This Healthy Meal Has Less Than 800 Calories.

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I Listened To My Body: It Warned Me About A Health Issue

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid,

but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.

(2 Timothy 1:7)

Photo taken (by me) at the Gaylord Hotel, Grapevine Texas

Eat well. √

Exercise daily. √ 

Get enough sleep. √

Minimize stress… Well I am pretty sure that I have my stress levels in check but to be perfectly honest with you, sometimes we think we are doing a good enough job of managing stress when in actuality we are not. We package and shelf it nice and neatly on the inside, and that is where it (the pressure) quietly does its dirty work. I’ll get back to the stress in a minute.

For about two months, maybe longer, I had experienced occasional headaches. Something I rarely get. The headaches were random, so I wasn’t too concerned. We have two blood pressures devices at home, so I started to occasionally take my pressure. First thing in the morning, before you start moving around is the best time to check your pressure; so that is what I did.

My average reading has always been in the area of 117/72.

  • My readings were in the area of 180/99 and sometimes higher!!

Long story short, the diagnosis is hypertension.  

Anyone who knows me will corroborate, I am a health, wellness and fitness devotee. Wellness is a way of life that I take pride in. I do all the right things–not to perfection–but enough to look and feel vibrant and to have excellent physical health.

So when the doctor confirmed my suspicion, I was crushed. Honestly, I think it was an ego thing. You know–

How is the wellness professional gonna tell somebody how to prevent hypertension, when she has it?

It comes down to pride. The fact is, I am genetically predisposed to hypertension. Family history prevails over my lifestyle.

Know your body. Be aware of what your normal is and be prepared to take immediate action (see a doctor) when your ordinary is out of sorts.

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The Value of Reading Food Labels

We are one month and twelve days into 2019. Even if you did not commit to a traditional New Year Resolution, I bet you set some type of goal for yourself. How’s it going?

The top objectives for people in the new year are to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, and to save money.

If your goal has anything to do with eating healthy or losing weight, pay close attention. The most important new skill you should adopt is to learn to read food labels. Read before you buy.

Vegan Avocado Wrap

Case in point, look at this mouth-watering avocado wrap.

So you’ve bought this beauty.

Now you can’t wait to sink your teeth into it.

You sit down, open the package, and prepare to dig in.

Then, you notice this small 1.4 oz. packet.

The sweet chili sauce is the perfect blend of sweet and spice that you think you crave. Mouthwatering.

Thankfully you have the conscious mind (yes you do) to flip the packet over and you read the nutritional label.

Ahem!

Look. At. This. Mess! Bulging eyes!!

1. I rarely count calories, but this is a bit much.

2. The sodium content is all wrong! 530mg? That’s salt baby!!! If you’re monitoring your blood pressure, DON’T DO IT!

3. For the sugar addicts, 23 grams of sugar in a 1.4 oz. packet is preposterous!

The chili sauce is a precise example of why you must remain disciplined to read the labels on everything you buy.

If you are ever going to reach your goals, I urge you to commit to taking the first step to read the label before you buy anything for consumption.

Also, there are many Apps where you can search menu items from popular restaurants. When I trained for my figure competitions, I used MyPlate to track my macros. You can search for food by restaurants and get nutritional values.

Here I did a random Chic-Fil-A menu search. when you tap on the food item, the App gives you total calories, protein, fat, and carbs. It’s simple but helpful. If you are aware of the nutritional value of the food you are about to eat, the knowledge may deter you from completing the order and inspire you to change up. 🙂

This post is short and sweet but I need you to understand the connection between what’s on your plate and how snug your jeans fit.

Set aside your fitness regime because no matter how hard you exercise, if you’re not eating right, your clothes ain’t gonna fit right. TTYL


Seek Beauty In Your Broken Pieces

A crack. A break. A defect. Imperfection. Busted. Broken. Early in life, we are positioned to see what is wrong and to prevent failure. When coloring with crayons, we are encouraged to stay inside the lines. When learning to ride a bicycle, we’re instructed to place both hands on the handlebars, so we don’t fall. Don’t run too fast, or you will fall. In elementary school, I remember easily crumbling a half-dozen loose-leaf notebook paper because I’d made a mistake and couldn’t completely erase my error.

The average student frets earning an “F” on a school project, a weekly quiz, a unit test, or worse, failing a class. In my late teens, several times, I failed a required written test for Rickles. Rickles was an 80’s version of Home Depot. After a week or two of training, I could handle the register with ease, however, at the site of the exam, my heart raced like I had completed the 100-yard dash. Although I knew the content, I repeatedly froze and performed poorly on the exam. To get the job, I needed to pass the test.

I legitimately did my best. But my best wasn’t good enough nor was it meant to be. My mother saw my failure as a significant blemish on my young work record and a potential hurdle to future achievements. I was chastised as though my failure was intentional. I was laughed at. Inside I felt like a failure and questioned my intelligence. On the outside, I masked my shame and humiliation with laughter. I didn’t know that I would fail. Naivety convinced me that effort would always prevail.

Looking back on my experience, I am confident that failing Rickel’s exam was the best thing for me. The failure was painful, but it changed the course of my life. My little hiccup temporarily derailed my confidence. I let it go and moved on. I discovered grit and tenacity. I grew stronger.

I wish I knew about The Wisdom of KINTSUKUROI

Kintsukuroi is a Japanese word meaning, “to repair with gold.”

Kintsukuroi is a Japanese art that meticulously mends broken ceramics with gold. The repairs are made by hand using urushi lacquer, and the seam is highlighted with gold or other metals. The technique is designed to enhance the beauty of the flaws and is said to be made even more beautiful than it was originally.

With the tradition, beauty is derived from the broken and flawed pieces. We’re all scarred just the same. Some scars we display physically. Other blemishes are hidden and packaged neatly like a beautifully wrapped Christmas gift. We are scared from failed relationships, failed businesses, wrecked finances, chronic illness, battle scars from cancer, low GPA’s in high school and college, foreclosed homes, and more. Cyndie Speigal’s book of daily inspiration, wisdom, and courage reminds us:

You will fail.

You will fail.

You will break.

You will stand up and dust yourself off.

You will repair yourself again and again.

And eventually, though you will be different than before, you will again become whole.

You will be even more beautiful precisely because of all of this.

You will be a better person because of your imperfections, not in spite of them.

Cyndie Spiegel

It’s 2019! Surely we will experience successes and failures in the New Year. Make a commitment today to allow yourself a moment to feel failure but to get back up and start over.

I will NOT be shaken

Psalms 16:8

Happy New Year Loves!!!


Magnify Your View on Wellness: Take a Closer Look

Health is a relationship between you and your body.
-Unknown

Path

Today, the focus on health and wellness is everywhere.  There is no loss of trends in diets.  The Keto Diet, Paleo diet, Alkaline diet, Whole 30, Intermittent diet, Carb Cycling,  and more.  How the heck are you to comprehend which program is best for you?

Women’s Health Magazine lists 20 the top fitness trends that include everything from Yoga, to Functional Fitness Training, and Postrehabilitation Classes. Whew….that’s a lot.  If you are confused, I am not surprised.

I am asking you to set all of the above aside and instead to think about the many components of your daily life.  It is your routine and habits, which you do not consider that gives you a zing for life or provide a framework for health issues and a decline in your quality of life.

Contemplate the following:

Transportation
If you work outside of the home, how is your commute to work? Do you drive or use public transportation?  If you use public transportation, is it safe?  Are the wait areas enclosed and well lit? Are you exposed to second-hand smoke or other unhealthy carcinogens? Are the crosswalks safe or dangerous?

Do you drive a car to work? Do you carpool? How long is your commute?  Is your drive one hour or longer?  If so, take a moment and calculate the total amount of hours spent commuting per day, per week, per month, and annually.

Think about the commute.  Is it an easy-breezy ride or does your ride consist of high-volume traffic, horns, middle fingers, f-bombs, and weaving in and out of traffic?  How do you feel when you arrive at work and home? Over an extended period of time, this type of commute can negate the quality of your life. Yes, I know. The job may pay well. But ask yourself, what is the trade-off?

Workplace Environment
Where is your company located?  How many hours per week do you work?  Is the number greater than 50?  Been there done that, rolling my eyes.  Does your day include a lunch break? Where do you take your break?  Can you walk on your break? Does your company provide ergonomically designed chairs and workstations?  Is your workstation quiet or loud?

How is the air quality? Is the building well ventilated and are the filters cleaned regularly to prevent dust mold, and other pollutants?  What types of relationships do you have with your colleagues?  Does your company promote healthy living?

Are you required to lift heavy objects?  According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), back injuries account for nearly 20% of all injuries and illnesses in the workplace and cost the nation an estimated 20 to 50 billion dollars per year. If so, does your company provide or encourage the use of safety belts?

Do you drive a vehicle for a living?  If so, how many hours do you spend on the road daily?  The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits the number of hours a driver can drive. The restrictions protect everyone on the road.  Driving sleepy or fatigued is estimated to cause up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year (CDC).

Is your job stressful? My point is that a stressful lifestyle may lead to unhealthy behaviors and adversely impact your overall health.  Inadequate coping skills and a lack of leisure time may lead to excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and/or drug usage.

Healthcare
Do you have health insurance?  Is it affordable? What does it include?  Can you afford it and do you seek annual doctor visits for the dentist, Obgyn (females), mammograms, colonoscopy (over age 40), and general practitioners?  Does your insurance include coverage for mental health counseling?  What is your attitude and what are your beliefs regarding you and your family’s health?

Neighborhood
Does your neighborhood provide sidewalks, clean and safe parks, playgrounds, lighted streets, and bike paths? What are your grocery stores like?  Do they sell a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables?
Facts:

  • The United States disproportionately spends less on social services and on health care.
  • Despite healthcare expenditures are projected to exceed 3 trillion dollars, health outcomes in the United States continue to fall behind other developed countries.
  • The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that long-term stress can harm your health. For more information, click here.

Emotional Hygiene (EH)
Most of us have childhood memories of injuries from trips and falls. While playing outside, we scraped a knee, suffered a broken arm, or cut a finger.  We cried a bit, moved on, and allowed our wounds to heal.  Somehow as adults, we unlearned the art of healing.  The consequence is baggage that we carry with us everyplace. The baggage is stuffed with fear, resentment, anger, hostility, guilt, and more.

The truth is we never learned how to care for our minds.  We do nothing until we have mental breakdowns and even then, the antidote is a prescription for medication. Barring severe psychological issues, the script is a pretty band-aid that covers the wound. The fact is, we need to probe deeper; we need to treat the mental infection. When this occurs, seeking professional help is a good starting point. Want to learn more? Listen to this TED Talk by Psychologist Dr. Guy Winch.


I have posted many questions because I want to help you to expand your thinking regarding what a healthy lifestyle means to you.  You can eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and exercise but other factors in your life may contribute to your health.  The determinants in your environment will impact your well-being.

So now what?

Is there something you want to change?  I hope that after reading this post, you’ve identified at least one area of your life to improve.  If everything is hunky-dory, congrats!  Still, save this post, because life is filled with peaks and valleys.

What can you do?

  1. Assess your current situation.
  2. Make a list and prioritize what is most important to you.
  3. Think baby steps.
  4. Schedule the doctor’s appointment that you’ve been putting off
  5. If the change is a new job, assess your skills. If you know what you want to do but lack the skills, determine where you can acquire additional knowledge.  In addition to your local college, most colleges offer online courses.  What are the costs and does your company offer tuition reimbursement? Explore if you can acquire new skills by volunteering.
  6. What are your current untapped skills and resources?  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  7. Maybe you’re not sure about your next career move but you are ready for a change.  MyNextMove.org is a great site to learn about careers. You can also take an assessment to help you to decide what field may be right for you.
  8. If it’s a lifestyle change, what are the specifics? Do you seek a relationship change, location change, or something else?
  9. Schedule an appointment with a therapist so you can work through your struggles.

My point here is to expand your thinking.  First to include yourself but then to add your family to the mix.  Our children observe us and learn from everything we do, just as we did from our parents.

I urge you to broaden your concept and understanding of health and wellness and take steps to improve your life.

Your health is what you make of it. Everything you do and think either adds to the vitality, energy, and spirit you possess or takes away from it.
Ann Wigmore


A Change in Location: A Change in Mind

I have lived in Georgia for a little over a year now and have visited more parks than I did in my entire life in the Garden State for over 50 years.  How does that happen? A friend said it best,

“A Change in location can equal a change in mind.” -NCH

Never did I believe that breathing the fresh outdoor warm summer air while walking miles and observing the beauty in a wooded park would spark so many delightful thoughts.

This post is inspired by a trail in Tribble Park. When your mind is quiet, static, and at peace to wander, you will view the world around you differently.

Walking through the park, my intentions were to get a few miles in while taking in the natural beauty of the parkland. What took place surprised me. As I strolled along the trail, objects like the shapes of the trees, the colors of the leaves, and the brokenness of tree branches, triggered random but inspiring thoughts.

New Paths and Journey’s

Reflections: We set personal and professional goals. In spite of well thought out plans (or so we think), we truly don’t know where the path will lead us. Some paths are more familiar than others. The roads are narrow, wide, straight, covered with debris, and even lead to dead ends. We think we know precisely where we are going. But amiss, we end up in a new place.

At times, the surprising destination is wonderful. On the other hand, the landing-place is unanticipated. At that moment, we have a choice to give up and to end the journey or chose receive and accept God’s lesson and beget further growth.

What is important is that, on our journey, we pay attention to all of the elements. On this walk, I observed many beautiful components of nature, such as this magnificent and variegated leaf.

The vivid spotted decaying leaf was the brightest leaf in a pile. If I were daydreaming and not focusing on the details along the path, I would have missed it. Squatting and eyeballing the leaf,  four ladies walked up. “What did you find? A snake?” Now that’s funny and boy did I laugh. I told them I don’t photograph snakes, I run from them. I pointed out the leaf to the women. They stopped to look and were also stunned by its beauty. Think about it. I walked over four miles in an extraordinarily wooded park and was able to find this beauty.

Here’s a closer look!

img_2503

The leaf is beautiful right? The image is also a reminder of the beauty in so-called defects and of the charm in aging.

Obstacles

Underneath this oversized tree with split roots is a pathway for water to flow through. The day I took this picture, the area was dry; however, once it rains, water freely flows through the park along to this tree and under its thick and twisted roots.

Reflections: In life, we must learn when to plow forward, under or around, and when to break off in a different direction. The canal is natural. Created by nature… and by God. The tree made a bridge for which the water runs under. Allowing ourselves quiet moments to reflect on any given situation, will help us to make the best choices.

Trash

Reflections: Get rid of the baggage! Learn and unlearn. Not all learned behavior is good; even if you learned the behavior as a child and from an adult. It’s like money. Not all money is good money. Recognize what helps you. Recognize what harms your mental health and well-being. Then do something about it. Oprah says, “When you know better, you do better.”

Don’t be afraid to remove trappings, and people from your life and do so without all the fanfare. If someone in your life doesn’t support your goals, or perhaps they bring negative energy to your life, eliminate them from your life.  There’s no need to call a soon-to-be former friend to make a formal declaration, just stop calling and responding. Eventually, they may call to ask why you stop calling. Be honest but not mean and tell them why but don’t negotiate.

The same goes for bad habits. Smoking, alcohol or substance abuse and, if needed, seek professional help. National Helpline Hotline (free, confidential, 24/7, 365-days-a-year treatment referral and information service, in English & Spanish, for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance abuse disorders).

Failure

Reflection: The dried pieces of tree trunks look like they have been precisely cut. Probably to protect park guests from falling dead trees. The stump remains. The stump can represent a distinct period in our life that may resonate feelings of failure, pain, anger, or joy and happiness. The stub within us is there for us to do what we choose. We can live with resentment, regret, remorse, hate, compassion, love, happiness, peace, faith, or with forgiveness in our hearts; we determine the method of reconciliation. 

I read from termite-control.com, that termites in trees can create real hazards. Since termites eat wood from the inside, they can make a tree so unstable that it cannot support itself. If that happens, the tree dies. We are no different.  Allowing emotions to internally harbor and fester is no different and can cause damage to our bodies, including our mental health. 

According to the World Health Organization, poor mental health is also associated with rapid social change, stressful work conditions, gender discrimination, social exclusion, unhealthy lifestyle, physical ill-health, and human rights violations.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

Perspective & Attitude

Reflections: Are you a pessimist or an optimist? Is your glass-half-empty or half-full?  Like most, I can focus on what wrong and what I don’t like. However, I have so much more to be grateful for and so do you.  I make a conscious decision to look up–not down, and to thank God every day for the tremendous volume of greatness in my life.

Whatever your situation, if you need to cry, pout, or complain, do that then come to grips with the fact that your situation could be worse. Someone else’s life is ALWAYS worse off than yours.  See the good in your present spot and assess how you can make it better.

Fear

Reflections: Them damn fears! Ugh! This bridge right here is about overcoming fears and transcending to the other side. I fear heights. Even with my feet being just a tiny bit off the ground sends my heart into a triple beat. This unexplainable and horrible feeling creeps up my calves and travels to hamstrings into my rear gluts. I feel sick and jittery.

You know where you need to get to. An obstacle (fear) confronts you. Maybe you plan to obtain your GED, start or complete college, audition for a part, read your work at a Spoken Word event, or something else. Do you give up or confront your fear?  I’ve confronted some of mine but I still have a few more to tackle. Since first sprinting across this bridge, I can now walk slower and alone. Each time I cross the bridge, it gets a little easier for me. Don’t give up!

Your Village

Reflections:  The base of this tree is one solid trunk. But as the tree grew, seven strong limbs sprouted. The cluster of limbs remind me of the ancient proverb that I heard often growing up, “It takes a village to raise a child.” As a child that means, everyone in the community, family, and non takes interest in the child.  The strength of the village reinforced the values taught in the home. When you were caught in the streets doing good, your neighbor reported it to your parents. When you were seen behaving inappropriately, whoever witnessed your transgression, corrected you and told your parents. Ultimately, you were disciplined at home too.

NJ Senator, Cory Book said,

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” 

Strength lies in numbers. While working on my Bachelors of Arts Degree in English, I worked a full-time job and had the responsibility of a young child, managing home life, including my relationship with my husband. I had my village of supporters and without their advice, wisdom, child-care services, love, and patience, I would have never had the opportunity to walk across the stage at Rowan University. Don’t go it alone; find your supportive network or your village and ask for help.

Downtime

Reflections: Tribble Mill Park is a 700-acre park that has two lakes and one large meadow. The park has nearly 3 1/2 miles of paved and unpaved trails. When I first set out on the trail, I was unfamiliar with the path and, at times, felt uncertain.  Since then, I have walked both the paved and un-paved surfaced trails. The non-paved was more challenging and it was easy to wander off the trail and to get lost. What I did notice on the trails were the benches.

The benches are a reminder to stop and to take a break. How often do you take breaks from your weekly routine of obligations? Unless you are literally running a marathon, you must set aside time to catch your breath and fully divert your attention away from your project. Find a quiet place that brings you solitude. Doing so will de-clutter your mind. You will think clearer and you will find solutions to some of your dilemmas.

Below are a few more of my favorite pictures from my walk.  Since this writing, my husband and I have returned to the park only to discover new paths and I love it!

My son deep in his thoughts.

..undisturbed and unbothered by people.

Other cool pics. 🙂

 

I love how this tree is bent and ends atop the paved trail.  But notice a few branches growing from the top of it.

Never grow too old to swing!

Pausing…. taking in the beauty.

The above video is unedited. The fantastic sparkles that you see are from the sun rays hitting the lake. The beauty of this video is also a reminder to sparkle to stay alive, to live intentionally, and to sparkle through as many days as possible.