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

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!

IMG_7506

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!

 

img_7530

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!


Thanksgiving Day: From The Inside Out

“Something wonderful begins to happen with the simple realization that life, like an automobile, is driven from the inside out, not the other way around. As you focus more on becoming more peaceful with where you are, rather than focusing on where you would rather be, you begin to find peace right now, in the present. Then, as you move around, try new things, and meet new people, you carry that sense of inner peace with you. It’s absolutely true that, “Wherever you go, there you are.” 

-Richard Carlson

To prepare for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, I decided to…

Stop trying to make everything perfect!!

Hubby and I have been hosting holiday dinners for over 20 years.  I use to stress and beat myself up over making sure that every little detail was perfect.

Crisp table linen, a visually pleasing spread of desserts, a spotless home, plenty of food, a beautifully set dining table, and then some.

Although I’ve always adored decorating my home for each occasion, cooking ridiculous amounts of food, and having the over-night house guests, sometimes I stressed and fussed over details that no one even noticed… stuff that didn’t matter.  So I did what I could and focused on what mattered most; the meal.

From the time I got up on Thanksgiving Day, I reminded myself to stay present. To be aware of every moment…  my invigorating morning shower… the warm water clashing on my back…. the scent of lavender…Mmm.. a reflection of the sun and the odd-shaped shadow on the bathroom wall.

Being mindful and present supports a lifestyle of wellness. When we exert energy anticipating possibilities that we cannot control, we miss out on the daily pleasures of interacting with people around us. Our loved ones smile, kind gestures, affection, or a call for help.

Routinely focusing on the present takes practice and mental muscle. The more we practice, the better we become at it.  One way to focus is to try to concentrate and engage one or more of your five senses:

  1. What do you smell?
  2. What can you taste?
  3. What do you hear? What kinds of sounds (i.e., leaves crackling under your feet, the sound of running water, a child’s laughter, the distant echoing of an ambulance siren, or in silence the sound of your breath).
  4. What do you see?  Notice the details of colors, shapes, the sky, or a person’s eyes.
  5. What can you feel?  Textures that are hot, cold, soft, hard, etc..

Being comfortable with doing my best, accepting my best and staying current allowed me to make the most of my day with my family. I think I listened more than usual and captured more intimate moments throughout the day.

Our home was packed! Bodies were everywhere.  I concerned myself less with crumbs on the floors and coasters on the table and more on getting to know my little cousins and catching up with the adults I haven’t seen in years.  The noise from the 11 kids running through the house shooting nerf guns, screaming and laughing personified quality family time. I laughed all day.

Vegan Challenge Update

This was my first Vegan Thanksgiving.  Except for four family members, everyone came from at least four or more hours away.  Which meant I did most of the cooking.

The day was undoubtedly a mental test for me. Was I ready to bypass the 5 pounds of baked mac & cheese and the two deep fried turkeys?  My plan to cook additional vegetables for myself and five other Vegans worked well. My two favorite veggies were prepared by my cousin’s husband; roasted brussels sprouts with sweet onions and olive oil and roasted cauliflower and carrots with olive oil, Vidalia onions, and turmeric!!

In addition to the above tasty vegetables, Thanksgiving dinner included, two-deep fried turkeys, honey-ham, baked chicken, broiled salmon, shrimp cocktail, kale/collards with smoked turkey, vegan kale/collards, hot stuffing, mild stuffing, potato salad, baked mac & cheese, black-eyed peas, roasted butternut squash, spaghetti squash, traditional candied sweet potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes (with cinnamon & nutmeg only) , and plain white sweet potatoes with coconut oil.   The list of desserts is too long, but there were plenty.

Here’s my plate!!  Everyone was surprised that I did not cave into the mac & cheese, but I was cool with not eating it and consciously enjoyed every bite of the food on my plate.  It really is amazing what we can do when we set our mind to something.

IMG_5981

It has been over one month since I started my Vegan challenge.  My major hiccup occurred last Saturday on a quick visit to Jersey.  We ate at a fantastic seafood restaurant, Doc’s Oyster House in Atlantic City.  Majority of the menu options is seafood.  The offerings for a salad were of little interest to me… probably because I was beyond starving and I’ve eaten at Doc’s before.  This would probably be the last time I visit this restaurant in a long time, so I ordered the special, which scallops.  The servings are large portions, and I could only eat half my dish.  I took the other half home, and my girlfriend ended up eating it. Although the food was delicious, the entire time, I kept thinking, “I’m eating seafood.”

I did, however, learn a valuable lesson.  Before dining out at specialty restaurants, I should carefully read the menu online and make my selection beforehand.  While writing this post, I went to their website and re-read the menu.  I saw options that I missed when I was in the restaurant.  I don’t know if I missed the items because of the ambiance and the dimmed light or because I got caught up in the moment or I just wasn’t paying attention.  Either case, I know that mistakes happen and I learned from the error so, all is good.

Below are some photos with brief captions from Thanksgiving Day.

img_5924

Quiche… pre-Thanksgiving Breakfast from the best bakery,  Sweet Brown Suga!

img_5929

These two beauties are my cousins.  They are also Vegan.

img_5927

Thanksgiving morning… help from my cousin in the kitchen.

Aunt Miriam & Aunt Clara

img_5932

Breakfast and school work.

img_5933

Even my little cousins enjoy a variety of fruit.

img_5934

An early text from another cousin.  He deep fried two 15 pound turkeys.

Holiday punch in the making…  designated bartender.

img_5943

Thank God for relatives who like to cook. She was a big help.

img_5944

Every woman can appreciate a man who can cook (healthy) in the kitchen.

Seconds, please!!

Loc inspiration from my favorite cuz! He’s also the Deep Fried Turkey expert.

The buffet line.

img_5958

Dining room. Photographer:  Ess.n.cee

img_5983

Dining room Photographer:  Ess.n.cee

Punch without the punch (alcohol). Photographer:  Ess.n.cee

Cousins!!  Some met for the first time.

Trying to get everyone to pose was a bit challenging.

This munchkin  Loved my mom’s doll baby and wasn’t trying to give her back.  

img_6011

Runway ready!

One of many attempts to get a good pic!  Lol!

img_6028

Seriously focused!

LOVE!

Two car fanatics!

img_6023

 

IMG_5952

Love, Love, Love!  My daughter and our 84-year-old aunt haven’t seen each other in over 15 years!

IMG_5953

My nephew, his son, and auntie!

img_5961.jpg

Delivery of the ham and two turkeys in style!

IMG_5965

A toast to family, friendship, and a splendid day!

I hope that you found gratitude in your Thanksgiving Day!

Smooches!


Surprises in Mindful Meals

“Fill yourself with passion and purpose
that enable you to offer your best to the world.”
-Oprah Winfrey

Collectedness.

Determined.

Peaceful.

Purposeful

My feelings.

I am in week four, day two of my Vegan challenge.  Although this blog is dedicated to more than my transition to a vegan lifestyle, I am sharing this journey with you because it is essential and my experience may help you.

My journey may be different from yours, but most of us are on some kind of quest.  The common theme is a lifestyle change.

Quit smoking. Stop drinking.  Start exercising.  Stop cursing. Be more positive. Eat better. Spend more time with your children.  Become more timely.  Or something else.

We often identify a behavior that we want to change.  The practice is often a mindless habit like brushing our teeth, driving our kids to school, or getting dressed in the morning. Our awareness becomes dull, and we mindlessly perform tasks. Converting to a plant-based diet requires a shift in consciousness, which is not automatic.

Giving up chicken, turkey, seafood, and dairy products require mindfulness.  Each week that has passed represent my success.  Every new week serves as an opportunity to improve.  I expect hiccups and when (not if) they happen, I won’t beat myself up.

I intend to share my successes, my failures, and my thoughts with you. I want to inspire you to do what you’ve wanted to do but lack the confidence or discipline to execute.

In the wellness profession, numerous models for change exist. To effectively implement change in your life, you’ll need more than a desire.  A plan with concrete steps will put you on the path to a lifestyle of improvement.  To help you with you the change you desire, stay tuned for a Guide to Life Improvement.

Keeping with the weekly theme of introducing new food each week, this week, I tried unfamiliar foods but also cooked and combined some of my favorite veggies that I have never paired before.

  • Red Quinoa – It has a nuttier flavor than the regular quinoa. I cooked 1 Cup in  2 Cups of organic vegetable broth, and 1 Tablespoon of olive oil.

img_5581

  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Acorn Squash.  The Acorn Squash is a first for me. I found a Youtube video to instruct me on the best way to cut the squash.  I don’t always measure so I’m estimating ; 2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil, granulated garlic powder, 2 Tablespoons of Ponzu Sauce (Citrus Seasoned Soy Sauce), & some new (to me) Japanese spice I found, Shichimi Togarashi (Chilies, Sesame Seeds, Orange Peel, Salt, Garlic, Pepper, Seaweed, Ginger).  I combined all the ingredients in a bowl, stirred it well and placed the veggies on a cookie sheet. I baked them at 350 degrees for about 45 min or so.  The outcome?   Amazing!!

IMG_5593

  • Dinner!

IMG_5594

  • Lentils (plant-based protein) and Sauteed Kale – Nothing new here. Merely a combination of two of my favorites.  I cook the lentils in the crockpot.  Super easy.  Chop 1 Jalapeno pepper, 1 medium sweet onion and toss them in the crockpot.  Add lentils or beans of choice (black-eyed peas, black beans, etc..), season with a generous amount of garlic powder and ground ginger.  Add 1 1/2 carton (48 oz) of vegetable broth (prefer low sodium) or 32 oz of vegetable broth and 16 oz. of water.  Cover and cook on low (6 hours) or high (4 hours).  Serve plain, over brown or black rice, spaghetti squash, whole wheat pasta, or something else.

IMG_5596

  • Cauliflower & Carrots – I seasoned the carrots with Kerrigold butter (natural, grass-fed, hormone-free cows’ milk on cooperative dairy farms). Yup! As I melted the butter, I realized it is dairy, so eventually, I need to find a replacement.  Anyways, I seasoned the carrots with the Ponzu sauce, granulated garlic powder, and a little raw honey in a bowl, then placed them on a baking sheet.
  • I seasoned the Cauli with olive oil, garlic, a dash of salt, and the Japanese spice in a bowl, stirred them well and placed them on a separate cookie sheet.
  • I baked both at 350. I think they cooked for about an hour.  They still at a crunch.
  • For a blend of contrasting flavors, I combined the two.  Yummy!

IMG_5626

I remembered… when in doubt, substitute a vegetable for meat.  So here’s Monday’s dinner. It was delicious, but I have to watch my portions!  It’s time to get the scale out. Today we worked legs at the gym. The combination of kale, quinoa, cauliflower, and black-eyed peas gives me about 17 grams of protein. Not bad for a newbie needing protein.

IMG_5632

Finally, I made time to cook Kale Chips.  Crunchy baked chips are fantastic!  Olive oil, a dash of sea salt, and a sprinkle of ground cayenne pepper.  Lord!  These were my dessert!

IMG_5636

For more kale chips later in the week, I have extra kale already cleaned and cut. Heey!!

IMG_5637

One final note.  Earlier this week, I was tested at Longhorn.  My son and I always share the calamari appetizer.  He ordered, and I did not taste even one.  Yay!!!   Before we got to the restaurant, I mentally prepared and wasn’t in the least bit bothered.  I ordered my favorite strawberry salad without the chicken and the raspberry vinegarette on the side with an order of fries.

Passing on the calamari wasn’t a struggle.  I’m surprised and very pleased.  Who knows what this week will bring but I’m ready.  In one week, I will have gone an entire month for the first time ever without meat and dairy (except for the butter in my carrots, last weeks, dairy coffee creamer, and two weeks ago’s one piece of calamari).  I’m flipping thrilled because it has NOT been a struggle.

I feel fantastic and look forward to discovering more about myself on my vegan challenge.

Until next time!  Smooches!