Personal Growth

Deliberate Words of Kindness

I recently had the honor of attending my great-niece’s Bat Mitzvah. I’ve been to two such services, and it’s a somber, religious occasion.

It’s also personal and very meaningful to the young person and her family. My favorite part is when the parents get to address their daughter. They typically heap praise on her for how hard she had to work to prepare for the day. And they also recall stories that tell about her character in general.

This is an opportunity for parents to stand up and publicly tell their child how wonderful she is, how much they love her, and how proud they feel. It brings a tear to the eye just to witness the power and beauty of that.

Never in my upbringing was there such an opportunity. My dad made sure I knew he believed in me in his own quiet way. My mom was more reserved and critical. Atta-girls were very scarce in my Catholic school. I don’t remember anyone toasting in a meaningful way at my wedding. I remember receiving a few accolades when I worked in an office and feeling very moved when the recognition happened.

And maybe that’s appropriate. Maybe if we work hard to earn praise and it is reserved for special achievements, it is that much more rewarding.

But let’s not be too stingy! Let’s never underestimate the power of a kudos. Sometimes a kind word can make all the difference in someone’s day. What if someone has not heard any encouragement in a long while, and might really be uplifted by a compliment?

“When you see something beautiful in someone, tell them. It may take seconds to say, but for them it could last a lifetime.” — Unknown

I bet my great-niece will remember her Bat Mitzvah for a lifetime. What if we could each have a positive influence on someone, albeit in a much smaller way, simply by being bold enough to say something nice about them?

Let’s find ways to spread goodness, not only through “random acts of kindness,” but also through deliberate words of kindness.

Goodness knows the world could use more kindness!

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Today Is Special

 

“Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.” — Regina Brett

We’ve all heard the quotable quotes: Seize the day! Tomorrow is promised to no one! Enjoy life now, this is not a rehearsal!

When you hear these sentiments, how do you feel? Does it go in one ear and out the other? Or do you pause to think about it, but dismiss the thought? Live more fully—who has the time? I have to … (work, take care of the kids/grandkids/parents, clean the house, work in the yard, organize the garage, do volunteer duty, etc. etc. etc.)

We do have to be practical. But I can share with you a few observations. I sometimes see people at their worst: stressed out, in pain from overdoing and self-neglecting, tired and frustrated and irritable.

I also get to see people at their best: looking forward to or retelling about a vacation or special event. One client delights in sharing plans for each next trip off the “bucket list.” One details with a smile how the fishing has been since his last appointment and any new venues visited for dinner and dancing. One client lights up describing art projects in progress, music concerts coming up for the community band she plays in, and family gatherings being organized.

Do you have something you’re looking forward to? How/when will you make it happen? My mom and dad were always going to go to Hawaii when my dad retired. They talked about it often. Then my dad died suddenly of heart failure at age 59. He never got to retire, and they never made it to Hawaii.

If you have a trip you’ve been wanting to take, some china you’ve been waiting to use, a class or new hobby you’ve been curious to explore—I encourage you to do it now!

I’ll always remember the words an elderly client said to me once. She had been a caretaker for her husband, many years her senior, as he declined in his final years. She had injured her back lifting and helping him. By the time I met her, she was older, too frail to travel and do her bucket list items, and alone, missing her travel companion/life partner.

She looked at me with sad eyes one day and said, “I always thought I’d have more time.” Meaning, more time to be vibrant, to move around with ease, to explore all that life has to offer.

We don’t know how much time we have. Let’s not wait to take the trip, to wear the fancy lingerie, or use the nicest sheets, china, or candle!

I love this quote from an unknown author: “There are 7 days in a week, and ‘someday’ isn’t one of them.”

Here’s another: “Many great things can be done in a day if you don’t always make that day tomorrow.” —Unknown

Today is special! What great thing can be done today?

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth

Increasing Our Resilience

 

Virtually every day we have to deal with stress. Clearly too much chronic, day-in-day-out stress is bad for us, and we’ve learned about the physical and mental repercussions of that and strategies for managing them.

But unexpected things happen, and usually bring stress. How do we build the mental fortitude we need to deal with it? Believe it or not, we can practice skills to increase our resilience, so that when a major life event causes stress, we can cope. If we can deal with stress better mentally and emotionally, the physical effects will be lessened as well.

An article in the “New York Times” titled “How to Build Resilience in Midlife,” by Tara Parker-Pope gives us techniques to “stretch our resilience muscle.” Professor and author Dr. Adam Grant says, ““There is a naturally learnable set of behaviors that contribute to resilience,” and he claims that adults—because of the perspective that comes from life experience and (hopefully!) the ability to regulate our emotions—are in a great position to deliberately boost our emotional survival skills.

Here are the tips Parker-Pope recommends:

1. Be optimistic. As with most traits, optimism is part nature and part nurture. So even if we’re not natural born optimists, we can still work on increasing our positivity. That doesn’t mean we deny the reality of challenges or negative events. But we can always choose how to react to situations. The example she gives is when a person loses their job. An optimist would replace dire thoughts like “I’ll never recover from this,” with “This is going to be difficult, but it’s a chance to rethink my life goals and find work that truly makes me happy.”

More and more research confirms that reframing how we look at things, and changing our internal dialog to more positive self-talk, really does improve our outlook and our ability to cope with the inevitable hurdles of life. So does surrounding ourselves with more positive, optimistic people.

2. Don’t take it personally. We are quick to blame ourselves when something bad happens, and ruminate about what we could have done differently. To build resilience, we can remind ourselves that even if we did make a mistake, there were likely numerous factors that contributed to the situation. It’s rarely ever ALL one person’s fault. Practice self-compassion (forgiveness!), and shift into problem-solving mode: what can we do now to repair any damage and prevent similar mistakes from happening in the future?

Smart companies have a corporate model of looking at mistakes as procedural, not personal, and they use the opportunity to refine processes and training.

3. Recall previous triumphs. We get a resilience boost by remembering challenges we have overcome in the past. Although a common strategy is to be grateful that things aren’t worse (and even calling to mind someone who has it worse than ourselves), a better exercise is to look back and say—I’ve made it through something even worse than this in the past. This is not the toughest thing I have ever faced or will ever face. I know I can handle this!

4. Be of service to others. While it’s really important to have a support network, it’s even more empowering to BE part of something larger than ourselves. Studies show that gratitude, altruism, and a sense of purpose lead to greater resiliency. Experts say a key component of being resilient is taking responsibility for our lives—creating a life we consider to be meaningful and finding our purpose. It doesn’t have to be a grand mission, but even if our purpose is to support our own family, that focus can see us through all kinds of adversity.

5. Make peace with stress. Stress is an inevitable element of life. Some would even argue that a little bit of stress is good for us and necessary. (Think how boring life would be with no challenges whatsoever!) So rather than resist it or dread it, one expert suggests we just welcome it as an opportunity for personal growth, AND create concrete opportunities to recover. Taking a walk, meditating, laughing with friends—we can schedule breaks from stress just as we schedule breaks from strenuous workouts.

6. Commit to a challenge. We can build resilience by pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones. Take an adventure vacation. Climb a mountain! Or go skydiving. Or finish a half marathon or triathlon. Or share your writing at a poetry night. Or sing karaoke. Each time we rise to the occasion, our bodies become better at processing stress hormones. If we live our lives with regular opportunities to overcome stress, we get better and better at it. Then we are in a better position to cope when a crisis arises.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/well/mind/how-to-boost-resilience-in-midlife.html

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth

Why Can’t We Just Get Along?

 

Many people who write about such things are opining that as a nation, we are more divided than ever before, with the possible exception of the Civil War era.

It seems that way to me as well. And it’s causing some real problems. It also seems like a lot of people are starting to get tired of it.

But how could we possibly resolve our differences? We are not ever going to all agree, nor should we. But there are two things we can do to get back to at least tolerating each other, and behaving with honor and integrity and civility rather than with anger and distrust and close-minded resentment.

Step one: compassion. A video popped up on my Facebook feed titled “The Importance of Empathy.” Critical to getting along with each other—even if we don’t see eye to eye—is our level of empathy, which actually can be improved with practice. Here’s how:
Be observant of others. It starts by putting down our devices and noticing each other. Watch people, and wonder about them without making judgments. Be curious.

Practice active listening. Too often we decide what our response will be without fully listening to what the other person is saying. We think we already know the other person’s position. We engage in a sort of verbal combat. It’s much better to stay fully focused on what the other person is actually saying. Pause. Ask questions to really clarify. Then think about how to respond. We don’t have to agree with each other, but at least we can try to understand and acknowledge each other’s point of view. And if we’re really open-minded, we might even allow one another’s ideas to more fully expand our own understanding.

Share. Equally important to listening to another person’s experiences and opinions, is opening up and sharing our own feelings and views. This can be scary because we don’t know how we’ll be received. But empathy is a two-way street. Both parties must share openly in order to discover commonalities.

Keeping an open mind is the best way to avoid the prejudicial classifying of people who disagree with us as “others.” When we experience a divide between ourselves and people who are different from us (liberal vs. conservative, for example), we cut ourselves off from a rich, shared experience. We really do have more in common than not!

Step two: service. Doing something helpful without expecting anything in return is perhaps the ultimate way to build goodwill and bridge the divide.

In addition to the “typical” volunteer opportunities that might be too time consuming, consider how even small things can have a big impact. One author has some unique and simple suggestions, such as:

inviting someone who needs help getting enough exercise to go on a walk with us
sharing flowers or veggies from our garden
offering to babysit or walk a pet for someone who needs assistance
donate pet food to a local animal shelter, or diapers to a women’s shelter, or donate blood
being open to learning a new language (in our area, American Sign Language for example) so that we can get to know more people, and be in a position to understand if anyone needs help while we’re out and about.

The point is, there are many ways to lift people up and beautify the world. This author suggests that when we do our morning meditation, we ask ourselves what can we do to be of service today? It doesn’t take much! How much better off would we be if each of us picked up at least one piece of litter each day? Or tossed wildflower seeds into a blighted vacant lot? Or smiled and offered a compliment to a stranger who seemed sad.

Maybe this is how we heal our country right now. We get to know each other a little better, and be willing to give of ourselves.

Sources:
https://lifehacker.com/the-importance-of-empathy-in-everyday-life-1791961488

http://dailyom.com/cgi-bin/display/articledisplay.cgi?aid=58605

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Fighting Evil with Love

 

Last week I attended the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta. Rotary is a huge, global organization devoted to service. Rotarians excel at pulling resources together to tackle challenges from small to so large that they would seem insurmountable. One such challenge is ending slavery and human trafficking.

Florida is a state with lots of coastline and many ports—a key entry corridor for trafficking people into the country. Of course, not all people are trafficked from foreign lands. I personally know of two gentlemen who were “recruited” from Maryland when they were homeless, offered jobs working farm fields in sunny, warm Florida for “wages” that would never cover the “living expenses” of staying on the farm camp and relying completely on food, clothing and other supplies sparingly, but not inexpensively provided by the camp boss. Of course, they didn’t know this when they accepted the “job offer.” Once on the truck to Florida, with no money or transportation or even a cell phone, they were trapped. They are now free, but the practice continues in our own county and communities across the country.

All over the nation, places as common as truck stops perpetuate the practice of selling sex falsely advertised as “massage” services. I’m proud of the work that the Florida State Massage Therapy Association and the State of Florida have done and are doing to combat this problem. Law enforcement does what it can, but they are busy, there are sneaky ways around most statutes to make establishments just barely legal on the surface and hard to catch in the act. And there seems to be a never-ending supply of people willing to buy and people willing to profit off of the victimization of others.

Even in Las Vegas where prostitution is legal, it would be a mistake to assume that the women participating in the sex trade are doing so of their own free will. One of the speakers at the Rotary Convention was a woman who was lured to Vegas by someone she thought was a love interest. He wooed her for over a year during a time when she was emotionally vulnerable, and she traveled with him to start a new life. Once in Vegas isolated from her family and support network, she was immediately sold for rape, beaten into compliance, repeatedly moved around and taken over by new handlers until she was rescued in a police raid some seven years later. Another aspect of ending this practice is helping the survivors. With physical and mental scars, a huge gap in employment AND a criminal record, these victims have a very hard time moving forward.

One of the panel discussions I attended at the Rotary Convention featured a law enforcement official, an elected government representative, and none other than Ashton Kutcher, an actor-activist who founded an organization called Thorn dedicated to fighting sex trafficking via the internet.

The law enforcement officer talked about seeing people at their absolute ugliest, and the need to devote more resources to combatting this challenge and imposing harsher punishments. The politician talked about working on tougher legislation and finding ways to fund services for survivors.

And while these are worthwhile efforts to be sure, it was Ashton Kutcher who inspired me the most. He acknowledged most honestly that we’ll never be able to arrest our way out of this problem. We have to go to the source, the buyers of sex. But how?

Kutcher admitted that when Thorn first started, and discovered a way to find online sex offenders, they badgered them with messages like “we know who you are,” and “we know what you’re doing.” But this was not successful. Instead of feeling ashamed or changing their ways, the perpetrators got angry and pushed back.

So Thorn changed tactics. Learning that it doesn’t help to get angry or frustrated in return, they decided instead to reach out with compassion.

They started educating the customers about what they were really buying. They shared images of battered women who had been forced into the trade. They shared resources for people to get help overcoming sex addiction.

And it’s making a difference! Here is a link to their page reporting all the progress they’ve made, and new programs they continue to implement: https://www.wearethorn.org/impact-report-2016/

Just when a problem seems too immense to tackle, the answer becomes beautifully clear—and this came up again and again in different presentations throughout the convention—the best way to fight evil is with love. My favorite speaker was civil rights activist Andrew Young, who preached a compelling message of love and personal responsibility in reflecting on how best to fight prejudice and end discrimination.

If you’re inspired to learn what you can do to end slavery and human trafficking, the State Department has a page listing 15 ways we all can help: https://www.state.gov/j/tip/id/help/

And here’s a link to many different agencies fighting this horrific issue: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_organizations_that_combat_human_trafficking

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth

Do You Believe in Mind Over Matter?

 

I just started a new book titled, “Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind Over Body,” by Jo Marchant. The “Wall Street Journal” writes about the book: “‘Cure’ is a cautious, scrupulous investigation of how the brain can help heal our bodies. It is also an important look at the flip side of this coin, which is how brains damaged by stress may make bodies succumb to physical illness or accelerated aging…’Cure’ points a way toward a future in which the two camps [mainstream medicine and alternative therapies] might work together.”

The author attempts to separate fact from opinion. She makes reference to another book I read called “The Biology of Belief” by Bruce Lipton. In his book, Lipton presents research showing actual physiological changes in our cells that occur when we think positively. This is good news, because it dispels the old belief that if a certain disease “runs in our family,” if a predisposition is carried in our DNA, then it’s basically pre-destined and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Lipton argues that there IS something we can do about it. Clearly we are products of nature AND nurture, and our DNA (nature) is only a set of instructions. Something (nurture) has to turn the instructions “on.” So even if, say, I had a hereditary predisposition to heart disease (which I do), if I eat healthy, exercise, avoid smoking, etc., the instructions for heart disease may never get switched on.

I’m a believer. And I would argue that even if the instructions were triggered, and a disease process was initiated, our attitude toward it would make a huge difference in our outcome.

I see it time and time again in my office. A positive attitude makes all the difference when a client is facing a major surgery, for example. Those who go in believing firmly that the procedure will go well, their recovery will be swift and complete, and who commit to doing everything in their power to support their own healing and rehabilitation, have a much higher success rate than those who worry and complain and make excuses or resist making healthy behavior choices.

Here’s an example of how much our attitude can affect our wellness. Let’s say someone experiences back pain and is diagnosed with something like degenerative disc disease. While it’s true that our soft tissues do deteriorate over time, and there’s nothing we can do about the fact that our bodies are not designed to function indefinitely, there IS something we can do about keeping our backs as healthy as possible as we age.

There is a big difference between “I have a bad back and there’s nothing I can do about it,” and “My back may be vulnerable, but I’m going to learn how to safely strengthen my core and stretch; eat well, stay hydrated and get enough rest; and recruit help like physical therapy, massage therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture and reflexology to stay active and support my strong, healthy back.”

The first attitude leads us to limit activity, be fearful and maybe even sad, and baby our “bad back”—which leads to a downward spiral of further diminished health due to lack of exercise, stretching and self care.

The second approach leads to increased vitality, even given a condition we must be mindful of.

Study after study is confirming that some of the most important factors to good health and long life are feelings of connectedness and purpose—healthy relationships, including being at peace within ourselves.

I can honestly say that I see this in my practice, and in my own life. My family is predisposed to heart health problems. We all tend to hold on to extra pounds, have high cholesterol, and develop high blood pressure. I went through a lot of therapy during my “mid life crisis,” and tried my hardest to come to terms with my baggage. I’m in a much better place now mentally and emotionally, and I’m changing a lot of old patterns. The weight is coming off. I’m the only one of my siblings not on high blood pressure medicine.

In my opinion and experience, there is truly a mind-body-spirit connection. Taking care of our mental health and nurturing our spirit is every bit as important as taking care of our physical being.

There is an old Cherokee legend of a grandfather teaching his grandson about our inner struggle between evil—anger, jealousy, greed, arrogance, etc.—and good (joy, peace, love, hope, kindness) as if the two forces were literally two wolves fighting. The boy thinks for a moment about this very human inner conflict and asks, “Which wolf will win?” The grandfather answers, “The one you feed.”

If you are facing a health challenge, you get to choose between feeling defeated and feeling empowered. I hope you “feed” the more positive approach (lots of healthy nourishment!). Please let me know if I can help!

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

My Secret Love of Rocks

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When I was little, I had rock collections.

Usually, it was stones I found wandering around the creek by our house or exploring on vacation. Anything that caught my eye—a smooth stone with an unusual color or interesting pattern, or a quartz that had some crystal sparkle to it. Once I even found a piece of pyrite or “fool’s gold.” Of course, I convinced myself it was “real” gold!

I never gave too much thought as to why certain stones appealed to me. As I grew up, I developed a love of jewelry, and beads made out of semi-precious stones. It amazes me how a rock can be cut out of the ground at random, cut again into smaller pieces, and tumbled smooth to reveal a gorgeous work of art in its own right. Honestly some of the jaspers I’ve seen look like little paintings. And then artisans take those and craft amazing wearable creations!

So now, I still have rock collections! Most of them are beads and finished jewelry. But I’m learning more about crystal healing. Some people believe that stones have healing properties based on their color and mineral make-up. Many believe this is hogwash because there’s no scientific proof, and that any benefit is probably just a placebo effect.

The believers might tell you that it IS proven that the earth contains electromagnetic energy and that perhaps when a stone is removed, it retains that vibrational energy. Is it possible that the energy can have a beneficial effect on our system?

Scientists do actually acknowledge that many minerals have nutritive qualities that are good for us (calcium, magnesium, iron, etc.—the very components that stones are made of!). Don’t people drink mineral water? Some folks pay top dollar to soak in natural hot springs that are filled with mineral-rich water. Others will add supplements like Epsom salts to their own bath water. Some therapists believe that performing hot stone massage is more than just a way to deliver heat into our tissues—they believe that there is some therapeutic benefit from the minerals within the stones themselves.

So it’s really not too far fetched to believe that holding stones or placing crystals against our skin, or placing them in water and then drinking the water, could potentially deliver some healing benefit.

If it crystal healing works for someone, does it matter if it “only” works because they believe it works? If it provides some benefit, isn’t the end result what counts? I know someone who swears that Lapis Lazuli helps ease her migraines better than any medicine. Maybe it’s because the stones are cool and soothing, and the ritual of placing them on her head gives her peace of mind that helps her relax. Or maybe every person who has a migraine would benefit from placing Lapis on their head because there is really is some healing quality that we don’t fully understand. I put a beautiful piece of Amazonite under my pillow one night, and I believe it helped me sleep better. Is it just because I set myself up for that outcome with the power of positive thought? Does it matter?

I like having stones around. (I definitely like wearing them!) I like thinking about how stones been around for a long, long time—much longer than we have. Maybe they store information. Maybe they store vibrational energy. Maybe they can help us along our journey.

Crystal healers say that stones choose us. Maybe that’s why certain ones have appealed to me over time. Maybe there is some kind of energetic connection. And if not, that’s OK with me. I just like having them around because I think they’re beautiful. And that beauty, along with the mystery and even a potential for healing, makes me happy!

Category : Blog &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth

Healthy at Any Age

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I wish I had a dollar for every time someone told me about an ailment they’re experiencing and concluded that “it must just be because I’m getting old(er).”

While it’s true that there is a degeneration that happens as we age, and we can’t get away from that entirely (our parts weren’t meant to last forever, sadly), there IS much we can do to improve our health, functioning, and mobility. Getting older doesn’t have to equate to living in pain or lacking in vitality.

In a recent issue of “Spry Living,” author Marygrace Taylor shared strategies for staying young literally from head to toe. Here’s a summary of her tips:

For your brain: listen to music! Music stimulates the parts of the brain responsible for processing not only sound, but movement (like dancing!), emotion, memory, rewards and patterns. Neurologists suggest that we challenge ourselves to listen to new, unfamiliar music in addition to our favorites. This requires “a greater degree of cognitive effort to process, and may lead to the formation of new connections within the brain.” Sounds good to me!

For your eyes: eat up your veggies! Carrots aren’t the only vegetable that are good for your eyes. Leafy greens like spinach and kale deliver important antioxidants that help protect our sight by supporting the retina’s ability to defend against stressors like sunlight and smoke.

For your face: get some beauty sleep! No kidding, sleep is critical for helping skin stay supple and fresh. In one study, women who slept better had fewer fine lines, better pigmentation, and more elasticity in their skin. They also healed faster from damaging conditions like sunburns and dehydration.

For your heart: hug it out! Managing stress turns out to be just as important as eating right and exercising when it comes to heart health. Hugs trigger the release of pleasure hormones while reducing levels of stress hormones. One study even concluded that women who received more hugs from their partners had lower blood pressure and resting heart rates!

For your muscles and bones: keep moving! Exercise is the single most important thing we can do to prevent loss of bone density and lean muscle. You don’t have to be a marathon runner or a gym rat. Dr. Vonda Wright, who authored “Fitness After 40” recommends walking up to 2 miles, 3-5 times per week on a local high school track, and then adding some step-climbing on the bleachers. Or, if you have knee issues, work out in a pool, walking forward, backward, and lunging side to side in chest-high water for 40 minutes.

For your feet: relax with a nice soak! Older feet have experienced a lifetime of pounding. When we hurt, we can alter the way we walk, which can lead to more problems and more pain. Regular soaking in a gallon of warm water with a 1/4 cup of Epsom salts for 15 minutes can ease stiffness and soreness. Adding a couple of drops of lavender essential oil smells good (eliminating foot odor!), helps us relax, and even helps prevent fungal infections around the toenails.

I would, of course, add that foot reflexology is a GREAT way to keep your feet—and your whole person—in tip-top shape!

If you feel age is a limiting factor, maybe this will provide inspiration: click here

Article source material: “Your Total Body Anti-Aging Plan,” by Marygrace Taylor, “SpryLiving” March 2017, parade.com

Category : Blog &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth &Reflexology

Food as Medicine: My Journey

basil, olive oil, tomatoes

 

Do you try to “eat healthy”?

What does that mean to you?

I have struggled with my weight for virtually my whole adult life. I’ve tried a lot of diet plans—low fat, low calorie, high protein/low carb, paleo, Mediterranean, blood type—you name it, I’ve probably tried it.

Each type of plan seems to have “science” and “research” behind it, claiming to demonstrate why this is the superior way of eating. After switching to diet cola, lite salad dressings, low-fat “heart healthy” substitutes of everything, I really just wound up heavier and less healthy, by any standard.

I know now that stress has a lot to do with it. When our hormones are wreaking havoc internally, and our adrenal glands suffer from actual fatigue trying to manage it all, simply changing what we eat is not enough.

Researchers have found that not only do people who live long, healthy lives in the Mediterranean eat well, they live well. They have work-life balance, they have connection with and support from friends and extended family, they walk and ride bicycles and stay active, they love and they play and they laugh.

So managing stress and having a balanced life is super important to good health. Having said that, I do think it’s important to try to eat well. Hippocrates, the father of medicine (for whom the Hippocratic oath is named) said way back in 431 B.C. something like “Let food by thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”

But how? If you need specific information on nutrition, I can highly recommend registered dietician Amanda Perrin, of Peace of Nutrition, who shares my office suite. She is extremely knowledgeable.

I can only share with you what worked well for me. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to make the changes I needed to make until I was ready. If we are not in the right frame of mind, it can feel like an ongoing uphill battle. I believe it’s not just a matter of “willpower.” We can’t bully and shame ourselves into making healthy choices, at least I can’t. But once I’m in the right mindset, it feels much more like going with the flow, making good choices to support myself—more self-love and less power struggle.

Once I was ready, I found that making the following changes helped me lose (30 pounds since the beginning of December), and I feel terrific.

1. I joined Weight Watchers. Not everyone needs to do this, of course, but the key thing about committing to a program like this, is that I am being honest about what I consume (they give you tools for tracking every single thing you put in your mouth), and I am holding myself accountable.

I used to have the attitude that if I went out to eat with a friend, I might allow myself to go ahead and enjoy French fries “just this once,” because “I hardly ever get fries.” But then the next day, I might go out for ice cream because “I hardly ever get ice cream.” And then the next day I might choose to sit outside and enjoy some wine with my neighbor—because it’s so lovely out, and we don’t see each other very often. And then a few days later, I might meet someone for beers and nachos, because I don’t get to see that person often enough either. So you see where I’m going with this. It seemed like I didn’t give myself permission to indulge all that often, but really it had become a lifestyle.

Now I track everything. I have a food budget. I can eat whatever I want, but if I choose something indulgent, then I have to give up a lot of other stuff. And I might feel hungry and miserable later. So I chose wisely!

And I have a built-in support group who can relate to what I’m doing and why it feels hard some days. I am blown away by how freely people share at the meetings. The whole program is geared to helping folks steer away from thinking only about food, and instead focusing on the whole person—including emotional factors.

2. I made a commitment to eat healthy.

I know people who follow programs like Weight Watchers, and they still make questionable choices. I know people who’ve lost weight by following a different type of program in which they eat a lot of packaged food and drink meal-replacement shakes. Again, it’s not my place to tell others what to do—maybe different strategies work better for different people. But for me, I refuse to lose weight by eating fake food.

Especially now that I’m on a food budget, I am very strategic about eating! I include lean protein at every meal. I have almost completely eliminated packaged foods and empty calories. I eat many more helpings of vegetables than I ever did before. I’m going for quality over quantity.

I like the idea of the slow food movement. I try to frequent farmer’s markets and support local growers. It just makes sense to me to eat whole food as close as we can to the way it naturally grows. And I think usually the quality of food is better than when something is picked early, treated so that it will last longer, and shipped long-distance.

As I made these changes to my diet, I noticed changes in my health almost immediately. My complexion improved. My bathroom habits got super healthy and regular. My sleep improved. My joint pain decreased. My energy level improved and stayed consistent throughout the day. And, as an added bonus, I’m losing weight.

3. I made a commitment to myself.

It takes time to eat healthy. I realized that I was giving lots of time away to clients, my kids, my projects. I was putting my health last, and it suffered.

I decided to reign in the busy-ness, and make eating a priority. I literally changed my work schedule and eliminated some of my extracurriculars so that I now have more time to shop for fresh food, complete all the necessary food prep, and sit down and eat with a fork at every meal.

I discovered that I love roasted vegetables.

I discovered that it takes a lot longer to wash, cut, cook and eat veggies than it does to drive through Arby’s and wolf something down on my way to something else.

I discovered that sometimes it’s a little bit sad to say no to things I would enjoy doing, either because they involve eating crap or drinking too much, or because I really need to hold sacred the time required to eat healthy and fit in some exercise.

But I’m also discovering that it’s totally worth it. At the end of November, I had a doctor visit that included blood work, which revealed that all my numbers were going in the wrong direction: bad cholesterol up, good cholesterol down and, for the first time, my blood sugar was a little high. Not to mention that my clothes were too tight. And I didn’t even recognize myself in photographs.

In a couple more months, I will go back to the doctor for my follow up. I can’t wait to see the blood work results, further confirming what I already know: I am healthier.

I’m in a good place mentally and emotionally. About 10 weeks into this program, I started exercising regularly. I have a good support group and lots of love in my life. And these are all very important factors.

But the biggest change I made was my eating habits. Eating healthy is a huge part of being healthy. When I lost 10% of my body weight, I was told that doing so decreases our chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes by 50%. My hope is that when I reach my goal weight—about 20 pounds from now—I will be able to get completely off my cholesterol medicine.

I had to have a long talk with myself about changing my path from one of declining health and reliance on pharmaceuticals, to one of doing everything I can to reclaim and maintain my good health as naturally as possible. Food is medicine!

If I can support you in your healthy journey, please let me know!

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth

Your Bucket List, Revisited

kangaroo whisperer

 

Do you have a bucket list?

It’s fun to have things to look forward to! The planning and anticipation can help make life enjoyable.

Still, I think it’s possible to get so caught up in things we want, things we haven’t gotten to yet, that we might forget to reflect on all the wonderful things we’ve already done.

I was struck by a comic I saw, in a strip called “Between Friends.” One of the characters thought about some of the bucket list items she’d already accomplished. While we tend to focus on trips we’d like to take, or activities we’d like to try (skydiving anyone?), this character realized that even more important to her was finding her soul mate and life partner, and adopting the best daughter she could ever hope to have.

Wow. Those are pretty amazing bucket list items!

What a pleasure, to pause for a few moments and recount in all the “bucket list” items we’ve already enjoyed! The trips we’ve already taken that give us wonderful memories. The devoted friends we’ve made. The successful careers we’ve built. Any financial security we’ve been able to establish. The supportive family we created (either by birth or by other bonds). The lovely home(s) we’ve designed. The thrilling (or funny!) adventures we’ve taken. The devoted pets we’ve adopted. The hobbies we’ve delighted in and new skills we’ve amassed.

Looking forward is great, but sometimes looking back is very worthwhile! Think about all the things you’ve done to get to where you are today. My heart feels full when I think about it—I feel gratitude and love, and pride and happiness.

What bucket list items have you already accomplished? How does that make you feel?

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth