Starting a New Year’s resolution? Dietitian gives you 5 SMART tips to healthy eating….

It’s that time of year where the guilt around what you ate at the holidays is in full swing and New Year’s resolutions have begun. Although most of us start the year with the best intentions to become a healthier person, many fail to reach or maintain their resolution goal.

The key to success is to set SMART goals, according to UC Davis Health registered dietitian Tiana Carey. She walks us through what it means to be SMART:

Specific: Be as clear and concise as possible when setting goals. Solely stating “I want to be healthier” doesn’t provide a specific goal. What does healthier mean to you?

Measurable: Provide a quantifiable indicator to determine if you have met your goal.

Attainable/Achievable: Be realistic! If you don’t currently eat vegetables regularly, don’t make your measure of success eating 5 servings a day. The same goes for reducing your intake of something that you regularly consume. Don’t go from zero to 60 or slam on the breaks. Try to limit the number of resolutions – if you set too many goals, you may get overwhelmed and not reach any.

Relevant: Check in with yourself and look at the big picture. Answer these questions (honestly): What is important to you? Is this resolution a priority to you? Is this important to your overall life goals?

Timely: Indicate a target finish date. For many New Year’s resolutions, the end date is the end of the year, but you can always set a sooner end time. Maybe you set a shorter end date initially to check in and assess if the goal continues to be SMART.

Examples of SMART goals:

  • Consume at least two vegetables daily, five days a week
  • Exercise for 30 minutes three times each week
  • Drink two liters of water daily

Along with setting SMART goals, it’s also important to remember that no one is perfect. Just because you didn’t obtain your goal today doesn’t mean you have to give up. Tomorrow is a new day.

This can also apply if you got a late start and this goal isn’t a New Year’s resolution. We should be setting goals throughout the year and re-evaluating as needed to ensure that the goals we have set for ourselves are SMART.

“Eat to live, don’t live to eat.” ― Benjamin Franklin

“Resume Builder”

[Originally written in 2015 during the peak of my success working for this agency who I have focused my energy for seventeen solid years. In 2019, my heart and my eyes were open to the truth that our life are never measured in the stuff we believe that quantify success. Thus, sharing the original manuscript below as I believe still stands true today…]

…Lately I have been challenged in the office taking up more work than ever. Right before Thanksgiving, I found out that the only two people in our accounting department are leaving, one transferring and one retiring. To give you guys a background, I started in the accounting department before I got promoted to management in 2006.

During my four years in the department, senior management used to request a lot of research work for different projects. For those who do not know me very well, research is my forte, next to project management. I have this principle that when people request me to do something outside my job scope, I would simply take it on and tell myself that it is beneficial to take the challenge ~ a “good addition to my resume” is what I always put in mind. You never know when someone will read those experiences.

Over the years, that has been my attitude when I get asked to do something beyond my role. In fact, this is what I normally teach people as part of my mentoring. I encourage people to always learn other things so they can grow professionally. My lecture always ends with this affirmative phrase “these are the things that you can add to your resume to make you more bankable for future promotions or other future prospective jobs.”

Next week, I am taking on two additional positions while waiting for replacements. Then, training them is another different ball game. While driving this morning, I began thinking the same phrase ~ a “good addition to my resume.” But this time I paused for a long time on that statement. I realized that I am now a different person with a diverse perspective and priorities. Then, questions poured in my thoughts. Why am I building my resume? For whom am I building it for? I know I already have a lot to offer in any job field and yet it seems that there is still a need to add more to it. What is the need for?

I was so focus on building my resume over the years that I have forgotten that the only resume that is profoundly important to build is for the Kingdom of God. For many of us, we spent half of our lives building something in this world. Others probably spent more than half of theirs filling their worldly resume to the brim of achievement, achievements that we cannot even take with us when our time is up. We are so glued to accomplishing tangible things in life that often, we have forgotten to build our resume in the spiritual realm.

When you stop for a moment and write two separate resumes, how does your spiritual resume look like compared to your professional one? What does it say in the Experience category? What about your Skills category? What have you learned or acquired to improve to deserve God’s glory? What about Affiliations? Where have you spent your time fulfilling God’s work? Obviously, we cannot write any References since His beloved son Jesus is the only witness to how we conducted ourselves during our entire life in this world. You see, whether our resume is short or long, in the eyes and in the heart of our Abba Father, what matters most is that whatever we do, we do it to glorify Him.

Hence, this New Year let us take on the challenge to help others discern God’s teachings, to be present to the lives of the vulnerable, and be a part of an outreach community. Let us not forget a simple act of kindness goes a long away. And when we get sloppy, we just need to remind ourselves ~ this is a good addition to our spiritual resume. You will never know when the day will come that we get examined by our Almighty Father.

May this New Year inspire us to bring positive changes to the lives of many….

Have a Blessed New Year!


Caring for Orchids….

I love orchids and I have a few of them in my apartment.  I have been taking care of orchids for almost ten years. I also had a few in my old office. Orchids have different temperaments. Some of them bloom in the summer and some are in the winter.  Yes, I said winter…I know very strange (exactly what I said to myself too).

Anyway, the one thing I am sure of is that I only water them once a week. And when you water them, make sure to let all the excess water drip so their roots do not rot. My orchids are always positioned by the window, facing sunlight.  Although I never repotted my orchids, it would be best if you do. In my case, my Orchids are super sensitive. They must be in the same position or spot to continue to bloom. They do not like to be moved around.

Another thing that I do. Believe it or not, I say nice things to my orchids…yup ~ I talk to them, and it seems to be working because they bloom at the same time each year.

So, there you go…

Enjoy and love your orchids!

© fm1 12.23.2020

8 Tips to help keep your heart healthy over the holidays

1. Be aware of portions

The amount of food you eat matters. Take time to savor every bite, which will lead to better satisfaction with less food.

2. Stay active

Time is often limited during the holidays, but make sure you carve out some time to exercise. Walking with family and friends after a holiday meal is a great option.

3. Put the leftovers away

As soon as everyone is done eating, put the food away. This prevents snacking after meals because of boredom or anxiety.

4. Pay attention to beverages

Many holiday beverages ― such as eggnog, punch, wine, mixed drinks and ciders ― are high in calories. Have a holiday-themed drink to toast with or have a small glass of wine with dinner. Then switch to water or diet drinks.

5. Eat breakfast and snack throughout the day

Skipping meals often leads to overeating. Plan to eat breakfast in the morning and have a light snack before holiday events.

6. Prioritize sleep

We know the holiday season is a busy time of year, but try to get as much solid sleep as you can. Everything is more manageable when you’re rested. Plan to wind down for the night about 30 minutes before you go to bed. You’ll fall asleep sooner and sleep more soundly. Quality of sleep is linked with how much and how often we eat.

Traditional holiday foods that are also healthy

Many common holiday foods have heart-health benefits, Barone said. Explore toppings and add-ins like low-sodium broths, olive oil, lowfat or nonfat Greek yogurt, unsalted nuts, fruits, veggies and spices. Thicken sauces with homemade vegetable puree instead of white flour and butter. Check out these other holiday foods that are also good for you:

  • Cranberries: These little berries are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, which are organic substances that can help prevent heart disease and stroke.
  • (Healthy) Stuffing: Although this holiday staple is usually high in fat and sodium, there are healthy ways to make it. Use a multigrain bread to add fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol. Replace butter with vegetable broth to reduce saturated fat. Increase the vitamin and mineral content by adding onions, peppers, carrots or even chopped fresh fruit. For flavoring, use antioxident-rich herbs like sage and rosemary instead of salt.Sweet potatoes: These are rich in antioxident beta-carotene and provide a lot of other vitamins, including vitamins A, B, C and E, along with calcium and potassium. Check out this recipe for chipotle mashed sweet potatoes.
  • Vegetables: It’s no secret that veggies add fiber, minerals and vitamins. Carrots are especially rich in beta-carotene. Dark, leafy greens like spinach and brussels sprouts are rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene and other antioxidents. Broccoli also has vitamins A and B66, well as riboflavin, folic acid, calcium and iron. Beware of high-fat dressings and sauces that are often added to holiday veggie recipes.
  • White potatoes: Packed full of vitamin C, fiber and potassium, which is linked to lowering blood pressure and stroke risk, white potatoes are a healthy option. Instead of adding butter to mashed potatoes, use Greek yogurt or olive oil instead.

Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do” ~ 1 Corinthians 8:8

Christmas Tidings….

 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope ~ Romans 15:13

There are a lot of ways to celebrate Christmas and so many meanings behind the word. We can go theological or we can go by its secular interpretation. Whichever meaning one chooses to relate to what Christmas is all about, it depends on the individual’s life experiences.

We all came from different backgrounds, different religious practices, education, and cultures. As children, we were even convinced that there is this nice, friendly, old man in a red suit who watches over us throughout the year and rewards us in the end with gifts if we did well. We all transition in life from children to adults and in between we go through different life experiences. Our spirit, mind, and hearts become one ~ we experience fun and laughter, we go through falling in love for the first time to heartbreak, the joy of seeing our child when we first hold them in our arms, the sadness when we see them leave and begin their journey, perhaps the tragedy of losing a loved one and knowing we will never see them again because they have reached their journey. We celebrate so many levels of experience in our lives; birth of a child, graduation, marriage, separation, illnesses, and death.

All these experiences and emotions that we go through (love, loss, joy, excitement, sadness, and so forth) are shared with us because someone who cared so much about us wanted to share His same experiences. To top it all, He even sprinkled the special gift of free will because He trusted that somehow, we will recognize His existence in our life. No matter how people embrace (or avoid) the relevance of our Heavenly Father to the celebration of Christmas, one thing that is clearly defined is that we are all connected as His children ~ we all go through the same life experiences of happiness, excitement, pain, suffering, and loss. Christmas is the time that we are reminded of when our Abba Father gave us the Gift of Hope ~ His son Jesus Christ. Hope is one of the fundamental reasons why we celebrate Christmas. It is with this gift that we can move forward and embrace any obstacles that come our way, knowing that waking up another day makes a difference. Another day, another opportunity to renew our lives in Christ.

I celebrate Christmas because it always gives me the joy of knowing that whatever I went through this year (whether good or bad), I know that hope is waiting for me next year. I know that my Lord and my God is always there to carry me through.

Thus, when you sit with your families and friends on the eve of Christmas and look at everyone’s smiles and feel the warmth of their hugs on Christmas morning, feel the hope behind those embraces because that’s God’s love for you.

Wishing you and your loved ones Hope, Joy, and Love this Christmas.



Friends for Life…

(written on the eve of my birthday)

When we come across people in our lives, we sometimes forget why and how we met them. If you really think on how you spent your day, do you really see the significance of people around you? Or are we so wrapped up on our daily routine and responsibilities that we never really sit down and think of how we spent our time with people we care about or those who care about us. What is it about people that make them so neglectful of others? Or is it just human nature that we sometimes do not see the importance of a person just because they are always there with us.

We have read several times that “people come into your life for a reason” – vague but true. I am always grateful for those people who I have met along the way and left a huge impact in my life. I have been extremely fortunate that I have always met the right people at the right time, at the right moment in my life. I call them FRIENDS for life. I have to admit I was never alone in my successes (and failures) because there were always special people who stood beside me, believed in me, and made sure that I go through life with ease. On this eve of my birthday, I want to say “thank you” to those special people!


Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

“God Works While We wait ~ Louie Giglio, Author

A Season of Gratitude

There are so many things that I am very thankful for in my life. Special people I will never forget. Every year when the season of Thanksgiving come around it always reminds me how special this day brought a different meaning to my life. Fourteen years ago, a gentle, kind friend taught me the true essence why we celebrate this season. I never understood the meaning of the celebration and I have always thought it was just a typical American tradition or like any other holiday that we get the chance to take off work and sleep in; bringing food to someone’s house like in any party when you get invited or cooking at your house and inviting friends and family over. In the past, to me it felt more like a chore because I was participating with the fallacious idea of just being present is enough.

Fast forward…aaahhh…the month of November! As I entered my building apartment, I saw boxes of deliveries to my neighbors and as I stopped to look at one of the boxes, I recognize this familiar image on one of the boxes ~ Cornucopia ~ a symbol of abundance!

Thanksgiving is a celebration of the abundant blessings in our lives throughout the year. A day to express our gratitude to our Heavenly Father for all the blessings we have received from Him throughout the year ~ our family, our friends, our job, and even our pets that keep us company. It is everything that represents our accomplishments through the months of hard work and struggle, then finally reaching to where we want to be. We gather with people who plays a significant role in our lives and we celebrate with them joyously. We express this feeling of gratitude that we are still here in the present, standing strong through it all.

The banquet of food and the presence of love ones and special people in our lives, remind us that we made it through because of our existence with one another. One place – same people – one celebration. We all went through struggles, love, laughter, peace with the same people who are standing with us in this thankful celebration.

Realization struck me that Thanksgiving is not just an American tradition nor just another holiday. It is a day to remember and be thankful for people who are currently in our lives and those who have passed on ~ a friend, a family member, or someone who played a significant role in our lives. It is a reminder that Thanksgiving is not just one day in a year, not in one place nor country. It is every day and every moment that we need to pause and be thankful to Abba Father that we were given the precious gift of life and the opportunity to share it with others.

Thus, I say, if I have not said in the past…. Thank You to you all who played a huge significant role in my life.


Finding Your Joy…

As parents we want our kids to experience and enjoy all kinds of activities in school. We encouraged them to join sports so they can be with their friends and have a well-balance life.  Often, we think that all books with no play, makes our kids a dull person. For those kids who are introvert, we sometimes feel that sports are the best route for them to express themselves. Maybe so – maybe not.

When my daughter was in the elementary school, I encouraged her to join little league soft ball at third grade. As the only child, I wanted her to develop her social skills through sports.  You see, my daughter is more on the book-side.  Give her a book and some puzzles or Legos, she will be happy and content staying in her bedroom. But I really wanted her to have a perfectly balance personality.  Being the youngest in my family, I was often left alone to entertain myself.  I love playing with my brother’s match box cars. I used to put strings on it so I can pull it and pretend that I am driving a red toy car.  There is nothing wrong in finding content being by yourself.  But I wanted my daughter to have more fun and have a circle of friends.

As she climbs through eighth grade, she was in volleyball and basketball with her school friends.  She was also an excellent swimmer at the YMCA.  I was always proud to see her do a 3-point shot in her basketball games. She made it look so easy.  I think I was the one more enjoying it than she was. She would play but I can tell her heart is not really one hundred per cent in it.  She would do it because all her friends are there playing sports. But deep down she enjoyed and preferred getting lost in her imagination when she is reading books.

When she went to high school, she courageously told me that she did not want to do any sports. Instead she joined the orchestra in school playing second string violin (this is another story for later).  I was not surprised to hear that.  Ironically, I was expecting it.  But I was happy that she was brave to tell me the truth.

It reminds me of Colossians 3:23-24

23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

You see as adults; we need to understand that there are things in life that we do out of necessity like working in a job that may not be our dream job but meets our financial responsibilities.  But even then, we need to put our heart into it to make sure that we accomplished what the organization requires from us. And our work – we offer it to the Lord.

One of the many things that I taught my daughter when she was growing up is that when she starts a project,  to make sure to see it through to the end or do not start a project without the intention of finishing it and to always put her heart into it. Wonderfully, her inner creativity came out in every project and design she did in school. It was obvious that her heart was into every one of them. Her work is always exemplary!

God sees our hearts when we do things out of love and sincerity. We give tithings, we serve the community, we stretch ourselves on helping our families, and friends because we want to, not because we are forced to.  Jesus did not die on the cross because he was obliged to. He did it out of love and His heart was one hundred percent in it.

© fm1-11.19.20

Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

The holidays are coming and the gift no one wants are those extra pounds associated with holiday eating. On average, Americans gain 1 to 2 pounds over the holidays. Fortunately, there are several ways to avoid the dreaded holiday weight gain while also enjoying the holidays.

1. Eat Wisely

Practicing mindful eating every day can help prevent overindulging while also increasing enjoyment. Be mindful of those hunger cues. Eat slowly and savor each bite.

2. Portion control

This is a key to enjoying holiday foods without feeling deprived. Use a smaller plate that allows for less food on your plate and aids in portion control.

3. Fill up on fiber-rich foods

These help satisfy hunger and are lower in calories.

4. Don’t skip meals

When you skip a meal earlier in the day, you are more likely to overeat at dinner.

5. Reflect on your favorite holiday foods

Make sure to incorporate them while also avoiding the foods that do not bring enjoyment.

6. Don’t deprive yourself of every treat

Enjoying a sweet treat each day while also choosing healthier snacks is a great way to have balance and not fill up on empty calories.

7. Incorporate vegetables

Keep a bag of fruit and veggies with cheese, yogurt, or hummus available to enjoy for a snack. Or make a large salad with a colorful assortment of favorite fruits and vegetables.

**Recipe ideas: Appetizers can include vegetable strips with a low-fat dip. Or serve baguette rounds topped with light spreads such as hummus and basil, chopped chicken or a bit of salmon. Vegetable roll-ups can be served using a thin pastry such as rice paper. Fill them with low-fat cottage cheese, tofu and fresh vegetables.

8. Maintain an exercise routine

Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity each day to help you feel healthier during the holiday season. A brisk walk after a holiday dinner is a great time to catch up with family and friends. Be an example and get the kids involved in exercise while on break from school. This helps support healthy habits at a young age.

Ways to modify holiday recipes:

• Choose unsweetened flavored beverages and hydrate with water.

• Choose white meat without the skin is a lower-fat choice than dark meat.

• Limit gravies and cream sauces to just enough for taste.

• Cook stuffing in a separate dish from the meat: It will be lower in fat and there will be less risk of food poisoning from undercooked meat juices.

• Consider serving baked potatoes, yams and steamed vegetables plain rather than as part of a rich casserole or covered with cream sauce. Experiment with spices to flavor vegetables.

• Substitute evaporated skim milk or plain low-fat yogurt for cream and sour cream.

• Use less sugar in baked treats by using pureed fruit for natural sweetness.

• For dessert, limit choices to only 1 or 2 items and choose a smaller portion.

• Skip the eggnog and choose fewer alcoholic drinks, which tend to be higher in calories. One serving of alcohol is 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of light beer or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit..” (Ephesians 5:18)