Adventure Awaits

Resolution Alternatives


Right about now is when everyone is starting (or breaking) their brand-new 2016 resolutions.  I tend to shy away from resolutions, mostly because I know that beyond the first two weeks of January, I’ll never remember what they were anyhow.  But this year I decided to try something a bit different.  Something that was more actionable and easier for my brain to remember because it’s more exciting than the usual “work out more,” “eat less” “lose weight’ resolutions.


When I was out Christmas shopping, I ran across a really pretty journal that said only one thing on the front:  “Adventure Awaits.”  I needed a new journal, so I bought it, but I also bought it because I really loved the sentiment and decided THAT would be my resolution.  And I also didn’t want that to have to be anything lofty.  I don’t need to spend a lot of money and take an extravagant trip to Madagascar.  I can find small adventures in my every day life,  just as long as I look for it and look for it often.


I think as we get older, it’s often-times really easy to get set in our comfortable ways.  I want to continue to push myself to learn, see, meet, and do new things as much as I can: even if that’s local and right around me.


If I can keep “Adventure Awaits” as my mantra, I can change the way I look at everyday things. 


Cooking, for instance:  each week when I go to the grocery store, I am now going to purchase one item (healthy, or at least healthy-ish) that I have never used before.  That will force me to research and read about it, find a recipe, and learn to cook with it.  Since I’m a late-bloomer to cooking, I love the idea of somewhat forcing myself to learn to cook with something new on a daily basis.  And if I can, I’ll post it to my Instagram account (@divataunia) every week as well.


In the exercise department, I had a bit of an epiphany when  I was driving past a small local museum the other day.  There’s so much history around me that I take for granted because it’s in my own backyard, but how much do I really know about the town I live in?  To be honest, nothing.  So why not go for a walk or bike over to the local museum (easy to say in January when you live in Southern California – lol), get a little exercise, and learn about the history of the places around me?  Why not take advantage of the local parks and sites?


There are local “adventures” waiting to happen that could not only open my mind, but help me with my quest for continuing my better health.


And there’s no reason to not dream about BIG adventures too!  I’d love to start saving to go somewhere peaceful and quiet with beaches and solitude and just be able to sit with my own self and write music, which is an adventure I really need to get back to this year.


Having my health and having music in my life are the two things that allow me to have adventures.  Being healthy goes without saying.  Everyone needs their health for happiness. Music affords me the ability to travel and to makes music for others.  This year, I want to find the adventures that are awaiting, both big and small, and I hope you will too!


Taunia Soderquist is a professional musician, music educator, and radio host located in the Greater Los Angeles area.  She’s also a seven and a half year gastric bypass post-op living a healthy lifestyle after losing and maintaining 150 lbs.  Now a passionate cook, but not-so-passionate about exercise (eh, she’s trying). Check her website for live shows and more info:

Health and Happiness in 2016

Health and Happiness in 2016


As I wrap-up my final article for Wellesse in 2015, I thought it apt to do a health round-up for the year.  It’s been an interesting and challenging on, proving to me that I can handle a lot more than I think I can and I’m a pretty tough cookie.  Getting older is something you always joke about, but man, it can be a real pain in the keester!


Let’s first talk weight.  I’ve talked pretty openly about my struggles with perimenopause and the weight gain that came with that and the hormonal changes.  That, coupled with my lack of resolve to pay attention to my health for a bit, I had watched my weight climb and stepped on my doctor’s scale to the tune of 196 lbs this past June.


I was NOT having that after eight years of a pretty successful run after weight loss surgery, so I immediately got back on track and lost thirty pounds over the summer.  As of now on December 1st, I’ve been pretty successfully maintaining that loss and holding steady at 166.  My clothes fit better, but most importantly, I feel a lot better.  Which is good, because I have some challenges ahead of me.


I often think about where I would be if I hadn’t had weight loss surgery.  I had some pre-existing conditions at a young age that would have posed some very serious problems for me:  pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and the most frightening of all of them was a pre-existing condition with my left kidney that required several surgeries and hospital stays about two years after my weight loss surgery.


If I hadn’t lost the weight, I have no idea if I would have even been able to have the surgeries I needed, and if I would have survived them.  I went through a lot with that, and when I think about having another 160 lbs on my body and how difficult it would have been for the surgeons, it really scares me.  I’m thankful that I’m better now, very thankful.


But I have new challenges.  This past year I began facing migraine headaches and seizures. Thankfully, both were managed through medication pretty successfully. We were never really able to pinpoint why the occurred, but I’m at least happy they are controlled now.  I’ve also found that changing my diet and my supplements has helped quite a bit.


I’ve added more B2, Iron, and Magnesium to my regular routine and I’ve been eating foods rich in those nutrients like red meat, dark leafy greens, avocados, etc.  While I do believe the medications have helped, I also strongly believe the supplements and my eating well and cooking and diet have a LOT to do with me feeling better.  I just eat cleaner and better in general, and it can’t be a coincidence that things have gotten better since doing that.


So all of those things have really turned around for me, but as I finish out the year, I was given some not great news that is a little mind-boggling.  As most of you know, I am a vocalist by profession, and I had recently been having some trouble swallowing and breathing. My neurologist referred me to the head and neck surgery department and I was run through a few different tests in the radiology department.  They found something and called me into their office to discuss it.  Turns out that “my spine is growing into my esophagus.”  My immediate reaction when he told me this was, “I’m sorry, WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?”


Apparently, what I have is a large cervical osteophyte, which is essentially a bone spur that has grown into my esophagus and causes difficulty in breathing and swallowing. There is also a growth that they need to do a CT scan on to determine if it is anything of concern (that takes place on 12/8/15 – fingers crossed!). If the growth is non-invasive, they do not recommend surgery as it is very invasive and difficult, however, that is left up to me and it depends on how much it is interrupting my life, particularly as a vocalist.


It’s something I need to determine is worth the risk of surgery, or if I can deal with as-is and work around.  It’s been enough of a problem in my life that I went to see a specialist.  However big, scary, risky throat surgery? Not exactly ready to jump on board that train.


It’s always something, isn’t it?  There are people that have health issues far greater than mine and they get up and get through each and every day with a smile on their face.  My issues?  They’re a challenge, but they’re workable.  I’m getting older.  Things are going to happen, that’s just the way it is.


What I’m thankful for is the fact that my body is easier to manage. I am in tune with it in a way that I never could have been before. I know how to nurture it to help it get better, I know what it needs to get healthier.   I am extremely pro-active about my health and my health-case appointments.  I’ve learned that I have to be. I stay on top of my appointments, scheduling, testing, etc.  I don’t leave anything up to chance, and I don’t wait for them to come to me.  The one thing I do know is that I need to be in control of what happens to me, even when things like this are out of my control.  I can at least be on top of the things that I *can* manage.


So overall, I leave 2015 in decent shape: down 30 lbs, eating well, on top of my appointments, and knowing that this new blip in my health radar is a little scary, but I have scary things before. I can manage this. I can handle it. I can stay on top of it, and I can take care of it.  Look how far I’ve come and what I’ve beaten so far!


I hope that you all stay on top of your health as well and that 2016 brings you health and happiness!


Taunia Soderquist is a professional musician, music educator, and radio host located in the Greater Los Angeles area.  She’s also a seven and a half year gastric bypass post-op living a healthy lifestyle after losing and maintaining 150 lbs.  Now a passionate cook, but not-so-passionate about exercise (eh, she’s trying). Check her website for live shows and more info:

Winter Weather – Hibernation Mode?

winter bulk up


I am a creature of habit, of tradition. I always will be. I grew up in New England, land of all four beautiful seasons – albeit short ones – and although I currently live in Los Angeles and have for the past three years, my body and my brain have never really adapted to the west coast.


I mentally prepare and react to changes in the weather as if I’m still in New England the second the thermometer drops, despite the fact that I know a serious cold front will never truly be coming in.


You may be wondering why this is something even worth mentioning, but if you’ve ever lived on opposite coasts you know why these differences are so important and can be such a challenge for someone like me who struggles with their weight.


Any New Englander knows that as soon as fall rolls around and the weather starts getting crisper and colder, the sweaters start coming out and so do the root vegetables, the heartier meals, the comfort foods and…the baking.  The oven starts to open and heavier meals start beginning to be made. The stick-to-your-bones kind of meals that make you feel warm, full, bulked up.


We don’t purposely try to fatten ourselves up in New England, but it sometimes comes with the territory.  The weather is much colder, it starts snowing. You’re less active, eating more, eating heavier foods and bulking up to stay warm.  Plus, we LOVE to bake – oh yes we do.  And then there’s the holidays, parties, and plenty of tradition passed down in our cooking.  It’s just what we do.


Despite living in California, I’m a New Englander at heart, and those dishes, those traditions, those hearty comfort foods are what I want and what I reach for the second the temperatures start to drop.


In Southern California, the temperatures stay hot for much longer. We had heat waves almost straight through until the end of October.  That’s perfect for me because heat almost always makes me reach for salads, fresh fruits and vegetables and I never want to fill up and I hate anything heavy.  My body just wants light food. Heat makes it easy for me to lose weight because it makes me less hungry.


The warm weather played a large role in me losing 30 lbs over the summer and the heat through October helped make it easier for me to maintain.  However now as we roll into December and with the desert temps dropping into the 20s and 30s, it gets COLD.  People often don’t realize how cold it can get here, but it’s cold enough that we have to turn on the heat and throw blankets on to watch TV.  (Ok, people back home, I’ll stop my whining now, I know it’s not 7 inches of snow cold. I know.)


I’m now faced with a bit of a maintenance challenge as we get into the holidays and the colder weather. I worked really hard over the summer to lose those dreaded 30 lbs.  Now it’s colder, and this New England girl wants her heavy stews and casseroles.  I want to bake, make cookies (eat cookies), go to holiday parties, make merry, drink in the spirits, and bulk up and keep warm.  Except I don’t want to bulk up again.


At 43, I’m resolved to the fact that my weight is a constant in my life.  It’s not something that “goes away,” no matter what coast I live on, no matter what the temperature is. I have to be vigilant about it all the time in order to maintain a healthy weight and mentality about my weight.


Can I bake? Sure. Just not all the time, and I probably should give a lot of it away.


Can I make a stew? Absolutely, but these days I try to find ways to make it lighter and more healthy. California has TONS to offer in the produce department.


There are parts of my brain that I’ll never be able to shut off, but there are also parts of my brain that can work with the old me and find new, workable ways to co-exist. Healthier ways to keep warm, be that New England girl, make a stick-to-your-bones kind of meal that’s healthy and delicious without breaking the scale.


Taunia Soderquist is a professional musician, music educator, and radio host located in the Greater Los Angeles area.  She’s also a seven and a half year gastric bypass post-op living a healthy lifestyle after losing and maintaining 150 lbs.  Now a passionate cook, but not-so-passionate about exercise (eh, she’s trying). Check her website for live shows and more info: