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MEGAN MONDAY: Announcing…AMAZING ACEROLA!

acerolaMegan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.

With the exciting upcoming release of organic MySuperCookies, what better time to highlight one of the new star ingredients – ACEROLA. Don’t let the label designation of “cookie” fool you. MySuperFoods has carefully selected new key ingredients to pack a healthy punch into your child’s snack. Acerola is often referred to as either acerola berry or acerola cherry (although it’s not related to the conventional cherry that you initially think of). This tropical fruit that’s native to Mexico, Central, and South America is packed with antioxidants vitamin C and anthocyanin, which is always a good thing for immunity and overall health.

Vitamin A is another important nutrient found in acerola berry, yielding as much as a bundle of full-sized carrots, or approximately 3400 to 12,500 international units per 100 grams of fruit. This is good news for parents who are always looking for a way to boost their children’s diets with healthy whole-food nutrient sources. Vitamin A plays a role in visual health, normal growth and ongoing development, red blood cell production and it protects the immune system.

Other healthy nutrients you can find in acerola include several B-vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium – each of which is necessary in a normal diet. Protein, fiber and fatty acids, are also included in the important line-up of great things packed into this super fruit.

Some additional great things acerola is known for:

  • Balancing blood sugar
  • Allergy relief
  • Dampening depression symptoms
  • Fighting off the common cold
  • Combatting inflammation

I don’t know about you, but I am beyond excited for the new cookies that will be bursting with this new ingredient that will redefine the meaning of cookies. Stay tuned next week to learn about the other new star super ingredient – BAOBAB!

REFERENCES: www.herbwisdom.com; Dr. Cathy Wong, MD

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more:http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us or feel free to send her an e-mail at:megan@empowerhealthcoach.com. Follow Megan on Twitter (@MPowerNutrition) and like her on Facebook (Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC).

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What I Learned About Being a Mother Was From Being a Daughter First

lukedukeMegan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.

It’s been almost two months since I’ve been here from having my second son, Patrick, and it feels like the time flew by. It feels good to be back and I hope that this message finds all of you well. As my due date approached, I thought of article topics to write and even tried to get ahead of the game, but to no avail. It was right after I had Patrick that I knew I wanted to write this piece as a sort of reflection on my life as a parent up to this point and what has shaped my view of my role as a mother. I had plenty an opportunity to think while I was in labor for 14 hours on February 27th; so many thoughts flooded my mind, but the memories of first becoming a mother two years ago and the moments that immediately ensued stuck out most vividly. The thoughts compiled here took me weeks to think about; they may not even flow well, but I felt like I needed to share in case any of you could relate and find solace.

Going into labor this second time around carried a mixed bag of emotions for me – the birth of my first son Lucas was pretty much textbook perfect. It was quick, I was able to go all-natural with no medications, and I vividly recall noting how I forgot the pain of every contraction as soon as they were over. With such an easy labor to compare this birth to, I was a bit anxious wondering if it would go just as smooth. Looking back, I feel like I was honored with such a relatively easy birth because immediately thereafter, I felt like a giant piece of my life started to crumble away and I had zero control over it. It was almost like a trade-off. With the immense joy of becoming a first-time mother to the most perfect little baby came the heartbreak of the phone call from my mother a few hours later telling me that my father who had been battling brain cancer for 9 months at that point was starting to fail and needed to go into hospice. I was in California. My parents were in Florida. My heart and stomach sank. Throughout my entire first pregnancy, I was anxious with each day that passed, scared that I would be stuck across the country and something horrible would happen to my dad and I would not be able to get to him. Thankfully, he battled bravely and was doing rather well in comparison to other patients with the same diagnosis. We all had hope. And it wasn’t until right around I gave birth that it all started coming apart – it all started becoming so……real. As I held my newborn, just hours old, I looked into his face and pleaded with God that I could get this child to see my father in time.

Fast-forward. I started going into labor with my second son a few days before my due date and I couldn’t have been happier, as the end of this pregnancy was wearing on me. Chasing after a now-two-year old while working and carrying on with life definitely changed the circumstances and I was ready to have this child. I knew it would bring a whole new set of challenges, but I was excited. I also was a bit antsy as to how this labor would go. I vaguely remembered the labor pain from two years ago, but I went into this with the expectation that it would be quick and easy like my first. My expectations failed me a bit, as this birth was very different, but I am glad, for it allowed me to really reflect on what being a parent means – and it all started with how I was a child to my parents first – namely, my dad during a time when he needed me most. As my labor started and with the full intention of going all-natural and drug-free again, I realized very quickly that the only thing that alleviated the pain was of all things, to fast walk. I fast-walked for hours around the house, doing laps in the dark while everyone slept. What. Would. I. Do. With. Myself? It wasn’t like I could read or watch a show to pass the time. I realized becoming lost in my thoughts was my only option and my mind immediately went back to two years ago. I thought back to my first birth, how I got through, how I felt…and my mind sort of skipped over that and kept going back to my dad and how I wish he was around to see the birth of his second grandchild. What made it even more ironic this time was I was in my mom’s house – the house she and my dad retired to…the house I cared for my dying dad in for several months. Here we are now living in Florida and I was about to give birth in a hospital right around the corner from where my dad was. By 4 am, with contractions strong and close together, I decided it was time to go to the hospital and my husband and I expected what happened the first time around – for me to be 9 cm dilated and pretty much ready to deliver. Yea, not so much this time around. I was only 4 cm dilated but felt like I had already run a marathon and had three more to go. I felt a bit defeated and then it hit me that I was in for a different labor. The pain was more intense this time. I seriously needed to walk walk walk just to be able to function. I kept thinking back to two years ago. Once I got admitted and assigned a labor and delivery room, I hit the hallways and just walked. According to the nurses and my husband, I fast-walked miles. And the whole time, with each killer contraction that brought me cringing to the tips of my toes, I reflected on the memories of my experience two years ago. If I could get through that, I could get through this. “That” being the journey I had from once my first son was born to once my dad passed away. More so, I realized, I reflected on this time so vividly because it was exactly two years to the day that I took Lucas, my first son, to Florida to see my dad. February 27, 2012 was when I stepped into a harsh, sad, scary reality with a tough trip, and here I was, February 27th, 2014, giving birth to another child. Coincidence? Perhaps.

That journey was exactly three months long, but seemed like an eternity at moments. I couldn’t leave California to see my dad until my son was two weeks old and cleared by the doctor to fly cross-country to Florida. I was anxiety-ridden each day that passed, worried that each time my phone rang, it would be my mom with bad news. I held out hope. We Skyped with my dad every day so he could see his grandson and have something to look forward to – to stay strong for, as he started to really decline and lose the desire to live once he went into hospice. I struggled with this, for I felt completely trapped and out of control. Here was my dad – the man who was the strong rock my entire life (before my husband), thousands of miles away…and losing a battle he tried so hard to fight. I would look down at my infant child and just think, “Why?” Why would someone have to go through this pain? Why did I have to go through this pain at such a joyous time in my life? What did all of this mean? I still don’t know the answer to those questions, but all I knew at that moment was life is short; my dad dedicated his entire life to his family – my mom, my sister, and me, and now it was time to show that to my son.

The day arrived when Lucas, my son, turned two weeks old and we had his doctor’s appointment where I nervously prayed he checked out fine, for if he did not, we were not headed to Florida. Such pressure for a newborn. My dad was in grave condition at that point – to the extent where I was getting hourly updates from my sister and mom who were with my dad in hospice house. As my husband drove Lucas and me out of the parking lot of the doctor’s office in beautiful Monterey, California and on our two-hour drive to San Francisco airport, I stared in silence at my child the entire way. That’s when it hit me that I was about to embark on the most difficult journey of my life…..and I was with a 14-day old human being. My human being. I admired my baby; he held such a grace and love about him. I just wanted the nightmare I was experiencing to go away. I was petrified deep down as my husband dropped us off at the gate in the airport for our midnight flight. Bags full of infant necessities packed, my newborn nestled in the Ergobaby carrier I had strapped as close as possible to me, and my hopes of making it in time to see my dad in time, we were ready to board the plane. I felt horrible doing this; I felt guilty – what if my baby got sick from someone on the plane? What if he didn’t do well on the plane? Why wasn’t I at home nestled with my newborn like most brand-new moms are? I realized this was my reality – because I wouldn’t have it any other way; I wouldn’t leave my dad. I wouldn’t deny him the joy and right of holding his grandchild. Instead, I looked at this situation as a blessing and time to step up. My son was going to learn at a very young age what parents do for their children and what children do for their parents.

The entire experience to Florida was rather nightmarish. From the rude airline personnel who refused to let me board ahead of the entourage of business-class jet-setters (many of them protesting the gate attendant, wanting me to board) to some of the rude passengers standing in line who literally called me “crazy” to my face for traveling with a 2-week old (they retracted rather quickly when I explained I was happy to be “crazy” if I got to see my dying dad in time), to the non-stop turbulence the entire 6-hour plane ride that pretty much felt like would crash the jet….I kept asking myself, “why?” Why. Was. This. Happening? Why was this happening to me at that time? When we finally landed, instead of feeling relief, I felt a pit in my stomach. I knew at that moment I was one step closer to having to face one of the hardest realities of my life – a situation I never thought I would have to prepare myself for at such a young age. But then I looked down at my baby who, despite the horrible things that were going on around us, was perfect the entire time. He was the stabilizing force; he grounded me. I was his mother and needed to do the same for him. I also knew I needed to do the same for my dad. With that, I hustled through the airport, greeted my mother and a dear neighbor at the gate, and we immediately went to hospice house.

I wasn’t expecting what I walked into. I had never been in a hospice house before. Everyone there acted like they had known me and Lucas for years. All of the nurses were oogling over Lucas before I even got to my dad’s room. It was the oddest paradox of feelings, really. Once I got to the door of my dad’s room, I felt like I was in a dream. This wasn’t really happening. I heard music from inside. The music therapist was playing his guitar for my dad; “Yellow Submarine” to be exact, and to this day, I don’t ever want to hear that song again, for that is when I looked at my father and he looked like a shell of a person. I didn’t even recognize him. He looked like he was ready to die at any moment. I just broke down and cried. What scared me the most was the uncertainty. What was next? Could I handle it? What a dichotomy this was – I was holding a newborn – my son, in front of a dying man – my father. Without even thinking, I just took Lucas out of the carrier and placed him on my dad, who was in and out of consciousness. I had come to realize hospice house had already started giving him the dosage of drugs when someone is ready to transition and at that split second, I wasn’t having any of it. Something just snapped inside of me. I got pissed. I was not going to let my dad die at this moment. I kept talking to my dad and touching him until he realized that I was there; that his grandson was on him, and not to sound like a cliché, but at that moment I realized my dad wasn’t ready, either. The second he felt his grandchild and knew we were there after muttering to me, “I didn’t think you would make it,” he knew he had to fight through this a little longer. My father always taught me to never give up; to be tough – to battle through it. He and I looked at each other and we both knew that this was not his time just yet…and I was going to do all that I could to give him back whatever strength he needed to make it happen. It was my mission. I just gave birth to a child, but felt like I also gave my dad a bit more of his life to him, too.

I stayed by my dad’s side for the rest of the day. Lucas and I napped with him and let him know it was OK. I’ll never forget that night once I got back to my parents’ house. It was about 1 am and the house phone rang. My mother, sister, and I dreaded answering it, as we thought it was hospice telling us my dad passed away. Rather, it was my father on the phone adamantly stating he wanted out of hospice house and wanted to come home. I packed Lucas up in the car in the middle of the night and we immediately headed over there to comfort my dad. When I walked into his room, it was as if there was a different person occupying my dad’s bed than the frail, dying man whom I saw a mere 12 hours before. My dad refused his meds, which annoyed one of the nurses (who seemed rather intent that my dad was due to die), and then started doing leg lifts while lying in bed to strengthen his legs so he could leave. I was in disbelief. He turned and looked at me and said, “I’m not ready. You need to get me out of here.” That’s when I felt like the roles had reversed – for all of the time my dad came to my rescue in my life, it was my turn to come to his. “Absolutely. You don’t belong in here,” was my reply and we sat and laughed and did more leg lifts, with Lucas contently napping in the crook of my dad’s arms.

I worked hard (against some people’s wishes) to get my dad out of bed, showered, moved around, and helping him to fulfill his wish to leave hospice house. While the staff members and our family were shocked to see the transformation, the one thing that could not be denied was that Lucas seemed to have brought my dad back from death. Literally. The doctor told me that my father probably would have passed away over the next few days with the condition he was in before Lucas and I arrived. After several days of hard work in hospice house, my dad got his wish and we took him home, which is where he wanted to be. Over the next three months, it was a challenge, for his needs were great, and my mother was totally burned out at that point, so I pretty much took over with my dad, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. For the first few weeks he was home, we got him from being pretty much paralyzed due to the brain cancer to getting up and walking with his walker on his own. I brought him to the pool to swim, which he said was the only true feeling of physical freedom he had. I pushed him and Lucas in his wheelchair on walks through the neighborhood. I stayed up countless nights with him, for he couldn’t sleep due to the steroids for brain swelling, and Lucas was right there with us. I realized then that when most parents of newborns were beyond exhausted with nighttime feedings, I welcomed it, for it was another dimension of my father and I bonding with Lucas when everyone else was asleep. I still do not know how my body did not break over that time. With the amount of days I spent staying up 24-hours in a row nursing Lucas, caring for my dad, and running errands when I could, it was short of a miracle.

With each day that passed, my dad got better before he got worse again after the second month, when I had to return back to California for two weeks. I looked at these days as blessings, not challenges, as I got to share them with my newborn, who gradually grew up to be 3 months old before our eyes in a very unique situation. He was able to witness what it means to care for someone with unconditional love. Each night, I would lay there and pray that if I was ever in the situation my dad was in, that Lucas would care for me the same way (and I didn’t think this in a selfish, demanding-expectation-way). I knew Lucas was a special little guy from the moment he was born; but even more so to have endured this journey with me. It’s a bond that I will never have with anyone else; on the nights I would sit there crying by myself in fear/sadness/anger/frustration, I would hold and rock Lucas and look at him and know the love I had for my dad and vice-versa enabled me to love and care for my child in the same way. My dad and I were always very close. Despite the conventional spats that occur between a teenage daughter and her parents, I never had that with my dad. He was strict and held high expectations, but was also beyond proud of anything I ever did. I wanted my son to feel the same thing. My dad was not perfect, but I learned to forgive him for any of his short-comings, as he was just doing the best he could the best way he knew how. Each night during that time, I would reflect back on all of the wonderful memories I had as a child – and how my father was a part of so many of them. I wanted this for Lucas as well, and knew that while he wouldn’t remember that period in his life with my dad, I would make sure my dad lived on through him with the memories my husband and I would create for our sons.

Sadly, at the end of three months, my dad deteriorated again and it truly was his time to pass. I am forever grateful for the time Lucas and I had with him. I feel like we created a lifetime of memories together in just a short period of time. When my dad finally passed away after three final weeks of a harsh, painful battle with brain cancer, I felt a sense of relief – for him. It was time for him to no longer suffer, to know that he did great things throughout his life, and most importantly, that his legacy will live on through his grandchildren. To this day, I see a twinkle of my dad in Lucas and know that Patrick, despite never having met my dad in person, carries his spirit, too.

When Patrick was finally born, I held him in my arms and felt an overwhelming sense of joy and relief this time. I did not have to worry about my dying father. Rather, I felt my father’s presence the entire day and if anything, I feel my father had an intervention with me giving birth on February 27th – as if almost to give me back that day two years ago when I was so scared to cross over into a part of my life I never anticipated. Patrick’s middle name Duke is in honor of my dad, for he shall carry his greatness and memory in some way.

The point in writing this rather lengthy article is to share that as parents (or even caregivers), we carry the message and love that was imparted and ingrained unto us from our parents. We will not always have our parents around, and the times we have with them may not always be the best. However, we ultimately will pass that love, care, and legacy on to our children. We learn how to be the parents we are to our children from what we felt from our parents. While extremely painful, the last moments I had with my dad will be some of the greatest memories I can share with my children. We are all going to be faced with many hardships in life, but know that you can muster the strength to get through them all – especially because you are setting that example for your children. Before my father died, he made sure that I promised him to never take a day, my health, or anything or anyone in life for granted, for it’s not only until you lose those things that you wish you had them again. This is why I do what I do – not only for my own children, but for anyone who can learn from what I share. Our health is a gift that goes beyond us feeling and looking good; it’s an opportunity to have more days with the ones we love to live life to the fullest and create memories that will live on forever.

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us or feel free to send her an e-mail at:megan@empowerhealthcoach.com. Follow Megan on Twitter (@MPowerNutrition) and like her on Facebook (Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC).

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MySuperCookies – Coming Soon!

3D COOKIES - 3 FLAVORS HRI know, I know…we’ve been teasing and taunting you with our newest launch of MYSUPERCOOKIES.  (And we work so hard to ask our kids to stop such behavior…)

A little update on how things are going.  Testing and planning are moving along very nicely.  Ingredients are being ordered.  Boxes are being revised again and again to get them just right.  And who knew it took so many weeks to build the mold of our SuperKids so that these cookies will be in 5 fun shapes!?

Here’s what you should know about what is coming (as early as June) to a store near you.

MySuperCookies are:

- Organic and Non GMO

- Nut Free, Made in a Nut Free Facility

- Available in Honey, Blueberry Vanilla, and Chocolate

- Shaped like FIVE, fun, SuperKids

- Made with Acerola and Baobab – two NEW superfruits!

- Packed with Quinoa, Chia, Flax and Coconut Oil

- Low in sugar

- So delicious that our kids are devouring any samples that come through the door…

Interested?  Call your favorite local store and ask them to carry these products.  Send us their info and we will get some samples right out the door.

We are so excited.  Can’t wait to share the final product with you all!!

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Five Cool Website For Kids Stuff

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 12.16.46 PM

The tulips are peaking through the blades of grass, the heat is not on as much and I’m almost ready to put the winter gear away.  Yes, spring is almost here.  The season of new beginnings, it’s my favorite time of year to purge, donate and organize.  The upside of all of that hard work is shopping for the new — especially kids stuff because nothing seems to last more than a season.  Here are five of our favorite websites for cool kids stuff:

1. FabKids - This subscription service will deliver a cool, high quality outfit for your kids every month.  You can choose the outfit from a curated selection just for you! And what kids doesn’t love getting a new box every month?  Super cool!

2.  Pley - Once you donate the old toys, this is a great option for Lego lovers.  Borrow Lego sets, send them back and get new ones!  You can even lose a few pieces at no extra cost.  I’m definitely trying this one!

3. Zulily – This site just gets better and better.  I especially love their kids clothes and shoes, great pricing and super cute.

4. E-beanstalk – Take the guessing out of developmentally appropriate toys with this site, it sorts them for you!

5. UV Skinz – I am the crazy mom in the park who keep reapplying suncreen until my kids look like ghosts, so I know a little about UV protected sun gear.  Of the brand I have purchases, I was happiest with Skinz.  They are well made, last a whole season of pools and beaches and still look new.

Happy Spring!

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Business Update: How our SuperFamily is Growing

It’s been awhile since our last business update.  Here are 5 EXCITING things that have happened since then:

1. We launched MySuperCookies at Expo West – March 6-9 2014.  Organic, nut-free, chia & flax seeds, coconut oil.  Honey, Blueberry Vanilla and Chocolate.  Coming in June.3D COOKIES - 3 FLAVORS HR

2. We partnered up with Alaskan Airlines to put MySuperSnack Granola Bars in their Kids’ Choice Picnic Pack.  Available in April.

3. We introduced TristZen, the fifth member of our SuperTeam.  Silvia had him 2 years ago.  It was a bit overdue…

4. We’ve added Kings, Balducci’s, Fairway, Wild By Nature, and many other independent stores to our list of amazing customers.

5. Our favorite holistic health and nutrition coach, Megan Kalocinski welcomed Patrick Duke into the world less than 1 month ago.  And she’s still blogging away.

We couldn’t be happier, more excited or freaked out than we are right now.  Launching new products is like having more kids.  If you’re awake, you’re either asking yourself, “can we handle this?” or “can we afford this?”  But if we had all the answers before we had the answers then we wouldn’t have any fun at all.

In every interview I’ve ever watched of a successful entrepreneur they’ve all said, “If I would have known how hard this was going in, I might not have done it.  But I’m so glad that I did.”

Thanks for joining us for the ride.

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MySuperSnack for Super (Special) Kids, Volunteering for Tomorrows Children’s Fund

photo-3Normally, I’m a perky, strong, and willful young lady with an answer for everything…and I really like that about myself.

Recently, I found myself observing quietly, keeping mentally strong, and stumbling to put a sentence together. This doesn’t happen too often, so I made a conscious choice to give this sort-of-new emotion a fair judgement. Katie and I went to the Hackensack University Medical Center as volunteers for their “Go 4 The Goal, Kart 4 Kids–which is run through  Tomorrows Children’s Fund.  This program supplies a snack cart for their in-patent pediatrics unit.

So, what we did is just as amazing as it sounds: we walked around with a rolling cart that had everything from M&M’s, Gobstoppers, and KitKats to Funky Fingers Nail Polish, Legos, and playing cards—there were activity books, Mad Libs, and eye masks, too. If the child/young adult was up to having visitors, we were able to go in and meet them. Sometimes, their parents came out and choose for them…and other patients politely declined. I met two people who I will never forget— and,  I’m not sure I learned their names.

The first, a young Spanish kid who was sitting in his room alone. He was a little bit older than the other patients I saw… with tattoos going up his arm, Beats by Dre on his ears, and a forced bright smile every once in a while. He couldn’t eat much because he had sores in his mouth from some of his treatments. He looked for something fun, but passed on the playing cards, shoe laces, and legos. He set his eye on this tiny stuffed animal dog, and smiled a beautiful smile when we told him that he didn’t have to pay for it. He didn’t speak much English, so I was able to say “hasta luego!” as I left… letting him know that I would see him again.

The second was a young girl with beautiful big eyes. She, too, was playing on an iPad and had Beats by Dre headphones. Her brother and sister were in the room with her, along with two family members. It made me smile to know that she had company… people there to occupy her time and support her through this. Her nails were painted with three different colors, and if anyone knows me.. that’s right tup my ally. She chose a really cool neon coloring pad that lets you sketch out pictures… I would have chosen that too. She said thank you and smiled. I expected her to choose the nail polish, and I even tried to push it… but she wasn’t into it. A girl who likes variety, and stands her ground. I like her, a lot.

What surprised me most was that I, Elizabeth Rodriguez, who can talk my way out of speeding tickets and have hour long conversations with strangers…was at a complete loss for words that day. The parents were smiling and strong for their kids, some kids were alone and they smiled too. The doctors made sure to save certain toys and candies for their patients…who they knew would decline the visit today. Nurses, one six months pregnant with her 4th child, laughing with each other, but concerned about the patients who  weren’t eating. They had conversations about how to motivate other patients too. A true community of genuinely thoughtful professionals— who loved candy, potato chips, and SuperSnacks.

That day I learned a lot about myself, and the community which grows within a hospital. The staff makes all the difference to those kids–they communicate with families and comfort the patients. The smiles, the supportive words, and the way they interact with family is admirable to say the least. I am grateful to have been part of this experience today, and I look forward to volunteering each month. Although I will represent MySuperFoods Company, I will without a doubt bring other presents to add to the cart. They love iTunes, plush toys, and small crafts that they can play with on their bed tray.

Normally, I’m a perky, strong, and willful young lady with an answer for everything. Today, I met a different side of myself and I really like her too.

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Another Trade Show, Another Product Launch. We’re Excited!

expo west prep 2014Can it be?  That we are old enough, established enough, experienced enough to shout out, “here comes another product launch!  Stand back, Expo West.  Get ready!”

Can it be?  That 18 months after we launched MySuperSnack Granola Bites we are launching MySuper(…Secret)!?

Can it be?  That this new product is ORGANIC.  MADE IN A NUT FREE FACILITY. PACKED WITH SUPERFOODS?

We are prepping, packing, setting up meetings and printing new brochures.  There is news, folks.  We can’t wait to share it.

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Top Sneaky and Odd Places Toxins Can Be Hiding In Your Home

toxic houseMegan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.
With so much emphasis being placed on eating healthy, watching dangerous and questionable ingredients in our foods and products, and maintaining wellness habits, sometimes we are completely oblivious to dangerous and health-hazardous situations right under our own noses. Here is a run-down of some places in and around your home that you may or may not be aware of that toxins can be lurking and what you can do to avoid them.
Cash register receipts and thermal paper – Were you aware that each time you grab a cash register or ATM receipt, you are swiping BPA all over your hands? Think about where these receipts go many times as well – right into your grocery bag full of food. This hormone disrupting chemical that normally appears in plastics and linings of cans seems to be more and more prevalent, exposing us to levels on a daily basis. In the thermal receipts now routinely given out by stores, BPA is often used as a color developer for the printing dye. These receipts have a thermal-sensitive layer that produces color when heated. You can also find high levels of BPA in the thermal paper used to make baggage destination tags, cigarette filters, and bus, train and lottery tickets. Pay extra attention to your children wanting to grab or play with these receipts as well, for you want to limit their exposure even more since their developing bodies are more sensitive to this chemical. Sadly enough, about 30 percent of the thermal paper enters the paper recycling stream, which can introduce BPA into products like toilet paper, napkins and food packaging. HOW TO BEST AVOID EXPOSURE: First and foremost, if you don’t need a receipt, leave it — and ask the cashier not to print it if possible. For many small purchases and unless you’re purchasing something you may want to take back, a receipt is unnecessary. If you need the receipt, ask the cashier to place it in the bag. When you get home, remove receipts from all bags, place them in a drawer or space on your desk just for the receipts, and avoid further unnecessary contact. Be sure to wash your hands well after handling receipts. Do not place receipts in bags with food items, especially items you eat raw.
Household Dust- Believe it or not, household dust can contain an insane amount of toxins, as so many chemicals are used throughout products in and out of our home and then accumulate in dust that settles on floors and furniture. According to the EPA, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors between home and offices; the air we’re breathing tends to be five times more polluted with organic pollutants than the air we breathe outside. Additionally, think about how many chemicals and germs are tracked into our homes from the soles of our shoes? The amount of pesticides alone that can be picked up on the bottoms of our shoes from crossing over lawns and grassy areas is enough to raise concern. Many of us do not realize this upon entering a home or establishment, and if you have carpets in your home, this compounds the problem even further, as these particles get trapped in the carpet piling. Dust mites, microscopic pathogens and chemical fragments accumulate in household dust and then settle on everything from furniture to bedding to nooks and crannies on shelves and floors. Think about where kids spend most of their time in the home – rubbing against things and playing on the floor, where they are exposed to inhaling higher doses of this dust than one may realize. HOW TO BEST AVOID EXPOSURE: Simply removing your shoes upon entering the house and requiring guests to do the same will cut back on an enormous amount of these toxins and dirt are traipsed into your home, not to mention it will cut down on how often you will need to clean up messes (which in turn, cuts down on cleaning products, etc.). Better yet, keep shoes someone outside of the immediate living area – either outdoors, in a mudroom, or garage. Vacuum or sweep often and steam clean your hard-surface floors to disinfect without needing products. Shake rugs out often and air out outside. Dust at least once a week without the use of chemical cleaners (natural oils work great or vinegar and water on a rag). Vacuum furniture, reduce clutter, and wash bedding at least once a week. Place comforters, pillows, and other fabrics in the dryer on high heat if possible, or a low temperature setting to remove dust as best as possible. Change air unit filters every 3-4 months to cut back on how much dust and particles are flowing through your ventilation system.

Clothes that have been dry-cleaned (including the “green”/”organic” versions!) – While maintaining gentle-care clothing has limited options, please be aware that the common method of dry-cleaning is so dangerous to our health. 90% of dry cleaners use highly toxic chemicals, and these chemicals remain in your clothes, which then rub off onto your skin all day long that you wear this clothing (or get hung-up in your closet where they emit these gases and then rub off onto other clothes). Additionally, these chemicals contaminate the air and water. Some of these chemicals are known carcinogens and can cause many other health problems, which is why some dry cleaners have tried to use creative marketing by stating that their products are “green” or “organic,” which you still need to be aware of because on many occasions, these labels mean absolutely nothing. For example, Hydrocarbons are chemicals are found in petroleum-based solvents, they are “organic” solvents, but are nonetheless human carcinogens. Some of the most common chemicals used are: PERC – About 90% of dry cleaners use perchloroethylene and this chemical is toxic to humans & the environment. People exposed to high levels of perc, even for brief periods, may experience serious symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, headaches, confusion, nausea, and skin, lung, eye and mucous membrane irritation. Repeated exposure to high levels can also irritate the skin, eyes, nose and mouth, and can cause liver damage and respiratory failure. HOW TO BEST AVOID EXPOSURE: See if any of your clothing can forgo the dry-cleaning route, and if not, then try and locate a genuine eco-friendly dry cleaner in your area that uses steam or non-toxic products – but you have to ask what is used and make sure that false claims are not being used to appear eco-friendly. If you do not have the option to go to an eco-friendly dry cleaner and absolutely need to have something conventionally dry-cleaned, be sure to remove the article of clothing out of the plastic bag and let it air out and hang outdoors for as long as possible to prevent the off-gassing of the chemicals in your immediate indoor environment. Try and avoid getting children’s clothes dry-cleaned as much as possible.

Cell phones, wireless routers, computers, home electronics, and wireless devices – Have you ever heard of EMF? (…and no, I’m not talking about the 90s band…) This is a topic that would require its own article for me to go into greater detail, but the long and short of it is with the increased use of electronic and tech-savvy products and devices in our homes and offices, we are increasingly exposing ourselves to higher and higher levels of EMFs – electromagnetic fields and RFs – radio frequency emissions. Things such as cell-phones, wireless routers, computers, lamps, alarm clocks, baby monitors, vacuum cleaners, electric blankets, etc. all produce some sort of frequency. Mobile phones expose us to intense levels of RF radiation that are significantly higher than those found naturally in the environment. These frequencies easily penetrate your central nervous system, the tissues of the brain, and other organs. Other wireless communication devices such as iPads, SmartPhone devices, WiFi, laptops, etc. are similar and create the same signals. Why should we be concerned about this, especially with how frequently our kids are now using portable devices and tablets to watch shows and play games on the internet? Scientific research states that the human body responds to these energy fields as invading pathogens, setting off a cascade of biochemical reactions that cause the release of damaging free radicals, alter the blood-brain barrier, creates an onset of inflammatory responses, and disrupt cellular communications throughout the body. HOW TO BEST AVOID EXPOSURE: While it’s nearly impossible to avoid such exposure as these devices are used EVERYWHERE, you can take precautions to limit your exposure. If you speak on a cell phone often, you should use a hands-free device that is wire-based (not Bluetooth, as this still uses wireless technology) and not hold or store the cell phone anywhere near your body (think 3 feet). Limit how much children touch devices that transmit Wi-Fi signals (or turn the Wi-Fi option off if children use devices with downloaded games, etc.). If you have Wi-Fi in your home, keep the unit far away from bedrooms or areas of the house where people are exposed to it frequently, as these waves will transmit more frequently. It seems crazy to think of limiting exposure to these devices that have made our lives so easy, but taking precautionary measures is advised.

Take-out containers and Styrofoam egg containers – Let’s face it: many of us do not make meals at home 100% of the time and occasionally (or more than occasionally) eat out or buy prepared foods to take home. Many times, these foods are placed in containers that we have no idea what they are made or lined with. Even “more natural” containers made from cardboard can be lined with harmful chemicals such as BPA, phthalates, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – and all of these substances are directly touching your food. The worst offender is Styrofoam, and it surprises me how much this material is still used in food containers. Styrene (the building-block for polystyrene, which Styrofoam is made from) is categorized by the EPA as a suspected carcinogen and a suspected toxin to the gastrointestinal, kidney, and respiratory systems. Foods and beverages that touch this material receive immediate exposure, as leaching rates are high – the leaching of styrene may not even require heat. Fatty foods fare even worse, as fats eat away at the chemical and creates greater exposure. Does your family eat eggs? A study conducted by Louisiana State University showed that eggs still in their shells stored in Styrofoam containers expressed seven time more ethylbenzene and styrene than eggs not stored in Styrofoam containers. Scary to know that these chemicals are strong enough to even permeate the shells of eggs! HOW TO BEST AVOID EXPOSURE: Before taking home a doggy bag of left-overs or buying a take-out meal, ask what the containers are made out of. Also, try buying your eggs in a container other than Styrofoam. If the restaurant or store uses Styrofoam, as if there is anything else the food can be placed in, or better yet, as crazy as it sounds, bring or provide your own container. There is a restaurant that I really like, but they use Styrofoam for their soup, so I bring my own and ask for them to use that instead when I order take-out and it’s no problem at all.

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us or feel free to send her an e-mail at: megan@empowerhealthcoach.com. Follow Megan on Twitter and like her on Facebook

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Why Some Fevers Can Actually Be Helpful to Your Health

feverMegan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.

This time of year often brings an onslaught of colds, coughs, fevers, the flu, and carious other illnesses that we wish would just never exist. For those who catch these illnesses, especially our kids, it can mean long days and nights of feeling like garbage, parents wondering what to give their kids to make them feel better ASAP, and days missed from school and work. Let’s face it – being sick stinks and nobody should have to face this issue more than they have to (which is why I am a huge proponent of preventative health care). For parents, it is the worst to see our kids not feeling well, sick, and going through something we wish they didn’t have to, but when illness strikes, especially a fever, here are some things you may want to take into consideration before rushing to the medicine cabinet to pop some meds that will bring that temperature down (notably in children).
Growing up, I didn’t get sick often at all, but I recall the five thousand times my mom would check my forehead to make sure I didn’t have a fever, as this must have been the tell-all symptom of getting or being sick. Like most parents, if a child (or adult) has a fever, it can raise concern, as you don’t want a fever to “get too high” – which is true. If I ever did have a fever, I can still recall the taste of the children’s acetaminophen I was given to nip that temperature in the bud. As I grew up, I thought that fevers were kind of evil and should be lowered as soon as anyone had one. However, what many people fail to realize is that a fever can actually be very helpful to the body, as long as it does not reach above 103 degrees for a prolonged period of time. DISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor, nor am I trying to give medical advice here, so please do not take my sharing of this information as a written-in-stone approach to treat or approach fevers. If ever in doubt, ALWAYS consult a medical professional, especially when dealing with children.

Fevers, as you know, are an elevation in body temperature and most fevers range around 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit. A normal body temperature ranges from 97 to 99 degrees F and can vary from person to person, as well as different times of the day, usually highest in the afternoon when activity and environment temperatures are at their highest. Children can spike a fever when teething; adults and children alike get fevers when falling ill with common illnesses. A fever is a defense mechanism of the body that acts to destroy harmful microbes (invaders) to the body. It’s considered necessary to eliminate a disease agent that has entered and/or attacked the body because it’s the body’s way of addressing and localizing inflammation, often coupled with mucous production, to flush out and rid the body of this pathogen. Runny noses, coughs, rashes, and fevers are all evidence of a normal and general immune system response in most cases. Many times however, such body symptoms have been treated with immediate suppression through medication and does not give the body a chance to initially fight off what it can of the illness. While these symptoms are not fun to deal with for more than a short while (which is why many modern practices have led to the immediate treatment of suppression), it can actually lead to a quicker rebounding from the illness and prolonged protection.

I’ll try and break the cycle down here as easy as possible to understand why and how a fever is important for the body in many cases during a time of illness:
- We are constantly exposed to germs, which can enter the body through a break in the skin, contact with our respiratory tissue (inhaled or breathed in), or the gastrointestinal tract (ingesting through the mouth).
- Our white blood cells located all along the lining of our respiratory and gastrointestinal linings normally do a great job fighting off any of these germs before they become a problem, but sometimes an overgrowth of the “invader” cells can lead to illness.
- If an “invasion” is suspected, the white blood cells go into overdrive and a chill in the body can develop (why some people get the “chills” before or during a fever…it’s all part of the process). This chill actually signals the body to increase its temperature.
- After the chill, a fever usually erupts in the body either gradually over several days or immediately with a high fever (that is usually scary to deal with!).
- This fever development time is when antibody production is initiated to destroy the pathogen or virus. These temperatures actually encourage the body to make more immune cells that will destroy the illness.
- Fevers affiliated with viruses tend to create moderate fevers (around 99-101 degrees F).
- Fevers affiliated with bacterial infections tend to produce higher fevers to destroy the illness (around 100-103+ degrees F).
- Normally after a fever breaks, the body will respond with sweating, which indicates that the body has successfully completed its immune response to the illness.
So what’s the big deal about breaking a fever with medication? First, NEVER give aspirin to a child with a fever. This can cause Reye’s Syndrome. If a fever is naturally fighting off an illness in the body within normal measures (see below for when it’s NOT healthy to let a fever go), interrupting this process can actually cause the illness to prolong or not be resolved. Medicines like Tylenol, Advil, Ibuprophen, etc., suppress fevers and never allow the body to move through the stages of effective immune system function. Additionally, these drugs are processed through the liver or kidneys, and there has been much debate recently over how toxic acetaminophen can be to developing livers, in addition to disturbing the production of glutathione (which is a major immune contributor in the body).
Rather, here are some things you can do instead to support the body going through a manageable fever:
• Stay away from others, as to not spread the illness and to help give the immune system a break from being exposed to other possible germs.
• Drink plenty of fluids to help prevent dehydration and allow the body to flush the toxins out easier.
• Believe it or not, laying off of solid foods until the fever breaks can help greatly, as it allows the body to focus on fighting off the illness. Digesting food takes a huge amount of effort and energy by the body, especially in a time of illness.
• Lay off sugar and dairy as much as possible. Sugar feeds bacterial and viral cells, thus creating more work for the body to fight them off and dairy creates larger mucous production, which can take away from the body creating the proper amount to regulate the removal of the pathogen. Plus, it can add to an already large amount of mucous that is probably being produced by the body, which means feeling more miserable!
• Place cool towels on the feet and hands to draw the heat out of the top of the head.
• Do not use cold baths to bring down a fever, as this can shock the system. Rather, use cooler or “tepid” (lukewarm) water to create a gentle way to coax heat from the inner core and soothe the rest of the body.
• Rest as much as possible.
• Reduce stimulation like light, noise, and activities – this can take away from the body’s natural ability to cope with concentrating efforts to the immune system response.
• Massage gently up and down the spine to stimulate the immune system.
• Taking probiotics like acidophilus will help support the immune system in general, but especially at a time when the body is fighting off illness.
• Garlic is a natural immune booster and very effective in helping the body combat illness.
• Some herbal teas that are great for fevers:
o Lemon balm (helps the body perspire, which helps “sweat out” the toxins); be sure to hydrate with water in addition to replace fluids lost by perspiration.
o Chamomile tea helps to calm and relax the system.
o Peppermint tea is known to naturally cool a fever (but not suppress it in an unhealthy way).
• Take plenty of Vitamin C to help promote better immune response (preferably from citrus fruits and foods). Processed orange juice is NOT a good source, as it contains tons of sugar and has killed off all of the beneficial enzymes from the fruit.
• Get plenty of Vitamin D (here is where I think a supplement of D3 can be helpful).
• Avoid taking any supplements that have iron (or foods high in iron) during a time of fever, as the body tries to “hide” iron in the body tissues in an attempt to keep the infecting organism from using it for nourishment. This can cause undue strain on the body that is already working hard to fight off illness.

WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR FEVERS:
• Please note that some fevers, if left too long (for more than 3 days) or if they get too high (over 103-104 degrees in children) can cause serious complications like dehydration (the most common complication). — -
o Convulsions can indicate a brain issue from fevers that get too high and fevers associated with strep bacteria are known to cause permanent damage to the kidneys or heart.
• Fevers accompanied by restlessness, pain, agitation, listlessness, rapid respiration, or low pulse should also be immediately addressed by medical professionals.
• A baby 3 months or younger who has a temperature of 103 degrees F or higher needs to see a doctor immediately.
• A feverish child at any age with a stiff neck, throat swelling, or acting in a disoriented manner needs immediate medical attention, as this can indicate meningitis.
• Please also note that heat stroke and head injuries can also cause a high fever in addition to over-exposure to a cold wind. Emotional responses such as shock or trauma can result in fevers as well.
IN ALL CASES, FEVERS SUCH AS THOSE JUST DESCRIBED MUST BE ATTENDED TO BY A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL!

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us or feel free to send her an e-mail at: megan@empowerhealthcoach.com. Follow Megan on Twitter and like her on Facebook

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Megan’s Top Heart-Healthy Food Choices for Heart Health Month!

heart healthyMegan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.

With February well underway and Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I am sure everyone has been seeing lots of “hearts” around.  In case you were not aware, February is also Heart Health Month, where the focus is on the most important hearts in the world – OURS!  While keeping an active lifestyle with lots of aerobic movement and not smoking are among the top ways we can keep our hearts in tip-top shape, here are my top food suggestions to maintain heart health….all year long (as it should be!).  Every one of all ages should try to be getting as many of these types of food into their diets (with the exception of food allergies, of course) to keep the most important muscle in our body ticking strong.

My personal recommendations of types of nutrients to really focus on are:

ANTIOXIDANTS – these are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients (like super foods) that protect against and repair cells from damage caused by free radicals in the body (usually caused by toxins, aging, and disease).  Some examples of common antioxidants are:

  • beta-carotene (which gets converted to Vitamin A)
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E
    • orange-colored fruits and vegetables: carrots, sweet potatoes, orange citrus fruits, apricots, squash, cantaloupe, mangoes, etc.
    • citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, strawberries, kiwi fruit, pomegranate
    • apples
    • tomatoes

B – VITAMINS – folate (vitamin B9), vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 all play a huge role in heart health (in addition to boosting energy levels!).

  • dark, leafy greens
  • lentils
  • legumes

FIBER – plays an important role in heart health by maintaining blood sugar levels, moving waste and toxins out of the body (in addition to absorbing toxins), and helping to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides, which are linked to hardening of the arteries and heart disease.

  • Oatmeal
  • chia seeds
  • ground flaxseeds
  • apples
  • beans
  • lentils

OMEGA-3s and HEALTHY FATS – as many of us now know, there are “healthy” fats (i.e. Omega-3s) and “unhealthy fats” (i.e. trans-fats).  Omega-3s are especially important because they are considered essential to the human body, meaning that we cannot produce them on our own – we need to obtain them from food.  Omega-3s are linked to better immunity, decreasing inflammation in the body, improving mood and hormone balance, and reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol.

  • An easy rule-of-thumb to follow is usually plant-based fats are regarded as healthier choices than animal fats (due to the type of saturated fat content).  Examples are:
    • olive oil, grapeseed oil, purified fish oil, flaxseed oil
    • nuts like almonds, walnuts, and Brazil nuts
    • seeds like chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds
    • avocados and coconuts
    • While fish like salmon are normally considered healthy due to their high Omega-3 content, it’s the concern over heavy metals, farming practices, and pollutants now present in many fish species that has people concerned over how safe it is to eat often.

 

Here’s an easy list of other heart-healthy foods to try and get as much of as possible and why:

- BERRIES: Beta-carotene, vitamin C; folate; calcium, magnesium; potassium; fiber.

- Spinach: B-complex vitamins; folate; magnesium; potassium; calcium; fiber.

- Bananas: potassium for healthy blood pressure regulation.

- Broccoli: Beta-carotene; Vitamins C and E; potassium; folate; calcium; fiber.

- Red bell peppers: Beta-carotene; B-complex vitamins; folate; potassium; fiber.

- Asparagus: Beta-carotene; B-complex vitamins; folate; fiber.

- Papaya: Beta-carotene; Vitamins C and E; folate; calcium; magnesium; potassium.

- Black or Kidney Beans:  B-complex vitamins; niacin; folate; magnesium; omega-3 fatty acids; calcium; soluble fiber.

- Almonds:  Plant omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin E; magnesium; fiber

-  Walnuts:  Plant omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin E; magnesium; folate; fiber.

-chia seeds: packed with Omega-3s, fiber, protein, and minerals.

-spirulina and chlorella: these are supplements of green-algae superfoods that you can take to add super anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, protein, and blood-cleansing goodness to your life.  Some people like adding spirulina powder to smoothies, shakes, or raw cookie/dessert recipes.  If the taste is too drastic for you, Hawaiian Pacifica brand for a super easy tablet to swallow with your vitamins to get this added benefit.  Kids can take it, too!

-turmeric: this is a spice native to India that has been used for centuries for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  It’s considered a superfood that millions revere and add to their cooking daily.  You can add this spice as cumin, but I personally take a daily liquid form of curcumin/turmeric concentrate to help keep inflammation down.

-OMEGA-3 supplements: even if you eat fish, I find taking a daily purified fish oil supplement (i.e. Nordic Naturals) is extremely beneficial, including for children.

-Vitamin D3: be sure to take a supplement to help keep your heart healthy.  Most Americans are deficient in Vitamin D, and although sunlight exposure is the best way to obtain Vitamin D3, it’s hard for many people who live in colder climates or work indoors.  15 minutes a day of sun exposure sans-sunscreen will give you 10,000IU of the vitamin.  Not only will it help boost heart health, but it cuts back on inflammation and it boost immunity and bone health.  Although the FDA says 400 IUs a day is the recommended dose, researchers and doctors are now realizing that doses upwards around 5000 IU a day is optimal…and safe.  Be sure to take with fat, as it is a fat-soluble vitamin.

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us or feel free to send her an e-mail at: megan@empowerhealthcoach.com.  Follow Megan on Twitter and like her on Facebook

 

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