Different fats – Saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, essential fatty acids, cholesterol. Why do we need to eat fats? |Nutrition post

Let’s talk fat…..

Some people fear fat in their diet and believe the myth that “eating fat makes you fat”. I will begin by saying that that is not true at all – so please don’t believe that myth.

What about the different types of fat…. saturated? Unsaturated? Cholesterol? Essential fatty acids? What are they and why are they good/bad?

Why do we need fats in our diet, and which fats are better to consume?

I thought i would do a little summary and share some of my nutrition knowledge with you all so that you can get a better understanding of fat in your diet – why you need it, what it is, cholesterol, essential fatty acids and which fats are best to consume!?

 

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So first off, why do we need healthy fats, and what are healthy fats?I’ll keep it simple and basic as that’s all you really need to know, you don’t need to know the small details such as the number of carbon atoms and bonding of the lipids which people who study nutrition learn!

Lets start with that fat doesn’t make you fat, however an excess of energy over a longer period of time will make your body store that excess energy which can lead to gaining fat and weight. But just because you eat nuts and avocados and use oil doesn’t mean it will make you fat. However, fat does have more energy per gram than carbohydrates or protein but that shouldn’t scare you, fat does make you feel full quicker compared to carbohydrates or protein because it has a higher energy amount per gram.

Fats are necessary in your diet for:

1) energy

2) So that you can absorb and transport the fat soluble vitamins A,D,E,K in your body. Without fat you wouldn’t absorb them and that would lead to problems.

3) The essential fatty acids Omega 3 and 6, it is crucial that you get these fatty acids as your body can’t make them itself and they are essential for cell function and growth!

4) For hormones. Hormones contain lipids i.e fat and hormones control alot of different functions in the body, so without enough fat in your diet your hormones can be a little off which can then lead to many other problems

5) For your nerves and brain.The brain contains alot of essential fat which is necessary for function and protection and also the nerve cells have a layer of myelin which helps the transportation of electrical messages, so without that layer of fat the messages will go slower or not at all i.e you might not be able to think as clear or concentrate as well and just feel/act/think slower.

6) For healthy skin. The cell membranes in our body contain essential lipids which can then control what goes in and out of the cells and without the fat the cells won’t function as they should. Skin can look thinner and more white if there isn’t enough fat in your diet.

7) Keeping you warm. This isn’t so much to do with fat in your diet, but more actually having fat on your body which both protects you and keeps you warm!

8) If your diet is well balanced and contains all the macronutrients you are more likely to feel satisfied after eating and not have a bunch of cravings or constant hunger!

So there are 8 important reasons to eat healthy fats… i mean if these facts don’t make you want to eat more healthy fats i don’t know what will convince you.

 

Secondly, what exactly is healthy fats vs non healthy fats?

So there is saturated and unsaturated fat (which is then divided into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and there is transfats. They are slightly different and have slightly different function in the body. (Note there are many more lipids/fats but these are the 4 most talked about).

Saturated fats and transfats increase your LDL (so called “bad cholesterol” though that is rather outdated because cholesterol is the same its just the function of the saturated fats in the body can make the cholesterol get stuck in arteries, but also depends on other factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes etc). Unsaturated fats lower LDL and can increase HDL (so called “good cholesterol”.)

By lowering your intake of saturated and trans fat you can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Typically a wholefood, plant based diet is low in saturated fats – though of course, vegan processed food can contain saturated and transfats… so a vegan diet doesn’t automatically mean a healthy diet.

It is recommended that no more than 10% of your calories come from saturated fat, meaning c.a 22g saturated fat, if you have a daily intake of 2000kcal. (And recommended fat intake is around 30-40% of your calories, c.a 90g fat per day.)

But by replacing meat and dairy as well as processed foods with more wholefoods meaning lots of fruit, vegetables, root vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, vegetable oils etc you can lower your risk of different nutrition related diseases and illnesses.

The most important thing – everything in balance. But decreasing meat (primarily red meat) as well as high fat dairy products and processed food, can make a huge difference in your health and blood lipid levels!

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Different fats: 

Saturated fats are “firm” at room temperature example butter, cheese, margarine, ice cream, fatty meats, but also milk, cream, palmoil and coconutoil are saturated fats even if they are liquids. These types of fats should be eaten in moderation.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature for example olive oil, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil etc but also nuts, seeds, avocado are unsaturated fats.

Note: You don’t need to know the difference between which foods have more monounsaturated or more polyunsaturated fats.

Most foods with fat have a combo of the different fatty acids, but predominantly have more of certain fatty acids.

And then trans fats which are hardened vegetable oils and often used in very processed food such as cakes, cookies, baked goods etc Many countries actually have a ban on trans fats as they are so negative for your health, i don’t think that is the case in USA however. I would advise you all to not eat food that contains trans fats! (However natural transfats can be found in dairy products and meat, but once again… recommendation is to limit intake of those foods for other reasons as well).

 

What about cholesterol?

I could write a whole post about this as there is so much to mention. But let’s put it simple… cholesterol is a type of fat which your body already produces, and it is necessary for your body to have cholesterol. It is used to make estrogen, testosterone, vitamin D and as well as used to make bile, which helps with the digestion of fat. However, you don’t need to consume dietary cholesterol.

You don’t need to eat cholesterol as your body already has cholesterol (It is produced by the liver and found in almost all cells. And the body can produce more cholesterol when it is needed). However, if your body is healthy then how much cholesterol you eat doesn’t actually impact your cholesterol levels. I.e if you’re healthy, eating 2 whole eggs isn’t “too much” cholesterol, your body can regulate the cholesterol level. However, if you have diabetes or prediabetes, or have risk for heart disease then you need to be more wary of cholesterol intake as your body may not be able to regulate the cholesterol from your diet as it should.

Also, as mentioned earlier there is no “good” or “bad” cholesterol, HDL and LDL cholesterol just have slightly different functions in the body. If there is too much LDL in the bloodstream, there is a risk that cholesterol can get stuck in arteries causing placque and inflammation, which in turn can lead to stroke and heart disease. So that is the main reason why you want low LDL levels.

The main reason cholesterol get’s a bad rep is that cholesterol is most often found in foods which aren’t the best from a nutrition point and have other ingredients/compounds (such as saturated fat) which aren’t so great in excess for the body.

What are healthy fats?

The poly and monounsaturated fats for example, nuts, seeds, avocado, salmon,  olives and olive oil, mackerel.

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Essential fatty acids:

Omega 3 and omega 6 are two essential fatty acids, meaning that we need to get them through our diet as our body can’t produce them. They have important functions in the body such as for blood clotting, brain and heart health, as well as omega 3 being antiinflammatory and omega 6 being proflammatory.

This is why it is important to have a balance between omega 3 and 6, so that you don’t have lots of inflammation in your body due to a diet high in omega 6.

A western diet, and even a vegan diet is often higher in omega 6 because it is found in seeds, nuts, safflower and sunflower oil, which omega 3 is often found in fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel. However omega 3 is even found in flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts – which are good plantbased sources of omega 3.

 

Also note that many vegan foods do contain palm oil or coconut oil which are a saturated  fat and a high intake of those isn’t recommended, so just because you eat a vegan diet doesn’t mean you eat the right type of fat. But also when it comes to peanuts and peanut butter which contains alot of Omega 6, it is important to vary your nut and seed intake so that you also eat different nuts such as walnuts, almonds, cashewnuts and different seeds such as sunflower, chia, flaxseed, hemp seed so that you get omega 3 as well!

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Read more about eating fish/nutrition benefits/ omega 3 HERE

 

Hopefully this post helps you and has helped explain – in a simple way – why we need fats and what they are. There is alot more detail of course but then it is better to contact a dietician or nutritionist who can help you specifically, but this will atleast give you some simple information!

Also to end this post, there has been the hype and belief that coconut oil is some magical oil and is healthy, however coconut oil is infact saturated and works the same as butter or margarine in the body so it’s not some magical oil. (However, it does contain some lauric acid, which is considered a MCT  which work sort of like glucose and can be sent to the liver absorbed directly into the blood stream and give energy quickly compared to the longer fatty acids which need to be broken down by enzymes and bile, “picked up/packaged” by lipoproteins and then transported in the blood. It is also said that this MCT oil is metabolized directly and not stored as fat. However, all excess energy = stored in the body. And coconut oil only has about 50% or less MCT oil, and the rest is long chain fatty acids, as well as coconut oil being considered a saturated fat. So it shouldn’t be consumed in excess.)

However it does work great on your hair, for oil pulling, on your skin, as a moisturizer, and is supposed to be antibacterial, etc etc so it has it’s benefits even if it is not magical food!

Also note, just because fat is important and necessary doesn’t mean that you should over eat on it for example LCHF. Your body also needs carbohydrates and protein, so a very high intake of fats and low intake of carbohydrates isn’t recommend as a  healthy diet.

 

I know this may be alot of information, but i tried to make it as simple as i could – without going into too much unnecessary detail for the “average person”. When it comes to fat absorption and other areas of triglycerids and lipids, there is still a lot that is unknown. And you can go into very deep details trying to explain everything, but that isn’t necessary when you just want to know “which fats are best to eat and which should i consume less of” and “why do i need fat in my diet”.

 

More nutrition posts HERE

Other nutrition posts/nutrition advice HERE

How to increase healthy fat intake. Nutritional advice

Do you need to eat oil or not? Nutrition post

Are carbohydrates bad for you? Why do we need them?

Keto diet – what is it? Can you eat LCHF and vegan?

Scars, stretch marks & cellulite | Self love & dealing with your body changing

This is going to be a rather open and honest post, and i am questioning whether i even want to share this post or share my thoughts. I wrote this post several days ago but just haven’t really wanted to post it….. something holds me back when it comes to writing about body love/self love posts… it just feels like there are far worse problems in the world and that this is just a “silly, first world, white girl” problem….

In the past i was more open about struggles and wrote alot more body love and self love posts. It feels like body love/self love posts don’t really fit into the theme of nutrition-veganism which i have here. However, it is also part of my personal posts as well as part of a healthy lifestyle and mindset…. to be able to analyze and reflect over certain thoughts, and maybe be able to help someone in the same situation.

I am not someone who spends alot of time caring about my appearance or looking in the mirror. Infact, it wasn’t until April this year, when i moved into my own place that i finally got a full length mirror after 2 years of moving and renting a room in someone elses house.

Now that it is summer i have no problem walking around in shorts and a tank top. Infact, that is one of the things i long for during the winter…. to be able to walk around outside with shorts and a top!

One thing i have always struggled to accept and like about myself and my appearance is my legs…. throughout all the years, it has been the one body part that has taken the longest to accept and love. Though when i took the focus away from how my legs looked and instead focused on the fact that i can run, walk, use my legs and live life i stopped caring so much about how they looked and instead was happy that they work. I have legs that function and that is the most important.

However, a few days ago while looking in the mirror i realised that i have gotten a bunch of stretch marks on the back of my legs/hamstrings…. something i have never noticed before. I do know that i already have some cellulite, which is absolutely normal and i have pretty much just accepted that. Most normal, healthy female bodies have some cellulite as that is just how the female body holds fat. Last year, when i first noticed i had cellulite on the back of my legs it did bother me and i stopped wanting to wear shorts at the gym for a while. Which is so silly thinking about it.

But back to the stretch marks….. Maybe they have always been there and i just haven’t noticed because 1) i haven’t had a full length mirror, 2) i have been so pale during the winter and 3) it’s not everyday i am looking at the back of my legs hahaha

My first reaction to seeing the marks was to think…. “what, why, when?” Have my legs really grown that much…. i can’t do any real strength training with heavy weights for my legs because of my knee and hip pain, so it is alot of body weight exercises. Maybe my legs have grown and i haven’t really noticed – and if the muscle/leg grows quicker than the skin can adapt, then it can lead to stretch marks.

I already have some light faded stretch marks on the inside of my legs from during recovery. That was real hard to accept back in the past. But i have had them for so many years and they are very faded so i barely notice them now anyway. Just like my tattoos they are just there and a part of me!

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So why am i writing this post? Well because it is my sort of self reflection and to share my thoughts.

Because the crazy thing is that my first (well second) reaction was to think, “i need to stop training my legs. I should lose weight so i don’t get bigger legs.” I felt almost embarrassed thinking, should i stop wearing shorts… have people seen the stretch marks and what have they thought?

It BOTHERS me so much that this was my first & second initial reaction and thoughts. Living in a diet and photoshop culture where normal things like cellulite and stretch marks are something to embarrassed about, when they infact are very normal and not a sign that you are unhealthy.

My third reaction was to self analyze and reflect on my first response…. to realise that 1) why make myself feel bad about something i can’t control. 2) Why feel ashamed or embarrassed about something that is actually very normal and 3) why stop doing something i love because i think i should lose weight?

Did i feel better at once? No…. but i have spent years hating my body and struggled for so many years to accept and like my legs. I am not going to let a thing like this knock me down or make me spend more time and energy disliking my body.

The most important thing for me is that i have a healthy body and legs that work. The important thing is that i can use my body, use my legs… that i can workout and do something i love. I am not about to change that because society just shows us pictures of photoshopped models.

And i understand that there are people who have far more cellulite, stretch marks and scars than I do, but this is just my thoughts and my body.

It is not always easy to accept your body changing. And i remember when i was in eating disorder recovery and had to gain weight and realised that the gaining weight process had given me cellulite and stretch marks, despite still being underweight. That hit me HARD. But i just want to remind those of you who are in eating disorder recovery, or just anyone really, that those things are normal and not something to be ashamed of.

Of course, it is easier said than done. But my best advice is to just focus on being healthy and happy. Instead of focusing on your appearance, focus on creating a healthy life and a happy life. Making choices based on happiness and health and not on appearance. Do the workouts you enjoy, not ones you hate because you want to try to lose weight. Eat nourishing food that you enjoy so that you have energy to live, think, move.

But also to not spend so much time looking in the mirror. One of the worst things you can do is just stand infront of the mirror and be critical and analyze yourself… in the end you will just tear yourself apart.

HOWEVER, one positive thing you can do is to say 5 (Or more) positive things about yourself and/or your appearance each morning. Either say them out loud, think them in your head, or you could write down on a post it note and put it on your mirror so you see those things each day.

Also writing down what you love about yourself and your body as well as focusing on what your body can do, instead of how it looks can be very helpful with learning self love.

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Like mentioned, it is not always easy to  learn self love. Sometimes you just need to accept your body and move on. Realise that you are more than your body – and i know i might get comments saying that, “It is easy for you to say this when you are already thin”.

But hating your body takes so much energy and time. It prevents you from being truly happy as well as prevents you from living the life you really want to. Learning self love and self acceptance makes such a difference to your life and mindset. It may take weeks or months, but at some point you will reach that stage where you can just be happy in your body and realise that health and a healthy body is the most important, not so much if you have scars or a thigh gap.

I had thought i would share photos but i realised 1) i am not in the state of mind or acceptance that i want to do that and 2) it really isn’t relevant or necessary.

Why am i writing this post? Well because i wanted to share my thoughts, it is also a form of self reflection for me. But also to show that sometimes your first initial reaction or response to something isn’t always the best or healthiest… but it is the self reflection and how you actually react/your response that matters. I.e i am sure we have all had a quick unconscious judgement or initial response to someone or something, but with a few seconds after thought reacted differently or had different thoughts.

I hope this post helps someone else in someway!

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Working out in the morning fasted or in the evening fueled up?

I know I have touched on this subject before, but I wanted to write about it again. Working out… when is the optimal time?

Working out in the morning fasted or later on in the evening after eating several meals?

To start off, I am the type of person who likes to work out in the morning and most often fasted i.e before breakfast. This is something I have done for several years so I am used to it as well as it suits my lifestyle. I.e I wake up, drink some coffee, do some online work and then go to the gym, workout and start my day. And then I’ll be in school studying or in lectures until 3-5pm and then home to meal prep and by then I am so tired so I just wna tot lie in bed….. so working out in the morning suits my lifestyle. But recently I have instead been working out in the evening… for numerous reasons. Either I have had 8am lectures which I have needed to go to, or I have felt too stressed with school work so have just wanted to start at once so haven’t prioritized the gym in the morning or I just didn’t have the energy or motivation to workout in the morning… then instead later in the day I will feel energetic and motivated and want to go to the gym. And I must say… it is a huge difference working out in the evening after having eaten 2-3 meals before hand. I feel more energetic and like I can keep working out…. I do admit, the sun and warmth makes a difference as well. During the winter when it is dark and grey the last thing I want to do is leave the house in the afternoon and feel far less energetic.

The one problem with working out in the evening is that it doesn’t always happen… i.e I know that if I workout in the morning I 1) am filled with energy for the day/morning& feel more focused, 2) My workout is done for the day and I know that I can do whatever for the rest of the day i.e if I decide to go out with friends or do other things I don’t have to prioritize the gym, 3) Stomach ache won’t prvent me from going to the gym…. You know sometimes after eating several meals the bloat kicks in or I eat something that gives me a stomach ache and then I can’t workout, so working out in the morning also means that it is done and if anything comes up throughout the day such as stomach pain or extra school work it won’t affect my workout.

So… when is the best time to workout? When you can fit it into your lifestyle. Whether it is 30 minutes on your lunch break or 45 minutes while watching tv in the evening or in the morning before you begin work or school.

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The best is to eat something before hand so that you have energy for your workout. Or if you workout fasted in the morning then make sure to eat a big meal the night before so that that energy will fuel you during your workout the following morning.

And no, fasted cardio is not better or better for fatloss than non fasted cardio. You still burn the same amount of energy and even if your body uses more “fat” when doing fasted cardio, it will not make fatloss higher the rest of the day or over a longer period of time, because once you eat carbohydrates you body will use that glucose for energy i.e burn glucose.

It is like when people say “eat fat to burn fat”… basically if you eat a lot of fat, your body will use that fat you ate for energy… so it is not your fat stores, but it is the fat you eat that you burn making you technically burn more fat, but just the fat from the food. If this makes sense.  I.e eat a lot of carbs and your body will use a lot of glucose, eat a lot of fat and your body will mostly use the fatty acids for energy.

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What about which workout form to do? Well the best form is the exercise you enjoy. However I would recommend everyone to do some form of resistance training or strength training because having strong muscles is so important, especially the older you get. Not only will it make you stronger it can also help with posture and if you fall when you are older you are less likely to injure yourself because you have muscles that can support you. So even if you can only do body weight exercises that is still great and a way to work your muscles and build strength!

If you have any more questions about this topic, don’t be scared to ask 🙂 

Dealing with low self esteem & 6 tips to increase self esteem

Self esteem defined as:

self esteem

 

Recently i have been reminded of how low self esteem i actually have…. how much it holds me back in life.

I don’t believe in myself or my capabilities. I always talk down about myself and my capabilities. Constantly say and think, i am not good enough, i can’t do it, someone else is better. Instead of giving myself reasons why i can succeed and why i am good at what i do or want to do, i instead give myself 100 reasons why i amn’t good enough and why i can’t and won’t succeed.

It is tiring to not be able to lift myself or my talents. To always feel like i am not good enough and everyone is better. It stops me from even trying because i always think, i won’t succeed and someone else out there can do it better than me.

It stops me from starting new projects. It stops me from applying to jobs. It stops me from trying new things.

This is not how i want to live my life. I want to start believing in myself. In someone compliments me i want to believe them and say thank you, not just want to hide and think they are lying.

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I want to believe in myself and stop holding myself back.

My low self esteem issues aren’t something new, i have had them almost all my life (or as far as i can remember anyway) so it is not going to take a week to solve my self esteem issues. It will be a daily thing, and to work on my self esteem… begin to lift myself, my capabilities and talents and stop holding myself back.

I must admit i am also scared of failing…… sometimes i don’t try things or i hold myself back because then i won’t have to deal with being bad or failing at something. But you know what… mistakes help you grow. You learn from mistakes. And someone who has failed and learnt and grown has so much more experience and knowledge compared to someone who never tries or always plays it safe.

You can’t always be good at everything, but you can learn, grow and get better – and that is my goal. To not be scared of failing.

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So how do you improve self esteem? Well, if i knew this i wouldn’t have self esteem issues, hahah. But the things i am going to work on are….

  1. Not compare myself. I don’t compare myself physically with others, but i do compare my talents and achievements with others. Constantly thinking others are better and more talented than me. Thinking that everyone else can achieve their goals but i can’t….. it is tiring to think this way. (Because the truth is, we can all achieve our goals! And i know this…. but i just always feel like i can’t achieve my own goals.)
  2. To not be scared to try new things or scared to fail. Begin to say yes…. who cares if i amn’t good at it, i will learn and get better, if not…. it will be a learning experience. I don’t have to be good at everything. Begin to say yes to more experiences…. if i get offers or opportunities, don’t say no just because i think i amn’t good enough… instead see it as a learning process.
  3. Stop trying to be perfect and have everything be perfect. I am a  perfectionist in some areas of my life…. not all areas, just when it comes to work and school work. And this of course can be a good thing, but at times it just makes a short process take even longer and i never feel satisfied because i feel like i could always do better. I am beginning to just settle at doing good enough…. not everything can be perfect and it doesn’t have to be either.
  4. Begin to believe in myself and the compliments i am given. If someone says i am smart – believe them. Also believe in myself…. In the past – during my recovery – i began to say nice things about myself everyday, or at least every week. To improve my self image and self esteem ,but over the years i have stopped doing this regularly. But now i want to get back to saying nice things about myself daily… to lift myself and my capabilities. To begin to believe in myself and what i can achieve. To believe i can reach my goals and not find 100 reasons why i can’t or why i shouldn’t even try.
  5. I want to stop being critical of myself and finding flaws.Once again – remind myself i am good enough and can achieve the goals i have set for myself.
  6. Change negative/belittling thoughts to more positive and uplifting ones. Instead of thinking that i amn’t good enough and won’t succeed, change those thoughts to reasons why i CAN succeed and why i AM good enough.

 

A daily mantra of: I am good enough. I can succeed. I will succeed. I can and i will.

It will be an everyday process… slowly but surely focusing on changing my mindset and thoughts. Improving my self esteem! This will hopefully stop me from doubting myself so much and begin to “Just do it”. Not hold myself back so much in life!

If you struggle with low self esteem, i suggest you join in on this and focus on some of the things i listed above as well. Or maybe you have other suggestions and tips which i can try and focus on to improve my self esteem 🙂

Let’s get more confident and begin to believe in ourselves and work hard towards our goals so we can and will succeed… but most importantly, not be scared to try or fail either – it is a learning experience!

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Gratitude and 3 things i am thankful for!

This month, March, and well for the rest of the year i want to get back into my daily habit of gratitude and thinking about the things i am thankful for in life. In the past i was alot better at thinking over each day and about the small things that hade made the day positive or made me happy. And then being thankful for them.

The past weeks (Months!), i have been living more in the future than the present… feeling worried about different things, anxious and not really being alive and present in the moment or appreciating the day. I am rather good at appreciating small things in my life and finding happiness in the smallest of things such as a good podcast episode, delicious food, or even being happy for others whether it is happiness over another friends happiness or even happiness over the success of someone i follow online…. finding small reasons to be happy.

I know there is the 365 days of gratitude challenge which you can do…. And i guess that is my aim – to everyday write down or think about the things i am grateful for in my life and in the day that has been!!

I encourage you all to do it as well!!! I believe in the power of mindset and law of attraction (to a certain extent anyway…… i.e if something extremely negative or awful happens to you, it is not because you “asked for it or attracted it by a negative mindset”… some awful things just happen and has nothing to do with whether you were positive and happy or not….)

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So…. i thought i would share some things i am grateful for at the moment!

First off my family who are so supportive and always there for me. Understanding, helpful and caring. 

My dog!!! She is 9 years old now i think and she means so much to me…. my dog has been the thing that has gotten me through some of the toughest times in my life and darkest mindset. Also my dog always gives me a sense of calm and can just lie and cuddle her for hours!

For a healthy functional body. A body that can walk, run, life heavy grocery bags, take stairs…. a body that allows me to live my life and functions mostly as it should! It is easy to forget to be thankful for your body….. even things like actually being able to see, touch, smell, taste…. we often take those senses for granted until they are gone.

And other things i am thankful for in my life…. for my friends, for having a place to live, for having money to be able to buy and eat food, for having the ability and access to go to school and get an education, for having the concentration to actually study and learn. 

I would love to hear some things that you are thankful for in your life or in your day!!!