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Hello, my friends! Well, it happened. I turned 50 on Monday. It was strange. As I prepared to turn 50 I started feeling, as my daughter Danielle would say, “Some type of way.” You know, when you feel not quite sad, not quite stressed, but maybe a bit of both? I wasn’t feeling weird about it at all in the days leading up to the big day.

At 11:50 pm on January 31st, 10 minutes before my birthday, I started literally freaking out! I kid you not, my heart started pounding! We had a fabulous day and I wasn’t thinking about it at all, until 11:50 pm. Since my S.O. was already asleep, Jacqueline and Danielle came to my rescue and we texted together as midnight came nearer, and then passed.

And you know what I realized? It was an HONOR to still be alive and raring to go at 50. Sure, I have days where I have some health issues, I still sometimes struggle with my continuing chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms, but most days are good and that’s more than many people have. So, I’m counting my blessings today, and I want to share some of my reflections with you.


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Church we attended in Mexico!


Stay close to your spirit– This is number one for me. I do not feel centered unless I am spending time every day, even if it’s only 15 minutes, connecting to my higher power. I also need to go to church once a week. I just absolutely have to, and if I don’t I feel terrible about myself. When I do these things, I am peaceful and joyous. Nothing else makes me feel this way.



Family and Friends– Since I have limited energy because of my ongoing illness, I have to focus my time where it counts the most. For me, that time is joyfully spent with my daughters, my partner, and my dogs. I see the rest of my family when I can, but since I live hours away, that time is unfortunately limited. I see my college roommate when I can for dinner, and other friends too, but my priority is the people who live in my house- especially the ones who no longer live there full time.



Eat healthily and Exercise– This is key for me to live a life of joy. I so enjoy cooking, using fresh, local, organic foods whenever possible, and going out to eat those kinds of foods as well. I am a definite “foodie” to the core. I try to eat the right kinds of food, as those of you who read my blog well know, and I love to exercise. For me exercise consists of a 30 minute walk with my dogs at least 5 times a week, and a half hour of weights at least 3 times per week. It helps me to feel good inside and out, what’s better than that?!

Do what you love-These days I really enjoy writing my blog, cooking, renovating my forever home, reading, and watching my daughters cheer for my beloved university. This is what I do for fun, and it is so important to have FUN in life. I think fun is what puts a sparkle in my eyes and makes me love my life. What do you love to do? Whatever it is, make sure you’re spending time on a regular basis doing that, no matter what!


Get away, whenever you can, wherever you can– My S.O. took me on a Mexican vacation for my 50th birthday and it was so fabulous to escape and enjoy the warmth of the sun. I am a sun and sand girl, and I always have such a sense of peace when I can lay on a beach somewhere. Maybe that’s not your thing, if you like to ski, go and do it. If you like to go to big cities, do that. If money is tight go somewhere local. Even just an overnight at a local hotel can seem like a great getaway and can recharge the batteries.

And there it is, my friends, my way of prioritizing what’s important to me and what brings me joy. We all have our struggles, no matter who we are or how old, but the important thing is to make sure to do the things that bring joy, because it is the QUALITY of life that counts not the quantity. I wanted to share with you what my list is so you can think about your list, and do what brings you joy every day. Joy comes from within us, but is shown on the outside. I like to think my joy shines through. So do what brings you joy no matter what your age because that will help you live a life of vitality- with 50 year old Valerie! 🙂

Brace Yourself- A GREAT Way to Treat Migraines!

Weird cheesy grin?! Here's why!

Weird cheesy grin?! Here are my teeth post braces!

I admit it, I wore braces for over two years, from July of 2012 to December 2014. I still wear my retainer most of the day now. You might think, wow what a vain woman to wear braces at almost 50 years old! Well, first you have to hear my story and then you’ll understand.

Before braces!

Before braces!

It all started about 10 years ago, I was washing my face one night before bed and I felt this strange tingling on the right side, around my eye. It was the weirdest sensation, like the tingling you get when a limb that fell asleep is waking up. It kept doing that every time I touched it. It didn’t really hurt (at the time) but it felt so odd. I didn’t really think anything of it, but I noticed over the next few months that it kept coming back from time to time and felt about the same.

Over the next year, it got worse and worse. The pain felt like zapping and prickling, what I would imagine it would feel like if you stuck your fingers in an electrical outlet. And it HURT! Anything would start up the pain, from the wind blowing on my face, to smiling, laughing, and even eating would cause this unimaginable pain. Sometimes it would come upon me while I was talking and it would literally render me speechless. I would have to stop and wait until the pain passed to finish speaking. I didn’t know when it would happen either, there seemed to be no pattern to it, sometimes I could eat and not have pain and then the next meal it would be so excruciating that I couldn’t even eat. I would go months without experiencing it, and then out of nowhere it would come roaring back to life. It was a hellish nightmare and I endured it for a while before going to my doctor about it.

There's the sneaky, painful culprit, the trigeminal nerve!

There’s the sneaky, painful culprit, the trigeminal nerve!

I went to my long time doctor and he told me I had Trigeminal Neuralgia. It’s like a migraine that has gone rogue, attacking the trigeminal nerve that runs all over your face and forehead. This is sort of a complication from the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I’ve suffered from for the last 18 years. It’s considered one of the most painful conditions you can suffer from because of the extreme zapping, tingling sensations you experience. I can definitely say that is true!

This condition really flared up in January of 2011 and I had to leave my teaching job because the pain was unimaginable. I could not speak, eat, even move my head. I went back to the doctor. We had some strategies for treating it that definitely helped, which included special pain cream, drops, and a nasal spray which have improved my ability to manage the pain once it begins, and nutritional IV’s to help build up my adrenal and immune systems. We also do a special type of injection called neural therapy which is a focused pain treatment, along with Botox to freeze the nerves in my forehead. All of these strategies got me to 90% of my pre Trigeminal Neuralgia self over a course of a year, which was a definite relief. It would flare up but the pain was lesser and the flare ups fewer in number.

Pic 1- Before braces. Pic 2- Midway through.

Pic 1- Before braces.
Pic 2- Midway through.

My doctor also suggested I go to a dentist with a more holistic approach to dentistry, Dr. Gary Walton, in Indianapolis. I didn’t understand then how a dentist could help my head, but I agreed to give it a try. When I saw him and told him my story, to my relief he said he could help me with a three step approach. First, he removed all of the mercury fillings in my mouth that were leaking poison into my body, and replaced them with a composite material that is non toxic. I went straight to my doctor after that for chelation therapy, which is an IV to remove metals from the body.

This is what they look like out of the mouth!

This is what they look like out of the mouth!

The next step was to get braces. He really had to talk me into this one. I had never worn braces in my life and couldn’t imagine wearing them at 46 years old. I said the only way I would do it was to wear the clear braces, called Clear Correct or Invisiline. He said the braces would properly align my jaw and bite, which were so crooked and not at all in alignment, and that would put less pressure on the trigeminal nerve which would cure my Trigeminal Neuralgia.

How clear braces fit on the teeth!

How clear braces fit on the teeth!

The takeaway from all of this is that not only did it cure my Trigeminal Neuralgia, but braces are now an acceptable treatment for migraine headaches. The improper alignment of the jaw and teeth, and TMJ or temporomandibular joint syndrome are a common cause of migraines. Here’s why, if the cranial bones are distorted for any reason, like misalignment of the teeth and jaw, then changes in pressure from weather fronts, ascending and descending in an airplane, hormonal changes, etc can trigger the migraine pain, along with nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

Finished product!

Finished product!

So that’s why I wore braces for over two years and I’m happy to say that I haven’t had a Trigeminal Neuralgia flare up since I got about a year into wearing braces. It’s no less than a miracle to me. The reason I’m writing this though, is that even if you’ve worn braces when you were younger, you could still have misalignment of your jaw and teeth. If you’re experiencing migraines it would be a great idea to find a dentist who is knowledgeable about these kind of issues, and have your mouth evaluated. It’s been life changing for me. The third part of the three steps for me included wearing a mouth guard at night to prevent grinding of the teeth, which can also cause the bite and jaw to be knocked out of whack. Since I’m wearing a retainer at night for the braces, it also serves as a bite guard as well.

My smile doesn't hurt anymore! :)

My smile doesn’t hurt anymore! 🙂

Another positive outcome is that my teeth are so nice and straight. I never noticed how crooked they were. My dentist said, “You always had a pretty smile, but now your teeth make your smile even prettier.” That’s so sweet! I find that I smile more now because I love my teeth. I also smile more because I know that smile will not cause a horrible zap of pain to run up my face anymore. It’s been a blessing for me, and I’m so glad I did it even though I was very apprehensive about it. It cost around $4,000, which is not cheap believe me, but it was money very well spent in terms of my health. I was a fairly advanced case because my teeth and jaw were so out of alignment, and I know of people who have worn them for more mild corrections that have cost a lot less. Now when you see me smile, know that there is no pain hiding behind that smile anymore. If you don’t have head pain, consider yourself very blessed because the pain is so debilitating, and if you do, consider visiting the dentist to talk about teeth and jaw alignment. It will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

Sugar- the new cigarette?!



Sugar (and artificial sweeteners aka “fake sugar”) is in my opinion the worst thing in the American diet. Sugar, which exists in almost every processed food in some form, leads to diabetes, high blood pressure, liver disease, rotten teeth, promotes weight gain, is highly addictive, raises your cholesterol which can lead to heart disease, and it can give you cancer. This sounds very dramatic, but all of these things are true and as Americans I feel we aren’t being informed about how terrible sugar is for us. This might have something to do with the food industry and how they monetarily support our government- politics of course.


The point is that sugar is dangerous and I made the decision years ago to eat as little sugar and processed foods as possible. When I made this decision I didn’t even know how bad sugar was for me, I just knew that when I ate sugar I felt shaky and weak, especially with regard to my chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms. They were worse when I consumed sugar so I stayed away from it as much as possible. In the past 10 years I have continued to cut more sugar from my diet and now when I eat sugary things I think they’re too sweet and I don’t like the taste at all.

When I’m craving chocolate, I eat dark chocolate and have grown to love the stronger flavor than milk chocolate, which is mostly sugar anyway. When I’m craving something sweet, I will have a handful of grapes, a clementine, a banana, or some other fruit. I have found that I cannot drink fruit juice anymore because it gives me the same shaky feeling I have when eating dessert.


Regarding “fake sugars”, I have as much concern about them as I do about real sugar. I don’t think it’s a good idea to stay away from real sugar and then put toxic chemicals in my body, so I just don’t eat sugar, real or fake, very much at all. However, I have heard good things about the natural, plant based sweetener, Stevia, which can help lower blood pressure and ease stomach problems as well as being a natural sweetener. That is promising. Also Xylitol is another sweetener that seems to have some benefits as well. It naturally occurs in fruit and in our own bodies. It is a sugar alcohol and as such has a lower glycemic response than sucrose or glucose. In addition, it helps prevent gum disease. Wow a sweetener that’s actually good for your teeth!

Natural sweeteners are the best!

Natural sweeteners are the best!

If I have to use a sweetener it is usually honey or agave nectar. Honey has anti-viral and antibacterial properties in addition to being a natural sweetener, and I always make sure I’m using locally produced honey as well so I can ensure its quality. Agave nectar is a sweetener used by the Aztecs for thousands of years. It’s from the Agave plant, the same plant used to produce tequila and it has a low glycemic index so it does not raise blood sugar. it has a long history as a miracle plant used to cure various diseases

My conclusion about sugar is that if you have to have sweetener, use Stevia or Xylitol, but in general I try to do without it. I will sometimes use a spoonful of honey or agave nectar as well if I have to have something sweetened but usually I find it better for me to do without. After all, I’m sweet enough as it is!! 🙂

Just Do It!

Can I admit something? Of course I can, it’s my blog! Anyway, I must admit that I don’t like to exercise. Is anyone out there with me on that? I’m sure there are many of us, which is one of the reasons why our nation ranks among the top countries for obesity in the world.
My exercise philosophy

My exercise philosophy

Even though I don’t like to exercise I have consistently worked out 5 days a week for 45-50 minutes at a time for the last 10 years, despite flare ups of my chronic fatigue syndrome, times when my children were sick, working 40 plus hours a week, cooking, cleaning, running errands, being exhausted, etc.  You get the picture. We are all busy living our lives and that is the primary excuse I hear for why people don’t exercise and I get it, I really do. I just don’t believe that is a legitimate excuse. If I can keep up my fitness schedule with my other responsibilities and the fact that I really don’t like to exercise, then anyone can, believe me.

Another excuse I hear is that people can’t afford to exercise. My exercise regimen consists of a 20 plus year old road bike, stationary bike of equal age, hand weights from Walmart, 10 fitness DVD’s and Comcast On Demand. Total cost- pennies per day over the past 8 years at the most.  Are you in? If so, then read on for my ten easy steps to fitness success!

1. Integrate fitness into your daily life and find something you like to do- Since I am not one of those crazy exercise people I’ve tried many different forms of exercise over the years, from aerobics to Pilates to running and all forms in between. When I began cycling I realized how much I loved the feeling of wind in my hair,sun on my face and the sheer speed at which I could travel and I was hooked! That is my favorite form of exercise and I am faithful to it because I enjoy it so much. In bad weather I use my stationary bike so I can bike all year long. On my stationary bike I can also integrate weight training by utilizing hand weights while cycling, and I add more weight to them so I don’t plateau. Therefore I get both cardio and weight bearing at the same time. But the key here is to find an exercise you like and stick to it. Even if it’s not formal exercise, if it gets you outside and moving that’s great! Like gardening for example. Pulling weeds and hauling around a wheelbarrow full of mulch can be a great workout! Also if your children are young and you can’t leave them for long periods of time play basketball or tag with them, or if they’re really young, push them in a stroller for 30 minutes. Anything active is good!

Me and my babies out for a walk this past spring.

Me and my babies out for a walk this past spring.

2. Start with walking- your dog or yourself- Of course before beginning any new fitness activities make sure to run that by your doctor to make sure it aligns with your wellness goals. The easiest way to begin is by walking. It’s an activity that needs very little coordination and anyone at most fitness levels can tolerate it. Get a pedometer, set a goal for yourself, and stick to it! If you have a dog, walk him or her, and they will benefit too. If you have young children, push them in a stroller, and if you have a friend who is interested in getting to a better level of fitness, walk with him/her. A friend can really help motivate you to continue even when you don’t feel like it.

3. My Fitness Pal or other apps to log your success- I utilize an app called My Fitness Pal and it logs all your exercise as well as your food, calories, and nutritional information. It keeps track of what you enter and shows graphs of your nutrition and exercise, as well as your weight and other measurements. I’ve used this app for 3 years religiously and am able to see my progress, which is very motivating for me.


4. Habit forming- Research shows that it takes an average of 66 days for something to become a habit, so make sure to continue your chosen form of exercise consistently for at least 66 days and it will become a habit.

5. Motivated by the healthy changes- One thing that is motivating for me is to see the changes that have taken place in my body as a result of my workouts. I have better muscle tone, more energy, my skin glows, my weight stays consistent, and I don’t have to buy new clothes! This helps me to continue when I’m not in the mood for a workout.

6. First thing in the morning or first thing when you get home from work- I alluded to this in an earlier post but I put on my workout clothes as soon as I get up in the morning and exercise as soon as I drink my coffee, and have a half banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter for breakfast. When I was teaching I exercised as soon as I got home from work. In fact, my next door neighbor commented that she’d see me pull into my garage after work and then within 10 minutes she’d see me ride out of the garage on my bike. That way I was more likely not to skip my workout by getting distracted by other things. I would exercise three times a week after work and each weekend day so that I’d get my five a week in. Now that I work from home I workout all week days and take off the weekends. I’ve read about recovery days but I do my recovering on the weekends.

7. Non-negotiable- this one is probably the most important for me. I don’t put off working out or avoid it because in the end it is something I MUST do and nothing will stop me from doing it. Of course, there have been days when I can’t work out, if I’m very sick or something of that urgent nature, but other than that I will exercise. NO EXCEPTIONS!

True dat!

True dat!

8. Variety is the spice of life- and working out- as I said I love to bike but I get bored doing the same thing all the time so in the past 2 years I’ve incorporated kick boxing and body sculpting into my week. Usually I bike twice, kick box twice and do body sculpting once for my five a week workouts.  That way I am strengthening different body parts, and combining cardio with strength training as well for an all around strong and healthy body. So switch up your workouts if you’re getting bored and that should help you to find your workouts fun and exciting again.

9. TV can be an exercisers best friend, not foe- Television plays an important role in my workouts. When I’m biking indoors I use that time to catch up on some of my favorite one hour shows that I’ve recorded, and when I forward through commercials it’s a perfect 45-50 minute workout for me. Also, as I said I use Comcast On Demand for their many fitness workouts. My favorites are kickboxing with Sensei Guillermo Gomez (he’s very good looking!), and Core Builders and Interval Training with Kathy Syphers. They are super workouts. I also have Physique 57 and yoga DVDs that I use occasionally to change things up.

My reward- a healthy, fit body and the energy to keep up with my daughters!

My reward- a healthy, fit body at 48, and the energy to keep up with my daughters!

10. Reward yourself-My reward is to see how healthy and good I look, but for some people extrinsic rewards are very important, so set some goals for yourself, say working out three times a week for thirty minutes.  If you meet your goals then reward yourself with whatever is a treat for you, like a piece of chocolate, extra glass of wine, or a pedicure. Whatever works for you to keep you motivated, just don’t make it something big that will cost too much money or derail you from your fitness goals!

I hope this helps you to achieve the healthy body you desire as it has for me. I wish you happy and healthy workouts!



Start your day in a healthy way!


Hello wonderful readers!

Ok, now that the “getting to know you” part is done, I can get to the reason I began this blog, which is to share tips about living a life with vitality. I thought I’d start with first thing in the morning. I have to admit that I’m not a happy camper when I first awaken, and I don’t really speak until I’ve been awake for at least 30-45 minutes.  I get up, use the restroom, brush my teeth, take my thyroid supplement, and put on my workout clothes. I find that if I put on workout attire when I get out of bed, it motivates me to workout. If morning workouts aren’t your thing and you exercise after work, then put your workout wear on as soon as you get home to motive you to “just do it”. If I don’t workout, which is extremely rare for me, then I feel really guilty that I have workout clothes on and I didn’t exercise. It’s a small thing, but it works for me! Anyway, back to my morning routine, I then feed and take my dogs out, make my daughter’s lunch and get her out the door, and I make my coffee.


First thing in the morning, no makeup, unedited, no filter, unbrushed hair selfie!

Now you may think, “Hmmmm, is coffee part of a healthy life?”, but coffee has many benefits to a life of vitality. Studies have shown that coffee is rich in antioxidants, and that the antioxidants are better absorbed by the human body from drinking coffee than by eating fruits and vegetables! That was a happy surprise for me when I began researching this topic. Another benefit to drinking coffee is that it is good for your liver, especially if excessive alcohol is consumed. Remember how in old tv shows and movies they’d always give a tipsy person coffee to drink? It turns out that was a good idea but maybe not in the way they thought it was. Also, coffee is linked to reducing depression, feeling happier and lower suicide rates. I know coffee always makes me happy but I didn’t know that was a proven fact, I thought it was just me.  It is known to increase athletic performance if consumed prior to a workout too. I usually will finish the cup of coffee I’ve been carrying around with me all morning before my workout and I have a better workout on the days I drink coffee beforehand, versus the days I’ve forgotten to do so. I usually wander around all morning, coffee cup in hand, sipping as I clean the kitchen, and have my quiet, meditation time. By the time I’ve finished with it, it is ice cold but I don’t mind it that way, though some of you might think that is gross and you’re welcome to warm it up if you want to.  Then I drink water the rest of the day.

I know there are benefits to drinking many cups of coffee each day, like four or more, but I just drink one. I drink espresso which has more caffeine in it than regular coffee, and I have a Nespresso espresso machine and an electric milk whipper that I use. I feel like a real barrista when I’m making my coffee! I use organic half and half and NO SUGAR in my coffee, I just add a little locally sourced honey for sweetness. I will expand on my thoughts about sugar in a later post but suffice to say that I believe, and scientific evidence abounds about this too, that sugar is not part of a healthy life! But I’ll blog more about that later.

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I also make sure to spend a few moments of quiet, meditation time each morning. If it’s a really busy day it may be only 5 minutes but I still try to make time every day. Whatever your religion or lack thereof might be, it is great for the mind, body and soul to spend time trying to quiet the mind and get in touch with your higher power. I also pray at that time, but if that’s not your thing, then think good thoughts about those you love, and those who need it most. I have a sunroom and that is where I spend my quiet time, but just choose a place in your house where you’ll feel a sense of peace. I find that when I’m in my sunroom the kids are more hesitant to bother me, and when they do come in they seem to be more peaceful too!

So to summarize my healthy tips- 1. Get up and put your workout clothes on if you’re working out in the morning to provide additional incentive to get your work out in. 2. Coffee is a beverage that provides many health benefits (and it’s yummy too!). 3. Spend time in quiet reflection each day- you’ll feel more peaceful and calm, and everyone will benefit from it!

Once again, thank you for reading this post, I am honored you spent part of your day with me! Enjoy the long weekend and thank you to all men and women who serve in our armed forces. Your sacrifice is appreciated!

If you’d like more information on my lifestyle coaching services, please email me at Also, feel free to leave any comments here!




Welcome to Vitality with Valerie!


Hi! Welcome to my blog, Vitality with Valerie. My goal is to share all that I’ve learned about healthy eating and living with anyone who might be wondering exactly how to eat and live in a healthy, or vital way. I’ve come to learn all that I have about living with vitality the hard way and I want to share what I’ve learned with you, my readers, so that you can benefit from my experiences.

I have chronic fatigue syndrome, and I’ve suffered from it since 1996. However, all of my symptoms are under control and I feel energetic and marvelous these days. I contribute much of my current state of wellness to my healthy lifestyle and I truly believe that healthy living can help manage most illnesses. Even if you have no major illnesses, we all experience the effects of our stressful lives, and my strategies can help overcome some of those.

I earned my lifestyle coaching certification through the American Academy of Anti-aging Medicine in concert with the University of South Florida in 2013, which contributed to what I have learned and help me focus my experiences into the goal of helping people live more healthfully.

My girls, Jacqueline and Danielle

My girls, Jacqueline and Danielle

I should start by telling you a little about me, I am 48 years old, a mother of two daughters who are 18 and 20, I’m divorced, and I live in Fishers, Indiana, which is a small but bustling town northwest of Indianapolis. I have a B.A. in communications with a concentration in Public Relations and Journalism from Purdue University. I am in the process (almost done) of writing a book about my life’s experiences filled with healthy living tips and when it’s completed I’ll share how to get a copy if you’re interested in reading it.  I have two nutty dogs, Chewie and Delilah, (picture of dogs)and I’ve utilized my healthy living strategies on them as well as my children and they are the healthiest dogs around! I’ll share my healthy dogs and kids tips with you as well. I love to cook, write, read, grow my own vegetables and

My dogs, Chewie and Delilah

My dogs, Chewie and Delilah

herbs, listen to music of all kinds, and spend quiet time meditating and connecting to my spiritual nature.

For all those who took the time to read this, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and hope in some, small way that it helped you. It is for you that I make this humble attempt. I’d love to hear from you about the blog, or anything else you’d like to share so please feel free to add your comments. If you’d like to contact me about my lifestyle coaching services, please email me anytime at for more information!

Peace and love to all!