Why it's Easier to Lose Weight with a Macrobiotic Diet and Lifestyle

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Oh my goodness I'm so excited you're reading this. Because macrobiotics impacted my life so much, I became a health coach!

So, what is Macrobiotics, anyway?

It's about living and eating in a way that's in harmony with nature. That probably sounds a bit vague, so I'll keep going:

Western and Modern ways of looking at health all focus on science. Proteins, Carbs, Calories, Fats. There's a lot of health information that gets circulated telling you that you have to count and measure. And somehow, dieting becomes one huge math problem.

But, shouldn't it be easier than that? Shouldn't we just be able to eat and feel happy with our weight and comfortable in our bodies, without having to monitor ourselves all day, every day?

A Missing Chunk of Information in Modern Diets

One huge thing that western and modern diets overlook is how our bodies acclimate to our climate. Foods that grow in warm climates cool us off, and foods that grow in cold climates help us stay warm.

So, you can go to a health food cafe and get a smoothie that has ten bajillion ingredients in it that are a mix of fruits and veggies from different climates. Think bananas and superfoods from the equator plus beets and apples from temperate climates.

Whenever you're eating foods that are out of season, you're adding more stress to your body. Because your body has to compensate to stay comfortable in your environment. And while I'm not saying that you'll gain weight by eating foods that are out of season, I am saying that it could be more difficult for you to lose weight in a way that feels comfortable.

Weight Loss vs Feeling Comfortable

And even if you lose weight simply by calculating all of your nutritional needs, that doesn't mean you feel great all of the time. I know plenty of people who have done a raw food diet and felt amazing, but as time went on they started to feel a bit woozy and lethargic.

And it can be really tough to go back to eating foods that bring balance to your life when you've developed a mindset that whatever you had been doing that caused weight loss is "the answer" to your dietary needs.

[Tweet "There are two ways of looking at weight loss: Losing weight by any means vs losing weight in a way that feels "right" with your soul."]

So if you think about it, there are really two ways of looking at weight loss: Losing weight by any means, and losing weight in a way that feels comfortable and "right" with your soul. And the comfortable way is what you can get with macrobiotics.

Have you ever felt uncomfortable with your method of losing weight, even if you've seen results? Tell me in the comments :)

 

 

 

Why you should feel confident asking for food substitutions in a Restaurant, even if you're friends make comments

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I overheard a waitress talking about how annoying it is when someone orders something dairy-free, gluten-free, or [insert allergen here]-free. She said it's too hard to remember which drinks or dishes had food substitutions, and she didn’t believe people actually had food intolerances, anyways. When you come across a waitress like this, how can you ask for food substitutes in a restaurant without feeling like a burden?

I wondered what it would have been like to hear her say that years ago when I was experimenting with alternative ingredients. Would I have continued to place these kinds of “special” orders? Would I have decided suck it up with a bowl full of tummy-ache?

It's challenging to ask for the best for your body when you’re worried about how other people will react to your order.

And I’m not just talking about the waitress. I’m also talking about your family members, your partner, your coworkers, or anyone else who might overhear your order and have an opinion about what you should and shouldn’t be eating.

So here’s some reasons why you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for what you want:

1) Restaurants offer dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free options because... intolerances are real!

It’s not like someone preferred the taste of soy milk to cow’s milk. Some people truly can’t process these foods. Actually, it’s pretty common nowadays to have some kind of intolerance to dairy and wheat, so I think that having alternatives should be the norm and not the exception.

2) Restaurants that offer food substitutions have made changes before

Yep, if the restaurant offers food substitutions, then they should know what they’re doing. It doesn’t matter what the staff thinks - whomever put the menu together had your happiness in mind.

3) At the end of the day, you’re the one who has to process the food, so your feelings are the most important

Your brother-sister-coworker-DOG can comment all they want about what you’re eating, but you’re the one who will have to deal with a tummy ache later if it’s not something that works with your body. It’s okay to have confidence to say “yeah uh…no, that doesn’t work for me.”

And if you think about it, changing your body for the long term is going to require having the confidence to say what you want. No apologies. Time to get used to owning your orders!

So tell me, what has your experience been like with asking for food substitutions? Have you felt awkward? Do you have a story? Leave a comment!

Horrible Combination: Thongs and IBS

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Ick, sorry for the visual! But really, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can really be a downer. And I'm not just talking about how you feel - I'm talking about how you live. Have you ever been bloated and felt like everyone in the room noticed your stomach bulging out? Have you ever had the urge to pass gas but were in the middle of a social situation and didn't know how to silently (and odorless-ly) let it out?

Now, as much as I've grossed you out (I'm surprised you're still reading!), what is the true shocker for me is that many women don't do anything about it. Some have gotten so used to feeling discomfort that they think discomfort is normal.

And I used to feel that way, too. I thought that bloating meant that I was full and should stop eating. I thought that a stomach ache after eating ice cream was how everyone feels.

And the worst part is that it's so easy to assume you're fat when you're bloated. I can't tell you how many times I ate something that made me feel weird in my stomach, and my immediate reaction was "oh gosh I gotta lose weight" instead of "oh gosh, my body doesn't agree to that. Better stop eating it."

So, do you even know what it feels like to not have bloating and gas and constipation?

Here are 4 things you can do to proactively get out of feeling uncomfortable:

1) Find out if you have any food intolerances

This is the most important step - finding out if there are specific foods that are irritating your system. If you can, get a blood test instead of guessing what you think it may be. It could cost around $200-$300 USD if not covered by insurance in your area.

If you don't want to do a blood test, you can do an elimination diet where you cut out some common allergens (like dairy and wheat) temporarily and then reintroduce it to your diet to see if you have a reaction.

2) Experiment with less "yang" foods

I'm so happy you've taken Shift Happens and know what I am referring to when I say "yang". The idea is that heavy animal products and cured meats take more time to go through the digestive track.

So if you are dealing with constipation or an irregular flow, taking a break from foods that take a long time to digest will help your digestive system back on track. Then, you can add these heavy foods back in when you're system is strong.

3) Have grains that are moist instead of dry

You've probably already heard that it's good to have whole grains because the fiber content will help with your system, so I'm going to take that one step further and say that you should try to have more moist grains than dry ones.

So instead of toasted bread, have steamed bread. Instead of steamed bread, have rice or oatmeal. And if you're definitely going to have something dry like bread, you can always pair it with a hydrating soup.

Grains that have been cooked in water have more...."lubrication", I guess you can say, and that's going to make transit much easier.

4) Chew your heart out

Again, you want to make sure your body doesn't have to do as much work if you want to have a smooth flow. Actually, digestion begins in the mouth because your saliva starts breaking down nutrients --- so coat your food with good ol' saliva, chew chew chew, and enjoy a bloat-free day.

Alrighty! That's all for this episode of Thongs & IBS.

What has your experience been like?

Can Gratitude Change Your Body Chemistry?

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One topic that comes up pretty often in the health world is practicing Gratitude. Basically, you can take a journal and write down what you are thankful for every morning, and doing this simple act can set up the rest of your day for the better. But can it change your body chemistry? I usually hear people use a journal as form of therapy where you write down everything that is bothering you so you can get it off of your mind. And I do think that can be therapeutic. But Gratitude can take settling your mind to the next level.

And the reasons why this is recommended goes beyond just acknowledging the good in your life. It can tune you in to the positive sides of situations where only the bad glares back at you. It can help you get rid of old, limiting beliefs. And it can bring even more optimism out of you.

But the reason why I think it's amazing is because it has the potential to change your body chemistry. When we are stressed out, our stress hormones can become imbalanced and that can make weight loss extremely difficult - even if you've been eating salads and counting calories.

Let me give you a made-up scenario:

Bragging: I have the most wonderful life. I have the most fantastic job, I have an amazing boyfriend, and I am enjoying theater classes.

Worried: I'm so stressed out from my job - I mean they pay is great, but there has just been way too much for me to do. Plus, my boyfriend is nice but he doesn't get that I'm tired and I feel like he pressures me to keep doing more. And as much as I was excited about theater class, I totally suck at acting and I hate getting up in front of people.

Your body chemistry reacts to your thoughts.

So if you are constantly thinking as per the second example (worried state), your body chemistry is going to respond in that way. But if you think of the same scenario as per the first example (gratitude), your body will feel calm.

Notice that the scenario hasn't changed. Both examples depict the same reality. But the one you choose to feel is the one that determines your stress levels, which directly impacts your weight.

So without even making changes to your actions or to the situation, simply looking at the bright side can settle your hormones which can make it easier for you to maintain or lose weight.

Crazy, ay!? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment!

 

 

4 Ways to Stick to Your Weight Loss Progress When You Hate the Gym

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Have you ever dragged yourself to a fitness class and felt like everyone else was performing better than you? Maybe you saw a super fit gal and tried to mimick her energy in hopes of getting equal results. Or maybe you saw an older woman totally rocking every move and you decided to push through exhaustion just to keep up with her. It can be so easy to hate the gym when working out in private isn't an option. I totally feel ya. For me, I remember always being the last person picked in gym class back in school, and I was always the second to last runner when it came time to do laps around the track (the last person, mind you, was whoever was sick that week and opting for a walk).

And fitness classes didn't make it that much easier. Dance-like routines were not so bad for me as I could pick up the steps alright, but it was really the energy level I lacked to keep up with pace.

In any case, let's not let fitness coordination, competition, or feelings of embarrassment for your fitness level get in your way of making your own progress. Here are 3 things you can do to get the most out of your workout and leave everyone else in the dust.

1) Find a fitness class you like. No, seriously.

Okay, so this might sound super obvious, but part of the reason why people avoid the gym is because they don't want to work out in front of other people. And it really sucks to feel frustrated when there are other classes you can take that you feel more comfortable in. So it's in your best interest to pick exercises that you actually enjoy doing and don't feel awkward about.

I used to work in a ballroom dancing studio and was surprised when a new student said, "That's where we're going to dance? Like...right there?". He was pointing to the dance floor in the studio. So, I took him to a private room typically used for group lessons and taught him, there. There's no need for you to feel uncomfortable with learning something fresh, just because of your environment.

So if you don't want to flail your arms around and bump into people doing zumba, maybe try something different like pilates which doesn't take as much mental gusto.

2) Do at home workouts with online apps, free videos, and DVDs

I love this option for many reasons! First off, you don't have to worry about flailing and sweating in front of strangers (who are sweating and flailing prettier). And having that freedom to focus on the moves and on how you feel will take attention away from your performance level. It'll also keep you from pushing yourself too hard, which could actually derail your weight loss progress instead of improve them.

One of the biggest reasons people say they haven't lost weight is because they don't have enough time. When you're working out from home, you don't have to worry about arranging your schedule to accommodate a set group class time at the gym. You can workout at whatever time suits you.

Plus, you don't have to worry about spending extra time commuting to the gym (which could easily add another hour you'd have to fit into your busy schedule). And my favorite reason is that you can pick how long you want to workout. For me, 45 minutes of focused, quality exercise trumps going to a group class for an hour+.

Another reason why at home workouts are great is because of the price. Instead of paying for group sessions at your local gym, you can find online memberships for workout videos that will send you new workouts throughout the month, for a fraction of the price.

Personally, I'm a fan of the Tracy Anderson Method and she does live streaming where you get new workouts every week. Another great option is the Cody App which is perfect for at-home workouts, and they have a variety of classes you can take from yoga to ballet to more intense workouts. And hey, do a simple YouTube search and you can find a ton of free workouts people post for your viewing (and sweating) pleasure.

[Tweet "At-home workouts will save you time, money, embarrassment, and sanity."]

3) Take the fitness class anyways, but focus on your body

This one might also sound obvious, but that doesn't mean you're doing it. I remember when I started doing yoga - actually, for the first few years of doing yoga - I always felt like I had to do all of the intense poses even though my body wasn't ready for it. The whole point of yoga is to develop your own mind body connection, which you can't do if you're overdoing and straining yourself. And the same goes for any kind of exercise - your own progress is going to come from exercising in a way that feels right to you, that's slightly challenging in a feels-so-bad-but-so-good kind of way, and that is something that you want to continue.

Before you know it, you'll get better and better and be the one making everyone else look like flailing monkeys.

 

4) Even if you hate the gym, only go to group classes where you feel encouraged by community

For me, this means going to classes like yoga. There's something about having a live instructor, the smells of essential oils, and hearing other people breathing in sync that makes me feel like I get a ton more out of the workout than if I was to do it at home.

For you, maybe that group class is something like spinning. Maybe you feel like you're riding a tricycle on a Spring day at the fair when you're at home, but when you're in that dark room with the pumped-up music vibrating through your body, your performance totally changes.

These are the kinds of classes where community can really make a difference, (and no one is wondering how you're doing)

So what are some ways for you to add exercise into your life in a way that feels good and meaningful? Leave a comment!

 

The #1 Mistake Dieters Make for a Balanced Meal

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What is a balanced meal? Maybe you have experimented with some kind of ratio of protein, carbs, fats, and calories. Or, maybe you look at your plate and divide it up with some ratio of meat, grains, and vegetables. There seems to be a lot of theories on the proper way to balance a meal and to portion your plate, but you might be missing the most important point
Back when I was 40 pounds overweight, I thought that a balanced meal was a 1/4 of a plate of meat, 1/4 of a plate with grains, and 1/2 a plate with vegetables. And I used to get confused when I would read information about how many grams of food I would need to consume for diets because, well.....I couldn't do any of that naturally without measuring or weighing my food all the time. It didn't feel intuitive.
So there seems to be a lot of theories that only complicate balancing a meal and make it harder to eat intuitively. Here is the #1 aim when you're picking foods to put on your plate:

The aim is to balance your BODY. Not your plate. 

 [Tweet "Choose foods that balance your BODY. Not your plate."]
Eating for health means eating foods that your body needs to restore it's inner balance. So here's how you can do that:

1) Identify what your body needs - not your plate

You can do this by figuring out what discomforts you're facing and what you would need to counter balance that. Are you constipated? Do you have digestive discomforts? Do you have any chronic issues such as fatigue, headaches, sleep trouble, etc?
If you're constipated, most people recommend eating more fiber. But I actually recommend avoiding foods temporarily that take a longer time to digest, like animal proteins.
If your body feels cold, then you want to eat foods that are warm. So instead of eating raw salads in an effort to lose weight, focus on eating cooked foods that will warm and put less stress on your body.

2) Once your digestive system is balanced, eat what you crave

When your body's digestive system is working properly, then you are more likely to have honest cravings. By "honest", I mean that your cravings are not because your body chemistry is outta whack, but because your body actually needs them for nutrition.
 [Tweet "There are 3 kinds of cravings: nutritional, chemical, and emotional."]
Having a balanced meal could just mean eating what you crave to provide your body with what it needs to balance it's nutritional needs.
So, let me give you a few examples, here:

Scenario 1) Emily feels constipated. 

She usually has eggs for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and pasta with chicken for dinner. She only goes to the bathroom every two days or so, and when she does, it's pretty painful. Her stool seems pretty dry and it comes out in thick chunks instead of effortlessly.
Emily could balance out her body's constitution by having more whole grains to help with digestion. She could also have less animal products which take a longer time to digest and contribute to poor transit time. She can do this temporarily until she has regular bowel movements, then start adding back in other foods since her system is stronger.
Balanced meals for her daily menu could look like oatmeal (whole grains), pasta made out of corn instead of wheat, with vegetables and a side of soup, and brown rice with bean curry for dinner. This kind of meal is more hydrating, has more variety, warms up the body, has low stress on the digestive system, and is healing to the inner body function.

Scenario 2) Jessica has cold hands and cold feed. She also tends to need a sweater wherever she goes even though her friends always seem fine.

Jessica's typical day of meals consists of fruit with yogurt for breakfast, a big salad for lunch, and tomato pasta for dinner.
In Jessica's case, she should eat foods that warm up the body. Raw foods such as fruits and salads are cooling to the body (this is based on food energetics, which you can learn in FOODBOSS™). Even though these foods are nutritionally dense, they are not helping Jessica keep her body warm which is really important for health, circulation, and digestion.
Balanced meals for her could look like having a warm breakfast like oatmeal, adding in a warm soup during lunch, and having dinner that contains warming spices such as ginger.

Scenario 3) Tanya went out to a BBQ party and feels like she ate too much. 

Since Tanya had heavier foods at a BBQ, she can balance out her digestive system by having something lighter in the morning such as fruit or a green smoothie to cleanse. These are less taxing on digestion while her body is finishing digesting all of the foods she had the night before. For Tanya, balanced meals would mean eating lighter until her digestion is restored.
How have you been balancing your meals? How are you going to balance them differently, moving forwards? Leave a comment!

2 Reasons Why You're not Losing Weight (Despite Working Out Hard!)

2 Reasons Why You're not Losing Weight (Despite Working Out Hard!)

Have you been putting so much effort into working out, but your body is not getting smaller? Do you feel like you have to do more if you want to see results, and frustrated you have to work harder than others just to maintain a body you're not happy with? Read this to find out why those hard workouts could be preventing you from losing weight.

How to grow pimples

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I did a bit of travel a week ago and when I arrived at my final destination, I found a few beautiful fresh pimples on my face to greet me in the mirror. Kind of looked like white sesame seeds stuck to my face. Joy.
There's plenty of information on skin care and what to do to take care of acne and other skin conditions after they pop up. But there's not so much on how they originate in the first place.
Maybe you have heard that pimples or acne is a result of a hormone imbalance and have reluctantly accepted your feat, thinking that you'll have to continue on with a skin issue.
But instead of focusing on what to do after one pops up, let's look into why they could be originating.
Here's what I did to grow my pimples:
1) I ate foods that my body is sensitive to, specifically wheat and dairy.
I did a food intolerance test and those two were high on my list. But when you travel to Europe where they are staple foods, it was hard to avoid. I admit that there were some moments when I could have chosen other options but decided not to (wild berry yogurt was something I fell in love with years before I did my intolerance test and didn't want to pass on when I found some!).
2) I had processed foods.
I honestly can't remember the last time I had packaged/processed foods other than airplane food, but for this trip, there were a couple of days when my only choice was to eat processed foods or wait 4-7 hours until the next meal opportunity with no guarantee of better food quality. And, of course, I also had plenty of airplane food (I took 4 flights and still have a couple more coming up).
3) I didn't get regular sleep.
This wasn't intentional. I had some heavy jet lag so I wound up taking random naps throughout the day and woke up around 5am on some days. Also had really light sleep on the airplanes (12 hour flights).
Here's what you should look into:
If these 3 points are part of your regular daily routine and you are worried about your skin, then they'll be the first ones you want to address before you start purchasing more expensive or strong treatments.
Food quality is more important than counting calories - if you're eating processed foods, foods you are intolerant to, and if you're not sleeping on a regular schedule, then start seeing how you can make adjustments and your face will show a happy glow when you look in the mirror!

How my jobs affected my food options & exercise

I want to share with you how the 3 different jobs I had affected my food choices and activity level. Why? Because your lifestyle is your CONTEXT. And your context is what triggers your behavior and also what gives you the options you have.

Many people who are trying to lose weight focus on controlling something about their food or going out of their way to do intense workouts. But it may be easier for you to see how the things you choose to have in your life - your job, your relationships, your hobbies, etc., affect your health.

First off, I want to point out that what I will share with you is how I ate AFTER I lost the 40 pounds. The process of losing the 40 pounds involved eating low-stress, energetically balanced meals (which you can learn more about in FOODBOSS if you're keen).

1) Personal Assistant to Floral Designer This was an awesome job. The company provided flower arrangements for high end luxury brands and fashion magazines, so I got to see a lot of behind the scenes of marketing and product launches for new trends.

Exercise: I had to commute 40 minutes by train to and from work every day. About 25 minutes of that was walking, per direction. I was on my feet most of the day working on projects and interacting with clients, so all in all, I walked 10,000-12,000 steps per day (90-120 minutes of walking). I didn't do additional exercise, although I recall going to a yoga masterclass here and there if there was a visiting teacher who I wanted to learn from.

Food: Yogurt Parfait for breakfast, lunch near the office, and dinner purchased on the way home. I didn't cook as much as a wanted to - I was really hungry on the way home very night and there was almost always overtime! The office location was in a high-end area. Kind of like 5th Avenue in New York where it's a street with mostly luxury brands. So whenever I had to grab lunch outside of the office, the food quality was really high (and luckily for me, lunch prices weren't any different from other towns - about $10 USD for a lunch set). It was easy to find meals that were organic or vegan or whatever you need tailored to your body.

Also, another benefit of the job was that there was an organic Danish cafe inside the floral shop (my boss was Danish and the concept of the store was that people could eat in what felt like a sophisticated flower garden and also shop). So whenever work got hectic, I could pick up a Scandinavian lunch of smorrebrod (open-faced sandwich), salad, and fresh mixed juice and eat that in the office.

2) Lifestyle Concierge I also really loved this job - I was a go-between for people travelling to Tokyo and high-end restaurants (like Michelin sushi venues, etc.). But, unlike my previous job, this one was purely office work so I sat at a desk and was on the computer most of the time.

Exercise: I wound up moving to the town where my office was located and I was merely an 8 minute walk away. So, I only walked about 2000 steps per day (<20% of the activity level I had in my previous job). I chose to do exercise dvds at home on weekdays twice per week, and yoga once on the weekends to increase my activity level. So in this case, I had to go out of my way to add in movement to my daily routine.

Food: Since I wasn't moving as much, I didn't feel as hungry as I did in my previous job. I would have some fruit or a smoothie for breakfast, lunch would be something near the office, and dinner would be light such as brown rice and vegetable soup.

I could have taken my lunch to work, but my priority during lunch breaks was to get out of the office for the sake of fresh air. I loved the job but didn't like the idea of not leaving that building for a whole 9+ hours. The lunch shops in the town were standard so I could get a lunch set with a variety of foods, but the quality wasn't there compared to my previous job and it was harder to find things like whole grains or organic foods. Actually, by harder I mean impossible - just didn't exist.

My most hearty meal would be for lunch with colleagues and I would keep it light for breakfast and dinner.

Also, after I started this job and moved to the town, I also took a food sensitivity test and found out that I'm sensitive to wheat and dairy. So I stopped having yogurt for breakfast and opted for rice instead of bread when the opportunity presented itself. Once I started avoiding the foods that I was sensitive to, I lost a lot of that bloated-look in my face and body - I didn't lose weight, but my face looked much sharper and the redness in my skin went away.

3) Health Coach, Full Time I had been a health coach on the side, but decided to go with it full time. Since I created my company mostly online based, my days are spent on the computer all day long (and starting a company meant that I was putting in way more hours than my previous jobs).

Exercise: Since I was sitting at home all day, my opportunity to walk decreased to 0 steps per day. I decided to make it part of my routine to walk 5000 steps every day (about a 45 minute walk) which I really look forward to because it clears my head and is a great break from work. I also do at-home exercise dvds about 3 times per week, and I also found a nearby yoga studio that does early morning sessions which I enjoy going to to start the day off feeling refreshed.

Food: I still eat similarly to how I had been in my previous job in the sense that I eat relatively light for breakfast and dinner since I don't have much activity, and I like my most hearty meal to be during lunch (notice I said "hearty" and not "big" - my meals tend to be the same sizes but the heaviness is what differs). I live nearby an organic supermarket so it's easier for me to have healthier lunches than the ones I had been eating in my previous job.

Reflection:

As you can see, having an active job at the floral company surrounded by high quality food options really made it easy for me to stay healthy despite having a busy work load. The other jobs I have had encouraged me to actively add in exercise and to seek out healthier food options.

I don't think my weight fluctuated much between jobs because I was making adjustments based on what felt right. I think that if I had gone through these changes with my job before I had lost weight, I would have had more anxiety about trying to control everything or complaining about fitting in exercise. But now, I'm out of my head so I don't feel compelled to eat more or less foods based on a diet regime and rather am able to listen to my body - my body tells me when it's hungry and it also told me I needed to move more when my activity level decreased.

So now, I want you to think about your own personal lifestyle.

How is your job affecting your food options and activity level? How about your relationships? Your hobbies? Your chores? Even if it might feel like a drastic change to make alterations to these big parts of your life, if you find that you're not happy with one of them and making a change to a different job would not only make you happy but also create a lifestyle where health comes naturally, it may be time for you to make that move!

Leave a comment :)