Day 65 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Eating Out Alert Edition Part II

not so healthyAs we have written about several times, eating out is never as healthy as eating in with food you prepare. When you choose the fresh vegetables, the organic berries from the local farmers market you pretty much know what you are getting. That being said eating out is fun, eating out is a treat. Sometimes you just don’t want to have another thing to do (make a meal). So reality, this life thing, makes eating out something we all do. There is another really important reason to eat out at healthy places. If you don’t they will go away and you will be left with the waste land of fast food crap. So EAT local, shop LOCAL and support your local businesses. We feel this in spades because we are not just holistic believers we are entrepreneurs so BUY LOCAL. O.K. back on point…..So since we are going to eat out and this is about changing your life to live an extraordinary one by living holistically how do you make the best choices?

There are more and more local, organic based, fresh food cafe’s and restaurants. This is a wonderful choice for two reasons. BUY local is powerful. Don’t complain there is no organic fruit and vegetables in your local market if you don’t suck up the higher cost and buy them. Deb goes a step further and consistently tells whomever she comes in contact with you need more organic…… in the market we go to most often. Be a polite militant and perhaps this food finds itself into their coffee/sandwich shop and now you have another place. In other words you must be politely militant about wanting healthy, locally sourced, truly fresh choices.

What if you are traveling or if there just is not a great local joint? Are there any chain restaurants out there that are decent? We got such a huge thumbs us from our Subway post and the crock that their “eat fresh” tagline is we figured why not tell you where to avoid eating. Now the danger here is you might assume if we do not list it, it is good food, NO it just means it is either to small for us to look at our it is not terrible. Please read the first paragraph again. The best is what you make yourself, second best local organic joints that use locally sourced foods. Last healthy choice is everything else. So here are three broad categories, if you will, of joints to avoid.

First of all forget ALL the chain pizza joints, Domino’s, Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, Cici’s Little Caesar’s, forget them ALL. CRAZY sodium levels and saturated fat all over the place and that is just for starters. The WORST of the worst is Sbarro’s Pizza. Yes John LOVES Sbarro’s but it is a twice a year guilty pleasure. Over sized portions and just CRAZY fat, sodium and calories.

Next any fried chicken joint. Sounds obvious but people will talk themselves into these places by saying, “the pinto beans are good” or, “The small slaw isn’t bad” KFC, Bojangles, Church’s, Popeye’s etc. FRIED = trans fats and nothing more needs to be said, stay away, stay away.

Lastly the burger palaces. McDonalds and Burger King. We know we have “endorsed” the egg McMuffin but with a bunch of “last resort” disclaimers” As a general rule WAY to many calories and saturated fat in way to much of their food.

Some of these places do have reasonable food choices and are adding more but are you disciplined enough to skip the fried chicken meal for a grilled, skinless breast? Even if you are the odds that the chicken you are eating is not shot full of anti-biotics and growth hormones is a bit of a dice roll.  We will close by saying, none of these places are going to kill you if you indulge once in a while but a steady diet (more than one meal a week) is NOT going to help your health.

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Eat local, eat truly fresh, eat organic!

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Day 64 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Deeper Thoughts and Realities

reflectionThis blog is coming straight for my heart and soul This blog is written by John.

In 2009 and early 2010 I was traveling up to 80% of each month for business. I was eating pretty well, but only when I was not traveling. Same was true for working out. I did not do it regularly on the road.

 If you had not read the previous days blog on uncluttering please do so now, before reading on.

I had a very cluttered life. Debt, divorce and absolutely no spirituality, for starters. I was a mess, by any account, a physically fit and two thumbs up from the doctor on the annual physical, mess. Fast forward to day 63 of this blog and early 2016. I recently joined Gallup as a workplace consultant specializing in high performance management. I am once again beginning a very heavy travel schedule but things are completely different. This is what an extraordinary life looks like, even with a crazy hectic schedule.

There have been significant changes for me in the last 6 years. First I have God in my life. Not when I’m in trouble and praying for a 2nd chance (for the 1,000th time) presence, no this is the real deal.  It is beautiful and the foundation of all things. Secondly I have the love and support of an amazing woman, you know her, she is the brains behind my66days, and my partner in every way, Deb! The debt is gone, the bad habits behind me. Traveling now looks so very different than it did. NO excuses to not live holistically. Along with business clothes there are workout clothes. A large bag of raw almonds along with some amazingly tasty and nutrition bars (Flyjoy bars rule!) I pack resistance bands and the first thing that goes into my briefcase is not my notes and laptop it is my bible. My job MORE than stimulates my mind so got that covered too.  The essentials for working out, healthy snacking and spiritual food is now the first thing packed not a “if I only had room in my bag” leave behind. Speaking of leaving, leaving Deb for a week sucks, excuse the language but it sucks BIG TIME. Even that is handled so very differently though. The second thing packed after my bible is my iPad. I use it once a day in the evening to Facetime with Deb. We relax together, joke, laugh, but mostly we just share time. Every night, always. I eat very well, actually work out a little more than at home despite the 14 hour days and neither my prayers nor my “time” with Deb is ever cut.

An extraordinary life requires discipline without question. The funny thing is after you find that discipline and practice it daily (count those almonds!) it becomes less discipline and just how you live. If this is your first day reading this blog, go back to day one and start your own 66 day journey, it’s all here. I promise you if you do, you will begin to see and feel, and I mean deep feeling, a peace and a certainty that this is the only way you want to live.

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Day 63 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Unclutter Your Life

unclutter your lifeSo, many of you have been trying to live the “almond life” meaning balancing mind, body and spirit every day. We imagine and  also hear that many of you are feeling different about your life, that there’s an element of peace that now surrounds you. We have also heard from a few of you that it isn’t quite there for you. You expected to feel peace, and you are not. You expected to feel fitter and happier. It is hard to diagnose this without following you through a day. Is it that the food isn’t as wholesome or varied as  is needed, not enough time for spirit, mental stimulation or the body is not getting all of the movement it needs, aerobic and resistance? But what if you are doing everything right, time for reflection, good, healthy food and exercise that is improving health. Where do you look then?

We think often there is  clutter in your life. Before writing another word we want to say both of us have faced and overcome our own demons after years of struggling.   So what is clutter? Clutter can be defined as anything that distracts from emotional or physical peace. Here a few distractions that can sap your peace and fulfillment. There are some people that live with big, ugly secrets. The big ugly, might be debt that has you living from day to day, hoping that you can ponzi scheme your finances to survive another day, closet drinking, eating or drugs that you have lost control over but still a secret to most- an affair that has created emotional distance from your family or porn and it could go on and on. Some clutter could be as simple as a garage, closet or home that is stuffed with things. There’s no organization, no peace, because you find yourself walking around the stuff and every time you buy something new the pile gets higher. So what is the solution?

You don’t have to admit it to anyone but yourself and a higher power, but you are not in control of this. It is the basic principle of AA. It is very difficult to face but without it, there’s no peace, and thus, no change. Once you’ve faced the big ugly, admitted you do not have control over the situation, you must:

  • Stop drinking, drugs or overeating. There are programs to help you, seek then out. If you don’t know of one, contact us and we can help.
  • Set a date to spring clean. Spend the weekend, decluttering your home. Donate what you have not used in a year. If you buy something new, give something away. It is good for you and good for someone else.
  • End the affair. Don’t look back.
  • Stop the porn. It is unhealthy and it contributes to guilt in your life that keeps you from finding peace.
  • Get out of debt. When John’s marriage ended he was deeply in debt and he inherited all of it. When he met Deb, they set goals, paid off all of the debt and now have a financial vision of the future. It can be done with discipline and a plan.

Take a step today, any step. Tomorrow take another one. The point is to admit you are not in control, turn it over, and take the first step. Both John and Deb have had deeply personal issues, John alcoholism and debt and Deb moving on from an abusive childhood. In her 20s she faced the demons got counseling and healed.

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Day 62 of Your 66 Days To Your Extraordinary Life – An Actual Day

holisitc livingFor those of you who have been with us for 61 days, holistic living is becoming a habit. For those just starting to read this blog, this post will serve as an example of a typical non-workday. Perhaps before we hit day 66 days, we will do another for a work day. We decided to write about our day at the end of the day. In other words this was not a planned day. We very naturally live our days including nourishment to mind, body and our spirit, every day.

John got up a bit before Deb, after sleeping for nearly 8 hours (Deb went to sleep after John). He did his morning prayer, took a peak at email and exchanged a couple of texts with his daughter. After Deb got up they had coffee in bed, something they do every day that one of them is not traveling. After getting ready for the day it was off to Panera bread for breakfast. Egg white and avocado sandwiches were the breakfast of choice for both. After this, it was some light shopping, which is much more about moving than it is about shopping. After a couple of hours of walking, it was back home.

They gathered up the dogs and headed to a local park that had a wonderful wooded area to do some trail walking. This was a great connection to nature, since when in the woods you can not see any houses or soccer fields- nothing but the stream that runs along the path and nature. Peaceful and wonderfully simple movement with their 4 legged children. Back home where Deb did some straightening and cleaning, in the house, and John some work outside for a bit. Then it was off to a late lunch/early dinner. This was a new place they had not eaten at before in nearby Belmont NC. (Let us stop for a moment to say we eat out about 3 times a week, in total. So this is an unusual day for but we wanted to record a  perfectly balanced day.) Back to the blog. They shared a wonderful scallop appetizer, and Deb had a salmon salad and John a delicious lump crab sandwich with a side of sweet potato fries. Back home they settled in to watch a mindless, but entertaining movie. Then they watched a documentary about the highest peak, in southeast Asia. It was a fascinating and stimulating documentary. The day finished as it started with prayer and reflection.

We obviously did not include our discussions, some personal, but one thing is certain we are always discussing the future and new adventures and how to get there. We never are done growing, challenging ourselves, mentally, physically and spiritually.  The one thing that is certain, is that when we do decide on doing something we go for it, always and without hesitation. As the expression goes, faith without works is dead. We have faith and we don’t mind the work. The only thing we never discuss, mostly because we never think about it, is any boundary related to age. We truly do not consider age, unless we are discussing retirement financials, or where we desire to live, when we are both done working. Other than those two areas we truly believe age is irrelevant to anything we want to do.)

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Day 61 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Alkalinity and Your Body Edition

alkaline dcietWe have been hearing a lot about the connection between alkaline and acidic PH in the body and the connection to cancer and other diseases. The premise is this and comes from the extensive research Dr Otto Warburg did on cancer in the 1960s- all normal cells have a requirement for oxygen. Once these cells are deprived of oxygen they can become cancerous. Essentially, alkaline PH is full of oxygen and acidic PH is not. The PH in our bodies depends on what we eat and if we eat right, these levels are balanced. If we eat a diet rich in animal instead of vegetable, the balance is compromised. Sugars and processed food also contribute to creating acid in our bodies and shift us away from the slightly alkaline 7.365 PH our blood should be. As a result of our processed food and high sugar diet Americans are in a state of chronic acidosis more than individuals in other modern countries. In one study high acidic PH levels were associated with osteoporosis in elderly women and as a result, fractures. The theory is that the body borrows calcium in order to correct the issues with PH balance. It can also raid magnesium, iron and other minerals from the body.

Some of the health issues associated with over acidification levels are:
bladder/kidney function
weight gain and obesity
slow digestion
premature aging
mutations leading to cancer

Foods that improve PH balance:
sweet potatoes
alkaline water
fresh vegetables

Stay away from artificial sweeteners like Equal, and aspartame. They also create acidity in the body, similar to processed sugars.

One other little tip:
Take 1/3 teaspoon of soda and two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. Mix together until it fizzes. Add a bit more soda until it stops. Pour into an 8oz glass of filtered water and drink it. Do this a couple times a week, along with a mainly fresh, vegetable diet.

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Day 60 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Wonderful Healthy Meatball Italian Soup Recipe

meatball soupWe talked a couple of days ago about preparing food ahead, so on busy evenings when you are pressed for time, you don’t have to get in the car or pick up the phone for dinner. Our prepared food menu includes quite a bit of soup, salads, corn tortillas with bean or meat fillings-and always fresh picco de gallo. Corn tortillas are pure, just corn and some vegetable oil but again read the label of your favorite product and local is better. The soup I made Sunday which we finished last night is called turkey meatball Italian soup- the recipe is below.

turkey mild Italian sausage

cannelloni beans in the can-organic

2 cloves garlic chopped fine

small box of organic chicken broth

can of organic tomatoes

1/4 onion chopped fine

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Parmesan to grate

parsley-loosely chopped

Combine broth, tomatoes and spices in  large dutch oven. Heat until just before the liquid boils. Drop onion and garlic into the hot liquid. Meanwhile remove the casings from the Italian sausage. Roll the sausage into small balls, like meatballs. Drop them into the now softly boiling liquid, one at a time. After all sausage has been added, open the can of beans and drain. Add the beans to the now simmering liquid. Simmer for an hour and taste. The taste should be a little salty and full of Italian flavor. If it needs a bit more zap, add another chopped clove of garlic and onion powder and simmer for another 15 minutes. Often we need three garlic but it is personal preference. Before serving grate Parmesan on the top  of the soup and add parsley. It is a low calorie, hearty meal with calories about 225 for a large bowl. Often we eat it with a salad and Ann’s organic bread, made by Ann, in Asheville but choose your favorite local bread.


We eat an amazing little square of dark chocolate in the early evening after whatever our dinner is. Make sure it has at least 70% cacao in it. Real research showing it helps lower blood pressure, all be it slightly, and NO evidence it is bad for you in any way :) Deb’s choice…Ghirardelli Intense Dark Sea Salt with roasted almonds. YUMMY. John is more of a traditionalist, Ghirardelli Intense Dark 72% Cacao. GO FOR IT, you earned it. Your empty almond bag proves you hit on all cylinders today!!

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Day 59 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Stress Relief

We are nearly at our goal! 66 Days of transforming our habits so we can be on our way to a new and extraordinary life! Although we know good food, exercise, proper sleep, humor, mental stimulation and  deep spiritual commitment all lead to a greatly reduced amount of stress, we thought we would share a superb article from our favorite web site,

Do you know anyone who isn’t at times stressed out these days? The pace of modern life makes stress management a necessary skill for everyone. Many people juggle multiple responsibilities, work, home life, care giving and relationships. Learning to identify problems and implement solutions is the key to successful stress reduction.

The first step in successful stress relief is deciding to make stress management an ongoing goal, and to monitor your stress level.

Once you start monitoring your stress level, the next step is identifying your stress triggers. When or under what situations do you experience the most stress? Some causes of stress are easy to identify, such as job pressures, relationship problems or financial difficulties. But daily hassles and demands, such as commuting, arranging child care or being over committed at work, also can contribute to your stress level.

Positive events also can be stressful. If you got married, started a new job and bought a new house in the same year, you could have a high stress level. While negative events in general are more stressful, be sure to also assess positive changes in your life.

Once you’ve identified your stress triggers, you can start thinking about strategies for dealing with them. Identifying what aspect of the situation you can control is a good starting point.

For example, if you have a difficult time falling asleep because you’re stressed out, the solution may be as easy as turning off the TV when the evening news is too distressing. Other times, such as high demands at work or when a loved one is ill, you may only be able to change how you react to the situation.

And don’t feel like you have to figure it out all on your own. Seek help and support from family and friends. You may want to ask them what stress-relief techniques have worked well for them.

And many people benefit from daily practice of stress-reduction techniques, such as deep breathing, massage, tai chi or yoga. Many people manage stress through practicing mindfulness in meditation or being in nature.

And remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle to help manage stress — eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. Having a healthy lifestyle will help you manage periods of high stress.

Stress won’t disappear from your life. And stress management isn’t an overnight cure. But with ongoing practice and incorporation of resiliency into your lifestyle, you can learn to manage your stress level and increase your ability to cope with life’s challenges.

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Day 58 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Not so “fresh” food

junk in our foodEvery time we turn around there is something new about a restaurant, Chipotle and e.coli, the sodium levels at Olive Garden, and it goes on and on. By the way Chipotle’s issues, hurt our heart because overall it is one of the better chain choices (more on this a bit later). We’ve talked about Subway quite often and because Deb generally eats out for lunch, it’s been her “go to” place because it is close.  Deb would have a chopped salad with a spoonful of tuna but now we hear it isn’t any better than a double thick burger at…fill in the blank. Add “fresh” to your list of BAD words and phrases. Words like “natural” or “low sodium”, “fat free” and or “sugar free”.  “Eat fresh” is a great tagline, in fact it sucked us in and we really pay attention to what goes in our bodies. The reality is, is fresh really means the turkey, or at least what Subway calls turkey, may not be frozen but it contains more preservatives and chemicals than the cheapest pack of cold cuts in your grocery store. A few specifics about Subway. The black olives have dye that keep them black. The bread contains azodicarbonamide, a bleaching agent most commonly used, wait for it, in the production of foamed plastics! Of course Deb always knew not to eat the bread or meat, but even Deb never saw that coming. There’s a host of other things we were surprised to hear and now we find ourselves eating out less and less. Now, our go to place is the restaurant at the Organic Marketplace. You know exactly what you are getting and it is delicious. So, how is it possible to live a super, busy life and very rarely get in the car to go out during the week or dial up pizza? Well all is not lost. Deb is going to give you some great ideas on making “mass meals” but we wanted to provide a list of the healthiest chains according to

-Panera Bread – We eat here once a week and although sodium runs high, overall it is the best large scale chain out there, by far

-Jason’s Deli

-Au Bon Pain

Finally, a drum roll, please. When you are really running late and did not get your protein drink made go to, McDonalds, yes McDonalds and get an egg McMuffin. At 300 calories it is a pretty well balanced breakfast. NOT something you eat daily but it is predictable, available on every corner and gives you a good protein infusion, which is critical in the morning.

On Sundays Deb make meals for the week. This last Sunday she made turkey white bean chili and turkey Italian meat ball soup. For Deb’s turkey white bean recipe see the link below. We actually have a full video (don’t worry it’s like 6 minutes long) on making this very healthy meal. Tomorrow she will provide the recipe for turkey italian meat ball soup.

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Day 57 of Your 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Hope, (The Ancient Definition) is Necessary

iPhone could not capture the beauty of the most magnificent rainbow Deb has ever seen…

Subscribers and regular readers know we never go more than a few days without circling back to spirituality. We do this because it is, without question, where the massive gap is in holistic living. No amount of organic food and exercise can fill the hole, that will occur if you live a life void of spiritual belief. You must have all three, period. Living in the moment without hope (as we define it below) for our future is an aimless ramble. Conversely all the vision for health and happiness in the future without commitment to body, mind and spirit, daily is a destination without a road. Whether you are ready to embrace this thought or not, we believe nothing, just happens. Certainly not an extraordinary life.

deb recent head shotYesterday we posted a picture of a rainbow.  In fact we posted it again today. That picture does not capture the beauty, size or significance of that rainbow. It was literally the largest rainbow Deb had ever seen and she has seen some of the most amazing rainbows in places like Hawaii. Why was this particular rainbow so beautiful and so significant? It is the setting and circumstances. Deb was driving, while talking with her mom on the speaker phone. Her Mother’s voice was weak from infection and lack of sleep. It was the 10th or 11th time she had kidney infection with most antiobiotics resistant to the bacteria. Her energy was low, her faith at its lowest. Deb was crying, trying to stay focused on the drive. Out of nowhere right in front of her was the largest rainbow she had ever seen. It was the full arch, colors vibrant, and she was driving right into it. She described this to her mother who stopped crying. Both of them laughed and the energy came back into her mother’s voice. With great detail Deb described the rainbow to her mother and when she turned right, it was still there, she was still driving into the rainbow. No matter where she went that massive, colorful arch was always right in front of her. A half hour later she pulled into the driveway just as John did. She asked him if he had seen the rainbow and confirmed his route was the same as hers. When he said no, he hadn’t seen it, and she showed him the picture, they agreed this particular rainbow was for her and also for her mother. There is a question here, when times are most difficult are you open to seeing the rainbow? Are you looking at hope the way the ancient Christians did, hope is certainty plus action.  When Deb told her brother about the rainbow, he jokingly said “was there a pot of gold at the end”, and she answered, “yes there was, it was called HOPE.”

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Day 56 of 66 Days To An Extraordinary Life – Vision Can Be Powerful

The iPhone does not do this rainbow justice. It appeared over Deb on the drive home after a particularly difficult day.

John has been reading John Maxwell’s very first book, “Think on These Things, Meditations for Leaders”. Given to John as a Christmas present, it is very different from most of Maxwell’s books. This certainly fits into to the mental stimulation part of John’s day. Bonus here is the book is written from a deeply Christian point of view as well. So, John is getting some good spiritual enrichment as well. A son of a minister and written before he was a leadership guru, the influence of Maxwell’s upbringing is throughout this wonderful and thoughtful book.

The book is really a collection of short, two to four page thoughts pieces, on a wide array of topics, loosely under the leadership umbrella. To John more under the life umbrella for those that interact with others, which he believes is most of us. The section to be focused on tonight is entitled, “See it Like It Could Be” It starts out with a quote from George Bernard Shaw ,”Some men see things as they are and say why? I dream of things that never were and say why not?” He is talking about vision and vision is critically important to leading an extraordinary life. To sustain your holistic lifestyle, you need the foundation of 66 days of dedicated intense focus on your body, mind and spirit. That is the easy part- the challenge comes from sustaining it for the rest of your life. One of the most powerful tools to achieve this is something we both use every day, vision. Some might call it belief, others, hope, maybe even faith but at the end of whichever word you embrace, is a picture of the end state. You need to see yourself, healthy, happy and full of life and energy. You must believe it. In other words, “see it like it could be” really can become see it like it will be. When we apply this to a holistic life we need action, we need a plan. Remember that faith without works is dead. Same for anything. No matter how vivid the vision or strong the belief, without daily action to work towards it, you will never reach it.

shopping john
Heading in for some shopping at the organic market…yum

We have given you all the pieces you need to live an extraordinary life, based on a holistic lifestyle. We hope that we have inspired you, maybe even challenged you to go after this amazing gift. The truth is if you let the excitement wane, if life gets in the way of living, you will not sustain what you have started. This is why simple things like the almond app is so important. This is why we say every day you need spiritual enrichment, mental and physical stimulation, and you need to feed your body with pure food and water. Maintain that vision of health and happiness with you and let it guide you. Absent of such a belief, such a vision, and the commitment to achieve it, you have no idea where you will end up. Might be a good place, might be a bad one, but like the saying goes, when you have no destination, all roads will take you there.

The destination is an extraordinary life, we have given you the map. “See It Like It Could Be” as John Maxwell says and reach your destination.

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