Adaptability, a key trait of entrepreneurial women

“All women adapted to what they were dealt and made it work.”
~ Barbara Joan Zeitz

In early October the Network of Entrepreneurial Women celebrated Crain’s Small Business Week with a lovely gathering of small business owners in Glen Ellyn.

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As we perused the menu and got to know each other, Rebecca Sturgeon (LMT, CMLDT) gave us chair massages to relax our muscles and our spirits.

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We ordered delicious sandwiches from Shannon’s Irish Pub’s special menu, which nourished us sufficiently to take in all the information disseminated that day.

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During lunch, Barbara Joan Zeitz presented several historic women who ‘leaned in’ before Sheryl (Sandberg). Relaying the stories of Rose Knox, Helena Rubinstein, Ida Rosenthal, and Olive Ann Beech, we discovered that women can start careers at any age, against all odds, and thrive.

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Rose Knox started a Gelatin business with her husband Charles. The couple refined the time consuming recipe of boiling, straining and clarifying the ingredients for gelatin, and Rose gave away recipes with each purchase. When she was 50, her husband died and Rose took over the business, causing the departure of a male manager. Rose supported work equality by closing the back door so women and men would both enter and exit via the front door of the manufacturing plant. She was  a pioneer in nutrition, test kitchens, labor relations and creating the gel tab.

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Helena Rubinstein brought 12 jars of face cream to Australia from Poland at age 24. She settled in a small sheep grazing village but set about selling style and fashion to the local population. Her cream incorporated lanolin that had an awful aroma for which Helena experimented with scents. 6 years later she had a viable business in Melbourne. Helena pioneered the concept that beauty was a new power. She also established professional standards for beauticians, developed luxurious packaging, garnered celebrity endorsements. After the stock market crash she refocused on establishing salons and developed a financial empire that made her one of the richest women in the world.

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Ida Rosenthal did not buy into the flapper look, which failed to address more buxom women. Her husband, a sculptor, helped her design a bandeau that would offer support within a dress. When the dresses with these built-in bandeaus became popular, the Rosenthal’s developed the first brassiere by joining the two cups together with elastic. Ida’s husband died in 1966, and Ida ran the multimillion dollar company herself until her death in 1973. Maidenform continues to be a popular brand.

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Olive Ann Beech partnered with her husband to establish Beech Aircraft during the era of cross-country air races. World War II called for an expansion to support wartime production, and Beechcrafts became the standard training vehicle for military aviators. In 1950, her husband died. She secured a $16 million loan during the Korean war and expanded her employee base from 2800 to 13,000 that year.  Post-war, Olive Ann focused on space age production in partnership with NASA.

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Barbara recounts the stories of numerous other real life heroines in A Thesaurus of Women and her online column: “CountHerhistory”. Her second book should be coming out by the holidays, and will be a perfect gift for your leading ladies.

“Love is what is selling business”
~ Larvetta Loftin

Janice M Faris, Accountant and Principal/Owner of Janice M Faris, EA, helped us to think about how we pay ourselves as entrepreneurs. It shouldn’t just be about covering costs, but also about the lifestyle we want to establish for ourselves and support in perpetuity. She pointed out that even a not-for-profit pays their employees (and some very well), so that being a non-profit has nothing to do with giving yourself a salary.

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Jan pointed out that it is very important to make retirement part of that income equation, and to take inflation into account as well. Jan can help solopreneurs determine whether to set up as a a sole proprietorship, whether to incorporate or whether to establish an S-Corp and what the tax implications of each are. She and her partner Peggy Goddeau also take a comprehensive look at all your financial inflows, outflows and help project what you will need in the future to sustain your lifestyle.

“We tend to flock.
We have to make our own path and learn from other women.
Just because there is a path doesn’t mean we all fit onto it.”
~ Jan Faris

We discussed how we can improve our brands with marketing strategist Larvetta Loftin. Larvetta’s L3 Eventeurs provides lifestyle marketing, advertising, public relations, and live engagement events to a broad array of clients. Larvetta had us identify our favorite brands, and made the profound statement that the brands we admire share our customers and clients.

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She said that brands that stick to their passion and purpose do better than those who change their business model. It is easy to leave loyalists and brand influencers behind if you do not keep reinforcing your promise to them. Larvetta also emphasized that collaboration is key. Partnering with businesses who share your vision can strengthen both brands. Key questions to ask when developing your brand are:

1. What is our promise?
2. What is our why?
3. What is our influence?

She also stated that branding is not just a logo, and social media is not a strategy, it is a tactic. Branding is a part of marketing and establishes your perceived value. Larvetta enjoys working one-on-one with small business owners to determine their brand and create a strategy with them.

“You can be a small business but a big brand.”
~ Larvetta Loftin

Karen McCormack covered the new guidelines and brackets for health care.  One key change Karen noted is that being a woman is no longer considered a “pre-existing condition”—when previously there was a large discrepancy between health care costs based on sex. Reproductive and preventive care should be free under the new insurance plans. Ageism has also been addressed with Obamacare, no longer penalizing older people for their age.

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Health insurance is now standardized into tiered plans: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum that vary by the ratio of payments to benefits. This standardization does impact some of the networks insurance providers recognize, so it is important to check with your doctor on what network they are in when making decisions. Penalties for not having health insurance are going up, so it is important to take advantage of the current open enrollment period through Januray 31. As an independent insurance broker, Karen can assist anyone with navigating Obamacare 3.0, whether switching from group insurance to personal insurance, setting seniors up with medicaid and assisting small business owners with group plans. Karen is licensed in 13 states.

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All attendees went home with goodie bags. NEW will be on hiatus through the holidays, but stay tuned for our charity fundraiser in February 2016.

NEW – The Network of Entrepreneurial Women is a group of Chicagoland business women who are upgrading business networking with fun and creative events that inspire attendees to work together, refer each other and most of all cheer each other on as the membership succeeds. Events rotate around various suburbs on a semimonthly basis, usually the 2nd Wednesday and 4th Thursday of the month. RSVP for our upcoming events at Meetup, or like us on Facebook and check up on the calendar there.

Some photos courtesy NetworkHoncho.com.

Practitioners’ Perspectives on Wellness and Self-care

“We strive to give people permission to treat themselves,
women in particular.”

~ Margaret Olson

There’s a lovely healing place in Evanston that offers a variety of relaxation and meditation options. Continuing the spirit of self-care, the Network of Entrepreneurial Women was given a lovely overview of the Heartwood Center in mid-June.

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We gathered in one of the large meeting rooms to get to know nine of the health practitioners in the space, and I am eager to book a ‘spa day’ at the Heartwood as a summer break. The major theme of the discussion that taking time for healing and therapy is not a luxury, but a necessity. Everyone should take time for massage, acupuncture, life coaching and other wellness needs in order to be more balanced and healthy in life.

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The Heartwood Center, located on 1818 Dempster Street in Evanston, is a holistic wellness community currently counting 40 practitioners in its circle. The center rents out treatment rooms for Acupuncture, Chiropracty, Hypnotherapy, Life & Health Coaching, Massage Therapy, Naturopathy, Personal Training, Physical Therapy, Psychotherapy, and Spiritual Direction. Practitioners can sublet rooms, offering a fabulous start-up opportunity for those seeking to expand their practice without having to provide in-home services.

“I wish that everyone knew that they deserve wellness therapy.”
~ Rebecca Sturgeon

Oncology massage therapist Rebecca Sturgeon provided a Manual Lymphatic Drainage demonstration by which each of us can clear our seasonal allergies simply by gently massaging the skin around our neck. This gentle technique also offers assistance with migraines, fatigue and a general sense of heaviness. Rebecca incorporates this healing method into her massage practice. While her focus is on clients going through or recovering from cancer, she also tends to reach a clientele of “Stressed out women over 40.”

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Melissa Sanchez is a dance therapist offering individual and group classes. Her emerging specialty is addiction treatment as well as working with the formerly incarcerated. An active proponent of mental health services, Melissa’s dance therapy assists those with codependence, trauma or PTSD to express themselves through creative movement. Her sessions can look like dance parties, or be more introspective meditative movements. In the near future Melissa hopes to offer a self-care for healers workshop, focusing on those whose profession involves assisting others.

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Kathy Kessenich views herself as a facilitator of creating an awareness of what is going on in the body. “Many people feel uncomfortable in their own skin” she said, and her massage practice strives to reduce blood pressure, increase endorphins, relax muscles and increase the blood flow.  Her focus is on Swedish massage that provides relaxation and stress relief, but she also practices deep tissue massage for chronic muscular issues. She also works as a wellness facilitator, assisting clients in in making simple changes in health choices and product uses.

“It is not a luxury to have a massage,
it is actually taking care of yourself.”
~ Kathy Kessenich

Ixchel Mulberger is a licensed massage therapist and acupuncturist certified in oriental medicine. She spent a decade learning and perfecting her skills until she felt comfortable making a shift to establishing her own practice last year. Her acupuncture focuses on pain management, but she also seeks to educate clients about preventive care so they come to her before chronic problems arise.

“A lot of what we do sounds airy-fairy,
but it is something that is meaningful and deep and helpful.”
~ Ixchel Mulberger

Margaret Olson practices Manual Lymphatic Drainage and offers abdominal work in her massage therapy sessions (with permission). She is trained in oriental medicine and combines her work with muscles and joints with energetic meridians. She works with athletes, clients recovering from surgery and those with autoimmune diseases. Since joining the Heartwood Center, Margaret has expanded her own practice of mindfulness, which she blogged about in a 2-part series.

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Marsha Smith is a psychotherapist who started with the Heartwood Center 8 years ago when it was located in downtown Evanston. She seeks to help people trying to become unblocked and trying to find their own sense of direction. Her focus is on helping adults of all ages with a variety of issues, and also ensure they stay healthy when dealing with life changing health issues.

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Marsha said that one man who came to her felt queasy thinking about getting therapy, but later stated that he discovered “learning to be able to take his own side of things” through the sessions. Marsha partnered with Margaret on witing about integrating mindfulness and massage, and she seeks to partner with the other therapists at the Heartwood to create a holistic plan for her clients.

“People want to be understood and develop their natural abilities
to work through problems and find solutions.”
~ Marsha Smith

Yvonne Mitchell incorporates a modular approach to offer spiritual and life coaching. Through vision boarding, hypnotherapy, personality assessments and passion testing, she helps clients develop their passion in life whether mid-career or through retirement. She also helps people who are terminally ill to develop a joy strategy and develop completion activities to work around the pain and also engage in activities they deferred. Her practice comes from the loss of her husband and her own grief process and the activities she completed with him.

“I am grateful to be in this community
of practitioners and quality providers

and look forward to accessing these services for myself.”
~ Marsha Smith

We sipped on delicious tea and coffee sponsored by Alphay and sampled My Health Beet’s delicious chocolate truffles.

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The Heartwood also offers event space, including the lovely Skylight room fit for banquets and dancing, as well as a conference room in which we met where one could host speakers, panel discussions, or other events. Upstairs there is a lovely classroom associated with the Tsogyaling Meditation Center, that also hosts wellness classes such as Yoga and Tai Chi. Gong Therapy is also offered.

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NEW – The Network of Entrepreneurial Women is a group of Chicagoland business women who are upgrading business networking with fun and creative events that inspire attendees to work together, refer each other and most of all cheer each other on as the membership succeeds. Events rotate around various suburbs on a semimonthly basis, usually the 2nd Wednesday and 4th Thursday of the month. RSVP for our upcoming events at Meetup, or like us on Facebook and check up on the calendar there.

People photos courtesy NetworkHoncho.com

 

Meet, Munch & Flow: NEW at the Heartwood Center

It’s been documented that seasonal allergies are worse than usual this spring, so come clear your head at this month’s Meet & Munch with NEW – The Network of Entrepreneurial Women. On Wednesday, June 10 from 2 to 4 pm we will meet at Evanston’s Heartwood Center, where massage therapist Rebecca Sturgeon (LMT, CMLDT) will provide a Manual Lymphatic Drainage demonstration, which can clear sinus congestion.

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Rebecca is a  graduate of the Cortiva Institute – Chicago School of Massage Therapy and holds a certification in Manual Lymphatic Drainage. Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is a gentle massage technique which works with the lymphatic system to move waste out of the body. In an MLD session, the skin is moved in a specific direction and a specific order which has been proven to encourage lymphatic flow. MLD is often used after cancer treatment to prevent or as part of treatment for lymphedema, but it has many benefits for everyone. For example, MLD can help clear chronic sinus congestion, reduce post-workout or post-surgical swelling, reduce injury-related swelling and bruising, and possibly boost immune system function.

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Rebecca will empower us to clear our own heads with a demonstration. I was part of a demonstration of this simple technique a few months ago, and it is amazing how the body knows how to take care of itself if we help it along with nutrition and self-care. Once our heads are clear we can mix and mingle while nibbling on goodies. My Health Beet’s Chocolate Energy Truffles might be on the menu.

Rebecca specializes in Oncology and Geriatric massage. Having worked in clinical settings, she adapts massage for clients undergoing cancer treatment and other medical challenges. In addition, as a longtime runner, Rebecca enjoys providing therapeutic massage to help people maintain their optimum wellness and fitness. She educates the Evanston community about their bodies on Wednesdays from 5 to 6 p.m. at Hip Circle Studio with her Anatomy Cafe series.

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Other practitioners will present their services at the Heartwood Center as well, including:

Kathy Kessenich, LMT focuses on Swedish and Deep Tissue massage. She sees herself as a health facilitator working in partnership with people in need of massage service. Her philosophy is that massage therapy is a tool through which people can access an awareness and greater connection with their own bodies to help them live more comfortably and happily. This awareness can gradually move people toward a better understanding of the body’s ability to heal itself and put them in a frame of mind to actively affect their own health. Kathy was trained at the Wellness and Massage Training Institute and has more than 700 hours of coursework in massage therapy techniques, wellness, anatomy, physiology and kinesiology.  She provides a safe, comfortable, soothing environment in which people can be themselves, let go of their stresses and have the opportunity to make positive changes to improve their overall health and quality of life.

Ixchel Muhlberger, L.Ac. is a licensed acupuncturist.  She completed her Master’s degree in Oriental Medicine (MSOM) and B.S. in Nutrition, attaining Cum Laude honors, from Midwest College of Oriental Medicine.  For 10 years she worked alongside physical therapists, which allowed her hands-on experience with a variety of orthopedic injuries.  Ixchel facilitates healing from a mind/body perspective; in addition to acupuncture and herbs, she incorporates bodywork (if deemed appropriate) into her treatments.  Ixchel provides a holistic approach to health care for her clients, and focuses on giving them the tools they need to heal their own bodies.

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Psychotherapist Marsha Smith, MSW, LCSW, integrates mindfulness and focusing with empathic and practical approaches to help with a varitey of psychological and social challenges including: relationship issues, anxiety, depression, parenting, work, loss and bereavement, and coping well with health issues. Working with adults, couples, adolescents and families, she collaboratively develops solutions to enable living life more fully. She also teaches focusing and mindfulness skills.

Margaret Olson, LMT, CMLDT, is a Massage Therapist, Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapist, and self-care enthusiast. Her work is designed to ease pain, promote relaxation, and reenforce her client’s mind/body connection by combining eastern and western modalities of massage.

Melissa Sanchez, LPC, R-DMT, GL-CMA is a dance/movement therapist, meditation teacher and life-long dance artist. Since graduating from Columbia College Chicago, she has worked in community mental health centers throughout the city providing counsel, education in mindfulness meditation, body/mind connective therapy and support in recovery from substance dependence and the effects of chronic mental illness or dis-ease. She studied meditation and mindfulness practices in psychotherapy at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in Massachusetts. Her practice is stemmed in trauma-focused healing as well as providing holistic therapy alongside “diagnosis” related treatment. Melissa’s creative therapeutic approach is rooted in the belief that each individual possesses the power to heal when provided with a safe, trustworthy and unbiased environment.

Yvonne Mitchell is a consulting hypnotist, workshop facilitator and motivational speaker. She uses customized, innovative techniques to assure personal breakthroughs and transformations for her clients. Yvonne specializes in helping individuals and organizations identify key passions and unique life purpose. She facilitates life redesign and reinvention in health, career, relationships, finances, spirituality and restoration following personal loss. She allows nothing to stand in the way of her clients “achieving the life of their dreams now.

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Founded in Evanston, Illinois, in 1999, Heartwood Center was conceived by owner Nancy Floy as a membership organization where practitioners could work together in a collaborative environment as they grew their practices. Sharing resources and supporting one another to increase business for all exemplifies Heartwood’s vision of an interdependent network of health and wellness specialists.

Heartwood Center started in downtown Evanston with a community of 12 healing professionals. With a transfer to the Dempster location, Heartwood has expanded to more than 40 practitioners. The Heartwood Center believes in an integrative approach to health that encompasses mind, body and spirit. Healing services include Acupuncture, Chiropracty, Hypnotherapy, Life & Health Coaching, Massage Therapy, Naturopathy, Personal Training, Physical Therapy, Psychotherapy, Spiritual Direction and Tai Chi. The Heartwood also hosts Tsogyaling Meditation Center, a small, community-based meditation center rooted in the teachings of the historical Buddha  Shakyamuni.

Heartwood is located in Evanston at the intersection of Dempster and Dodge, 1818 Dempster Street in Evanston, IL 60202. Free parking is available in the Heartwood-owned lot, two doors east of our building on Dempster. The Pace Bus #250 picks up from the Davis Metra/El Stop in downtown Evanston every 15 minutes and stops just down the block from our front door. A bicycle rack is located in front of our building for environmentally-friendly patrons.

NEW – The Network of Entrepreneurial Women is a group of Chicagoland business women who are upgrading business networking with fun and creative events that inspire attendees to work together, refer each other and most of all cheer each other on as the membership succeeds. Events rotate around various suburbs on a semimonthly basis, usually the 2nd Wednesday and 4th Thursday of the month. RSVP for our upcoming events at Meetup, or like us on Facebook and check up on the calendar there.

 

Discussing being your best boss

“I believe in recharging as often as possible.
Go somewhere luxurious to luxuriate.”
~ Niquenya Fulbright of Building Bridges Consulting

Last week the Network of Entrepreneurial Women held a discussion on treating ourselves. As we nibbled on savory paninis and vegan chocolate pralines at Let Them Eat Chocolate, NEW co-founder Erica Thomas provided tips on how to become better bosses to ourselves, while facilitating a lively discussion around self-care.

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Erica stressed that as our own boss, we have to be the best boss, in order to keep our business functioning and energized. “Burnout can ruin a perfect production schedule,” Erica said. “Avoiding burnout has to be prioritized as highly as project goals.”

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Our attendees covered the full spectrum of women business care taking needs, including 2 nutrition and wellness experts, a fashion designer, a wardrobe stylist, a brand consultant, a technology consultant, and a small business coach. With our introductions we had to state how we treat ourselves. These treats ranged from booking luxurious getaways to pampering in retail and at home spa places.

A “2011 study found that frequent small pleasures,
like double lattes, pedicures, or soft socks provides
more happiness than infrequent large ones like sports cars or vacations.
Research shows that breaking up enjoyable experiences into brief events
— such as two 20-minute massages at different times
rather than one 40-minute massage —
gives people more pleasure. “

~ 33 Ways To Be Happier by Dina Spector

While massages and manicures and pedicures were popular, the majority of ladies present love to take a (jacuzzi) bath. To soak our stressors away, this article suggests taking a champagne bath, and offers a less extravagant milk and honey recipe a la Cleopatra. Before that bath, My Health Beet’s Svetlana Burak recommended dry brushing to exfoliate and detoxify.

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Highlighting that treats do not have to be high-cost or difficult to implement, many women also enjoyed getting lost in a story, whether through a popular TV series or by being transported into a book. Savoring a delicious meal or anticipating a glass of wine at the end of the day also served as pleasurable rewards for a job well done.

“Self-care is such a buzz word that it’s often tossed around
without people really thinking about what it means to practice it.
The truth is that integrating self-care into life is a choice
and a practice, and it only happens successfully
when someone is conscious and consistent about it.”

~ During Your Next Launch, Don’t Neglect Self-Care by Kate Swoboda

One way to treat ourselves better is by stopping to review what we have achieved. We each grow and learn every day, and looking back on a to-do list from a year to 6 months ago can indicate milestones we may not recognize as we adopt new skills into our regular routine.

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When asked what we would give our best employee suggestions ranged from a day (completely logged) off to family outings to writing down a daily or weekly list of accomplishments. Realizing that acknowledgement of things well done is a key motivator, we encouraged each other to print certificates of achievements for the things we sometimes fail to recognize.

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Getting in touch with nature also offers the opportunity for a re-set and turns out to be extremely helpful for the brain. John Haltiwanger writes that people who appreciate nature are happier, healthier and more innovative.

“Natural environments stimulate the brain
in ways civilization cannot,
exponentially improving our cognitive abilities
and igniting our imaginations.”
~ John Haltiwanger

Erica suggested that solopreneurs evaluate their businesses based on Crain’s “Best Places to Work 2015.” The selection criteria included: quantitative issues about pay, promotions, health care and other benefits, hiring practices as well as fairness of pay, vacation time, relationships with management and co-workers, career development and other day-to-day workplace issues.

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Being self-employed can cause for some pitfalls of bossiness. Key to preventing burnout is to also acknowledge our biorhythms, which we can sometimes try to push through. Once again, the best places to work example came to the rescue with the question “Would you work for someone who made you come into the office during a blizzard?”

“It’s OK that you don’t do everything.
It’s OK that someone else does it for you.
You have the wisdom to understand:
‘that’s not my strong suit, that is not my best quality’.”
~ Brand Consultant Cierra Cole

Delegation was also discussed and encouraged, whether it be training a 3-year old to shred papers, engaging older children in answering the phone, or outright hiring someone. Erica stated that we tend to take the longest doing the things we don’t like to do, and outsourcing that task to someone else can free us up to more productivity. Being a perfectionist can hinder that process, but one member pointed out that getting it done is better than for it to be perfect.

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It was lovely to lounge in a welcoming and comfortable space while bonding over indulgences. We look forward to revisiting Let Them Eat Chocolate in Andersonville, and are excited to spur each other on in our respective ventures.

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Continuing our theme of wellness and self-care, our next Wine Women and Wellness Event will coincide with a Women Out Walking presentation. NEW member Svetlana Burak of My Health Beet is partnering with Kim Leider, a Training Leader with Ava Anderson Non Toxic to present: “Clean Living Inside and Out” at the Evanston Public Library on Thursday, May 28 from 7 to 8:30 pm.

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Group photo courtesy NetworkHoncho.com.

NEW – The Network of Entrepreneurial Women is a group of Chicagoland business women who are upgrading business networking with fun and creative events that inspire attendees to work together, refer each other and most of all cheer each other on as the membership succeeds. Events rotate around various suburbs on a semimonthly basis, usually the 2nd Wednesday and 4th Thursday of the month. RSVP for our upcoming events at Meetup, or like us on Facebook and check up on the calendar there.

 

Resetting Nutrition

“We are never too busy
to take time to reset, recharge, and refuel.”
~ Svetlana Burak, My Health Beet

A few weeks ago I decided to take part in a mini-cleanse to reset my body and get into the swing of Spring. I’ve had very sluggish mornings during this long winter, and as the birds started chirping my body needed a jump start for Spring.

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I had met Svetlana Burak of My Health Beet through a small business group and skipped her January announcement for a cleanse, but when this one popped up I felt ready. Of course, I dawdled the weekend of the start date and didn’t get my shopping list together until the 3rd day of the group cleanse. That was OK though. I just jumped in on the tail end and shared my daily meals on the Facebook group at my own pace.

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I decided to skip the foods that didn’t appeal to me and instead doubled up on the other recipes I did like. That meant I ended up with more food than necessary, since I didn’t check the serving size and bought enough for a whole family!

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The dressing recipes looked complicated to me, so I skipped those. I’m not big on salad dressings anyway. Between Aldi and Trader Joe’s it is easy to get produce without hurting the wallet, which was a good revelation to me. The idea that healthy food is expensive food had gotten ingrained into my head, and realizing that I can budget shop fresh food as easily as pre-packaged meals is going to change my shopping habits.

 “I created this program for the busy person
who simply needs the action plan simplified.” 
~ Svetlana Burak, My Health Beet

I purposely picked a slow week for the cleanse since I knew that making the meals would be time consuming. I’d gotten stuck in a rut of quick pasta meals or oven-baked meals from a box. But I found that the simple recipes Svetlana had put together for us were no more time consuming than waiting for something to finish baking. Sure I spent a little more time chopping and measuring foods, but interacting with the ingredients was a lot of fun and uncomplicated.

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A lot of the ingredients can be pre-chopped and cooked later, or leftovers refrigerated for another day. I froze one smoothie the night before when I had an all-day road trip on my calendar.

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Another bonus was that Svetlana is a fan of one-pan meals like me. Multi-pan cooking productions easily put me off preparing a meal.

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It was fun to learn how to make carrot soup, and I promptly went on Pinterest to gather recipes for my favorite veggies (bell peppers and tomatoes) to turn into soup at a later date. What also surprised me is that I didn’t miss the standard habit of having a bread roll with soup. This cleanse was dairy and gluten free, and yet I didn’t miss the cheese and bread I am so fond of. Each meal filled me sufficiently to get through the day, and was flavorful enough to not generate any cravings.

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One person reported losing a few pounds during the cleanse, but my results were not that dramatic. I definitely didn’t lose weight, but I did feel more energetic in the morning and throughout the day, which was my main objective.

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What I am taking away from this cleanse is a better food consciousness. I found myself over-snacking at night simply by the trigger of watching something or reading a book in which people were eating. Feeling more full and knowing that I had all the nutrients I needed in my body had me reach for a glass of water instead of a snack, bake kale chips for the crunch, or mix cranberry concentrate into water in lieu of wine.

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My fitbit arrived right before the cleanse and the cleanse prompted me to start on MyFitnessPal, which has me tracking my food. Calorie counting isn’t my favorite thing, but as I enter recipes and food combinations I am more aware of my snacking pitfalls and how tasty alternatives reduce my calorie intake and therefore allow for a wider variety of food grazing throughout the day.

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Svetlana’s recipes aren’t about calorie counting. Her aim is for participants to change their relationship to food, which she accomplished. If a person doesn’t want to prepare smoothies, that is fine. If breakfast requires more protein, she encourages participants to change the order of the meals to suit their lifestyle and energy levels.

“The goal of this cleanse is
to warm and nourish your body for optimal digestion,
which means an optimal cleanse.”
~ Svetlana Burak, My Health Beet

The cleanse isn’t about only drinking smoothies, it completely ignores supplements, and encourages the participant to focus on self-care on all levels, including leisure time, physical care, and mental space. So many cleanses hawk specific supplements, insist that you go exactly by the book, focus on liquid diets, or try to sell something which has set me up for failure in the past. Taking this lifestyle-based approach is far more effective and enjoyable. Four days is also easier to incorporate than a 10- or 11-day cleanse.

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I could have continued this cleanse for a few more days since there was no deprivation. However, I still had some cheese and non-veggies in the fridge and am back to having wine in the evenings. While this cleanse isn’t prompting me to give up my favorite foods, it is helping me moderate the portion sizes and change the percentages of where my nutrients come from.

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I look forward to trying the recipes I skipped, will rotate between my regular dairy-based drinks and the coconut-milk smoothies, and savor the awareness of fun foods. With the abundance of leftover greens I actually looked up other recipes to incorporate these power-foods into.

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Self-care is all about making manageable changes and keeping up with them one day at a time. Knowing how to make nutritious meals and snacks with your favorite veggies is empowering and beats trusting a manufacturer with your health and your energy levels.