Women’s Health Week: Taking Control of Your Health

A woman’s health is her capital

-Harriet Beecher Stowe

The business of our (women’s) health is expansive and sometimes confusing.  There is no shortage of information; however, the information is frequently contradictive.  One reason the message, although factual, is confusing is that we receive it at different ages and at various stages in our life. Sometimes the information is new while other times, you feel like, you’ve been there done that. 

A 20-year-old’s conversation with her gynecologist is not the same as a 30, 50, or 60-year-old.  Questions, conversations, and needs are not the same. My chat with my MD’s aren’t even close to my 29-year-old daughter’s discussion with her doctors.

So when I learned that National Women’s Health Week was this week (May 13th – 19th), I felt the need to share the info with you.

By the time, I break down all the facts, the week will be over. Instead of doing that, I am providing the link here for you.

Make it a priority this week or weekend to visit the website of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.  Read the article, What steps can you take for better health?

Once you visit the website, select your age group and read the post to learn what you can do daily to maintain good health, conversations to have with your doctor, and a helpful list of test to ask your physician about.

An important topic to also review with your doctor is nutrition.  Most general practitioners are not nutritionists, but they should be able to refer you to one.

If you follow this blog, you know that October last year, I decided to convert to a Vegan lifestyle.

My recent blood test was mostly normal except my cholesterol was slightly high.  I am hoping the doctor, a nutritionist, and some research (on my part) will help me to make sense of this surprise.  My high cholesterol could be hereditary, my age, or perhaps a problem with my diet.  I don’t know yet.

Recently I read a blurb that suggested a possible relationship between gluten and high cholesterol, but I am not ready to jump on that bandwagon yet.  I need to do my research. Remember, anyone can publish anything on the net.  Do your research.

If you or someone you love suffer from high cholesterol, heart disease, or related, I urge you to also visit the sites below.  Doctors are trained professionals but I am also a firm believer in empowering one’s self.   The more informed you are about your health, the better you are able to communicate with your doctor, which will result in you making well-informed decisions about your health.

American Heart Association

Cardio Smart American College of Cardiology Foundation

FH Foundation (Familial hypercholesterolemia)

Mended Hearts

Women Heart Foundation

Wellness includes your physical health. Throughout our days, weeks, months, etc…, we play multiple roles.  Please don’t allow your busy schedule to validate neglecting your health.  Cross an item or two off of your to-do list and add your health to the top of your list. You matter and your health matters most.

 

 

 

 

 


In The Name of Wellness: Why Your Words Matter

The concept of total wellness recognizes that our every thought, word and behavior affects our greater health and well-being.  And we, in turn are affected not only emotionally but also physically and spiritually.  -Greg Anderson

While ironing a shirt for work (do people still iron?) you mentally drift. The tip of the iron touches your left hand. Ouch! It burned your skin. There is strong possibility that the burn will leave a permanent mark. Years later, you can recount the story of your injury.

Words leave scars too. >>>>>>>>

While visiting my bestie in Texas, I bought an authentic pair of cowboy boots. I wore them for the first time today. As I slid them on, I was reminded why I purchased them–good quality leather, comfort, and stylish. Looking in the mirror, I thought, Damn girl, you’ve got big feet. ‘Dem boots look big as hell!

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Sipping on a green smoothie and reflecting on the boots.

Mentally, I traveled back to my awkward and gawky pre-teen years when my lanky arms and boney legs were disproportioned. My family would remind me daily that I had BIG feet. Mom would make me wear specific shoes that were orthopedically sound but ugly as hell.

Double time to today. My mom’s words have clung to the inner parts of my psyche, resurfacing without solicitation at the opportune time and trying to steal my joy.

Yup, the red boots look super-sized! I could have got them in black. Black looks smaller. Women with big feet probably shouldn’t wear bright colors…right? The truth is, does anyone really give a damn? Even if they do care, what does it matter?  My personality is vibrant, and so are my color choices in clothes, sometimes shoes, and everything else. I bought the red because they are me and I loved them. I adore them just as much today.

When I wear the boots today, someone might glance at my feet and think, damn, she’s got some big ass feet!! And if they do believe that, what changes? Nothing! The world continues to evolve. I look the same….fabulous! I feel the same…marvelous! Worse case scenario, someone thinks I have big feet, and it’s true. Hehe!

The truth; the reality is that someone will always have an opinion about you.  You do not have power over the thoughts of others.

You do, however; have the POWER to govern your own thoughts and it is YOUR thoughts that matter most.  Incessant chatter is the term Michael A. Singer uses in, the untethered soul. You have the choice to become crippled by your thoughts, but you also have the option to acknowledge the notions and to move on.   Once you are paralyzed, you start to miss out on the abundance of pleasures life has to offer you.

If I had listened to the inimical chatter in my head this morning, I wouldn’t have worn my boots.  I would have missed out on the joy of high stepping with my eclectic Jersey swag through the streets of Gwinnett County. Although I wasn’t dressed up, I felt special wearing my Ariat cowboy boots.

I don’t know if anyone took note of my boots, but if they did, it might have been because it seems stilettos are more popular than cowboy boots in Georgia or merely because they thought my footwear was cool.

Anyways, I have to points here. First, to remind you that words matter. When speaking to children, know that everything you say is heard by them. Repeated messages hang around and take up mental space and can influence the child’s behavior well into adulthood.

And second, to encourage you to try something that you’ve wanted to but are afraid to do. It can be something small like wearing a brighter color nail polish, applying for the next promotion at work, taking a dance class, getting your first tattoo, or something else.  Just do it!

 

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I couldn’t resist jumping around in my boots. 🙂

Wellness is more than exercising and eating well.  If you search wellness, you will find many definitions.  My favorite definition of wellness is:

…the experience of living life with  high levels of awareness, conscious choice, self-acceptance, interconnectedness, love, meaning, and purpose… living consciously in ways that improve your health and well-being.    – Michael Arloski

Make each day count!

Smooches!


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!


Thanksgiving Shenanigans: 31 And Counting!

I sustain myself with the love of family.
– Maya Angelou

Some relationships in families are complicated. We’d like to handpick our family members, but we cannot. But even if we could choose our peeps, we probably wouldn’t get it right anyway.  Think about it.  Over your lifetime, how many of your friendships have come and gone?   Some were short-lived and a few continued for decades.

Thanksgiving is less than one week away.  And let us remember that the holiday is a celebration of unity and gratitude.  If you have a warm place to sleep, food on the table, and are alive, stop and give thanks.  You are blessed. Churches, community centers, food banks, and other generous souls cook, deliver, and serve thousands of meals for less fortunate and homeless individuals. Those of us who have options and do not have to rely on others for the holiday feast need to recognize and not take it for granted.

That said, I ask you to consider your Thanksgiving plans. How so?  If you are prosperous enough to enjoy a meal, then think about a family member who you have not spoken to for some time. Maybe it’s time for you to reconnect. Perhaps it is time to bury the hatchet. You don’t have to become best friends with them.  Enjoy a meal together while giving thanks for being alive and for the opportunity to make amends. Or, at the least, pick up your phone and start a conversation with them.

Each year, I look forward to hosting our family holiday dinner, but 2017 is, generating, even more, excitement for me.

For the first time in my life, I am celebrating
AND hosting Thanksgiving dinner in a new home, outside of NJ….
In Georgia!

As soon as we settled on our home and prepared for our move, we told the  family, “We are still hosting Thanksgiving dinner, so start making travel plans!”

For the last 20+ years, we’ve hosted holiday dinners at our home and although 700+ miles away, I didn’t want that to change.

I wasn’t sure how many would make the trip, but hubby and I put it out there.

Whelp!  As of this writing, there will be 31 of us!!!

Six generations coming together! Oooomygooooodness!  How cool is that?

Our peeps are coming from New Jersey, Washington, DC, Tennessee, Michigan, and from other parts of Georgia.  How friggin awesome!!

Now, with that said. Chile… like most families, we have an assortment of temperaments and personalities!  We are a loving family and, like most, folks butt heads, have conflicts, kiss, and makeup.

However…sadly some folks hold on to grudges have issues and carry their baggage around like it has value and be cashed in for dollars!  So, on Thanksgiving, a few folks with strained relationships are dining under one roof.  The forgiveness conversation with my mom is an ongoing project; however, I remind her, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.”  She is a tough cookie, but that’s the rule in our home.

Sibling conflicts, parental conflicts and more. But you know what, I’m determined to make the occasion positive and memorable and encourage you to do the same.  All relatives deal with conflicts and fallouts, and typically the issue is over dumb sh**.

The pitfall is that some folks cannot get past their pride, their anger, their hurt, and the resentment they feel toward the other person.  Like an Olympic torch, they pass the burden on from one generation to the next. In my family, I continue to do what I can to stop this foolishness.  I’m not having generations of cousins, nieces, nephews disliking each other for nonsense.

Memories lapse, stories change,
but the animosity continues.

If we are to achieve optimum wellness,
we must open our hearts to forgiveness.

By not forgiving others, we are weighed down with trappings that grow heavier by the year.  The baggage inhibits our ability to experience complete joy and happiness.

Consider trying an exercise in writing a forgiveness letter.  Write the letter to the person who hurt and whom you have not forgiven.  Do not give it to them.  Address precisely what they did to you but also why you forgive them.  Set grammar and sentence structure aside, the point is to put your raw feelings on paper.  Pour our your emotions.  Cry if necessary.  Read what you wrote every day for a week.

Forgiving does not right a wrong.  To forgive someone allows you to move on to a place where the anger eventually vanishes. It grants the opportunity for growth and for more positive energy to flow through you.  If you cannot surpass the tension, seek counseling to help you work through it.

Mentally I am prepping harder than usual for Thanksgiving because this is my first Vegan Thanksgiving!  We have always had vegan family members for holiday dinners, but I was eating meat then.

This is the fifth week that I’ve sustained life without chicken, turkey, dairy, or seafood.  I’m singing and dancing around the house to Cool & The Gang’s, Celebration!

Lately, I’ve had a bit of a sweet tooth.  I’m not sure why that is, but I fixed the craving with some bruised apples in a bag.

I washed and peeled six apples.  Add them to a pot with a little water (about a half-cup) and added cinnamon and nutmeg.  NO SUGAR!  I cooked them on low until they softened.  The result is intoxicating!!  If I hadn’t prepared them myself, I would swear that the cook added sugar.  Restraint was in full effect.  I wanted to eat the whole pot in one sitting.

One morning, I had to eat on-the-road, so I went to Starbucks for Oats. They came with nuts and dried fruit. For protein, I added nuts but passed on the dry fruit with 22 grams of sugar.

After eating the darn oats, I realized they probably had dairy in them.  Ugh!! The thought didn’t occur to me to ask for coconut or almond milk and until the cup was empty.  Lol!
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One of my favorite meals of the week is this bowl of red quinoa, black-eyed peas, sautéed mushrooms, and onions.

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Each week my strategy is to cook one to two cups of quinoa, a crock pot of legumes or beans, bunches of kale, and to try something new. This week, I was just too busy preparing for Thanksgiving to do that, but still did just fine.   Later in the week, I can always add additional roasted veggies, which will add a variation to my meals.

I’m working on ideas for next week… hoping to make a few savory vegan dishes so I won’t be tempted by the baked mac & cheese and deep fried turkey.

Since taking on the Vegan challenged, I’ve noticed a few changes.

  1. I feel lighter.  Not like I have lost a bunch of weight but somehow brighter.  Putting into words is hard.
  2. Late afternoon, I no longer feel sluggish and crave power naps. It’s odd because I am not getting any more or less sleep but I have more energy.
  3. I haven’t felt the need for my afternoon cup of java.
  4. Although I’ve been working out intensely pretty much five days a week, in the past week I lost 5 pounds!
  5. I’m feeling a bit more energized.  This is funny because I’m already high energy….when I’m supposed to be resting between sets at the gym, I’m pacing around looking for some cardio sh** to do!  Hubby thinks I’m nuts and can’t figure it out.

This post is longer than planned but, the bottom line is that any change takes times. 

Diet, mindset, attitude— any change in behavior involve a process.  Neither occurs overnight, but YOU must want to make the transition.  You can’t do it for anyone but yourself.  I suggest merely starting today.  Then try again tomorrow and the next day, and the day after that…   Eventually, you will achieve what you seek.

“Everything is hard before it is easy.”

-Goethe J.W

In preparing for the holiday, the upcoming week is going to be hectic… traveling, cooking, making plans for house guests, squeezing in gym time, writing, and more.  But with that said, my goal is not to stress about any of my plans and worry about everything being perfect but to remain mindful, present, and to enjoy the process and the time with my family.  I hope you do the same! I can’t wait to share pics!!

We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable.
It would be wise to use that time adoring our families,
cherishing our friendships, and living our lives.

– Maya Angelou

 

Forgiveness Support

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Forgive Someone

The Untethered Soul

The Language of Letting Go