For my mother

My Mom came from a large family. She was one of 10 children who lived on a farm just outside Herreid, South Dakota. She learned early on, from my Grandmother and Grandfather, how to work hard. After graduating, she left the farm and became a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). Later, I watched as she went back to school to become a Registered Nurse (RN). She graduated with honors and was my example when I returned to school to get my master’s degree. I thought of my Mom when I returned to school. I remembered her hard work and sacrifice. I remembered her long hours studying at our kitchen table. Like her, I graduated Summa Cum Laude.

She continued to set amazing examples for me and my sister. As I grew, I watched as she worked as an RN volunteer with the Hospice program. I admired her for working in such a sad and difficult environment. It takes a strong and compassionate person to care for people you know won’t recover.

After her volunteer work with Hospice, she took a job as an RN in a local nursing home. The residents loved her, as she quickly became their advocate, making sure they always got what they needed when she was working. She would go the extra mile, often baking cakes and visiting when she could.

Even though she was quite strict with my sister and myself growing up, and we still have disagreements to this very day, I hope she knows I look to her example when I think of helping others. I remember her tough love lessons of hard work and sacrifice. She set the bar high and I don’t think I’ve yet reached it.

This is a photo was taken in June, 1987. That’s me, on the right, at age 18, with my mother at Mount Rushmore in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota.

In honor of mother’s day, yesterday, I’m posting a poem I wrote for my Mom in June, 2005, in honor of her 60th birthday. It describes me, talking to God before I was born. God is describing who he has chosen as a mother for me and how she would help me grow.

For My Mother

The Lord said to me, before I was born,
 “I’ve chosen the perfect Mother for you.”
With a smile on his face, beaming with pride,
 “Oh yes, this one’s quite special, it’s true.”

“She has a heart, as big as can be.”
He said, with a tear streaming down his face.
“There’s no one on Earth she wants to see hurt.
I’m sure she’ll be in this place.”

“She goes out of her way, to help those that she loves,
without a second thought in her heart.”
He turned to his head and looked into my eyes.
“She’ll be your advocate right from the start.”

He took my face gently into his hands.
“She won’t make life easy for you.
This one is willful, but that’s a good thing.
There’ll be lessons in all that you do.”

“You’ll make mistakes and bad choices it’s true.
But this Mother will see you through it.
She’ll use tough love and firm discipline
and teach you never to quit.”

“Well my child, it’s time for you to go.”
As he took me into his arms.
“There will be rough times, but you’re in good hands.
She’ll see you come to no harm.”

As a child and a teen, I forgot all his words,
making life hard for us all.
There were fights, tears and battles along the way,
but through it she stood tall.

As I look back on those years from the past,
I realized how right was the Lord.
What a fabulous person to have in my life.
For without her, I couldn’t soar.


Now, I’m starting by saying this isn’t my headline. It’s a bit of a shock headline designed as clickbait, written by the author of the article below. It’s a bit deceptive, but there is a kernel of truth to it.

This is an interesting article. There is something to this, in that the body needs vitamin D to boost immunity. Your body makes vitamin D from sunlight. So, spending time in the sun, outdoors is the best way to boost vitamin D intake. Have a look at the article below to see why this Doctor makes this claim!

Vitamin D Sun Quotes. QuotesGram

— Read on

Middle-Age Wisdom: Healthy snacking habits while working from home – Fox News

Hello all! Forgive me as I write this on my phone. My better half is telecommuting and has my computer at the moment.

Before I share the article, I wanted to give a quick update on some scheduling changes during this covid-19 crisis. I’ve decided to cut back to blogging to just one day per week, for the foreseeable future, until things get back to normal. This is a significant cut back from my current schedule of 4 days per week.

Each Monday, I’ll post 2 articles, one from this blog and one from my recipe blog, The Purple Almond Wellness Kitchen. Since my better half and youngest son are both home everyday, I find myself in a unique opportunity to spend quality time with my family, thus the reason for the cut back. Once things are back to normal, I’m hoping to go full time on both blogs.

Onto the main article:

Many of you find yourselves in a unique situation of working from home. This poses many different challenges, one of which is access to more food than normal. Trust me, as someone who works from home all the time, I understand this challenge all too well….the penchant to snack, mindlessly, all day. How do you stop this? The following article from Fox News gives a few tips on how to resist snacking and eat healthy when working from home.

Snacks Quotes. QuotesGram

Here are a few tips from the article:

  • plan ahead- make snacks ahead of time and place them in clear containers
  • make unique snacks – like fruit skewers with pineapple cubes, orange slices, strawberries, etc
  • Use low-fat, plain yogurt or cottage cheese for dips or breakfast.
  • change work locations if you’re prone to stress eating
  • take a 15 minute break- get some fresh air, chat with friends or play a game on your computer/phone
  • got cravings? Figure out possible reasons and look for solutions

If you fall off track don’t worry. It’s not the end of the world. Just hop back on the healthy eating bandwagon. At the end of the day, it’s overall healthy eating that matters, not one little bad snack.

Until next time, Namaste 🙏 my friends.

For more details, here is the link to the main article: Coronavirus outbreak: How to maintain healthy snacking habits while working from home

How to Boost Your Immune System Naturally | Mama Natural

With the current scare with COVID-19 (AKA-CoronaVirus), we need all the help we can get to boost our immunity. Next week, I will do an in depth, thoroughly researched article on immunity and boosting your immune system.

Immune system, Be kind and Anxiety on Pinterest

However, for today, I am posting this wonderful article by Mama Natural, which gives some great tips on natural ways to boost immunity.  (It’s my better half’s birthday today, so I am spending the day with him, which is why I’m posting this today) Follow the link below for  the main article. 

medical science - Can optimism "boost" the immune system ...

“Desperately trying to ward off a cold? Up your chances of staying healthy by learning how to boost your immune system naturally.”

Immune System Quotes & Sayings | Immune System Picture Quotes

Here is the link to the main article: How to Boost Your Immune System Naturally | Mama Natural

Nutrition 101: A Beginner’s Guide to the Anti-Aging Okinawa Diet

This week, I’ve been discussing longevity and places around the world with the most centenarians (100 year olds). Okinawa, Japan is one of those places, as discovered by Just how much healthier were the people of Okinawa than those of use here in the good old USA?


As you can see in the chart above, made with data from 1995, the people of Okinawa were much healthier than individuals here in the USA or even their counterparts in mainland Japan. If you’ll notice I did say “were” healthier. Sadly, as our western culture has infiltrated this beautiful island, the younger generations have forgotten the ancient and healthy food culture of the Okinawan people. But just what is that culture and it’s benefits beyond that of longevity?

What is the Okinawa Diet?

The Okinawan Diet is an ancient way of eating for the people of Okinawa, Japan. Okinawa is located in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan.

The life expectancy in Japan is 84 versus the USA life expectancy of 78.8. With that said, Okinawa has more than 5 times as many centenarians as the rest of Japan. So, what is the secret? What is so different about the Okinawan way of life? How do Okinawans differ from the rest of Japan or the world for that matter? It all boils down to the Okinawan diet and lifestyle.

The Okinawa Diet: Living to 100

What do Okinawans eat?

The Okinawa Diet is a whole food, plant based diet, rich in leafy greens, as well as yellow and orange vegetables. While they do eat rice, their main source of starch is purple sweet potatoes. They eat only small amounts of meat, mainly pork, and dairy. Legumes and soy are also emphasized in this anti-aging diet. The Okinawa diet contains relatively little processed food.

Health Benefits of the Okinawa Diet

  • Large amounts of anti-oxidants
  • naturally calorie restricted
  • low fat and low sugar
  • improved immunity
  • ant-aging
  • improved brain health – not only are Okinawan people among the longest living, they also have some of the lowest rates of dementia in the world!
  • lowers risk of heart disease
  • lowers risk of cancer
  • improved bone health

How you can eat the Okinawa Way

  • Practice Hara Hachi Bu – this translates to “eat until you are eight parts out of ten full.” This is a practice from Confucius that reminds us to stop eating when we are 80% full
  • Eat mindfully – In the west, we scarf down our food as if we haven’t eaten in weeks. It’s not uncommon to gobble up our food on the run or while driving. This is opposite of the Okinawa philosophy. Take your time and think about what and how you are eating. Think about your “satiety ” or fullness level.
  • 1200 calories per day – I highly doubt the ancient Okinawa people actually counted calories. However, when you base your diet on plants, you will naturally eat fewer calories. The main concept here is our 2000 calorie diet here in the west is far too much. There is more and more research showing the longevity and anti-aging benefits of a calorie restricted diet. For more information on calorie restriction, see my article on the CRON DIET.
  • Eat the rainbow – Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, of all colors. The colors of plants is what gives them specific nutrients not found in other foods. The more varied your diet, the more colorful your diet, the healthier it is.
  • Start eating sweet potatoes – they don’t have to be purple. Okinawan people eat all colors of sweet potatoes. These tasty gems are filled with fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin B5, vitamin E and potassium.
  • Limited amounts of HIGH QUALITY protein – stay away from CAFO and mass produced forms of protein. Since you will be limiting the amount of protein, you’ll want to go for quality over quantity. Aim for wild caught seafood, grass fed beef, pastured chickens/eggs, and organic pork.
  • Limit grains and dairy – While the Okinawa diet does include dairy and limited amounts of rice, these foods are greatly limited. In fact, if not for the legumes, the Okinawa diet could be considered largely paleo in nature.

Closing thoughts

You don’t have to jump in with both feet, as we often try to do when changing our diet. Start gradually by implementing mindful eating. Add a few vegan meals to your week. Slowly begin to cut back on processed foods. You don’t have to go from eating the Standard American Diet 100% of the time to eating the Okinawa diet 100% of the time. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Use the 85/15 rule. Gradually work up to eating the Okinawa diet 85% of the, and allow yourself some fun foods 15% of the time.

Until next time, Namaste my friends.




Middle-Age Wisdom: 9 Longevity Secrets from the Blue Zones

The life expectancy in the USA is 78.2 years of age. However, there are individuals all over the world that live to be 100+ years. What do they do differently than the rest of us? What are their secrets?

Sea, Horse, Meadow, Sky, Japan, Natural, Okinawa

The people from Blue Zone, together with National Geographic set out to find these answers. They found and studied the world’s longest lived people. Studies have revealed that only 20% of life-span is genetic, which leaves the remaining 80% down to lifestyle and diet. Knowing this, Blue Zone and National Geographic researchers worked with demographers (people who work with statistics) to find places around the world with the highest life expectance, or highest numbers of individuals who reached 100 years old. They found 5 places which met the criteria:

  1. Barbagia region of Sardinia
  2. Ikaria, Greece
  3. Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
  4. Seventh Day Adventists
  5. Okinawa, Japan

The Power 9

This team consisted of medical researchers, anthropologists, demographers and epidemiologists. These scientists sifted through the data and found 9 common denominators among all 5 places, which they called “Power 9”. Here are the 9 things most of the world’s centenarians do to live long and healthy lives.

Meditation, Man, Meditate, Rest, Yoga, Moonlight, Moon
  1. Move Naturally– This doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym everyday, although you can if that’s what you enjoy. It means find natural ways to be active everyday. It may surprise you, but blue zone centenarians don’t lift weights or run endlessly. According to Blue Zones, all of these 100 year olds had one thing in common-they “moved naturally”. These people grow gardens or walk. They don’t have the modern conveniences that we have here for gardens and yard work.
  2. Have a purpose – What is your reason for waking up every morning?
  3. Down shift – Blue zone centenarians all have a way to deal with stress, something we aren’t good at here in the west. Do daily yoga and meditation – Research from India suggests that daily yoga and meditation have anti-aging properties. In other words, they help “turn back the clock”. Studies show that they help reverse cellular aging. Researchers think this is because it reduces the body’s stress response.
  4. The 80% rule – Here in the west, it’s common for us to “pig out” or eat until we feel like we’ll burst. However Blue Zone centenarians eat until they are 80% full, which could be the difference between losing weight and gaining it. Eat smallest meal in the evening. They then don’t eat for the remainder of the day. In a way, this is a form of intermittent fasting, which research has shown to have anti-aging effects on the body.
  5. Plant slant Blue zone centurions eat a plant based diet. Beans, are the main aspect of centenarian diets. Meat—mostly pork—is eaten on approximately five times per month.  Serving sizes are 3-4 oz., about the size of a deck of cards.
  6. Wine at 5 – Almost all blue zone Centenarians drink alcohol in moderation. In fact, it may surprise you to know that those who drink moderately actually outlive those who don’t drink at all. Limiting drinks to 1 or 2 glasses per day, preferably wine, seems key.
  7. Belong – Most of the blue zone centurions interviewed belonged to some kind of “faith-based” community. Denomination was irrelevant. Attending a faith service 4x per month added, on average, 4-14 years of life.
  8. Loved ones first – Blue zone centenarians kept aging parents or grandparents near by, or in their home. They also commit to a life partner and invest heavily in time and love for their children.
  9. The right tribe – Centenarians lived with people who supported healthy behaviors. Research suggests that behavior, good or bad, is contagious. A social network can affect your behavior, so choose wisely.
Agriculture, Asia, China, Farm, Harvest, Cottage, Land

Closing thoughts

We in the west love our modern conveniences and our technology. We like to make things as easy for ourselves as possible. It turns out that may be harming us more than helping us.

We are also beginning to live longer here in the west, However, not because of lifestyle, but due to advances in the medical industry. We aren’t healthier though. In fact, it’s just the opposite. We are heavier than man has ever been in history and plagued with chronic disease. As we age, we are plagued with chronic disease, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. All of these were rare just 100 years ago. We are living longer in spite of this and in spite of our fast food, and technology laden lives. Medicine cabinets filled with prescription bottles has become the norm for people in the west as we age.

We need to take a long hard look at how we are living and how we want our lives to look as we age. Do we want lives filled with chronic disease and handfuls of pills? Or do we want to live happy, healthy productive lives that are disease free? For me the choice is easy. We need to take a step back and learn from the centenarians in the blue zones.

Until next time, namaste my friends




4 Common Changes to Expect During Perimenopause

As we approach middle-age, we are bound to face many changes, from failing eyesight and joint pain to major health problems. Everyone is different and will have different changes. However, there is one aspect of aging that all women must face at some point, menopause.

I remember the first time my body entered “the change of life”. I was in my mid-forties and had a menstural cycle that functioned like clockwork. I missed my monthly period, and automatically thought I was pregnant, as many women do, I suspect. After a few months of erratic cycles, and taking multiple pregnancy tests, it was obvious what was happening: I had entered perimenopause.

Whether you’re 40 or 60 when you enter perimenopause, this time of change is often very confusing and emotional for women. I am therefore, very happy to present this article written by a GUEST AUTHOR, on what to expect when you enter this erratic and emotional time of life.

Perimenopause is the transitional phase leading up to your final menstrual cycle. During this time, your body stops producing as much estrogen and progesterone, making you less fertile and throwing your hormones off balance. It’s a natural process that can, unfortunately, have physical and emotional effects on your wellbeing.

Most women begin to experience perimenopausal symptoms in their 40s. However, it’s not uncommon for some women to notice symptoms earlier or later. Perimenopause typically lasts four to eight years and ends when you reach menopause, the point at which your ovaries stop releasing eggs.

For many, this time can be embarrassing, frustrating, or confusing. However, recognizing the signs of perimenopause can help you feel more comfortable and prepared as you reach this stage of life. Though symptoms, as well as their frequency and intensity, may vary from one woman to the next, knowing what to expect is the best way to be proactive on your menopause journey.

1. Irregular Periods

A disrupted menstrual cycle is typically the first indicator of perimenopause. As you enter perimenopause, you should expect changes to the duration, heaviness, and frequency of your flow. For instance, you may notice spotting, irregular periods, or that your flow is heavier or lighter than usual.

You know you’ve reached menopause when you’ve gone a full year without your period. Until then, you may want to consider using birth control during perimenopause, as it can help regulate your cycle, prevent bone loss, and mitigate your risk of developing ovarian and uterine cancers.

If you are in your 40s or 50s and still get your period, you are also at risk of getting pregnant. Switching to lower-dose or combination birth control pills may help prevent unplanned pregnancy in addition to the previously mentioned benefits. Talk to your doctor about contraceptive methods to determine the best option for you at this stage.

2. Hot Flashes

Hot flashes are sudden feelings of intense heat that may occur as a result of hormone imbalances. They can last anywhere between 30 seconds and 10 minutes and are characterized by discomfort, sweating, and redness to your chest, neck, and face. You may also experience hot flashes at night in the form of night sweats, which can disrupt your sleep pattern.  

Lower estrogen levels may throw off your internal thermostat, triggering hot flashes. According to the North American Menopause Society, as many as 75% of North American women experience hot flashes during perimenopause, though the frequency and intensity may vary.

To improve or prevent hot flashes, consider limiting your caffeine and alcohol intake, which can worsen menopausal symptoms. In addition, dress in layers, and practice deep breathing, so you can react as soon as you begin to feel overheated. Hormone treatments may also help to alleviate hot flashes, but you should always consult your doctor before trying a new medication.  

3. Low Sex Drive

Lower estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels, as well as stress, aging, and mood disorders can cause your sex drive to plummet. A decrease in estrogen can also cause vaginal dryness, which can make sex uncomfortable and even painful. Consequently, many women entering perimenopause experience low libido.

Though not all women experience a lower sex drive, tanking libido can be unsettling for perimenopausal women and potentially lead to stress, low self-esteem, and relationship issues. Luckily, there are many ways you can maintain and improve your sex drive during this confusing time.

To increase comfort, consider practicing kegel exercises to improve blood flow and relax your pelvic muscles. It’s also smart to use lubricants or moisturizers whenever physically intimate to alleviate vaginal dryness. In addition, maintaining open and honest dialogue with your partner can help boost your sex drive and avoid any miscommunication (Remember: Even when you’re not up to having sex, you can still enjoy each other’s company).

4. Mood Swings

Fluctuating hormone levels can throw your body for a loop. As your body attempts to adjust to hormonal changes, it’s not uncommon to experience more mood swings than normal. Women who faced severe PMS earlier in life are especially susceptible to greater irritability and mood swings during perimenopause.

Approximately 70% of women cite irritability as their primary mood complaint during perimenopause, which can lead to impatience, unsettledness, and mental fogginess. Some women experience increased emotional sensitivity while others struggle to hold their train of thought. While these emotional reactions may be humorous at times, they can also be embarrassing and troubling.

Fortunately, there are lifestyle changes you can make to help cope with mental changes during perimenopause. For instance, you can incorporate meditation and yoga into your routine to feel more grounded and reduce irritability. Poor sleep habits, lack of exercise, and an unhealthy diet can also cause irritability, so it’s important to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get adequate sleep, as well.

Concluding Thoughts

Even though these symptoms are common among perimenopausal women, you should always address any abnormalities with your OB/GYN. Carefully tracking and tending to bodily changes will help ensure you are healthy through the transition.

Perimenopause can be uncomfortable and confusing, but it’s good to know you’re not alone in your experience. Perimenopause is a normal and natural process that simply indicates your body is preparing itself for the next stage of your life.

Middle-Age Wisdom: Health Secrets from World’s Oldest Female Body Builder

There are two quotes that keep me going as I age, as my kids get older, and as the days fly by on the calendar:

“You’re never too old for anything.”

~ Betty White 


“You’re daily choices determine how your future will unfold.”

~ Dr. Joe Dispenza

Both these women are 80 years old. Your daily choices determine how your future will unfold.

This photo really hit home with me, the first time I saw it, and the importance of healthy living ALL your life. The comparison of these two women, both 80 years old at the time of the photos, is like night and day. I was floored by the huge difference in their health.

The woman on the left is  83 year old Ernestine Shepherd, the reigning Guinness World Record Holder for the oldest female body builder.

Here is “The Remarkable Story of Ernestine’s Shepherd”:


Like many others, I’m inspired by Ernestine. What really encourages me is the fact that she didn’t start exercising and body building until she was 56 years old. She is a walking example of what can be accomplished, even during the middle-age and elderly years, if determination, dedication and discipline are in the picture.

Ernestine is the reason I decided to focus my wellness education on middle-age individuals, and the motivation behind this new monthly series “Middle-age Wisdom”. The two quotes from the beginning of the article: “You’re never too old for anything” AND “Your daily choices determine how your future will unfold.” are the foundation for this new series, which will focus on making the right choices NOW, so you’ll be healthy to enjoy your golden years.

Ernestine emphasizes the 3 “D’s”. She says if you’re “Determined, Dedicated and Disciplined” you cannot fail. If you’d like to learn more about her life, exercise routine and diet, you can read her book: “DETERMINED, DEDICATED AND DISCIPLINED TO BE FIT” .

Ernestine, like most body builders, has a very strict routine. She wakes up at 2:30 every morning, and prays. Then she eats 10 egg whites, some walnuts, and 16 ounces of water. She runs 80 miles a week. Her diet, which is 1700 calories per day, is high protein, low carb, low fat. It consists  mainly of boiled eggs, chicken whites, vegetables, liquid egg white drink and much more. She also consumes a glass of raw egg whites three times a day. This is what works for her. What does she recommend?

Here are a few health tips from her book:

  • Go for walks
  • Lift weights to build muscle and keep the body “tight”. Her book highlights 20 of her favorite weight lifting exercises
  • Drink water – aids digestion, circulation, and nutrient absorption to name just a few benefits
  • Get rid of junk food and replace it with lean protein, yams and potatoes
  • Watch your bread intake because “Carbs can weigh you down”
  • Keep a food journal – keeps you honest, and helps identify bad habits
  • Pray or meditate everyday. You can’t do it alone
  • Work up to 45 minutes of your favorite cardio. Ernestine does this 6 days a week.
  • Do weekly meal preparation for greater success – her book includes 5 sample meals to give you inspiration

Closing thoughts…

I hope you enjoyed this first edition of Middle-age Wisdom, which will be posted the fourth Tuesday of every month. In this series we will discuss all the maladies and diseases that plague us as we approach the middle-age years and beyond. We’ll discuss the causes and the life style choices that can combat and prevent these diseases.

Ernestine is an inspiration to everyone. She is a reminder that it’s not too late to start your journey to better health. Remember your daily choices will determine your future. The right choices will make you the picture of health. Which picture do you want for your golden years?

Until next time…namaste my friends

Tamara Hoerner