheduling a moving company to ship our belongings to Honolulu.

I have never been so happy in my life. I look forward to each new day and am grateful I get to move to paradise with the man I love.

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.