Environmental Wellness: How Fit Is Your Home?

img_8951The recent purchase of a gorgeous fern got me to thinking about the environmental wellness in my home.

Environmental wellness (EW) supports and promotes healthy living. It is the quality of the habitat at home, school, the community, and pretty much every space you encounter.

The way you interact with nature and the personal environment can either create harmony with the earth and the environment or do harm to both.

Consider the quality of the air you breathe, the water you drink, the food and the beverages you consume. Environmental Wellness bolsters wellness by striving to limit our exposure to hazards that are physical, chemical, and biological in our environment.

Your home is sacred. If you have children in your home, studies and research show that your child’s development can be impacted by daily exposure to harmful elements.  Adults and children exposed to lead-based, which was banned in the U.S. in 1978 (but is still around), can result in lead poisoning. However,  it’s not limited to paint.  Lead sometimes can also be found in:

Soil. Lead particles from leaded gasoline or paint settle on soil and can last years. Lead-contaminated soil is still a major problem around highways and in some urban settings. Some soil close to walls of older houses contains lead.

Household dust. Household dust can contain lead from lead paint chips or from contaminated soil brought in from outside.

Pottery. Glazes found on some ceramics, china and porcelain can contain lead that can leach into food served or stored in the pottery.

Toys. Lead is sometimes found in toys and other products produced abroad.
Cosmetics. Tiro, an eye cosmetic from Nigeria, has been linked to lead poisoning.

Herbal or folk remedies. Lead poisoning has been linked to greta and azarcon, traditional Hispanic medicines, as well as some from India, China and other countries.

Mexican candy. Tamarind, an ingredient used in some candies made in Mexico, might contain lead.

Lead bullets. Time spent at firing ranges can lead to exposure.

Occupations. People are exposed to lead and can bring it home on their clothes when they work in auto repair, mining, pipe fitting, battery manufacturing, painting, construction and certain other fields.

Source:  Mayo Clinic

You can eat organic food, do yoga, practice meditation, manage your stress, exercise, get plenty of sleep, drink water, complete all your annual doctor visits, but the environment in your home or even work can still damage you and your family’s health.

I am not paranoid and don’t want to get you there either. I’m merely pointing out factors that you may not have considered in your home that can impact your well-being.

So.  With that said, other common environmental contaminants that can railroad your health and wellness in your home are:

*Invisible Killers!  They are tasteless, colorless, and odorless.

What’s the takeaway?

As you would do maintenance on your body, you should do the same for your home.  Here are few ideas:

  • Wood burning fireplaces – Two words: 1. wood quality 2. cleaning  Here’s a link with excellent tips. 
  • With regards to Bedbugs, personally, I NEVER sit on my bed or bedroom furniture with street clothes, but here’s an official list from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on how to protect your home from those nasty critters.
  • Invest in a carbon monoxide detector(s).  If it operates on batteries, make sure you replace the batteries yearly, as with your smoke detectors.
  • To minimize the concentration of VOC’s, try to use non-toxic products for your home such as the 27 recipes on this list.
  • Replace the air filters in your home.  Depending on variables such as pets, home location (city vs. suburban), the number of residents, smokers, non-smokers, primary home versus vacation home, etc… the vents may need to be changed more frequently.
  • Take note of where your fresh produce is coming from.  Try to buy produce grown in the U.S. To combat costs, try to tailor your use to seasonal fruit and vegetables.  You can also start your own garden, which is a great way to prevent ingesting pesticides. If space is limited, check out vertical gardens; they are very cool. Pinterest has a plethora of ideas too!
  • I once was heavily into burning incense and candles but, for the past 5 years or so, I’ve fallen in love using essential oils with a diffuser. The quality of incense varies, and the dust from them got on my nerves.  Also forgetting to blow out candles was dangerous.
    • The diffuser is cleaner (if you clean them) and is ideal for meditation, sleeping, the office, and even older kids’ rooms.  No flame. No smoke. No dust. I enjoy the flexibility of combining oils to help to relieve congestion and to relax at bedtimes.

When I purchased this fern, I was awed by its beauty and was undecided about where to place it, but I knew I wanted it.  My initial plan was to try out the fern in different areas.  The first test was the entryway foyer, where the plant sat overnight.

The next morning when I walked downstairs, I was tired and sleepy eyed but the vibrant beauty of the plant breathed life, joy, and love into my heart and soul, which brings me to the final point of this post.  Protect your wellness at home by giving thoughtful consideration to what you value.  Instead of filling your home with a lot of meaningless clutter, find a select few objects that absolutely warm your heart.

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Peace and light!

🙂

 

 

 


Confessions From A Vegan

There once was a time when I was relentless in my pursuit of perfection. A sparkling and stain free stove, a crumbless kitchen counter, clean bathroom mirrors, and bare floors that left no dust or particles on the foots’ bottom.

Impeccability on this level was too much to maintain, but it took me years to learn what and who was really important. The approach was stupid, and I am still trying to determine why “perfection” was such a priority for me.

I have felt for many years that in high school, I underachieved at everything I did.  I was an okay teenager but never really pushed myself hard at anything.  For most of my life, I blamed the adults (teachers, coaches, and advisors) for not seeing something in me that I did not see in myself. They should have pushed me, but they did not. I blended in a predominately white school with only two black teachers, neither of which I had as a teacher.

My guidance counselor never hid her lack of interest in my academic progress or achievement. I’m confident that Mrs. C.  had distorted views about the potential of most of the students who looked like me. How do I know? We talked. Like an over-copied handout, the sentiments were regularly used, and the similarities in stories align perfectly.

My parents got a free pass. Mother, one of 13 was dirt poor. She and other siblings quit school to work. During my high school years, she returned to school to obtain her GED. Watching her study was motivating. She encouraged me to do my best and to finish school.

“Get your diploma because you won’t be able to get a decent job without it.”

My dad came here on a boat from the U.S. Virgin Islands. Although he never earned his diploma, he was a teacher of hard work. “Doing my best” was excellent advice but I needed a more detailed narrative on what it looked like and how to do this…especially when my teachers had little expectations from me.

In my early 20’s when I thought that immediately after high school, I should have gone to college and believed that I should be further along in my career. When I was overlooked for a promotion because I did not have a college degree, I felt inadequate.

Perhaps the idea of perfection as an adult offset my underperformance as a teenager.  Every task that I completed would be perfect or as close to perfection as possible. I was always the model employee. I was the front desk clerk who never had a drawer shortage. The VIP Agent who never messed up a customers’ accommodations. At home, the linen was correctly folded and stacked. The list goes on.

Today, I’m the happy imperfect vegan.

Yesterday (Sunday) we celebrated a milestone birthday of my cousin. We enjoyed brunch at The Cheesecake Factory. Hmm mmm.

The night before brunch, my final thoughts before going to sleep was The Cheesecake Factory’s menu!!  Now ain’t that some ish? I didn’t toss and turn. I wasn’t stressing or anything. Ahem… I was planning!

Well, peeps, all the planning didn’t make a difference.

I read through the menu. I contemplated an old favorite.

I even thought about this blog, my Instagram, Twitter, and my Facebook pages. What am I gonna say? The truth! I am human! That I decided to do me.

Without guilt or shame, I ordered a Cajun Shrimp and pasta dish. It was delicious!!!

I came to terms with ordering and eating the fantastic dish with this thinking:

I am not a perfect Vegan.

Life is short, don’t deny myself of a dish that I really want.

This is my second cheat and the world has not stopped revolving.

I am a human being.

We falter.

Why does eating shrimp & pasta have to be a falter?

Change takes time.

I am a Vegan student.

Only eight months have passed.

I need the protein.

Looking at the plate made me grin. My face should’ve cracked! I was doing the right thing.

I live authentically.

My experience may help others.

The study of health behavior includes research on numerous behavioral change theories. Some of the contributing factors to successful changes in our behavior include our environment, community, family, work, knowledge, support, and finances.

Even if you have all the factors aligned, change occurs in stages, and it takes time. Change is hard, but you should keep trying.

Your goal may be to quit smoking, to learn to meditate, lose weight, start exercising or like me become Vegan, regardless the change in our behavior will not happen overnight. Having an understanding of this process can alleviate some of the stress. James Prochaska’s Readiness for Change Model is used widely in the field of wellness. His concept may help you to achieve goals related to modifying your behavior.  Below are the stages:

Six Readiness for Change Stages.

  1. Pre-contemplation – Lack of awareness; unconcerned; a person has no thought of changing. Ex: A cigarette smokes who has no desire to quit.
  2. Contemplation – The Person, begins to consider change; ambivalence. Ex: Cigarette smoker thinks about quitting but has not taken any action.
  3. Preparation – Person begins to explore change possibilities. We get ready for a change by gathering information about the subject and gathering resources. Ex: Cigarette smoker talks to their doctor about methods to quit smoking, talks and seeks support from family and friends or obtains medical assistance such as a patch.
  4. Action – Person takes action. Ex: The day the person chooses not to smoke a cigarette
  5. Maintenance – Person works at maintaining change. This is me. Lapse and relapse occur at this stage. Ex: Smoker experiences a relapse and takes a few puffs or smokes an entire cigarette.
  6. Termination – The new behavior is now part of your life. My goal! We engage in the new practice with little effort and without much thought. In other words, the new behavior occurs naturally.

If you are in the process of some type of behavioral change, can you identify which stage you are in? Being aware of your current stage may help you to understand your actions.  Working with a wellness coach will help you to move through and complete the steps.

My point here is to support you in the change(s) you are trying to make in your life. I relapsed and wanted to share this with you.  You might also relapse, and I don’t want you to beat yourself up about it.

Continue to surround yourself with people who encourage you; that’s why I’m here. Stay on your wellness train, it may be hard but please don’t give up.  If you’d like to talk, email me at tanyafcain@gmail.com

Happy Day!


12 Steps to Replace Fast Track Promises

Promises, promises, and more promises. Assurances that you will become a better you are the claims made by companies who shall remain nameless. But you know who they are.

Pay us “X” amount of dollars monthly and we’ll do the work for you!

I read three different plans on one company’s site.

  • Basic daily plan of $10.18 per day… that’s $3,715.70 annually
  • Core daily program of $11.07 per day… that’s $4,040.55 yearly
  • Uniquely yours daily plan of $ 12.50… that’s 4, 562.50 per year

I searched another business. If you join “today,” the one-time enrollment fee is slashed from $99 to $49. You then pay a $19 monthly meal plan. After that, you’re hooked for about $20 per day, which amounts to “around” $7,300 annually! Get the heck out of here!

From a monetary standpoint, my question to you is, are you financially stable enough to afford the fees for the rest of your life? Does the diet plan align with your financial goals?

I get it. It’s tempting because it appears to be more straightforward than the “other” route.

The lure to unpack the product of a poor diet, lack of physical exercise or the side effects of medication or a physical condition is tantalizing. You want it off and off now.

Marketers play on your frustration and eagerness to find results with catchphrases:

“Rapid weight loss.”

“Fast track to weight loss.”

I decided to write this piece because, in addition to seeing a family member’s kitchen full of this stuff, I’ve also had several people ask my opinion about these type of programs. Taking photos of the packaged food was something I could not resist doing.

Can you imagine buying these products for the rest of your life? You’d probably get tired of eating this stuff anyway. The person who was on this particular plan lost 25 pounds in six months. Eventually, she went off the plan and attempted to maintain on her own. She was unsuccessful, gained the 25 pounds back and then some. She is not alone. I am not saying it’s the same for everyone but what I am getting at is that if you don’t do the work, no program is going to work or last.

 

Marketers know you want it badly. The truth is NOTHING fast, quick or rapid will sustain you for a healthy lifestyle.

My problem with these programs is that, as long as you buy the meal plans, you lose weight. But when you discontinue the plan and try to do it on your own, you fall short.

You fall short because you relied on someone else to do work for you that you needed to do for yourself.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Sure, you see big-name celebrities with deep behind pockets endorsing the brand, but with each ad, their pockets get deeper. Cha-Ching! $$$$$. Most celebs can afford the long-term financial commitment. Can you? I’m just sayin’… Evening setting the money spent aside, how healthy is pre-packaged food? Perhaps you might supplement with fruit, but it’s still packaged. IJS.

I encourage you to invest your time and your money into educating yourself on how to adopt a restorative life by making informed decisions that improve your overall health and wellness.

  1. Gauge your physical health. Make your annual doctor appointments (Dentist, General Practioner, OBGYN, etc..) and discuss your blood work and exam results. What’s right and what’s pressing that needs your immediate attention?
  2. Assess your mental health. Problems such as Depression, Anxiety & Panic Attacks, Eating Disorders, Bipolar Disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Psychosis, Obsessive-compulsive Disorder, etc..) can keep you from living your best life. Your mental health deserves the same attention as your physical health.  Don’t be afraid of seeking help.
  3. Size up your support network. Who are the people in your life? Do they encourage you? Who puts you down or laughs at your ideas? Commit to making the necessary changes by letting go of the toxic people in your life.
  4. Set goals. (SMART) – Not a new concept nor is it my idea, but it works.
    1. S – Specific
    2. M – Measurable
    3. A – Attainable (Action-Oriented)
    4. R – Relevant or Rewarding
    5. T – Time-Bound or Trackable.
  5. Learn how to read food labels. The internet has endless resources. How many servings are in that bag of chips or cookies you enjoy?
  6. Research the ingredients in your food. Again, hop on the net. Educate yourself and understand more about the food (or chemicals) you eat.
  7. SLOWLY modify your diet. Incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats (if you eat meat). SLOWLY reduce your sugar intake. Drink more water and fewer sodas, juices, and alcohol. Purchase less processed foods and eat cleaner. If you want apple pie, bake your own, and you control the ingredients instead of buying processed food full of preservatives, sugar and other chemicals.
  8. Evaluate your physical fitness regiment. Do you exercise? If so, what do you do and how frequently? Are you getting the results you desire? Why or why not? If you do not exercise, why not? How can you change this? What are your fitness goals? Whatever you do, add strength training/weight training to your program. With a solid nutrition plan and a consistent strength training program, you will get maximum results.
  9. Engage in self-care. Do something for YOU such as a massage, a short or long getaway, skydiving, Floatation Therapy, or something else you’ve been dying to try.
  10. Survey your finances. If you’re overwhelmed with debt, seek financial counseling. The problem won’t go away on its own. Take action to stop nagging phone calls from bill collectors.
  11. If you have a significant other, take a measure of your relationship. Are you happy? If so, fantastic! If not, it’s time to explore why. Ask yourself the difficult questions. Be honest with yourself and your partner. Is counseling the answer? Get the ball rolling.
  12. Explore your career. Are you happy or satisfied? If so, awesome! If not, set fear aside. Consider your interests and explore your options.

The idea is to unmask the root of your issue(s). Quite often, the problem isn’t what we think it is. If you take a 360 approach to your life and visit all aspects, you will uncover underlying issues that have kept you bogged down and going in circles.

This post is longer than planned but it is also an excellent roadmap to jump-start you on your road to wholeness. There is NEVER a quick fix to ANYTHING.

Consider high performing athletes. They don’t arrive at the top of their game overnight. Years of training, overcoming injuries, self-doubt, and naysayers pass before they reach the top of their game.

Our journey is no different.


Mind Your Sugar This Holiday; You’ll Be Glad You Did

December is the time of year when we splurge on delightful deserts a little more than usual. We attend office parties, end-of-year celebrations, family dinners, and banquets. These celebratory events besiege us with sugar-coated treats that have you feeling like a kid in a candy store. But you know what? If the holiday sugar feast isn’t your norm, then it is okay to indulge a little.

This post is not about encouraging you to avoid your holiday favorites. I only want to inspire you to remain mindful while you enjoy the holiday season. How do you live mindfully?

Stay Present.

To remain present means to observe everything that is happening to you. If you are present, you are in the moment; not thinking about tomorrow, what someone else thinks, or grappling about an incident that occurred yesterday. Being mindful means to:

  • Actively listen to the sounds around you. When listening to music, try to pick up on the background instruments.
  • Observe (but don’t judge) the colors, shapes, sizes in detail that is around you.
  • When eating, concentrate on the color, flavor, texture, smell, taste, and temperature of the food.
    • When eating, take smaller bites and avoid multi-tasking (watching TV, reading, surfing the net, etc…). The aftereffect of mindless eating is overindulging.
  • When communicating with others, focus on their words not what your response is going to be.
  • When driving, observe the cars and the roadway.  When was the last time you were driving down a road and the next thing you know, you arrived at your destination and don’t remember passing familiar streets and landmarks?  A wandering mind is reasonable; however, the trick is to catch the thoughts but then reject it and return to your focus.

We are hosting Christmas dinner, so as I began to think about the menu and desserts, I realized that the one common bothersome ingredient comprised of most holiday main course meals, desserts and beverages is sugar.

Sugar is an addiction. The more we eat sugar, the more we crave it. So, as you approach the dessert table, be mindful… How many trips have you made? Are you eating because you’re hungry or are inattentively shoving food in your mouth? Just something for you to think about.

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Image courtesy of Me_living (Instagram)

Eggnog Martini, White Christmas Martini, Santa Clausmopolitan, Jack Frost Cocktail-– Look them up on Pinterest; there are many!   Do I indulge? Absolutely!!  But the solution is to sip consciously.  Drink a glass of water between drinks. Go ahead, enjoy one sweet cocktail but if you decide to take a second drink, order it without the sugar on the rim, or just have your favorite spirit on the rocks.

 

Image: CDC (Center for Disease Control)

 

Even if you don’t consume alcohol, still think about the non-alcoholic eggnog, the punches, sodas, and juices.  When the news reported this week that the current U.S. President drinks 12 cans of diet coke each week, I cringed.  The label on diet coke shows zero “0” sugar, but it does contain aspartame. Too much of anything, especially, a GMO ingredient, is not good for the body.

Sixteen days remain in 2017, and I am still going Vegan strong!  My holiday festivities will undoubtedly include cocktails (mainly cabernet) but will exclude meat and dairy products.  I made it through Thanksgiving, so Christmas and New Year’s should be a breeze.

Happy Holidays!