Health Records

As a physical therapist, I hear patients complain all the time about filling out paperwork prior to their initial appointment.  I’ll admit, I complain as well.  I’ve had a few patients come in with their own completed health history documents and I have often thought I NEED to compile my health information as well.  Unfortunately, many health providers are unable to access health information from other providers unless they are working within the same health system.  Filling out our health histories can be time-consuming not to mention a challenge for some.  Think about how long it would take you to fill out several pages of health questions if you recently injured your dominant hand?  Or suffered a stroke?  Or have a brain injury, suffered from migraines, or had a concussion?  I too get annoyed with health paperwork, but as a provider I rely heavily on the information included.

This post is meant to help us organize our health histories into concise documents that can be updated when needed.  While some healthcare providers will still require some questions to be answered regarding your reason for visiting their office, at least this form will help keep the extra paperwork to a minimum if you print an updated copy and take it with you to each of your visits.  Just keep in mind that you will still have to sign several consent and privacy forms at each office.  (You can complain, but it won’t help…many of these forms are mandatory.)

First, download and save this document, Medical History, to your computer for each family member.  You could also help out aging parents or family members by beginning a file for them. Then begin compiling information and update the file after each and every doctor’s visit with changes/updates.  While your history may not be thorough, at least from this point on it will be complete. If you or your child is adopted, make sure and note that as well as any biological health history you are aware of.

Parents will need to add themselves and their contact information to their children’s health history document as well as alter the statement at the end of the document to indicate you are the parent/guardian of the child.  For older children, you may also want to list school and extracurricular activity information.  For example, if your child participates in sports, you may want to list information for the athletic trainers that cover your child’s practices and sporting events.

While this seems like another project that will just be too time consuming to complete, I assure you, over the course of many years, keeping track of your own as well as your family’s health history WILL save you time.  Not to mention, these documents could come in very handy during a medical emergency!



Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping

I’m starting out 2016 with an easy topic, one in which I consider myself quite organized.  Early in our marriage, my husband and I began living life according to a budget.  As the primary cook, meal planner, and grocery shopper I quickly realized that “winging it” was going to cost a fortune.  I found that when I would stop by the grocery store on my way home from work, that I frequently purchased things that I did not need.  In order to stay on budget, I had to make some changes that included actually planning out meals and making a thorough grocery list.  I usually spend approximately 30 minutes each week meal planning and preparing my grocery list.  This post will give you the tools to help save time and stress with meal planning, grocery shopping, and meal preparation.


Decide how often you will go grocery shopping.  For me, I go weekly, but you may prefer a different schedule.  Occasionally, I will stop by the store or farmers’ market to pick up fresh produce mid-week.  For the sake of this post, let’s say you are like me and you usually go grocery shopping weekly.  Now, figure out how many dinners you plan to cook at home for the week.  The same goes for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks.  Don’t forget to check your calendars…are you hosting friends or family?  Have you been invited to a party and plan to bring food to share?  Will you be out-of-town for the weekend or do you have a business dinner planned?  These are all things to consider when scheduling meals.


Now that you have a schedule, you must choose what to eat.  First check your refrigerator, pantry, and freezer.  Is there anything you need to use now?  Plan a meal to use up produce or meat that might otherwise be wasted.  Here is where you pull out your cookbooks, favorite family recipes, and your Pinterest account.  (I like Pinterest, because I like to try out new recipes often.)  Make sure you are eating a healthy variety of produce, protein, and styles of food.  For each meal on each day, you must decide what you plan to prepare.  Don’t forget leftovers when planning; some recipes will always make enough for lunch the next day or even a second dinner.  Another piece of advice, group recipes together that have similar ingredients.  For example, in the summertime I like to cook shrimp tacos and pulled pork with slaw in the same week.  These are two recipes that both use chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, purple cabbage, jalapeños, and cilantro.

Click here for a MealSchedule form.


Gather all the recipes for the week and begin compiling a list.  Sort your list by sections of the store(s) you frequent (i.e. produce, dairy, freezer, meat, deli, etc.).  If you are like me, I shop for groceries in several places: the supermarket, farmers’ market, and specialty stores such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.  While I don’t visit each place every week, I make sure to have a separate list for every store.  I also keep a pen and notepad out in my kitchen for those items that run out mid-week and I know will need to be replaced.  I jot the item down on a list right then.  (I’ve also trained my husband to do this not just with food, but toiletries and household products as well!)

Click here for a GroceryList form.


Shopping with a detailed list that is categorized according to your store makes shopping much more efficient with your time.  I love it when I get through a store, double-check my list, and don’t have to go back for anything!


If I am home over the weekend with little planned, I will typically “cook ahead” if the recipe allows.  I also do some ingredient prep such as chopping veggies.  By simply taking advantage of an hour on Sundays, it saves me time with dinner prep during the week.

I hope you find this post helpful in decreasing stress with meal planning, list making, and grocery shopping.  While it does take time to plan, I find that it really helps decrease the stress that would come with last-minute preparations!




So this is it…the final post of 2015!  I’ve posted 53 times…every Thursday of 2015.  It’s only fitting to share a self-reflection.  After all, it is New Year’s Eve and a great time to reflect on where I’ve been and lessons learned.

Lesson #1:  Transparency is freeing.  For so long, I kept my health issues internalized…even some of my closest friends and family had no idea the difficulty I was having.  Once I opened up, I was shocked to find how many people I knew had also dealt with some of the same issues.  By just opening up, it was as though a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.  By allowing myself to let go of my health past I was able embrace change.

Lesson #2:  I am capable of incredibly more than my tiny mind can conceive.  When I started this challenge, it was going to be just a little project to help keep me accountable. As of last week’s post, this blog has been read in 33 countries on 6 continents.  Who knew this little girl’s words would travel this far?

Lesson #3:  If you want something you have never had or to go somewhere you have never been, you have to do something you have never done.  The unknown is scary, but the consequences would have been worse.  Not only would my health have suffered, but every relationship I have would have also suffered.

Lesson #4:  If I accept an unquestioned answer over an unanswered question, I cannot know or understand truth for myself.  I should never just accept the information of others without confirming and pursuing a higher level of understanding.  I must learn for myself if I truly want to understand.  God gave me a mind and I intend to use it.  Heartfelt change can only be meaningful if it begins (and continues) with true self-reflection.  It took being unhealthy for me to learn this lesson.  It took a long time to get to this place, but I am now thankful for my thyroid issues.  If it wasn’t for bad health, I might have never learned this lesson.

Lesson #5:  I will mess up.  My perfectionist self can be so hard on me at times.  I need to give myself a break every now and then. I must remember that I am clothed in God’s grace and my imperfect progress and lessons learned are all part of His way of molding me to become more Christ-like.

To all my readers, a BIG THANK YOU!  May God bless you and keep you in this New Year! Happy 2016!


My Year in Review

Health-Quotes-68I did A LOT this year.  This challenge was no small undertaking.  One more week and I have accomplished my goal of posting every Thursday of 2015. As I reflect on 2015, I thought I would highlight what this blog helped me accomplish given the original intent of this blog was a source of accountability.  Here’s what I did this year:

I read and reviewed 8 books this year that pertain to my health in some manner.

The Daniel Plan


In Defense of Food

Grain Brain

The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Salt Sugar Fat

It Starts With Food

The Marshmallow Test

I changed the way I clean house by switching out some chemical laden cleaning products for homemade cleaning products.

All Purpose Cleaner

Glass Cleaner

Bathroom Cleaner

Laundry Detergent

A New Approach to Cleaning

I discontinued use of several skin care/beauty products and began using a few homemade products instead.

Body Lotion

Body Wash

Sugar Scrub

Facial Cleansers

I began a daily regimen of probiotics and supplementation (fish oil, B complex, vitamin D).



I began a regular strength training program and met my 2015 fitness goals.

10 Reasons to Strength Train

10 Myths Regarding Strength Training

10 Strength Training Exercises 

2015 Fitness Goals

I learned about what we should be eating, where our food comes from, and how our food sources affect our health.

Alphabet Soup

Fat, Oils, and Butter

Produce & Pesticides

Trouble With Sugar

Food Dye

Condiment Conundrum

I began shopping for, cooking, and preparing food differently…and shared some new favorite recipes along the way.

3 Ways to Cook Fresh Veggies

Farmers’ Markets

5 Dinner Salads

Breakfast Ideas

Soup Season

Snack Swaps

My Side Dish Dilemma

Salad Dressings

I also learned a little about making good decisions, personal convictions, motivation, and rewards.

A Personal Conviction

What To Do When You Don’t Have Control

Rewarding Yourself

I also took an alternative look at daily health management.

Dental Health 

Just Breathe

Call Me A Lab Rat





The Green Hearted 2.0

black and white aspen forest wall ink_bluesky

So I have been doing a lot of thinking about what I should do with this blog…and I have finally come to my conclusion.  I’m going to keep blogging.  I enjoy it.  It keeps me accountable to a goal.  And, I just don’t want to give it up.  But here’s the catch…I’m tackling a new challenge for 2016.  I wish to be more organized with my to-do lists…and when I say to-do lists, I mean ALL of my to-do lists.  My dad recently told me that I was one of the most organized people he knows.  I laughed.  I feel so scatter brained at times.  I am always worried that I will forget something important or be unprepared.  My racing brain just doesn’t get a break!  So to meet my goal of becoming more organized, I plan to blog about my attempt to be more organized!  I know it sounds really boring, but I promise to include resources to aid you in decreasing the stress and clutter in your life.  I won’t be blogging each week or even each month.  I plan to post only 8-10 times next year about my efforts for organizational improvement.  Here’s a few of my ideas:

  1. Finances
  2. Home/Car Maintenance Schedule
  3. Household Cleaning Schedule
  4. Meal Planning
  5. Shopping (household, clothing, gift giving, etc.)
  6. Storage (kitchen, laundry, garage, photos/memories, holiday, etc.)
  7. Health Records

I hope you’ll continue to follow my blog, become a little more organized, and decrease your stress level in the process!  Thanks for following along this year!




Em1I have historically had issues getting sufficient rest, but over the course of 2015 this problem has greatly improved.  I recall having several recurring nightmares as a child and I will still occasionally sleep walk even as an adult.  When spending the night with friends throughout childhood and up through college, I was told I talk in my sleep. During PT school, I lived by myself, but woke one morning to find my laundry half folded in the middle of the living room.

After changing my eating habits early this year, I immediately experienced improvement in my ability to get sufficient rest.  While a change in my diet was a big focus for the year, I also have made other changes to address my inability to sleep. Here are several strategies that I utilize to make sure I get more restful sleep.

  1. Avoid Processed Foods:  When I began to change my diet back in January, I immediately saw improvement in my ability to get to and stay asleep.  I often envy my husband’s ability to pass out in 5 minutes or less.  It’s rare that it takes me more than 30 minutes to get to sleep now whereas before, it was a common occurrence to track how long it took me to get to sleep!
  2. Lavender Essential Oil:  While I have not experimented with essential oils as much as I would have liked, I am a firm believer that lavender helps to calm me down.  I have a brain that does not like to shut off at night and I believe the lavender has helped to calm my inner voice down so that I can fall asleep with greater ease.
  3. Deep Breathing:  I wrote about deep breathing a few weeks ago, but I find that  when I am struggling to fall asleep that if I take 5 really deep and slow breaths that my entire body seems to relax more making sleep much more likely.
  4. Sleep Schedule: Everyone is different, but I find that I need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep to feel rested the next day.  Anything less and I yawn all day long!  I’m usually in bed by 10:30 p.m., lights out no later than 10:45 p.m., and up between 6-7 a.m.
  5. Turn the Lights Down: After dinner is finished, kitchen cleaned, and everything organized for the next day, I turn the lights down in preparation for bedtime.  I find that brighter lights at night are a nuisance to me and keep me too alert to go to sleep.
  6. Exercise Regularly: I find that on days that I exercise aggressively, then my body is eager for rest and I fall asleep more quickly.
  7. White Noise:  Some white noise is just annoying to me and will actually keep me up at night, but I find that keeping a fan on (yes, even in the winter!) helps me to stay cool and drown my thoughts.
  8. Avoid Naps / Falling Asleep on the Couch in the Evening: If I take a nap or fall asleep on the couch in the evening then I am assuring myself that I will not be getting to sleep quickly or even able to stay asleep once I get to sleep.  I try my best to keep a specific time and place for sleep so that I feel the most rested every day.
  9. Getting My Husband on Board:  This may be the most important point.  My husband has no bedtime routine, prefers every light on in the house at night, and has absolutely no difficulty with sleep at all.  His involvement in my sleep plan is essential.  Some nights I still have to remind him and keep him on task, but I find that if he is an active participant in my sleep schedule that I am much more rested not to mention, he finds he has a much happier wife!

Being in the middle of the holiday season renders some of us exhausted and eager for rest.  Hopefully, some of these strategies will be as helpful to you as they are for me.



Homemade Salad Dressings

I promised several months ago to do a post on homemade salad dressings and I’m finally following through.  I chose not to include any creamy dressing recipes, however I do have a few recipes that use milk and sour cream/greek yogurt.  If interested let me know and I can pass those recipes along.

kolder-all-in-one-salad-dressing-bottle-for-mixing-storing-pouring-1On a side note, I do have a cool product to share with you.  It’s a salad dressing bottle from Kolder.  On the side of the bottle are 8 salad dressing recipes that fit in the bottle.  This would make a great stocking stuffer and it’s only $5-6 on Amazon.

All of the following recipes have the same instructions. Combine the ingredients in a glass jar/container with a tight seal.  Shake to combine the ingredients before topping your salad.  Store at room temperature.

Spicy Vinaigrette

2/3 cup Olive Oil (may add more if too spicy)

1/4 cup White Wine Vinegar

1 Pressed Garlic Clove

1/4 cup Hot Sauce

Salt & Pepper

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

1/4 cup of Olive Oil

1/4 cup of Fresh Lime Juice

1 Pressed Garlic Clove

1/2 of a Jalapeño, seeded and chopped

Salt & Pepper

Italian Vinaigrette

1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar

1 cup of Olive Oil

1/4 cup of Water

1 Pressed Garlic Clove

1 teaspoon of Onion Powder

1/4 teaspoon of Salt

1/4 teaspoon of Black Pepper

1 teaspoon of Dried Oregano

1/2 teaspoon of Dried Mustard

1/2 teaspoon of Dried Basil

Lemon Vinaigrette

1/4 cup Olive Oil

1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar

Zest of 1 Lemon

3 tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice

1 tablespoon Honey

Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

1 Pressed Garlic Clove

1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar

1 1/2 cups Olive Oil