Hey everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas that was filled with lovely meals, eaten with complete satisfaction and enjoyment, surrounded by loved ones. As we move into week 5, I want you to reflect how your eating habits, and even more importantly, your thought patterns have changed. I want you to think about how you view sleep now opposed to before you started the program. Are you sleeping better? Are you making sleep more of a priority? Are you doing anything differently to insure you get longer hours of sleep each night?

Now I want you to think about breathing. Are you learning to breath more? Do you fully understand the importance of breathing in terms of metabolism and overall health? Does anything change physically when you breath deeper opposed to shallow breathing?

Are you learning and applying ways to manage yourself under stressful situations or feelings? What are some of the things you're doing to help you when you feel stressed out? Are you aware of the physiological responses your body goes through when stress starts to creep its way in? How do you combat them?

Lastly, are you letting yourself enjoy life, and enjoy food? Are you learning to let go and listen to your body before listening to anyone else? Are you asking yourself what specific foods and specific amounts your own body needs throughout each day, instead of looking to magazines and diet books to tell you and plan out your meals? And are you exercising in a way that celebrates the bodies movement, instead of using exercise as a form of punishment?

Because we are going into a new year, it's the perfect time to do a little reflecting on the things you've accomplished, and the things you'd like to do better or differently next year. It's also a good time to give yourself permission to feel whatever feelings come up, whether they are positive or negative, and channel that energy into your plan of action moving forward.

Week 5 is all about celebrating you, and honoring your body. This week we focus on quality. Now quality can mean various things and it's completely contextual. Mainly, I want you to focus on quality food, but also I want you to focus on a quality eating experience. Let me explain what I mean by that. It's one thing to choose organic or local foods (which I am 100% in agreement with), but the way you prepare your meals is just as important.

Imagine making yourself a meal, it doesn't have to be anything fancy, but you really take your time to prepare it. You may decide to bake some chicken in the oven. You get fresh chicken breasts, cover them with rosemary and thyme, and place them neatly in a baking dish. While that's cooking, you prepare a beautiful salad full of mixed greens, nicely chopped peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes, and finish it off by dropping handfuls of luscious berries and slivered almonds over it. Then you toss it gently as you drizzle in olive oil, and dash it with some sea salt and pepper. You set the table for you and maybe a guest or two, setting out each plate with its accompanying utensils perfectly placed. Everything is ready and it looks and smells delicious. You are proud to feed this not only to your guests, but to yourself. It looks appetizing, so it is appetizing. The production of the whole meal has literally increased its nourishment.

Now imagine rushing in, frustrated you're home late and have to cook. You take the same ingredients but this time, you throw some frozen chicken breasts onto a tray and shove it in the oven. You take the salad and stuff a few handfuls into a bowl. You chop up the same vegetables into thick chunks because you can't be bothered to take your time, and finish off by rushing though your meal, stressed out that it's late, and not taking the time to appreciate the fact that eating is a necessity. While you eat, you are angry and, your whole eating experience negates quality in every way. Same ingredients, completely different experience. Can you feel the difference and how it would even effect your digestion differently, even though it's the same ingredients?

This ties into what I was talking about last week, and the previous weeks as well. Quality of a meal and how it's prepared is essential to healthy eating. There is a lot of questioning surrounding organic vs. non organic and all I am really going to say about that is, pound for pound organic and local varieties are nutritionally more dense than non organic. If you want to truly eat clean, you will choose foods that are pesticide free, hormones free, and have been grown or raised in an ethical manner. I personally choose organic or local whenever I can, which is about 90% of the time. I also choose high quality places to dine out at, and choose the freshest foods that I can on their menus. Quality looks different to everyone though, so here are a few questions to ask yourself with eating throughout the week:

Are you taking time to prepare and present your meals in a way that is pleasing to the eye and to the palette?

Are you cooking your meals from whole, fresh ingredients?

Are your meals rushed or made to be an enjoyable experience?

Are you reading ingredient labels? Do these labels have ingredients that you can't pronounce or is it  filled with chemicals?

Start to treat yourself like a premium gasoline car. Choose to put only the highest quality food in your body because you are the most important thing in your life. That's not being narcissistic either. If you have a family you need to care for, how can you care for them if you aren't healthy? Treat you, and those around you, by celebrating you every time you eat. Take your time to prepare meals, present them nicely, and choose the best ingredients that you know how to. This is a sign of true health, being able to say "I choose only the best for me, because I am worth it".