I quit my job to follow my dreams of becoming a health coach, author, and future Food Network star. I'm not quite there yet. But I'm closer :)

Healthy Mind

Healthy Mind

I Quit My Job To Follow My Dreams and Here’s What Happened

September 1, 2016

StaceyHutsonSelfie

I wake up at 5:30 AM. Look at my alarm clock, desperate for just a little more sleep, and zero desire to roll over and go to work. But then I remember. I do desire to go to work. I desire to go to work very much. Because, for the first time in my life, my work is my bliss. Every little piece of it.

I haven’t told you much about what’s been going on in my life lately. Mostly because this isn’t that kind of blog. You’re here to learn about healthy food, pick up a recipe or two, and be on your merry way. No need to know about my love life, my doctor’s appointment, or my cat’s latest sleeping spot (I don’t have a cat, but if I did, please kill me if I ever found that to be important enough to tell you about it).

But there are certain things that I just have to get off my chest because they're SO COOL and I’m pretty darned proud of them.

You see, in the last few months, I have made some pretty drastic changes. I mean really big, I-don’t-even-recognize-my-life changes. So we’re not here for 72 more paragraphs, I’m going to put it in a nice little nutshell for you. Here goes. In the last three months, I…

  • Got married to my best friend
  • Became a freelance writer
  • Quit my stable, fulltime job as an advertising copywriter
  • Met an incredibly impressive entrepreneur who has my dream job…
  • then started working under her as her Wellness Chef Apprentice
  • Got hired as a Class Assistant at one of the busiest cooking schools in the country (the Chopping Block!)
  • Graduated from the Institute for Transformational Nutrition and became a CTNC (this one just happened yesterday – cue Vitamin C's Graduation Song here)

Whew! I know, right?

I still have to pinch myself. It doesn’t seem real.

HealthyStaceyApron

When I tell this to my friends and family (or curious bystanders), they are sometimes shocked, but mostly proud of this ballsy endeavor. As if they, too, have plans to do the same someday. But then they ask the question, “What exactly do you plan to do?"

This is the part where I get a little squirmy. I've never been great with elevator pitches, but this new "job" of mine is particularly hard to describe because it's not one answer. It's more like 11 pursuits, plus a few side jobs to pay the bills.

A freelance content creator, a food writer, a cookbook author, a recipe creator, a food photographer, a health coach, a holistic nutritionist, a private paleo chef, a cooking class instructor, a professional dinner party host, and the Food Network’s first holistic chef star. And somewhere in between all that, a mom.

After years of dreaming these dreams and setting goals for myself to achieve them, I was doing myself a disservice by continuing to stay on my old career path. If I wanted to get closer, I needed to jump into the fire. The healthy, holistic, foodie fire.

Once I quit my day job, I had no other choice. I had to find the opportunities, the people and the organizations that would help me get closer to my dreams. Which is exactly what I did and continue to do. And because of these actions, every day, the path that I had previously searched so desperately for, becomes more clear.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies and unicorns. Because it’s life. And your crazy dreams never turn out as picture-perfect as you think they will.

I spend much more of my time confused and scared out of my mind. And yes, there are moments where I think – Are you CRAZY? You aren’t cut out to be an entrepreneur! You have NO IDEA what you're doing. Please. Just go back to the real world, get a respectable desk job, and hopefully nobody will notice your I-want-to-live-my-dreams hiatus.

But then I snap myself out of it. Because really, I’ve already done the hard part. The leap-out-of-a plane undertaking that everybody is so deathly afraid to do. From here, it’s just about navigating my new territory. And recognizing that my mind isn’t used to working outside of its safe Groundhog Day routine.

Get up. Go to work. Collect paycheck. Go home. Count the days left till the weekend.

Now. Every day is a new day. With HUGE opportunities to learn something new, meet somebody new or create something that I didn't know I was capable of. And at the end of that day, I’ve never felt more alive.

No. Regardless of what my inner critic says, I have no plans to get back in that plane.

Much Love,

HealthyStaceySignature

p.s. Know somebody else who wants to follow their dreams? Share my story through this pin with all your dreamer friends–>

I Quit My Job To Follow My Dreams

Healthy Mind

Anti-Anxiety Herby Salmon + Avocado Recipes

July 21, 2015

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Anxiety (aNGˈzīədē/) (n): an apprehension of the future, especially about an upcoming challenging task. Perfectly acceptable EXCEPT when the reaction is significiantly blown out of proportion.

I’ve always been a bit of an anxious person. Every time I think I’ve got a handle on my nerves, something happens that sets them off again. And it isn’t always the result of something drastic. Sometimes, it’s simply the to-do list in my brain firing off all of the things I haven’t done yet, and all of the dreams I have yet to accomplish.

My good friend and fellow over-achiever approached me the other day to tell me that her anxiety, unknowingly, had gotten so out of hand that it manifested in a physical reaction. She went to the doctor and was given, to my surprise, strict instruction to alter her diet temporarily to help her symptoms subside.

I love that this advice came from a traditional physician. I wish it were the solution more often instead of prescription drugs.

As much as I rely on food and nutrition to help me in every other area of my life, I had honestly never thought to use food to ease my stress and anxiety (wine doesn’t count). It makes perfect sense, however, that food can affect our mood. Everything you ingest has an affect on your body chemistry –whether negative or positive. So I did a little digging to see what foods could hit the calm-my-nerves-button. And this is what I found. I think you'll like what you see:

GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES

What it’s got: Folate
What it does: Helps your body produce serotonin (the-feel good hormone) and dopamine (chemical critical to coordination, memory function, and your mood).

GreenLeafyVegetables_HealthyStacey

ORGANIC TURKEY BREAST

What it’s got: Tryptophan
What it does: It’s the Amino acid that your body converts into serotonin (the-feel good hormone).

FERMENTED FOODS

What it’s got: Probiotics
What it does: I've talked about the benefits of Fermented Foods plenty of times before. But here is yet another reason. The probiotics in fermented food nourishes your gut flora to support a positive mood.

SALMON/SARDINES/ANCHOVIES

What they got: The animal-based omega-3 fats EPA and DHA
What it does: This one is a little more complicated, but, in my opinion, one of the most important. So I'm going to attempt to explain it with the help of Dr. Barry Sears

The brain is incredibly sensitive to inflammation. And when it is inflamed, it causes a breakdown in signaling between cells (which affects mood and anxiety). This cellular inflammation is caused by an increase in Omega-6 fatty acids (which is abundant in processed foods). In fact, many of the drugs that people with anxiety are put on are anti-inflammatory drugs for this very reason (aspirin, non-steroid anti-inflammatories, COX-2 inhibitions and corticosteroids). These drugs, however, cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. SO when it's inflamed, the brain's only protection is Omega-3. Unfortunately, most people aren't getting nearly enough of this in their diet (wild caught fish is expensive!). Studies have shown that high levels of Omega-3 can reduce anxiety (2). Which means, the more Omega-3 we get in our diet, the more seamlessly our brain can function, and the more we can relax. Salmon, sardines and anchovies have them in spades.  

BLUEBERRIES

What it’s got: Anthocyanins – the pigments that give berries like blueberries and blackberries their deep color
What it does: These antioxidants aid your brain in the production of dopamine (chemical critical to coordination, memory function, and your mood).

DARK CHOCOLATE

What it’s got: Flavonols, a subclass of flavonoids, which are natural chemicals found in plants, fruits and vegetables.
What it does: Reduces cortisol – the stress hormone that causes anxiety symptoms. It also contains other chemicals that prolong the "feel-good" aspects of anandamide. One study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology also revealed that drinking an antioxidant-rich chocolate drink equal to about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate daily felt calmer than those who did not.

KEY thing to remember here is that NOT ALL DARK CHOCOLATE IS THE SAME. The total antioxidant content of chocolate products are directly associated with the amount of raw cocoa it contains. So if you're going to eat it for the health benefits, the darker, the better. The Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with 88% Cacao is my absolute favorite. It is so smooth and indulgent with its high cacao content, but with a very small amount of sugar (5 grams/serving). 

Fun fact: Anandamide is a derivative of the Sanskrit word “Bliss”

DarkChocolate_HealthyStacey

WATER (genius, I know)

What it's got: Hydration
What it does: Dehydration affects as many as 25% of those with persistent stress or more. Dehydration is also known to cause more anxiety.

AVOCADO

What it's got: Monosaturated fats
What it does: Regulates blood sugar levels. This combination of satiety and blood-sugar regulation can help keep your mood steady and even in times of stress.


Great. So what to do you do now? I guess you make a big green leafy salad with turkey, sardines, saurkraut, avocado and blueberries, wash it down with a BIG glass of water, and finish the meal with a nice piece of 88% cacao dark chocolate. Easy peasy. You'll be one relaxed, even-keeled cat. OR you can start small with a couple awesome go-to recipes of mine…

AVOCADO MASH RECIPE

Avocado_HealthyStacey

I was so glad to see avocados on this list, as they are one of my all-time favorites. And with their decadent texture and comforting qualities, I’m not surprised. I very rarely go a day without one – whether in my morning smoothie or chopped up in my afternoon salad. But this recipe is perfect for fast and immediate comfort and satisfaction.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Avocado
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (fresh squeezed or bottled)
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast (if you’re dairy-free) OR 1 teaspoon shredded parmesan
  • Sprinkle of cayenne pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mash up together in a bowl with a fork (really get in there and smash it up to get out all that anxiety)
  2. If you choose…put it back in the avocado shell for smile-inducing presentation
  3. Eat with a spoon!

 

HERBY SALMON RECIPE

Omega-3 in Salmon

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 oz. Grass-fed butter, ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 t. Course Himalayan salt
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 2 T. fresh herbs of choice (I used rosemary and thyme from my balcony garden)
  • 1 Garlic clove, minced
  • Dash of White Pepper
  • 4 Salmon Fillets, about 4-5 oz. each

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to broil (or grill it if you've got one!)
  2. Chop up your herbs and your garlic.
  3. Toss them in a bowl, along with salt and white pepper and melt together for approximately 30 seconds. Stir until combined.
  4. Place the salmon fillets on a broiling pan lined with aluminum foil that has been oiled so it doesn't stick.
  5. Coat the salmon with half of the lemon herb butter, evenly spreading it over the tops of each fillet.
  6. Place pan on about 6 inches away from the heat source. Timing here is key and very delicate. Becasue you're broiling, it's going to go fast. Let it go for about 3 minutes. Take it out. Turn over each filet. Brush eash side with the remaining herby mix. And put it back in for another 3 minutes. I'm 99% sure you won't need more than that. It should be nice and flaky.

References:

1. Kessler RC, Chiu WT, Demler O, Merikangas KR, and Walters EE. "Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of 12-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication". Arch Gen Psychiatry 62:617-627 (2005)

2. Buydens-Branchey L, Branchey M, and Hibbeln JR. "Associations between increases in plasma n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids following supplementation and decreases in anger and anxiety in substance abusers." Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 32:568-575 (2008)

Like what you read today? Think somebody else could benefit from a few anxiety-reducing foods? See those cute little gray shapes underneath this post? They're for sharing! Click one to post to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or comment right here on the blog. I would love to hear from you.

Much Love,
Stacey

Healthy Mind

Vision Making

May 24, 2015

I have always been a day-dreamer. I like making wishes on candles and stars, planning vacations I can't afford, ripping out pages of luxurious locales from magazines and walking residential streets to pick out my dream home. 

When I was younger, day dreaming was much more of an unintentional habit. Today, I embrace it. I love that I'm a dreamer. In fact, I try to make time for it every day. Before you think I'm getting all woo woo on you, hear me out.

Daydreaming is really just a form of life planning. Sure, it seems a little far-fetched when it hasn't happened yet. But if you're dreaming about a place you want to visit, a house you want to own, a job you want to land, or a family to call your own, then it's likely that you are trying to take the steps towards making that happen. 

Studies have shown that we may experience real world actions and imaginary actions in similar ways. It seems as if we activate many of the same neural networks whether we're physically sitting in our home office in our oceanside Southampton estate (see picture above) or mentally doing it1. If this is true, then we should all be daydreaming a lot more. 

Daydreaming, however, is really only the first step. I think that if there's a better way to harness these dreams, capture them, take a picture of them, put them on paper, etc., then we should be doing it. 

So I am.

In order for me to visualize my dreams as much as possible, I created a Vision Board. I know I'm not the first person to do this. Vision boards are commonly thought of as poster board collages with pictures and magazine clippings. But to me, this screams intimidation and overwhelm – who has time for craft projects these days, and where do you put this massive (super personal) daydream display? So I simplified the process and digitized my vision board. Now, I can access it anytime on my phone. I usually cruise through it on my morning commute. It takes me 15 minutes max and I always feel better after I've looked through it.

There's something really inspiring about starting my day with the dreams that I am working towards. And there's no doubt in my mind that doing this will lead me closer to those dreams. I know this because it's already happened. Every once in a while, I am forced to delete a slide from my vision board because I already achieved it. It's no longer a vision; it's a reality. Best. Feeling. Ever. 

I have no scientific evidence to back this claim up, but I have found it to be true:

The more I remind myself of my dreams, the more I want to achieve those dreams. 

If you're at all intersted in joining me in my daydreaming ways, follow the steps below to create your own digital vision board:

Step 1: Create a presentation using Microsoft Powerpoint or an alternative program.

Step 2: Pick out your favorite images (Pinterest is an obvious source of day-dreaming inspiration. But I also recommend Zillow for dream-home searching, travel sites like TravelChannel.com and luxury sites like VanityFair.com for dreamers with high standards.

Step 3: Copy and Paste images in-line with your dreams into your powerpoint presentation.

Step 4: Save the presentation.

Step 5: Upload it into Google Docs (free to create an account if you don’t already have one).

Step 6: Download the Google Docs app onto your phone.

Step 7: View your vision board presentation on your phone or your tablet.

Voila! Portable dreams – easily accessible to look at whenever you have five free minutes. Thanks for joining me readers! I want to hear from you. Do you love it? Already do it? Do you think I'm totally off my rocker? Comment belooooowwww.

 

1. http://westallen.typepad.com/brains_on_purpose/files/mind_over_matter_shackell_07.pdf 

Healthy Mind

Big Big (HUGE) News

March 10, 2015

A few months back, I stood up in my best friend’s wedding. A few days ago, I held my other best friend’s brand new baby boy in my arms. And, there’s one more life-changing thing that happened two weekends ago. What was it? Oh yeah…

I got engaged!

Wow. Yeah. Let that sink in.

Remember how when you were younger – on your birthday – people would always ask you if you felt older? I always said yes, but I didn’t really. Nothing was different afterwards. You were still in same routine with the same responsibilities (go to school, play with friends, go to bed). But when somebody asked me the other day if I felt different after being engaged, I said yes and I FELT yes.

(Cheese alert, I know, bare with me).

Not only am I so ridiculously excited to get married to my favorite person in the world, I do indeed feel very grown up and ready for the next stage of our lives. 

And part of being grown up and responsible is planning ahead. I’ll be the first to admit – when it comes to my personal life, I am NOT good at this. I often find myself double-booking dinners and birthdays, and always leave trip preparing and gift buying till the last minute.

But something hits you when the thing you need to plan is your wedding

It’s like this weird addiction that you catch, that you think you’re exempt from. But when it happens to you, you truly cannot stop. Pinning and Googling and magazine-flipping…there are so many ideas, so many places, so many options. Ahhhh!

I’ve got a growing guest list, beach ceremony dreams and very high standards for the wedding dinner (I’m thinking fresh herbs, grass-fed meat and fresh-caught seafood). To match with that, I’ve got some big numbers looming over my head that my grown-up self has to save up for. Welp. As of last week, I have put aside a good chunk of my paycheck on auto-deposit so I can save up for the big day. Which means a new challenge for this blog. 

For the next 14 months, please meet…

HEALTHY STACEY SAVES:

The health blog that teaches you how to live, eat and shop healthy for LESS.

Here are the rules of the game:

  1. If you can make it for cheaper, you can’t buy it. There are so many fun and tempting health snacks and convenience foods out there that are easy to get swept up in. But they’ll charge you an arm and a leg for them. I’m always happier when I make my own homemade snacks and treats anyways. Goodbye Go Raw sprouted flax snacks, Coconut Chips,  and Kale Crunch.
  2. Stick to a list. NO WANDERING THE AISLES. Especially at Whole Foods.
  3. You can go to Whole Foods – with limits. Only shop here for good organic produce and the things you can’t get anywhere else (turmeric root, plantains, etc). If you do buy packaged, stick to the 365 Brand and the Value-labeled items. And stay away from the snack aisle (see #1).
  4. Cost compare online grocers with brick and mortar grocers. Find out where you can get the cheapest prices at each. A few good ones I’ve heard of are Vitacost, Door to Door Organics and Thrive Market.
  5. Only stick to the Dirty Dozen for organic foods. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, the Dirty Dozen is a list of warning foods created by the Environmental Working Group (an organization of scientists, researchers and policymakers). The produce on the Dirty Dozen has the highest amount of pesticides and other harmful chemicals, so it is highly recommended that you stick to organic when buying them. They have found that, just by eating organic for these 12, you can reduce the amount of toxins you consume on a daily basis by as much as 80%. Awesome. On the other side of the coin is a money saving opportunity. The Clean 15 is a list by the same organization. These are the foods that pose much less concern by buying conventional. CHA-ching.
  6. Shop the Farmer’s Market (as soon as the season starts, CHICAGO psshh). Not only can you can save a ton of money on seasonal produce, the experience of sampling foods and chatting up the farmers and artisans is one of my favorite things to do in the summer anyways. On it.
  7. Use coupons. I am SO bad at this because I find it so tedious and time consuming. But brands and stores are making it easier and easier for the shopper to save money. Apps like iBotta, RetailMeNot and Cartwheel from Target are all currently downloaded on my phone. Now it’s time to actually use them. And BONUS, Whole Foods is one of iBotta’s retailers.
  8. Consult other health nuts like me who are showing me up in the savings department. A simple search helped me find these gems that I can’t wait to try out:
  • http://www.couponsforpaleo.com
  • http://paleoonabudget.com
  • http://www.organicdeals.com
  • http://allnaturalsavings.com

Alright. That’s all she wrote. I’m trusting you people to hold me accountable. This can and should be about more than just a wedding savings fund. It’s my chance to show you guys that you can eat healthy without going broke (and maybe, just maybe it can actually help you SAVE money).

Comment below with healthy saving ideas – especially all you Coupon-ers out there! I’m pretty sure it’s a ninja skill you are born with. But if not, I’d love to be taught.