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Planning Your Own Workout Program: The Basics

Planning Your Own Workout Program: The Basics

When it comes to getting fit or losing weight, having a long-term workout program planned out for months at a time, with goals to achieve along the way, will help you to stick with it. To come up with your program, you need to start with the basics to come up with something that suits your needs.

Are you trying to lose weight? Are you trying to improve your overall fitness? Are you trying to tone or to bulk up? Having a clear grasp of what you’re aiming to do in the long run will help to guide your plan and keep you motivated too.

Now it’s time to think about how often you will work out. If you’re new to workout programs or are not particularly fit, you may need to go easy to start with. Plan to do some light training on one or two days each week until you start getting used to physical exertion and recovery. Too much too soon could be overwhelming and put you off.

After easing yourself in, you can increase the intensity of the workout and add an extra one or two workout days to your program. Try for three days each week, or maybe four if you’re feeling really energetic. However, it’s as important to include rest and recovery days in your schedule as it is to include workout days.

The amount of time you allow for a workout session will dictate the variety and kinds of exercise you can carry out. For lots of variety, you’ll need a longer session, and for endurance exercise, you’ll also need more time.

You need to have an idea of the exercises you need to do in your program. Think about which areas of your body you’d like to focus on the most. Do you want to drop weight off your stomach? Do you want to increase the endurance in your legs? Perhaps you want to bulk up your biceps? You can plan each session with these focal points in mind.

Build your program up bit by bit. Start off by deciding on your general aims, then figure out how much time you’ll have available or want to spend exercising. With a range of possible exercises in mind, plan what you’d like to cover in each session. See if you can cover everything in a one- or two-week exercise cycle.

After you’ve begun the actual workouts, you’ll have a better idea of which exercises work for you, and how long it all takes. You can then adjust your program to match what you learn. With this knowledge, you can then set yourself longer-term goals – like increasing the number of reps or sets you do in a session or running further in the same amount of time.

Hidden Supplement Sabotage: 10 Tips To Protect Yourself From Every Day Toxins

Hidden Supplement Sabotage: 10 Tips To Protect Yourself From Every Day Toxins

Toxins and toxic chemicals can be found in a variety of products that we use and encounter in our everyday lives. Exposure to toxins, especially over a prolonged period of time can lead to numerous health issues including hormonal interference, endocrine disruption, pregnancy/reproductive problems, and even disease. 

Thus, taking adequate measures to reduce toxins in our lives and environments can go a long way to promote overall health and wellness. The following article outlines 10 tips that can be used to protect yourself from common environmental toxins. 

  1. Watch What You Eat: Toxins can easily be found in the foods and beverages we regularly consume. As much as possible, buying USDA organic food items helps to reduce exposure to toxins in food such as herbicides, pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. Additionally, properly washing and cooking food can further prevent toxin intake.
  2. Increase Water Intake: Water is essential to help flush toxins from the body, so proper hydration is essential to keeping toxins flowing out of the body and preventing toxic buildup that can lead to sickness and disease. Ensuring the water, you drink is filtered is another good way to help promote wellness and avoid toxins.
  3. Watch Your Cleaning Products: Many cleaning products used in the home and other indoor environments contain toxic chemicals that we breathe in when we use them. Common toxins found in cleaning products include formaldehyde, ammonia, chlorine, sodium hydroxide, perchloroethylene, and 2-butoxyethanol. Steering clear of these ingredients in the cleaning products used in your environment can promote wellness and protect against toxin intake.
  4. Pursue BPA-Free Products: Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical found in many hard plastics that are commonly used each day. Research has linked exposure to BPA to health complications such as fertility issues, heart disease, respiratory conditions, weight problems and other conditions. Thus, avoiding BPA by switching to BPA-free products is another way to protect yourself from this toxin exposure.
  5. Avoid Plastics If Possible: Plastics with the recycle symbols #3 (PVC), #6 (polystyrene), and #7 (other) are known to have a greater potential of leaching toxins. Thus, avoiding these plastics specifically is a strong way to reduce your exposure to toxins. Switching to glass or ceramics is a viable alternative, but if plastics must be used making sure not to microwave or dishwash these items can also reduce the risk of leaching toxins.
  6. Switch Personal Care Products: Many personal care products (i.e., shampoos, conditioners, makeup, deodorants, etc.) contain a variety of toxins that can seep into our skin and cause health issues. Being intentional about avoiding products that contain toxins can improve our health and reduce outcomes linked to toxins in the body. Common toxins found in personal care products that should be avoided include phthalates, sulfates, formaldehyde, parabens, mineral oil, PFAs, PFCs, Triclosan, and Polyethylene Glycol among several others.
  7. Eliminate Air Fresheners: Many air fresheners have been found to emit more than 100 chemicals that can include volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds. These compounds then contribute to hazardous indoor air pollution via direct and secondary reactions. Opening the windows to get fresh air circulation, using fresh florals and plants, or simmering seasonal herbs and spices can be a great alternative to promote fresh and clean air while reducing the risk of toxin exposure.
  8. Watch Exposure to Electromagnetic Radiation: Appliances can lead to electromagnetic radiation exposure that can be harmful to the body in large amounts and particularly over a prolonged period of time. Making sure that electrical appliances are at least 1.5 meters away from areas where a lot of time is spent can help cut down on exposure to electromagnetic fields. Also, reducing the use of cellular devices as much as possible and turning phones to airplane mode when possible, can also help to reduce this type of toxic exposure.
  9. Reduce Animal Protein and High-Mercury Fish Intake: Meat and other animal products have been shown to store toxins. Limiting your daily intake of these items can minimize exposure risks. Additionally, monitoring the intake of fish high in mercury such as tuna, swordfish, and shark and replacing with low-mercury options such as herring, salmon, cod, or snapper can also work to protect against toxin exposure.
  10. Boost Your Immune System: Eating foods and taking supplements that support immune health is an additional means of protecting yourself from everyday toxins. Increasing Vitamin C intake can provide antioxidants that help cleanse and protect the body. Other immune-boosting vitamins and minerals can help to boost the body’s detoxification system and aid it in processing toxic chemicals and destroying harmful infectious agents.


Brazier, Y. (2017, May). Bisphenol a: Hazards and sources. Medical and health information. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/221205

Health Essentials. (2020, August 14). How environmental toxins can impact your health. Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-environmental-toxins-can-impact-your-health/

Rowe, K. (2020, August 31). How to avoid harmful toxins in your life | BrainMD. BrainMD Health Blog. https://brainmd.com/blog/how-to-get-rid-of-harmful-toxins/

Women’s Voices for the Earth. (2020, January 9). 10 steps to avoid toxic chemicals. https://www.womensvoices.org/avoid-toxic-chemicals/ten-ways-to-avoid-toxic-chemicals/

Recipe: Baked Cinnamon Apples

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25-30 minutes
Serves: 4

3 T. coconut oil, melted (plus extra for greasing)
2 large apples, peeled and diced
2 t. ground cinnamon
3 T. pure maple syrup, divided
3/4 c. almond flour

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease a small baking dish with a little coconut oil. Set aside.

2. Toss the apples with the cinnamon and a tablespoon of maple syrup and pour into the prepared baking dish. Spread apple mixture into an even layer and set aside.

3. In a small bowl, combine the almond flour, melted coconut oil, and remaining maple syrup. Stir to combine thoroughly, then evenly spread the mixture over the cinnamon apples.

4. Place in the pre-heated oven and bake until the topping is golden brown and the apples are tender, approximately 25 – 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for a couple minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Detox: Myths And Facts

Simply defined, a detox is designed to cleanse the body of unnatural pollutants and chemicals that can be a detriment to health, impede the weight loss process, and cause damage to vital organ systems in the body.

Yet, there still appears to be a host of misinformation about detoxes that can make it hard to understand what a detox truly is and what it is designed to do. Let’s take some time to outline some common detox myths and set the record straight by providing the facts.

Myth #1: Detoxing is a remedy for over-indulgence.

Fact #1: The truth is that there is no quick fix for overeating, binging, or over-indulging- that includes a detox. While a by-product of a detox can be weight loss and the elimination of unhealthy or unwanted chemicals from the body in a rapid timeframe, a detox is not going to solve the larger problems that can be caused by unhealthy lifestyle habits.

The true remedy for poor habits such as over-indulging, overeating, and binging is making long-term lifestyle changes to eating habits, exercises habits, and other habits that are more sustainable and long-lasting. Detoxes should be used to jumpstart sensible wellness plans and not used as a form of regular maintenance.

Myth #2: Significantly increasing water intake will detoxify the body.

Fact #2: There is some truth to the idea that drinking water can detoxify the body. Water intakes help the kidney and liver function more efficiently, which can boost the processes of cleansing out toxins and chemicals. However, all things must be done in moderation.

Consuming too much water can negatively impact the electrolytes in the body and increase the amount of work the kidneys must do in order to rid the body of the extra water being taken in. Thus, there should be proper balance in order to ensure the body remains healthy.

Myth #3: A detox must consist of a system of special juices and/or teas.

Fact #3: Juices and teas can be a good way to detox, but the body doesn’t need a special tea or juice to cleanse itself. There are a variety of foods that can naturally cleanse the body without a special program or system. Adding items to the diet such as fruits, leafy greens, lemons, and sesame seeds can significantly boost the detox process of the body. Green tea and ginger are also great items that can be added to promote the body’s process of detoxification.

Myth #4: Detoxes are the best way to lose weight.

Fact #4: While detox can jumpstart the weight loss process and cause you to lose some pounds in a short period of time, without a plan to sustain that weight loss, most of that weight will be regained at the end of the detox plan.

There is only so much weight that can be lost via a detox plan, and sustained weight loss requires lifestyle changes such as exercise and diet alterations in order to keep seeing progress.

Without these measures, a detox simply becomes a waste of time and will be continually required to continue weight loss, which can put an unhealthy strain on the body and its detoxing systems (i.e., the liver and the kidneys).

So, while a detox can be considered as a good way to jumpstart health or weight loss journeys, it is not the quick solution to a larger health or weight issue. Rather than relying on a detox to solve health problems, it should be used to gain momentum and help you begin the process of more sustainable lifestyle changes that will lead to prolonged health and weight loss benefits.


Barnes, Z. (2016, January 10). 4 myths about Detoxing that are totally false. SELF. https://www.self.com/story/myths-detoxing-totally-false

Welsh, R. A. (2020, October 13). 6 body detox and cleansing myths and facts revealed. JuicerKit. https://juicerkit.com/body-detox-facts-and-myths/

Dry or Dehydrate Fruits and Veggies

People who grow gardens each year hope that the garden will supply enough fruits and vegetables to be able to save some for the winter months. Some people choose to can their surplus while others freeze. Have you considered ways to dry/dehydrate fruits and vegetables as an alternative to canning or freezing?

You can dry food in a number of ways:

  • Sun Drying
  • Solar Drying
  • Oven Drying
  • Dehydrator Drying

To effectively dry food it is necessary to have the right combination of low humidity, air current and warm temperatures.

Sun drying is probably one of the oldest ways to preserve food but it depends on the temperature, weather and relative humidity. If you plan to use this method to dry vegetables, it is imperative to do so when there will be 3-5 days of warm temperatures and sunshine. While this is method is free, it takes so much longer.

Solar drying is similar to sun drying but it is also different. Solar drying is accomplished by creating a box with a glass lid, solar oven or placing the vegetables in the car window. You’ll have better luck if you have a long stretch of sunny days, but you must leave the windows open to allow for air circulation. This method is quicker than sun drying, but there is still a better way.

Oven drying is an option you may only want to consider for small-scale drying of 4 to 6 pounds of vegetables at a time. However, this method is not free as the oven will have to remain on the entire time the vegetables are drying. This method will take longer than a dehydrator and you have to rotate the trays to ensure even drying. You also may have difficulty maintaining the necessary 140 degrees in your oven or won’t have the proper air circulation.

Dehydrator drying is probably the best way to dry fruits and vegetables. Most dehydrators allow you to expand the number of trays; they are sturdy, safe and much quicker than any other method. They provide a constant heat source, you can set the temperature, and the fan allows for even air circulation.

If you’re considering drying or dehydrating the bounty from your garden, consider the four different ways. Some of the methods are free but they will require a good amount of time. Other methods will cost money but they are much more effective and the results are predictable. The choice of which method you use is entirely up to you.

Unique Ways to Use Extra Tomatoes

If you have planted a garden in the past, you know tomatoes are often prolific. Before you know it, you have an over abundance of tomatoes. You don’t want to can them. Freezing isn’t such a good idea. And you can only eat so much spaghetti. If you’re looking for unique ways to use extra tomatoes look no further.

  1. Slice them up – Use slices for hamburgers and sandwiches. In the South, people have tomato slices as a side dish. If you’ve never tried that, now would be a perfect time.
  2. Make salsa – There are so many different salsa recipes available in cookbooks, magazines and on the internet. Try different recipes with your extra tomatoes. If you’re tired of store-bought salsa, can some for the colder months. An unusual salsa recipe you can enjoy with fresh from the garden tomatoes also has mangos, onion, jalapenos and avocado.
  3. Eat them while they’re green – Many Southerners love fried green tomatoes, some people from other areas of the country do, too. Slice the tomatoes, bread them and then fry them up for a tasty treat.
  4. Stuff them – Slice the top of the tomato off, scoop out the seeds and fill with your favorite egg, tuna or chicken salad. Not only will this be a great way to avoid having to wash an extra dish, it will look wonderful and you can eat it when you’re finished with the salad.
  5. Make tomato soup – Canned soup from the store might be good in a pinch but homemade tomato soup is super! Use your family’s favorite tomato soup recipe and can it for the winter months.
  6. Break out the dehydrator – Tomatoes are easy to dehydrate. Cut off any bruises, slice them up, put them on the dehydrator rack and turn it on. Before long you’ll have dried tomatoes which can be used in various recipes throughout the year.
  7. Add them to salads – Cut the tomatoes into cubes along with onions and cucumbers. Add a nice vinaigrette dressing and you’ll have a different salad. Of course, you can also cut them up and add them to typical tossed salad, as well.
  8. Make homemade ketchup – Ripe tomatoes, garlic, cider vinegar, brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves make awesome ketchup your family will love.
  9. Shish kabob them – The next time you get a nice cut of meat that is the perfect size for a shish kabob, skewer the meat along with tomatoes, red onion and mushrooms. Brush them with olive oil and grill them.

The above are a few of the many unique ways to use extra tomatoes from your garden. If all else fails and you still have too many after trying these ways, give them away to friends, family, local food banks or nursing homes. They’re sure to be appreciated.