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

Advertisements

How to Clean Up Broken Eggs

While placing 18 eggs one by one in a pot of boiling water, one egg quickly slipped out of my hand and landed on the kitchen floor. Splat!!!

As the yolk partly laid on the floor and partly resting inside the shell, I thought it looked disastrous but also colorful and pretty.

Instead of stressing over the silly egg, I took a few pictures and pondered over what could be said about the broken egg.  The splattered egg reminded me of an earlier experience in my life and inspired me to write this post.

Nearly 20 years ago, I was the Advertising/Communications Manager at a Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

I was new to the position and new to advertising, but I loved the creative energy, the enthusiasm, and the department’s director was amazing! She was smart, witty, confident, and knew her stuff. I was like a sponge, eager to soak up all the knowledge my director was throwing my way. For once, I envisioned myself in a department for the long hall.

While working as a Trainer in Human Resources, the  job literally fell in my lap. It turns out, the powers that be were observing me and liked the way I conducted myself and worked with employees in the company.

Seven months into the Advertising position, out went the old president and in came the new one. As with any new leadership, the rumors began.  For or a little while, things remained the same, but eventually major changes occurred.

The new president (Dennis) may he RIP, passed a few years ago, was unlike any leader our company had before. He was high energy, unconventional, believed in giving people chances, and never seem to care about people laughing at his out of the ordinary ideas.

I remember attending a pep rally, where some employees won a lottery for a chance to step into a money machine! The machine swirled money into the air and the employee was given a certain amount of time to grab as much cash as possible. Lol!! How cool was that! You can imagine the excitement!!

Anyways, he had a new vision for the company and wanted to move in a different direction. As a result, my position along with 120 or so other jobs were eliminated. I was disappointed but not surprised. Damn though!! I was finally working for and with someone who really knew shit and was willing to share her knowledge.  Then my position gets eliminated.

I signed the proper  paperwork, packed my belongings, said my goodbyes and left. On my way out, I saw my colleagues’ devastation and tears. I remember thinking, it’s not the end the world. Of course my husband held a steady job, but still we were a two-family income and my salary mattered.

After a few days of taking the job loss in, I felt compelled to write a letter to the president. I was confused! During the pep rally, Dennis spoke. He said he wanted employees who were loyal, hard-working, committed, friendly, and more!

He described me in his speech! So, why was my job eliminated? I needed to know the answer, so immediately I sat down and wrote the president of the casino a letter. I did not hesitate on the letter because I felt as though I had nothing to lose.  My letter was not angry, dispirited or nasty.  It was a letter of genuine inquiry about why my position was eliminated. I also requested a meeting with him to discuss career opportunities with the company. I told him that I was everything he wanted in his employees and he could check my file. He seemed like a fair and reasonable man.

The next day, I hand delivered the letter to his Administrative Assistant, who graciously took it and promised that she would give it to him. I thanked her and left feeling content that I asked the question.

Shortly after, I don’t remember exactly how long but a day– a week– or several weeks later, I received a phone call from a company representative. Although while working full-time, I also attended college at night. I was offered a position as an intern in Affirmative Action.

I worked in Affirmative Action for a few months and was eventually offered a job in a new department, Quality Assurance. For a few months, I was the sole department. Lol!!

Over the next eight years, my career continued to flourish with the company.  In 2002, one month after I graduated college and earned my BA degree, I received a job offer from a local school district and gave my resignation.

Just because a situation does not go as planned, does not mean that all is gloom and doom and that a disaster has occurred.  There is always a reason things don’t work out but to sort through it, we have to be open-minded, patient, and malleable.

So what the egg breaks! It’s still raw, scoop it up, laugh at yourself, salvage what you can, and move on. Successful people arrive by way of a series of detours, road blocks, failed engines and more.

If you’ve ever played  Monopoly, at some point you will land in jail. Eventually you get out of jail and move on and sometimes, go on to win the game.

Learning not to stress over cracked eggs, broken china, the slow driver ahead, junior league football, and other trivial stuff, took me many years to understand.  However, one day I figured it out and and stopped sweating the small stuff.

I know that after bad comes good. After darkness comes light.  After pain comes pleasure.  After tears come smiles.

At 50 years old, I take it all in stride and make it a point to laugh at the silliness in each day.

Make your day a great one!  🙂


4 Tips for Finding Balance, Peace and Success

frog

Are you a “Broke Brand” struggling to find balance in your life?   Chances are you might be a BB and you are unaware of your status or are too busy immersed in your daily routine to realize it.

A self-described “former Broke Brand,” Adrienne Graham wrote an informative piece on Finding Balance, Peace and Success.  I had to share this with you and hope that it does help you in some way.

4 Tips for Finding Balance, Peace and Success.

Enjoy!


A Leap of Faith

20130330-095836.jpg

After eight months of working ten-hour plus shifts, six-day work weeks, attending mandatory 9:00 a.m. staff meetings on my only day off, the stress and demands of my job began to take a toll on my 28-year young body. The combination of the long hours, attending evening classes at a community college, mothering a pre-school age daughter, and maintaining my young marriage, one day, it all hit me like a ton of bricks.

Literally, I was meeting with an employee. Attempting to give her an annual performance evaluation. The day, like most, had been a busy one; customer complaints, billing account issues, and more.

I was celebrated by my staff, my peers, and my General Manager for maintaining composure during the most difficult times and known for pulling solutions out of my magic hat to solve bizarre problems. They never saw me sweat. I still believe every problem/challenge has a solution.

On this day, bricks lay on my chest. I remembered taking deep yoga like breaths, confident that the pressure on my chest would disappear and not return. Dana (not her real name), didn’t recognize my discomfort. She was most likely blinded by the anticipation of receiving her overdue evaluation.

I shifted in the chair—to the right— then to the left–but no relief. As strong as my tolerance was for pain, I sat silent… surprised and unable to maintain control through the pain. Tears trickled down my checks leaving shadow like stains through my bronze foundation. The moisture flows uncontrollably.

“What’s wrong? Are you okay?” Pausing… “No. I’m in pain. The pain won’t go away…”

My doctor saw me the same day. Several tests later and a few days later, I find myself angrily sitting in the examining room with my doctor. My tests (Blood, EKG, and a few others returned negative). I’m a mess, but don’t realize it… but I was about to find out.

“Your body is responding to stress young lady. Your work schedule and daily routine is affecting your health. You need to change jobs!”

I sit quietly and listen. He goes on to say more.

At that moment I feel the verge of a nervous breakdown invading my soul. My body wants to shake, convulse, fall on the floor and cry and scream. I want to tell him to go straight to hell. “Change jobs!” I snap. “Easy for you to say, DOC….TOR!!! I’m trying to get my damn education, you’ve got yours!! Asshole!”

He tells me that I need to take some time off from work and writes me a doctor’s note, which places me on immediate medical leave.

“Is he F’n kidding! I run the front office of a hotel. August is peak season. You don’t take weeks off in August.” He tells me I don’t have a choice.

I return to work and looking for the GM/Owner. He’s nowhere to be found. I clear his desk and leave the note with a request for him to call me. He NEVER called me. His only concern was hotel revenue.

During the weeks that I stayed home, I felt battered, broken, and beyond repair. My body, my mind, and my spirit were frail. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was going to fall apart. I followed doc’s orders and rested.

During my medical leave, I applied for a Training Coordinator’s position at a casino (located right next door to the hotel where I worked). I interviewed and auditioned (in August); however,  the position was offered to an in-house employee. I was given the standard, “We will keep your application on file, blah, blah, blah..”

Two weeks later I returned to work. In my mailbox was a nasty memo from my GM/Owner,

“Due to your absence, the hotel as lost X amount of dollars in revenue….” The rest is a blur!!

After careful discussion with hubby, the next day I took a leap in faith and resigned from my position. My GM wanted to know how I could  afford to quit my job without another job and insisted I work the next two weeks straight without a day off. I refused and worked my normal six-day workweek.

We took a much-needed family vacation to Disney. After returning from Disney, I decided to take a holiday seasonal job selling cosmetics at Macy’s. I previously enjoyed selling cosmetics and thought I could have fun. Fun was the motivator NOT money.

Two days before Christmas, the store is jammed packed, wall-to-wall shoppers. A girl walks up to my counter:

Girl:  Excuse me, aren’t you the lady who applied for the Trainer position back in August at Tropicana?

Me:  Umm yeah, why?

Girl:  Someone left the department and they are looking for your paperwork, but they can’t find it. Are you still interested in the job?

Me:  Yes, I am. (I wanted to say hell yeah!)

Girl: She hands me a card, writes down a number, and tells me to call the Director.

On my break I call the Director. She tells me she’ll call me back. Later that day she calls,

“Merry Christmas, the job is yours!!!”

I started my new job on January 4, 1994! It was one of the BEST career moves in my life. The normal, 9-5 like hours, weekends and holiday off, were perfect for my family and school. Starting with my attitude, everything changed for the better. I could see the shine in the sun, every detail around me became clear. I know that I became a better mother, a better wife, and a better student. I was earning substantially less money, but I was happy; happier than I’d been in a long time.

This experience taught me that sometimes in life, the path before us is unclear. Visibility may not be at it’s best; however, if you are doing good, carefully think through situations, weigh the pros and cons, and your core instincts tell you to move forward, then by all means, do it… whatever “it” is!

“Sometimes your only available transportation is leap of faith.”

Don’t sit around and wait for an ideal situation or opportunity to come, you may end up waiting forever.

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

 


Bridging the gap: one step at a time

In high school, my addiction to running started and continued to intensify as I grew older.  Thirty some years later, I haven’t shaken the addiction, but I’ve found that the emotional high that I get from running helps in other areas of my life. Running relieves stress in a positive way. Running instantly clears my mind and always helps me to find solutions to many quandaries and other things on mind. Thankfully, running keeps me fit.

When my daughter was as young as ten or maybe younger, she gingerly rode her bike alongside me as I ran.  How far?  Five miles.   You might think that’s far, but she completed the ride with ease.  Like me, her body grew conditioned to the ride.  The ride served two purposes:  1. Instead of sitting in front of the T.V., she was outside exercising taking in lots of fresh air.  2.  Most importantly, we enjoyed quality time together.  Due to work and school, quality time was a rarity, so the five-mile ride/run gave us that time.

As she grew older, she took on swimming and decided that running wasn’t her thing.  I was cool with that because I’m not big on pushing my kids into an activity where they show no interest.  Hubby and I always let our children decide which activities they wish to take part in.  Our nine-year old wants to box now, so… we’re looking for a boxing class.  Is that my first choice, NO!    But, that’s what he wants to do so, we’ll roll with it.  Where did he get boxing from?  I have no idea.

Although my daughter is older (22), we still experience peaks and valleys in our relationship.  That’s normal and typical. I’m convinced that moms and daughters have this chip special chip in our DNA.  Lol!  The chips aren’t always in sync.  When they are in sync, everything is dreamy and fabulous. But when those chips malfunction, all hell breaks loose!  Lately the chip has been in the malfunction mode, but I have faith that the chips will soon re-sync.

For the first time, at least that I can remember, we actually ran together.  We both planned an outdoor run, but were initially unaware of the others plan.  When I realized that her plan was to run outside, I invited her to run with me.

Bundled up for a run - January 2012

The air was cool, about 36 degrees and there was a moderate breeze blowing.  We adjusted our iTunes play lists and I set my MapMyRun application on my phone.  Geez!  Years ago, I’d have no clue about how technology would impact my daily jogging routine.

As we set out, step-by-step for our run, we unknowingly left our differences behind.  We shared a common goal of enjoying the afternoon sun, opening our lungs to the crisp fresh winter air, and finishing the run with a set distance in mind.

Having a lengthy relationship with running, my body is typically ready to kick into gear.  The endorphins set in and I want to eagerly glide with the wind.  Only a conditioned runner can tell you about the days when you feel like you could literally run for hours.  Remember earlier that I said that running is an addiction!  Hehe!   However, my daughter being a novice runner worked to find her rhythm and successfully ploughed forward.

Periodically I checked to make sure that she was with me and was proud of her for not giving up.  I know that she wanted to, but she pushed herself.  Out there on the street, I forgot all about our recent challenges, differences of opinions, and the like.

It wasn’t until later that I realized something.

While running, I did not allow the gap between us to become too big!  Bingo!  Monitor our relationship the same way and minimize the gap as much as possible.

Of course, the day-to-day activity in monitoring and bridging the gap is often more challenging, but in reality, I need to apply the same principles that I do when I run 13 miles–  Take one step at a time. Translation:  One day at a time, one hour at a time, and one minute at a time.  I’m committed.