Why your life CAN be what YOU want it to be #15dbc

Today’s post is a little different. As I’ve commented previously, I’m undertaking Natalie Sisson’s 15 Days to Freedom Blog Challenge.

I set up Cookies & Clean (ironically) because I was lacking physical and emotional energy to keep on going with my two existing businesses, Murmuration (content marketing) and The HR Talent Community (networking and events). Cookies & Clean, as much as I’d like to develop it, is a platform of self-expression where I can share my passion for fitness, health and well-being. And indulge my writing in completely unrelated areas of interest.

After all, health, fitness and wellness is SOOOOO much more interesting than HR Cloud Technology (say what?!) 😀

But over the last week something curious has happened.

I’m finding new energy for my existing projects that had, quite frankly, sucked the life out of me last year.

This past month I’ve done a HUGE amount of research and investigation in to marketing and sales techniques to scale my businesses.

Today, Natalie’s challenge is to “consider what online business model would support you to live the life you choose?

Yes that’s right, it’s possible to CHOOSE.

Now as much as I envy Natalie’s extensive international travel, it’s not something I’m seeking at this time. I’ve spent long periods overseas, and I’ve backpacked solo across Europe. Whilst travel is freeing, exciting and liberating, I’ve also found it lonely and extremely stressful. Plus, I have someone else to consider: Mr Cookies & Clean. He has a very successful bricks and mortar business, so we cannot travel (extensively) without careful planning and timing. Having said this, we DO have a 6 month honeymoon booked in 2016 —> 4WD across Australia :):):):):):):)

To answer Natalie’s question, I seek an online business model(s) that will allow Mr Cookies & Clean to pull back in his business so together, we CAN do more of the things we LOVE.

Mostly this is getting out in to the great Australian outdoors, camping, bush walking, rock climbing, canoeing….and spending time with Miss Cookies & Clean (our black Kelpie, Kira). Mr C&C also has a pipe dream of breeding champion Blue Heelers, I would love to support him to achieve this.

Essentially the Day 6 video has confirmed for me, what I must do. Natalie’s advice has greatly assisted me…….I encourage you to check her out!

Until next time, love your life and most of all LOVE YOURSELF

Vanessa XO

Image credit: http://www.theprospect.net

* Just in case you were wondering, I am not an affiliate partner of Natalie Sisson’s. If ever, and whenever I gain financially from promoting a product or service via Cookies & Clean, I would always be TRANSPARENT about it. And, as through my other businesses, I only promote or support products and services I have TRIED, LIKE and BELIEVE IN. 


Juice of the day #jotd

Dubbed “Hayman Island” – because that’s where I’d love to be (although perhaps not this time of year) – this is juice / smoothie is inexpensive AND quick to make. It requires no blending, just a “smash, pour & stir.” Perfect if you don’t have time to clean up any mess.

Hayman Island_

To make it, you’ll need

  • 200ml almond milk
  • 1 tbsp pure Canadian maple syrup
  • one small handful of finely chopped mint
  • half a cup of fresh or unfrozen raspberries, “smashed” in to a messy paste.

Then: mix it all together & pour over ice.

Enjoy it and the rest of your day!

Until next time, believe in wellness, believe in you

Vanessa XO

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* This blog post comprises Day 5 of Natalie Sisson's 15 day "2015 Blog to Freedom Challenge." Natalie, otherwise known as "The Suitcase Entrepreneur," has built a 6-figure online business and "ports" it around the world. Sounds pretty ideal, huh? Today Natalie set her community the challenge to "let go of one habit that will make you more productive and successful in your business." Now several come to mind. But there is one that will make a big short term impact: writing shorter posts. I love dedicating time and energy to researching and writing involved pieces. And I love the feedback I get on them, But with The HR Talent Community AND Murmuration vying for my attention as well, I want to Keep Things Simple. If you are interested in Natalie's challenge, head over to www.suitcaseentrepreneur.com/freein15

#EOTD (exercise of the day)

So you (think you) can dance? Well that’s great, because I’m absolutely shocking at it.

Ok, ok so I can make movements that look like dance. But what it really is is a jumbled mess of arms and legs moving wildly about in an attempt to stay in time with the music.

Despite this I’ve always fantasised about ballet. It must be something about the romance of wearing smooth pointe slippers and waltzing about in soft, demure leotards and impossibly feminine tulle skirts. As a girl I always thought ballerinas were the epitome of female beauty. When my hips and breasts made their unwelcome debut around the age of 12, my prima ballet fantasies died along with my childhood.

Nine years later I decided to take an adult ballet class to satisfy my unfulfilled dream. I was terribly inflexible; but I was determined to overcome it as I wanted a ballerina body. More to the point, I wanted to FEEL beautiful. Intuitively I knew ballet would help.

But try as I could, I simply couldn’t do it. Even the basic moves were hard to co-ordinate. So I mostly stuck to the barre and watched everyone else put it all together.

A side step lunge

Soon after I discovered Bikram yoga. Whilst I initially found the breathing and heat a challenge, it was far easier than ballet and I became hooked. But as much as I loved yoga (adding Iyengar, Ashtanga and Hatha in the mix too) ballet always remained at the back of my mind.


About 12 months ago I became aware of the yoga-ballet-pilates phenomenon sweeping Australia and the world. A fusion of stretching, core strengthening and classical dancing, brands like Barre Body, Cardio Barre and Xtend Barre claim that with the right dedication (and diet) you too, can have a Margot Fontaine body.

Now I’ve since come to understand (and accept) that I will never be a size 6 (US 0) and that no amount of diet and exercise will change this. I’m not a fan of starving myself fad dieting either, just eating mindfully and exercising well. But when I did the adult ballet course all those years ago, I remember seeing a shift in body fat composition. Granted I was not doing any other exercise at the time, but I did see a marked change in the shape of my legs, arms and abdomen.

Download it

A few months ago I came across Jessica Smith TV. Jessica is an online fitness trainer with some fantastic (free) cardio ballet class I can actually keep up with! Perhaps it’s all of those years persisting with yoga, but there is something about Jessica’s (30 min) classes that make dancing fun and easy. Perhaps it’s her energy, perhaps the yoga has helped neuroplasticity, I’m not sure.

After just 4 sessions (2 weeks) I started to see a shift in the visceral fat that no amount of running has helped me achieve. My legs and core are stronger (which helps with my running). Plus it’s a nice change from hill runs and stair sprints.

Of course exercising over and over again with the same video can get very boring, so I intend to purchase and download her full program here.

I’ll leave you here now with my red face and awkward plies.

So until next time, believe in wellness and believe in you.


Vanessa xo

*No, I am not an affiliate marketer of Jessica SmithTV – just someone who loves her program and is seeing real results.

Do this 1 thing to lose weight (with minimal effort)

To get me through this summer I’ve been working a large café in the uber-sophisticated beach-side village of Sorrento, about 100 minutes out of Melbourne.

Interestingly enough, I’ve found that people are starting to request almond milk.

I’ve drunk it and like it. I also found that I like rice milk for it’s light texture and sweet taste. Both almond and rice milk do not dilute coffee in the same way cow’s or soy milk does, so I find that I need to drink less coffee during the day.

That’s a win because I’m sleeping better. Which means that I’m (much) more productive and a whole lot nicer to be around 😀 

But there is one milk I can’t find served anywhere, and that is macadamia.

I’m obsessed; I’ve been consuming it for 3 months at home and I love its creamy, nutty taste. In the same amount of time I’ve also dropped a large amount of fat from my stomach and hips.


To satiate my curiosity, I did a little research and found 2 reasons why you should be drinking it too.

  1. It’s inexpensive and easy to find.

You could nick down to the local health food store, but they’ll always charge a premium price. Although I’m turning off the major supermarket chains, they do stock some many independent health brands and I like to support them. I drink Australia’s Own Organic.

  1. Less calories than skinny milk

You probably know that it’s bullshit that humans need (cow’s) milk.In fact, some studies have shown that it can deplete bone density, not increase it. Indeed, cow’s milk was designed  for, well, cows. Did you know that by the time calves are weaned, they typically weigh 8 TIMES their original birth weight? And after weaning, cows never drink milk again.


Despite this, we are still hung over from the milk propaganda of the 80s; the average Australian adult drinks in the vicinity of 68 kilos a year. No that is not a typo. This is due in large part to us consuming twice as much coffee as we did in 2004.

Because we are all SO busy we MUST need something to keep us awake.

Now Macadamia milk contains just 302 Kj per 250 ml in comparison to full cream milk (670Kj), skinny milk (378 Kj) and soy (564 Kj).

If you drank 2 macadamia milk lattes a day for a year, compared to the same in full cream milk you would save almost 270,000 calories in a YEAR. To burn this off you’d need to run for 402 hours over the course of a year, at a rate of 10 km an hour.

I’ve got your attention, don’t I?

Given that we are so time poor, I’d say most of us don’t have time for a 1.01 hour run every single day of the year. 70% of us too, are clinically overweight or obese.

So replacing cow’s milk with macadamia milk (or another nut derivative) may be smart way to shed some of those pesky kilos with minimal effort.

Until next time, believe in wellness and believe in you.


Vanessa X

Image credit: mastercook.com

coming clean

I’ve always dreamed of baking sweet treats. And then selling them. 

I’ve been on the “clean train” for several months now and I see so much potential for the two to go hand in hand……..

The clean-sweets idea has been baking a while, but I’ve held off. I’ve got enough going on; what, with 2 other businesses – how can I possibly contemplate a third? (We all know the #1 reason entrepreneurs fail is because of lack of focus).

So For the next 15 days Cookies & Clean is a little experiment. Rather than blogging about content marketing, HR, leadership and technology trends I’ll be blogging about fitness, wellness and……sweet, clean eating!

About me

Hello there. My name is Vanessa and I live on the Mornington Peninsula, just an hour and a half out of Melbourne (Australia). It’s a spectacular farm-to-late / wine destination and is known specifically for its cool climate Pinot Noir.

Cafe’s, wine bars, restaurants, pubs and eateries are literally on every corner. The coffee is amazing and the seascape, sublime. Where I live, Mt Martha, I have to pinch myself whenever the sun comes out; I feel like I’m holidaying in the Aegean.

Clean eating on the Mornington Peninsula

I can see SUCH potential for the clean-eating phenomenon in this incredible food and wine region.

Given that I love raw / paleo / vegan desserts so much, I’m keen to create some buzz and then take a slice of the pie :O But HOW am I going to do that if I’ve already got too much on my plate? (literally and figuratively?!)

Why I’m starting now

The impetus for starting the Cookies & Clean blog is that I’m participating in the 15 Days To Freedom : 2015 New Year Blog Challenge” led by the uber-smart-successful-crazy-cool Suitcase Entrepreneur: Natalie Sisson. I’m revved up: over the next two weeks I’ll be rubbing shoulders over 200 online entrepreneurs from around the world as we all work toward our goal of building an online business.

So Yah. Let’s get this partay started.

But before I do….. I need to come clean.

If I’m really serious about this, I’ve got to be honest.

Three and a half years ago I was smoking up to a pack of cigarettes a day. I also used to be 12 kilos heavier.

Yes really.

2011 was one of those g0d awful years – there was a dramatic end to a long-term relationship, which led to the loss of a job.

It was absolutely earth-shattering. I never thought I could recover.

And although I’ve made my way back in to the land of the living (and kicked the cigs long ago) scaling the north-face back back to life was incredibly hard. It was even harder than building my own start-up.

But I did it.

If you met me now, you’d never believe that I was so depressed that I could barely get out of bed for almost a year. That I could not hold a conversation (could simply not get the words out) and could not read a book. All I could do was sit in my local cafe and stare in to a skinny flat white…….and smoke.

Life was not grey. It was black.


If you met me now, you’d never believe it. I LOVE to exercise. I’m a long distance runner and I rarely drink. I jam my diet full of raw / paleo / vegan and I’ve lost a lot of weight. I’ve still got some more to go, but overall I’m pleased with what I see.

Today, I’m still on a journey.  I’m hopeful Cookies & Clean is one of the next steps.

Daily Success Plan

I awoke this morning to an email from Natalie, with a link to her first video. Just when I wanted to roll over and sleep in (because that is what I’ve been doing for several weeks now), I suddenly felt accountable; something I’ve not felt in a VERY long time.

“Think about your mindset when you first wake up,” she said, and “understand how it impacts on the rest of your day.”

Now I’ve never stopped to consider this before. But perhaps sleeping in to 9 am and then working haphazardly throughout the day (and night) with very little plan is NOT effective way to grow a business. Or indeed, manage your life.

So I did this

1. I got out of bed, had a shower and got dressed (as soon as I woke up = the first time)

2. Ate a bowl of coconut and almond milk soaked oats

3. Put the lead on Miss Cookies & Clean (my little Kelpie) and drove her to the lake for a walk….. but MAN she needs some training (well, probably I do).

Today, Miss C&C was such an embarrassment that I had to drag her all the way back to my car and take her home. I felt like one of those mother’s who can’t control her toddler. Only, Miss C&C is a DOG. Note to self: puppy training, stat.

4. Despite my best intentions, it’s been one of “those” days. After heading to the market and buying lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, I discovered that my juicer is BROKEN :/ Note to self #2 Call Sunbeam on Monday (the juicer is new).

5. To de-stress, I did an Ashtanga yoga session before hopping on the computer to check my emails (just once!) and the freelance – I operate from (oDesk).

6. Then, I cut the procrastination cord and opened Cookies & Clean ….. after getting past the guilt of doing it …. because surely it’s detracting from my “real” work?!

So, even though I don’t feel like I achieved a huge amount today (and I still want to go and sleep) I created this blog, set up an Instagram account and my mind is already buzzing with the things I can do here.

Believe in wellness

Believe in you.


Vanessa X