I chose to share this image because of how powerful it is.  The two mice in the first image are the exact same age.  Months later, the same two mice were photographed again.  But this time, there is a stark difference in the appearance of one of the mice.  The poor thing seems to have aged at a highly drastic rate in a short period of time.  What's the difference?

In image 2, the mouse is highly deficient in vitamin D.  One of the most obvious differences between the two is drastic loss of hair.  Next we see excessive wrinkling of the skin and loss of volume.  Basically, the VDR KO mouse has aged rapidly.

If this doesn't open your eyes to the possible consequences of vitamin D deficiency, I don't know what is.  Luckily most of us don't have a gene that stops the body from absorbing vitamin D but, many of us are vitamin D deficient.  If you live in cooler climates, you're not absorbing enough D through your skin. And if you are African American, you could also be at risk of being vitamin D deficient.

Allow me to explain how vitamin D could be related to aging.  At the end of our DNA strands are caps which are called telomeres.  Think of them like the plastic caps at the end of a shoe lace that protect them from fraying.  They basically help protect the cells from degrading.   Here's the thing, telomeres can range in length.  The longer they are, the better.  But, with natural aging our telomeres shorten.  Meaning, if you look at the telomere length of an older person, it'll be shorter than if you were viewing that of a younger individual.   Telomere length is a biological marker of age, kinda like looking at someone's dental records and identifying how old they are.   Living an unhealthy lifestyle can actually speed up the rate of the shortening of the telomeres.  If you smoke, don't exercise, eat horribly, or have a stressful lifestyle, you are directly making an impact on your telomere length and, essentially shortening your life.

A study was done were the telomere length of twins were measured. If one twin had a higher vitamin D level in the blood than her expected lifespan was expected to be higher by around 5 years.  Why? Because her telomere length correlated with someone who was 5 years younger despite starting with the same telomere length as her sister at birth.  I want you to associate the example of the twins with the image of the mice above.  Even though they're the same age, the mouse on the left is  is aging much more rapidly than it's buddy who is the same age.  But why such a drastic change in appearance when only one factor was impacted (vitamin D absorption)?

Because vitamin D is responsible for over 1000 physiological processes in the body.  Which means if we're deficient, a huge percentage of our body's functions are impacted in some way.  When over 1000 processes are involved, a lot can go wrong if you don't have the proper nutrition.  This goes way beyond healthy hair and skin.

This time of year, I seem to crave the addition of fish oils into my regimen. I think it's a biological response to the reduction in sunlight.  Since most of us are not getting enough vitamin D through sun exposure, and our melanin/sunscreen usage further blocks absorption of this much needed nutrient, we have to supplement.

I'm going hard on the fermented cod liver oil this fall and winter. But along with that, I'll make it a point to be outside for at least 15-20 minutes during the day whenever possible.  And, for the first time ever, I plan on getting my vitamin levels tested just to see if there are areas where I need to supplement.

Knowing what we know now, I think we need to take this vitamin D deficiency thing a bit more seriously.  It's time to supplement our diets with vitamin D3 if we aren't already doing so.  Adding fermented cod liver oil not only gives you natural vitamin D, but combines with with vitamin A and omega 3s to make it a complete superfood.

If anything interesting comes out of my vitamin testing, I'll let you know.

My newly healthy fridge
It's been about two weeks since I've had the pleasure of experiencing life with meal prepping containers.  I fell in love with the idea of meal prepping for a couple of reasons. First, it's a way of making healthy eating systematic.  Whenever a system is implemented, it's fairly easy to predict create a desired outcome.  Secondly, I wanted to save time and guesswork.  Overall, I felt like acquiring the simple containers was the best decision I made in a long time.

And boy was I right!  I love them so much, in fact, that I have a second set on the way.  Let me tell you all the great benefits I've enjoyed because of healthy meal prepping.

The first time I made a set a salads, it took longer than I imagined.  I had no system set up yet, so I was figuring out the best method as I went along.  But, in the end, the time invested was worth it.  Because in the days to come, I saved a boat load of time by having ready made salads in the fridge.  Having the luxury to be able to reach in the fridge, at any time, and grab something healthy is like nothing else.  It takes the stress of always having to thing about what eat.

By the way, if you struggle with exercising will power around healthy eating.  The absolute easiest way to overcome that is to remove decision making from the equation.  If you have to decide what to eat, then you have rely on your will power.  That's not something you want to do when you're hungry.  It's a setup for failure. Having healthy choices readily available is a no brainer.  
My first meal prep attempt
One of the initial benefits I noticed after my first or second salad, was a burst of energy during the time in the afternoon when I typically feel most sluggish.  Instead of wanting to take a quick afternoon nap, I felt energized and ready to start the second half of the day.

After consistently enjoying delicious salads, it happened.  Suddenly, clothes weren't fitting as snug as they used to.  About a week before I the containers arrived, I stepped on a scale that read 137 lbs. I'm about five feet tall so 137 over my ideal weight.  On Sunday, I weighed in on a similar scale which now read 131.5.  Here's the thing, I didn't go on a carb free diet.  In fact, I still ate rice and beans like I normally do, the only difference was the ADDITION of robust salads into my meal rotation.
I never felt deprived.  If I wanted to eat something unhealthy, I did.  But I made sure to stick with eating at least 1-2 salads a day.

There were other benefits as well. For instance, the increase of energy meant that I was more active.  But I purposefully avoided starting a regimented exercise program to see if healthy eating alone could have a positive impact on my weight.....and it did.

 Now I can start working out regularly again to tone up.  Meal prepping also gave me a flatter tummy, thanks to improved digestion and a shrinking stomach.  Yes, I said a smaller stomach.  You see, these meal prep containers regulated portion control.  At first, I felt like the containers were too small to hold enough food to satisfy.  Now, I require less food to feel full even when I eat from my normal plates.  My stomach as adapted very well to this new way of eating.

Oh, and having a fridge stocked with bright, healthy salads makes you look like a superhero to other members of your  household.

These meal prep containers are a no-brainer.  Even if you don't want to eat pre-made salads, you can still use them to pack your regular lunches and save money.  At the very least, it makes a lot of sense to have a few meals waiting for you ready to enjoy when you don't feel like cooking.  Make this a part of your personal self care, feel good routine.

As many of you know one of my success rituals is to listen to various motivational and inspirational videos on Youtube.  They range in topic.  Sometimes I watch entire seminars and other times, I'm listening to someone share their story as they talk into their cell phone camera.

Recently, I noticed a certain book being mentioned over and over again in a lot of the videos I've been watching.  Heck, even one of my business coaches boast of this book as part of his strategy for success.  I tried to ignore it, but everywhere I turned people kept referencing Gary Keller's The One Thing.

You may have heard of Keller Williams Reality.  Gary founded that company over 30 years ago and helped grow it into the largest real estate company in the US.  The tag line for his book, The One Thing, is The Surprisingly Simple Truth behind Extraordinary Results.  Opening up a Real Estate firm in Austin and growing to become the largest in the city within two years is extraordinary.

Since so many of the people I listen to were inspired by his book, I decided to grab it for myself.  In his book Gary asks a question that changed his life and could certainly change ours.

What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary? 

The book is chock full of powerful information but if I had to grab the one thing from The One Thing book, it would this question.  I've got a multitude of goals I'd like to accomplish. It often feels like I'm juggling to keep all the balls in the air.  So I asked myself, "what is the ONE Thing I can do, that by doing it, everything (all of my goals/intentions) will be easier or unnecessary?

The answer came much more quickly than I anticipated.  For me, the one thing is my meditation/focused concentration practice.  Why? Because when I'm consistent with this practice, I glide through life.  Everything becomes effortless, I feel amazing, my awareness & clarity is incredible and I operate like Eddie after popping a limitless pill.  I know for a fact, that by focusing all my efforts on this one thing, everything else will be easier or unnecessary.

So that's what I've decided to do, my one priority for the rest of 2015 is that I execute my one thing.  Now the ball is in your court.  First, I highly recommend you get the book.  It's a must if you are on a success journey.  Secondly, even before you buy The One Thing, I ask you to answer this question for yourself.  You can ask it on a macro level, or on a micro level.  For instance, I can ask myself "what's the one thing I can do (TODAY OR RIGHT NOW) that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?"
Earlier this week, on a whim, I searched online for local spas that offered an infrared sauna experience.  Years ago, I joined 24 Hour Fitness specifically because the location offered a steam room and sauna.  At first, I only took advantage the steam room. But one day, hubby urged me to also use sauna. When he was a child, his mom married a man from Scandinavia. His stepdad built an in home sauna and every morning, they would jump in the sauna after a workout.   I was aware of the steam room benefits but had no experience with saunas so I was a bit skeptic.

After my first time in the sauna, I was hooked.  There was something magical about allowing the body to sweat.  Several sessions later, my skin improved and I began to incorporate scrubs and coarse bath cloths to further remove excess toxins from the skin. Life was good.  That is until I learned infrared saunas.

Infrared Saunas, unlike traditional traditional saunas, utilize infrared rays to penetrate the skin at a deeper level.  The result is a greater detox at the cellular level.  I enjoyed the gym sauna so much that I explored byuying an infrared version for the home.  I did some research online and found that the prices were somewhat reasonable.  Time passed and not action was taken.

Suddenly, out of the blue, I decided to experience an infrared sauna once and for all.  It didn't take long before I located a spa nearby that offers sessions at $1.00 a minute.  I set the appointment for the following day.  The two person sauna was really inviting.  After stepping in, I took in the experience and tried to identify the difference betweens what I was currently experiencing and the gym sauna.

First, the heat was much more bearable.  I'm someone who loves the feel of the sun on her skin.  That's exactly what the heat felt like to me. The warmth was really comfortable the entire time. Unlike the gym sauna where the heat was uncomfortable, making it difficult to breath.  I could only stand about 10 minutes in the gym sauna before I can no longer take it.

About 5-7 minutes in, I began to sweat. It was a bit slow at first but the sweating intensified as time went on.  Soon, I was literally covered in sweat.  Much more than when compared to the gym sauna.  Moments later, I heard beeping from the timer notifying me that my 30 minute session was nearly complete.  Instinctively, I added an additional five minutes because I didn't want the session to end.  Unlike the gym, I felt completely refreshed and rejuvenated once I stepped out of the sauna. This was the moment that I realized that I was immediately addicted.

Once complete, I jumped into the shower to wash off the toxins.  I really wished I brought my Shea Butter scrub to really take advantage of the detox process.  But even without it, my skin felt absolutely baby soft afterwards.  I kept touching my face on the drive home.  The whole experience was exhilarating and I instantly craved more.  Luckily, I grabbed a bunch of additional sessions thanks to Groupon.  But, realistically, it makes much more (financial) sense to eventually own one.  I spent most of last night reading and listening to dozens of reviews of people who invested in an at home unit.  The one message I heard repeated over and over was "I should've got it sooner."

 An at home infrared sauna would be a dream come true.  Currently, I do a mini morning detox which includes drinking room temp water at the start of the day then bouncing on the rebounder to ignite the lymphatic system.  Adding a 20 minute sauna session would be like icing on the cake.  This may be a bit too much info, but I showered at home immediately before my appointment, then showered as soon as I was done and yet the towel I used to dry off post 2nd shower appeared "dirty" because of the surface toxins.  That's how powerful the experience is.

 I'm really recommending the infrared sauna experience to everyone reading this.  Do a Google search for places in your town and treat yourself.  And if you want in corporate a full body cleansing into your daily routine, I invite you to looking into investing in your own in home sauna.

When this image graced my Instagram feed, my eyes immediately fell on the bottle of Sunday Riley's Good Genes serum.  The only reason why I was even aware of this product is because Beauty Editor Ashley Weatherford mentioned it as the product that gives her skin an "instant glow."

Immediately, I scanned the comments to see what others had to say about the products in the image.  The first comment, left by @alxgaliero, really caught my attention.  "Adore Sunday Riley. Good Genes is a God send."  

That's quite a testimony. So I hopped over to her profile to see if her skin bore the fruits of this amazing product.

The girl's skin is amazing. But could it all be the  result of careful editing and deceitful filters?  Click on the video below and you'll see her skin in action.

Why would a person with beautiful, healthy skin need a product like Good Genes?  I mean, she looks like she was born with good genes herself.   I think the better question to ask is whether Good Genes contributed to the natural glow that both she and Ashley seem to have in common.  Since she referred to the serum as a "God send," one can only assume that it's had a tremendous impact on her skin.  I read a couple other reviews where people raved how they experience skin transformation within days (or after first use).

This product ain't cheap.  In fact, be prepared to invest just over $100.00 for 1 ounce of product. I gotta admit, I cringed a little at the price....actually I cringed a lot.  So I went hunting for a cost effective alternative.  Sadly, I couldn't find one. Apparently, there aren't that many lactic acid serums on the market.  Based on the reviews I've come across, this serum might be worth the investment.  Even the person who gave a mediocre review on Youtube said that she would still repurchase because she noticed the change in her skin after she stopped using it.   Someone else called it addictive!

They way I look at it, this product is the same as investing in 2-4 basic facial treatments. A single exfoliating treatment at a spa will easily go for more than $100.00.   I'd love to use Good Genes as part of my nightly facial regimen.  If I do purchase, I'll make sure to share my thoughts.