Constance’s Corner – Oct 21

¡Hola! from the Southern Hemisphere!!

Some of you may have heard about my big move and for others this is new information.  I’ll back up a bit and bring you all up to speed.

2021 was destined to be a momentous year for me.  My twins Tim and Marisa graduated from High School in June and turned 18 in August.  I had been living in California for 20 years, and with the world state changing at warp speed, I just knew that it was time to hit the big reset button on life.

While I was busy planning for a future in my converted camper van moving between organic farms to teach classes in movement, cooking, and wellness, life happened and Covid threw a wrench into these plans. Van life will be on hold for now.  Not only was I feeling increasingly disconnected from the socio-political environment and my local community, but also deeply concerned about world happenings and a lack of medical freedom. I no longer felt that California was the right home base for me given the ongoing drought, persistent wildfires and cost of living. Hence, with all happenings combined, I decided to sell the San Jose house, keep the van stored for now, and turn over a new leaf. 

So, I began searching the world to find my next stop.  The answer came when I came across the “El Paraiso Verde” settlement in Paraguay, near Caazapa. That’s right – I packed up my life in California and moved to Paraguay!

“El Paraiso Verde” (EPV) is home to about 200 people from all over the world (most of whom are German speaking but EPV is aiming to become an international community), whose thinking is aligned with my own.  And no, it is not religious. The community is growing quickly as people, mostly families, but also individuals, are coming in fast from all over the world. It is the largest settlement in South America and it is refreshing to be with people who share my values of healthy living and concerns about living in a world with less and less medical freedom. In the long run, the community aims to be self-sufficient in terms of food, resources, and medical care (you find more information online through Youtube videos like this short one:

I am happy to report that my daughter Marisa has come for the journey and also feels that living here is the right next step. She is currently doing online college and has already started giving swim lessons to the many young children here, while getting together with other young adults to potentially build a skate park.

Still, we are newly arrived here and are in the process of learning about life and opportunities while we are applying for the cedula, the residency permit.  By joining a larger established community I do not have to tangle with the complications of land buying and paperwork in a new country on my own.  Think “assisted immigration.” I look forward to life on my third continent and embracing my third language, Spanish! What a missed opportunity during my time in California, so I have to catch up now!

Packing up my life and moving to another continent is not for the faint-hearted! This kind of enormous change is bittersweet, exhausting, and exciting at the same time. Relocating far from so many wonderful memories and so many people that I love and the very place where I raised my children and built my first beloved vegetable garden has its challenges. I have so much gratitude to those of you who have been a part of my journey and have supported me throughout the many major evolutionary chapters of my life. If you want to learn more about my personal plans here near Caazapa, please read on at the bottom of this newsletter in “On a personal note.”  You’ll also get the link to my first YouTube video from EPV.

In the meantime, my work continues to evolve.  I have already started teaching my online exercise classes from Paraguay (check out my current schedule here – thank you Zoom!) and plan to launch my “Fall Back in Love with Your Health” Fall online group course soon.  Needless to say, with all my changes of late I needed to cancel the summer group course. 

In health,

Movement of the Month
I’ve Got Your Back!

Since I recently moved and had to empty the contents of my San Jose house into boxes, I want to remind everyone to protect your back when lifting heavy items. These principles apply to many scenarios such as loading and unloading a car, doing gardening, housework, or lifting children.

As a former physical therapist and having had surgery for a massively herniated disk in 2012 (after an injury) I cannot stress enough how important safe lifting of heavier loads is for long term health and pain- free living.

 How to safeguard your back while lifting:

  1. Bend at your knees, not at your lower back; a completely flexed (forward bent) back is highly susceptible to a ligament and/or disc injury. Keep your spine entirely straight.
  2. Pivot from your feet and hips, rather than twisting your lower back.
  3. Hold the object close to your chest while straightening your spine. Lift from your hips and knees as you maintain a straight back.
  4. For heavier items, get help and apply the same principles and use tools like a wagon.
  5. Never lift a heavy object above shoulder level.
  6. Add strength training to your fitness routine, especially for the core and back to protect your spine – check out my current online exercise classes!
  7. Let me know if you want to participate from the comfort of your home or from anywhere and I will send you the link! (Very soon I will add the foam rolling class back again too – I just need to find a foam roller!)   My online classes are continuing after my relocation! I am currently teaching these three classes. All times are US Pacific. I am 4 hours ahead of California Pacific Time and 5 hours behind Germany, therefore right in the middle to serve you all! It has been so much fun to teach here from Paraguay to connect with my folks both in the US and in Europe.   Tuesdays 7am (US Pacific Time) – Strength Training 45 min (with hand weights, bands, and body weight) Thursdays 8:15am (US Pacific Time) – TRX 60 min (can be done with hand weights too) Saturdays 8:15 or 9:30am (US Pacific Time) – TRX 60 min (can be done with hand weights too)

Recipe of the Month
Mate Tea

As many of you know,  I am a huge lover of black tea, especially a type of Assam tea that is popular in my home region of Ostfriesland, or “East Frisia” in Germany. I have enjoyed black tea since childhood.

The national beverage of Paraguay is Yerba Mate tea and has been enjoyed in the Americas since pre-Columbian times. At one time the drink was exclusive to the natives of two regions of South America that today are Paraguay. Yerba Mate tea contains caffeine and is a traditional infused drink made from soaking dried leaves of the holly species Ilex paraguariensis in hot water and served with a metal straw from a container often made from a calabash gourd. Here in this area it is also common to serve it from a larger thermos container which comes with a cup that people keep with them throughout the day.  People usually walk around or travel around carrying their mate container on their motorcycles or in the car.

Usually the drink is started with hot water in the morning and then refilled with ice cold water throughout the day. The leaves are dried and chopped or ground to make the coarse powdery preparation called yerba (meaning ‘herb’). Adding cold water first to soak and then adding the hot water protects the yerba mate from being scalded and from the chemical breakdown of some of its desirable nutrients.

The metal straw is known as a bombilla or bomba and is traditionally made of silver. Modern straws are made of nickel, silver, stainless steel, or hollow-stemmed cane. The bombilla functions both as a straw and as a sieve.  Some people like to add sugar or honey, or stevia, creating mate dulce or mate doce (sweet mate), instead of sugarless mate amargo (bitter mate), others like to add lemon or orange peel.

According to a major retailer of mate in San Luis Obispo, California, by 2004, mate had grown to about 5% of the overall natural tea market in North America. Both loose mate and tea bags are commercially available in much of North America. Bottled mate is increasingly available in the United States.
Mate is a rich source of caffeine and has some health benefits. It contains vitamins B and C , polyphenol antioxidants, zinc, iron, and manganese and has a slightly higher antioxidant capacity than green tea.  According to researchers, the antioxidants in yerba mate protect against heart disease. Mate tea is also said to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and may positively influence type 2 diabetes, obesity, and digestion.

I yet have to find the perfect way of enjoying Yerba Mate tea here, but I hope to learn more about the tradition and different ways of preparing it soon.

Healthy Habit of the Month
Go Offline

As I redefine my life in Paraguay, I plan to go offline most of the time and only tend to my phone or laptop when I need to work or connect.

I already noticed that Marisa leaves her phone in the room most of the time. We walk around the area without any electronics which for most people in the Silicon Valley is very unusual. With our moving into the community we agreed to turn the Wifi off between 10pm and 6am and it hasn’t been a problem at all.

Some people go offline for 12 straight hours like from 8pm to 8am, avoiding email first thing in the morning and last thing before bed.  This “12-on, 12-off” approach promises to greatly increase overall productivity and peace of mind. A 12 hour “digital detox” leaves you with about 8 hours of sleep and two hours immediately after waking up and two hours before going to sleep to be digital-free.

I want to give this a try. I still prioritize sleep based on its proven health benefits, and I already adjusted back to my ideal sleep hours from 10pm to 6am.

I’d like to start the day with some quiet reading or meditation outside of our room, followed by exercise and then a peaceful breakfast without any distractions. Of course, I need to find a new routine here which will include studying Spanish, preparing and teaching classes, and finding new purposes and perspectives which will include getting to know the area and gardening both in the community garden and hopefully soon in my own garden.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to digital consumption and we all find a routine that works best for us. Every schedule might look a little or a lot different and that is ok. But I do believe that we all need plenty of time offline to gain perspective and make time for the things that truly matter. 

Are you checking your email and social media a lot? Do you feel you “waste” a lot of time with being glued to your phone or computer? Do you really need to see pictures of your friend’s  latest Happy Hour or outfit? Let it wait until morning. Set a time to log off and put the phone down. When you cut back on screen time, it frees you to do other things. Take a walk, read a book, have a conversation with your spouse or child without being distracted, or just watch the rain.

What are your digital habits? Have you made a change and did it work for the better? Any tips on being less online and more connected in the real world? I would love to hear from you!

I encourage you to do a digital detox now and get moving or be more mindful instead.

On a personal note…

Thanks for reading this far. Here is more information about our plans.

During the past two weeks we decided to keep the small entry plot of land that we bought with our intention to come here (and that is usually traded into a larger or different plot once you move here and get to know the area). This small piece of land is ideal to start with a small house that is comprised of two little apartments with a perfect floor plan for Marisa and I. We happened to see a finished version of this small house here in EPV and totally felI in love. Because more people are coming here faster than houses can be built, the community is running out of temporary housing, that’s why many settlers build an apartment or two, which can be used as an investment and a source of income once you move into a second or larger home. Plus you provide housing for incoming settlers.

We are currently in a tiny rental apartment as we await construction of our first house.  Once the foundation has been built, I will start cultivating my garden immediately around it.  As you can imagine, giving up my garden in California was a painful step. But I can build something new! The climate here in Paraguay, similar to California but with a lot more rain, supports vigorous plant life and the idea of food self-autonomy. I have toured the plant nursery here and look forward to planting some of the trees whose fruits I love to eat including: pomegranates, pears, mangoes, pineapples, avocados, passion fruit, and bananas. The trees need to be planted first as they need time to grow and mature before bearing fruit!

I look forward to spending more time outdoors exercising, watching beautiful sunsets and heavy rainfalls, and digging in the earth as I recreate my California garden, with a wider variety of fruits and vegetables. The rainfalls remind me of my time in Germany – I feel like a fish in the water!

There is a lot I have to learn (apart from Spanish), especially about building a house and permaculture. But I already found two wonderful mentors, Gerhild and Heinz from Chemnitz, Germany. I had seen their Youtube video

before I even arrived and we spent a lovely afternoon in their vast garden on my third day here. If you do not speak German, you can get translated captions of this video. Gerhild and Heinz have been here only a year but they have already planted 300 bushes and trees, many of them fruit trees. They are happy to share their expertise and experience and I will definitely take them up on this!  The first time I visited with Gerhild and Heinz, I appeared in a YouTube video (my first), check it out. Let me know if you have any questions. I am happy to chat!

And I won’t disappear forever. Van life is still on my mind. There is hope that the world situation will improve and I will be able to travel – then it will be great to have a home here in Paraguay to come back to. And who knows – a farmstead or homestead somewhere in the US is also still on my mind (as a US home base), but I will save this for another newsletter…

Meanwhile, I will share with you how I adjust to life here, a  place totally new to me, incorporating my healthy lifestyle ideas and all my passions for health including exercise, cooking, and gardening.

I am sending lots of love and health to everyone!


with Gerhild and Heinz – EPV settlers and my inspiration
A typical house here in Paraguay, I plan to build a similar one!
Most days end with a spectacular sunset.

How to connect, discover & join

Constance’s Exercise Classes

All classes are delivered over Zoom,
times are U.S. Pacific Time

7:00 AM Strength Training / 45 min

8:00 AM TRX / 1 hour

8:15 or 9:30 AM TRX / 1 hour

email: for details

Free Consultation:
“You, Me, and a Cup of Tea” is the perfect starting point.


Check out my Meetup group, Healthy Adventures (Bay Area) for local hikes, Zoom fitness classes, and healthy potluck gatherings.

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