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Happy Birthday to Me! 7 Things I Learned This Year

by Elise Museles

Imagine me sticking a candle into a healthy chocolate truffle (or two), taking a deep breath, making a birthday wish, and blowing it out.

As you read this, I’m celebrating another year on earth in the best way I know how: a long run with these two, a quiet morning with my teapot in a sunny room, and a dinner tonight with all my guys. It’ll be mellow and relaxing…and that’s exactly what I need right now.

The last year has been one of the busiest, most exciting, and transformational in my life. It hasn’t always been easy for me to find time to relax – even though I know how important it is! But these past 12 months? There have been lots of lessons – sometimes learned the hard way.

Here’s what I discovered this year.

1. Turmeric stains like crazy
If we ever meet in real life, just pretend not to notice that the tips of my fingers might be yellow. This was the year that people fell in love with my creamy turmeric latte – it was even served on the The Dr. Oz Show. (It’s true!)

If you, too, discovered the anti-inflammatory health benefits and staining properties of turmeric, here’s how to remove the beautiful golden hue from your skin.

2. When you hold on to the vision and do the work, good things eventually happen
After years of persistent, dedicated (and not always glamorous) work, I was approached by a publisher to write my first book. I can’t tell you too much, but it will be filled to the brim with healthy & delicious recipes (of course!)… and bite-sized mindset shifts to help busy people finally make the time to nourish themselves properly. (That’s all I can say, for now.)

I wish I could go back in time and tell 2011 Elise to keep her chin up! Exciting things are coming!

3. Choose to do the important thing – even when it’s challenging
Almost three years ago, I envisioned and then created a series of hands-on workshops for the Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for caretakers and brave, young patients receiving groundbreaking medical treatment. In each session, they learned how to make healthy eating & nourishment more of a priority.

Every few weeks I’d lead the classes, sometimes teaching three people, sometimes thirty. And (I’m being honest here) there were times when I really, really didn’t want to do it. Was it worth it? Planning the curriculum, prepping for hours in advance, lugging the equipment across town, printing 35 packets when only eight people showed up?

But after every class I felt happy. Fulfilled. And I knew down to my bones (especially after seeing these sick children so engaged!) that I was doing some of my most important work – even if it wasn’t always easy.

In fact, the program has been so successful that it got approved for a grant! CookINN Together is now in its second “official” year, and I’m glad I stuck with it (and didn’t quit!).

4. Having a healthy gut can change your life (really and truly!)
As Hippocrates once said: “All disease begins in the gut.” When your gut is healthy, you have better immunity, more efficient digestion, balanced hormones, clearer focus…and the list goes on. I became even more committed to growing a good “gut garden” after creating 70 (!) gut-healing recipes for Dr. Robynne Chutkan’s upcoming book The Microbiome Solution (August 2015).

Of course, if you can’t wait until then, my Cabbage Crunch salad is flavorful, delicious, and great for your gut.

5. Animals can be our greatest teachers
Well, I knew that… but it became especially clear after caring for and losing two dogs to cancer last year. Willow and Jaxon taught me to appreciate the fragility of life, realize the importance of living in the moment and cherish the gift of unconditional love.

And now, we have two gorgeous, gregarious golden retrievers, a mother and son pair named Monty and Cadence. In addition to the important life lessons, my new teachers also bring out a more playful side and remind me not to take everything so seriously. (Who says that the weekends are the only time to have fun?!)

6. You need to put your time where your values are
As I become increasingly aware of how the world around us affects the world within us, I’ve thought more & more about human health and the environment. This was the year I decided to actually do something with those ideas. I’ve long admired and been involved with the Environmental Working Group. In October, I solidified my commitment and joined their board of directors. I’m thrilled and honored to be a bigger part of the amazing work they do.

7. Make your health a priority
No matter how much you know about nutrition and overall wellness, it doesn’t matter unless you make your own health a priority. Like so many people, I fell into a bad habit of allowing emails and other people’s needs to take priority over my own meals, workouts, and downtime. And then…I became cranky and irritable as a result.

My birthday present to myself this year? Walking my talk and getting my health priorities straight!

Now it’s your turn. What have you learned since your last birthday? I’d love to hear your insights in the comments!

P.S. Last year on my birthday I told you 10 of my secrets and you shared some of yours – so fun!

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