I’m a Flexitarian…

flex·i·tar·i·an
/ˌfleksəˈterēən/

a person who has a primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally eats meat or fish.

What does that even mean? And does it really matter? I happen to think it does. Read on to find out why!

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Image source: http://theconversation.com/eat-your-vegetables-studies-show-plant-based-diets-are-good-for-immunity-107964

Just over a year ago, when our littlest was 4 months old I was inspired by a friend and colleague who had made the leap to veganism. During my late night nursing feeds, I started to do a little research into what it meant to be vegan.

Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself quite well informed when it comes to nutrition. I was actually vegetarian for about 5 years during high school and my undergrad back when it wasn’t as much as a fad. I went to boarding school and had the honour of sitting at the ‘vegetarian table’ with the 11 or so other vegetarians in out school of over 150 students. But I eventually phased meat back into my diet.

Over the years since I’ve thought on and off about cutting meat out, but liked my crispy bacon and medium well steaks and never got there. Funnily enough, my husband had been wanting to go plant based well before I was there, but given that I’m the one who does most of the meal planning and prep we still had a great deal of animal protein in our diets.

So, last winter after starting to follow a few vegan instagrammers (@kindredswell, @veg_md,@richroll and @ellenfisher to name a few…), I began to think that this was a change that I wanted to make. I wanted to make our family a plant based family. Why? Well for starters I had NO IDEA just how terrible the animal protein industry is on our planet. Like no idea. This article from CBC gives you just a taste…

“Using 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey data from more than 10,000 people in Ontario, a recent University of Waterloo study looked at the “global warming potential” of different types of diets. Based on what respondents said they ate in a day, it found that in a year, omnivores generate emissions equivalent to driving nearly 15,000 kilometres (that’s more than three times the distance between Vancouver and Montreal). That’s more than double the amount generated by vegetarians or vegans.”

Needless to say this, coupled with my knowledge as a physician that a whole foods plant based diet is better for your overall health, made it a no brainer for us to try to become a plant based family. Following a whole foods, plant based diet is associated with lower BMIs, improved cholesterol profiles, and higher fibre intake .

Interestingly, there is even some new research that these diets may even be associated with lower rates of depression! And if you’re up for a listen check out this podcast with cardiologist Dr. Ostfeld who believes in plant based diet for managing his patients!!!

So last winter, when I was about 4 months post partum with baby #3 and home on maternity leave I decided to give this plant based diet a try. Initially when I started out I went pretty all-in (which for those of you who know me personally is pretty classic). I cute out all animal protein for me, and really cut back on meat for the kids but kept eggs/dairy in their diet.

In hindsight this may have been a bit of a big leap, especially since I was exclusively breastfeeding. I doubled down on the legumes and had a few weeks where my poor babe was pooping every hour at night. Over the following months we found our ebb and flow and with careful meal planning have found a good balance that is working for our family.

Are we entirely plant based? No, we’re not. Our kids still drink cow’s milk (though I am certain to call it cow’s milk and offer Soy/Almond as an alternative), we eat eggs which we get mostly from a friend who raises her own chickens. We eat meat only once or twice a week and it’s primarily poultry. And cheese. Oh man do my kids (and my husband) love cheese.  We’re working on that and finding tasty and healthy plant based alternatives.

I’d definitely love to make the leap to entirely plant based and am working at it over time. I make certain we get adequate protein intake and iron through careful meal planning. I have about a dozen cook books I use on the regular to help plan tasty and complete meals for our family. I make sure we’re all getting our Vit D and B12, which are common nutritional deficiencies in individuals who are entirely plant based as B12 is almost exclusively found in animal protein. (If you’re interested in learning more about the whole protein thing here is one of my fav vegan pod-casters article that talks more about it).

vegetarian protein infographic

So as a family, we’ll continue to find our balance and do our part to raise conscious little men who are aware of the impact their diet choices have on our planet. It also looks like hopefully the general trend will be moving in that direction with the announcement of Canada’s new food guide.

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Interested in becoming a plant based family? Follow along or check out some of my favourite bloggers, pod-casters and instagrammers:

www.kindredswell.com

www.minimalistbaker.com

www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com

@richroll

@plantproof

@veg_md

@ellenfisher

Favourite Cookbooks:

PlantPower Way

Vegan Comfort Food

Oh She Glows and Oh She Glows Everyday

and Rebar. Obvi.

xo,

Sarah

A few more resources for you…

Eat your vegetables

Cutting out meat and dairy is the best way to reduce your environmental impact

Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits

What is a plant based diet and why should you try it? 

So, I made a vision board.

A dream board or vision board is a collage of images, pictures and affirmations of one’s dreams and desires, designed to serve as a source of inspiration and motivation, and to use the law of attraction to attain goals.

 

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I’m not going to lie. I haven’t always been a vision board person. In fact, I’m sure there was a time in my life when I likely would have scoffed at someone if they told me to make one. I’m not sure exactly when my attitude shifted but it’s been incredibly enlightening and actually (excuse me while I sound a bit nerdy) exciting journey for me and now I can proudly say I’m a vision board person. And I don’t really know how best to explain how this transition came about and what making it has done for me without waxing on and on about personal growth and development so I’m going to try to be short and sweet and keep it to the point!

What is a vision board?  Well, if you look up the definition on wikipedia you’ll learn that: A dream board or vision board is a collage of images, pictures and affirmations of one’s dreams and desires, designed to serve as a source of inspiration and motivation, and to use the law of attraction to attain goals. And honestly I don’t think I could put together a better definition than that….but what I think I can tell you is WHY I made one, HOW I went about it and WHAT positive things having one around does for me and my family!

Why did I make a vision board? As I write this post I had to sit here and weed through the cobwebs to just a few short months ago (how is it that hard for me to remember so far back…oh right…my brain is way too busy and I need to meditate more….). I remember reading about it in a magazine I got through my side business. (I’ve done a whole other post about that side business so won’t get into the details of it now but you can read that blog post here if you’re interested in learning more.)  This magazine was about success and leadership and had an article about vision boards and what they can do for you; namely help you sit down and plan out what it really is you’re working for. What is the WHY of your day to day? Who do you want to be? I’ve been doing a lot of personal growth and soul searching for the past 6-8 months since I started seeing a clinical counsellor (which I will talk about in detail at another time because I honestly think EVERYONE could benefit from therapy/counselling… whatever you want to call it). In working with my counsellor, I’ve started to realize that it’s important to figure out your why; it’s important to find your balance; it’s important to figure out what your priorities are at work, at home, in life and make sure your days/weeks/years are honouring those priorities.

HOW did I go about making my vision board? Well for starters, believe it or not I roped my husband in to the initial process (though he didn’t go so far as to do the amazing collage work like I did in the above photo :).  We had a date night at our local wine bar and chatted about goals and priority setting for the new year and brainstormed what major goals we wanted for ourselves and our family in the coming year. Then when we finally found the time, we sat down and divided our board into six major categories we feel are important to us. FAMILY. CAREER. FITNESS. PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT. HEALTH. HOME.wxzdppzrxsqentwhdoj4g.jpg

Then, under each of these categories we each sat down and chatted about what we would each want to focus on or work towards in the coming year. We chatted about where we wanted to see ourselves go with our careers, what our fitness goals were for the coming year, how we thought we could improve our health; what we could do to ensure we spend quality time as a family; what we wanted to do to ensure personal growth and development and what we wanted to see happen with our home.  THEN after we hashed out these details I took the time to leaf through a pile of magazines we had lying around the house and cut out photos that I thought fit with these visions and dreams I had. The final masterpiece (and I do call it a masterpiece as it took me the better part of an entire evening to put it together) is above. I have it sitting on my dresser in our bedroom so I can see it everyday, multiple times a day to remind me of what’s important to me and to remind me to make THAT a priority and NOT what other people are asking me to make a priority.

WHAT has my vision board done for me? Well, for starters it made me realize there was a total disconnect between what my vision/dream and how I was living my day to day (though it took showing my vision board to my counsellor to realize that!). My vision board is COVERED with photos of nature, people running, doing yoga, meditation, travel and quotes about slowing down, and just a small part is dedicated to my career yet I was (and am still to a degree) spending most of my days working or thinking about work and wasn’t making the time to get outside, to run, to do yoga, to meditate, etc. BUT instead of getting bummed out about this (and really I wasn’t bummed because secretly, or not so secretly inside me lives a work-a-holic) my vision board serves as a daily reminder about what my dream is and about who I want to be on a day to day basis. Do I still want to be a physician? YES. Do I still want to be a medical leader? Abso-freaking-lutely. But do I also want to take care of my body, my mind and my soul? YOU KNOW I DO. Because if I don’t, I’ll burn out and won’t be able to take care of anyone.

So there it sits on my dresser. And when I wake up, I take a look and it reminds me to open up my iPad and sneak in my daily @downdoggyoga app session. And it reminds me to be present. To enjoy my children. To sit down and read a book and actually READ the book, not make my to-do list in my head while absentmindedly reading and playing with them. It reminds me (and so does my therapist) to THINK before I say yes to the next person who asks me to join a committee, attend a meeting, teach a lecture. It reminds me how much I love running, especially on these (cough) cold winter days. It reminds me to sign up for that running clinic I’ve been thinking about checking out; to commit to the pilates class I’ve been flirting with joining for the past year. It reminds me to nurture my marriage, my soul and my family.

So, I made a vision board.

And I can’t wait to sit down and make them with my kids in the next few weeks! Check back to see how that went. Inspired and want to make your own? Check out this article  for more detailed instructions.

 

xo,

Sarah

 

La Belle Mixtape

I love music, and I used to be SO all over new music; making mixes/playlists, following blogs and sharing my favourite new tunes with friends. The chaos of parenting/working and the responsibilities of everyday life have led me to let this part of me wither a bit. And that makes me sad, so one of my goals is to get back into music. Seeking out new music. Listening. Sharing.

So this if for you folks this lovely Friday morning! Happy Fall 🙂

 

xo,

 

 

Sarah

Why I have a #sidegig with Nerium International

A side hustle is not a part-time job. A side hustle is not the gig economy. It is an asset that works for you.

what if

You might ask why would I, mom to three boys under the age of four, full time physician currently undergoing training in perinatal addictions, add one more thing to my plate? The answer isn’t a simple one, but if you’re interested in finding out what led me to this place, read on!

I wasn’t looking for a side gig or anything more to fill my already overflowing schedule. Honestly, if someone came up to me six months ago and told me I would be running a successful side business in skin care and wellness products I would have probably laughed in your face. This wasn’t something I ever pictured myself doing. Skin care. Sales. The whole shebang. So how did I end up here?

Since last November, when I had my third baby at the age of 39, I started to think it was time to start really taking care of my skin. Having three kids between the ages of 34 – 39 while finishing my medical residency and starting practice was starting to take it’s toll. I was noticing more fine lines and looking generally tired (I know, I know, what did I expect?) So I started doing some research into skin care lines, but I was overwhelmed with what was out there. So many different companies, so many different products. The recommendations and routines seemed so complicated with retinols, toners, Vitamin C serums, facial cleansers and scrubs, etc. that I couldn’t find anything that I thought I could actually a) figure out without consulting someone smarter than I was when it came to skin care and b) would actually have time in the day to do. So I just kind of kept plugging away using the same mix of products I always had that hadn’t made any significant difference to date.

Then in May, my good friend Erin Beattie added me to her ‘Nerium Page’ on Facebook. My first thought? What is this? Seriously? Is she doing direct marketing? I was one of those judgey people who always kind of turned my nose up at direct marketing. But Erin is good people. She’s one of my best friends in life. She’s also a busy Mom, MD and I figured if she was into it there must be something good going on. So I looked through her pictures and was immediately blown away. “Will this stuff help my crows feet?” I asked. She posted a handful of before/after pics showing incredible reduction in fine lines. “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play” was my response. (I know, cheesy but true – see below if you don’t believe me!)

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I have such trust in Erin that I was almost ready to dive in immediately as a Brand Partner, try the products and possibly sell them. I just thought that if she was doing it, and they worked as well as the before and after pictures said they did, than I’d be a fool not to get involved. In hindsight, I wish I had signed up immediately and bought the biggest starter pack as it offers you a HUGE savings on the entire product line. But I wasn’t 100% sure, so Erin recommended just trying the product to start, and so I did.  I ordered the entire skin set and both my (very skeptical) husband and I started using it. To be honest, I hadn’t told Hagen I was ordering it. And when he found out how much the skin care set cost he definitely raised an eyebrow at me and suggested that perhaps I should have just started with one or two products. But I don’t have sensitive skin, and Erin’s results (see below!) were so unbelievable I figured why not??? I also told him I was thinking of selling it as well to earn them for free and he was NOT on board at first. I don’t know why the whole direct/relationship/multi-level marketing leaves a bad taste in people’s mouth (I’ll write another post on that at some point) but it often does, and it shouldn’t. Why wouldn’t you want to support your friend instead of a random employee at Sephora/The Bay etc…) But he agreed to take before pictures with me and started using the skin care set the same night I did as he saw Erin’s photos and was also keen on getting rid of his #tireddadeyes.

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So we took our (terrible, poorly lit before photos – lesson learned) and started using the set. I swear within days we both started noticing a difference. And my dear husband immediately changed his tune. He was in the shower one morning and called to me “How many people do you need to sell these to to earn them for free?” LOL. He was hooked. I took my first set of after photos (see below) about two weeks into using the set and was blown away. I knew I was noticing a change, but I wasn’t sure I was noticing a big difference, then I looked at the pictures.  I immediately signed on with the company. The products are amazing. They are plant based, developed by scientists at Princeton based Signum Biosciences and marketed by Nerium International, a family business who’s overarching goal as a company is to make people better.

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Since signing up with the company I’ve achieved more success than I could have imagined. The positives are almost too big to list, but I will list a few because I want people to understand why I am doing this.

  1. You earn your (amazing) skin care products for free! –  Every month you have a minimum of three customers place an order (new or returning) you earn next months products for free. And the products sell themselves. They really do. Just look at the before and after photos. I don’t feel like I’m selling anything, I’m just recommending products that work!
  2. You are meet new people! – You get to work with a huge network of people all across both Canada and the US that are learning about the business and are incredibly supportive and inspiring.
  3. You reconnect with old friends! –  So far most of my business has come from my social media (Facebook) posts. I have added most people that I know, because you never know who might be interested in skin care (I didn’t think I would be!!!) and I have had the opportunity to reconnect with some old friends. Not all have gone on to buy Nerium, and that’s totally fine, just the chance to reconnect has been fun.
  4. It’s a positive environment! – The whole premise of the company, to make people better spills into everyday life. Working with a group of positive, goal oriented colleagues (and that’s what everyone is, a colleague because its NOT A PYRAMID SCHEME) is so inspiring. It’s motivated me to be more positive and goal oriented in all aspects of my life.
  5. It’s an extra income! I didn’t know what to expect when I signed up. Really I did it for the free product as I knew if Hagen and I were both going to keep using it (and trust me folks, he doesn’t want to stop) then we needed to earn it for free to make it affordable. But the more customers I got, the more of a side income I was seeing. And even though we are both physicians, we have a lot of expenses. We have a mountain of debt from our training (remember I had three kids in the last 4.5 years so I’ve been off on maternity leaves earning close to nothing a lot of this time!!!), a mortgage, two car payments, three children, a full time nanny….etc. etc. etc. So yes, we make an excellent income as physicians, but were we making a dent in our debt? No way, Jose. Not with all these expenses and the fact that my most recent maternity leave was unpaid after 17 weeks. So, we are now realizing this extra income from Nerium can help us move towards being debt free sooner than anticipated which is huge for us!
  6. It’s only getting started! – Honestly, this company is so new. It started in 2011 and only came to Canada in 2014 and it’s really now just taking off. And our product line is currently pretty small in Canada. We have the skin care line and only one of their wellness products, EHT (a brain supplement that is honestly amazingly science based). New products that are in the US are coming soon to Canada and the company has even more incredible products coming down the pipeline.
  7. I believe in the company – If you’ve read my previous posts you will see that I talked about being a) evidence based and b) I love me some plant based goodness. And this was BEFORE I stumbled upon Nerium. So obviously Nerium is a perfect fit for my values. It’s the best of nature and science. Honestly! Check out this video if you don’t believe me.

Honestly, I feel like I could keep listing the reasons that this side gig has had such a hugely positive impact in my life but I’ll leave it at that.  So, if you’re thinking of joining a direct marketing company, supporting a friend who sells through one, or are just learning about these opportunities take the time and consider getting involved. Why wouldn’t you?

sakluge.nerium.com

xo,

Sarah

“There is no downside to a side hustle. There are only benefits to building more than one source of income

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jrose/2017/09/23/how-starting-a-side-hustle-could-be-your-best-investment-yet/#3d7a8bdd38e5

Practice What You Preach: Part 1

1. do what one advises others to do.

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When I was in grade 6 one of my best friends, Amanda, and I had a killer science fair project. The title was ‘Does microwaving kill bacteria?’. We killed it with the petri dishes and I think we took home a $75 prize (which was a pretty decent prize back in 1990 for a couple of elementary school girls)……. but I digress. I mention this because someone in the high school category did a science fair project that was entitled ‘Practice What you Preach’ and though I’m not entirely sure the specifics, I think they interviewed parents to see how many actually followed the rules and guidelines they set for their children. It’s always stuck with me and now today as a physician and mom I feel like it’s time for me to check in and make a commitment to wellness and to do more of what I spend my days coaching other people to do. And the first thing on my list is meditation.

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I think that meditation is becoming more and more mainstream, which is awesome. And we’ve all heard it’s good for you, but I think until you know HOW it will help you and you understand that there is science behind it you may be a bit reluctant and slow to get on board. There is a ton of information out there, but sometimes it’s hard to weed through and sort out the legit from the hocus pocus. And on top of that meditation is HARD, I don’t know about you but my mind is a busy place.

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So where to start? If you’re still not convinced about the benefits of meditation (which include decreased stress, decreased depression, decreased anxiety, reduced pain and improved sleep and an increased quality of life) this is a great article to check out. Not only is it easy to read, but it links to a ton of medical literature describing the evidence behind it – and if you’ve read my previous post you’ll know I love evidence based medicine! Another good read here and here if you’re still not convinced.

And if you are like I was, and you know the benefits but haven’t quite managed to find the time to fit it into your already crazy day, fear not! There are some great apps out there that require just minutes a day to get started! I’m still in the beginning stages and the apps I’ve been enjoying are Headspace (they have a great Basics/Learn how to meditate series you can use free of charge), Stop, Breathe & Think (which allows you to check in with how you’re feeling physically, mentally and emotionally and then suggests a few different short guided meditations based on your check in), and Insight Timer  which offers numerous courses (I’m doing ‘Learn How to meditate in Seven Days), guided meditations and also for the more seasoned practitioner allows you to set your preferred interval time, ending bell sound and ambient noise. A few other’s I’ve have heard good things about but have yet to check out include WhilCalm, and Buddifhy. I actually just downloaded Buddifhy today and am stoked to check it out as it’s focus is to bring a modern edge to meditation and mindfulness and has both solo and guided meditations for chaotic, busy lives (hello! me! me!).

Hopefully this post has motivated you guys to take the plunge and try to make meditation a part of your daily routine! So with that, choose an app and get your meditation om…….

xoxo

Sarah