Environmental Wellness

I’m inspired to share a blog created by a friend who is immersing herself in an amazing educational journey, facing her fears head on, and fulfilling her dreams of making a positive difference for the Earth through environmental stewardship and a very involved internship.

Check her stories out and experience beautiful Alaska: http://environmentfortheamericas.WordPress.com/

I want to thank you for following my blog! Since I have your attention, I’ll take the opportunity to share my thoughts about consumer responsibility. The United States is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions over the last century, over 22%. Whether or not you believe that global warming is a reality, I believe all nations should take more responsibility for their choices in consumption and the associated impacts those choices have, so that we leave a lovely clean planet for our children.

Can you ride a bike, take the bus, or walk to work or school once in a while?

Can you vow to decline single-use plastic bags as much as possible?

Do you recycle every bit of plastic you can? This is a significant act. Plastic is so pervasive in our society and economy. It’s a petroleum-based material, so the more we can move away from buying and using plastic containers, clothes (I know, I love fleece, too!), bags, toys (so hard!), furniture, dishes, and pretty much everything else, the less we have to destroy our earth and water resources (and ultimately ourselves) to get more petroleum.

We all know this, but how much do we practice it? Recycling can be a chore, it’s messy, and mysterious (where I live, apparently our recyclables are sent to China). However, it really gives one a reality check about how much waste is produced by one person or a family. The plastic bags alone are staggering. Once you start collecting every little wrapper, piece of plastic wrap, and bag, you’ll soon have your own gyre (5gyres.org) growing behind the garage (because I keep forgetting to bring it to the local recycling outlet).

When I start to imagine every household that doesn’t divert plastic from landfills or improperly disposes of it, I see lots of animals suffering and ugly new mountain ranges of garbage rising around us.

Find a patch of green space in your urban neighbourhood and start a community garden. C’mon, if not you, who? Many hands make small work.

Look at children. Imagine the world they will inherit from us. Look at your lifestyle and examine the ramifications ¬†your daily choices, habits, purchases might have ….Then multiply it by our population numbers and imagine, feel the cumulative effects. It makes your head spin. It’s overwhelming to think about the driving political and commercial interests behind it all, but small changes and community efforts can have a big impact.

Create a petition! Change.org has an online tool. This is a tremendously effective way to create positive change by effecting policies and making your voice heard by your representatives. After all, if they are representing you, hold them accountable for what matters to you and the kids and the elders of the Earth (they are sensitive). It doesn’t take too much time.

Look into Hemp as biofuel. The U of Connecticut has done a study about it. In California, Governor Brown signed SB 566, legalizing industrial hemp in our state! Very exciting! Nothing to fear about drugs, but rather a wonderful and sustainable resource that can supply textiles, paper, foods, and fuel. Google it to be amazed. Imagine the possibilities.

Study astronomy and cosmos. Once you know about space and Earth ‘s miraculous position in our tiny corner of the universe, you’ll feel at once extremely insignificant and incredibly important, yet fragile. At least, that’s how I feel…. We are an infinitesimal speck in the granduer of the cosmos, yet our beautiful planet and the beings upon it are glorious miracles to be beheld with awe, protected, and respected.

Have a clean & positive day. Be wise and well. If not you, who. If not now, when?

Relationship harmony

Although I have to say it’s always a work in progress, I can say that I’ve found many ways to improve my relationships. I’ll start with…gosh, where do I start?

Gratitude

Write down what you’re thankful for, no matter how small, every day.

Tell those you’re with what you appreciate about them often.

Ask for (or pray for, if you do that) what you want out of each day (I am a big fan of writing everything down) from God, the universe, yourself, etc. This is the law of attraction…attract what you want, make it principle-driven. For example, I have 2 kids, so I might ask for patience, understanding, wisdom, calm, and lots of money! Just kidding…or not ūüôā

Google affirmations for (fill in the blank for your issue), print them out, cut them up, & put them in a jar or bowl. Read a few each day. For example, maybe you’d look up “affirmations for creating a loving relationship”. Or make up your own:

“My husband loves me deeply”, “my relationship has many moments of harmony every day”, “I recognize the things that I can change”, “I decide to make small, positive changes today” , “I show gratitude often today”, you get the idea. Yes, you’ll feel like Stuart Smalley¬†on SNL, but they really help!

Create a special place to hang happy pictures of you & person with whom you want to improve relations.

Consider going to therapy if it’s bad! Sometimes you just need someone to listen to you. Even if the other person doesn’t go with you, at least you’ll work through stuff you need to and might get help learning how to deal. Just make sure the advice you’re given doesn’t hurt other people…I’ve seen that happen. Try to find someone who is healing, nurturing, etc.

Paraphrase: when someone blurts out something hurtful, instead of reacting, simply stay calm and ask, “so what you’re saying is….(insert your understanding of comment here)?”

Example: “That idea is stupid!”

You say, “so what you’re saying is that you think my idea is not very smart? ”

“Yes!”

This kind of dissipates the intensity and gets dialogue moving in a more mature direction.

Actually, now I realize that I’m delving into the conflict resolution course, so I’ll save that kind of stuff for later.

Read the Venus and Mars books on female/male relations. I read the one about how we handle stress differently. It has some very interesting insights, helpful nuggets, and compelling points. Bottom line, men need cave time & to feel gratitude, women need to be listened to & not fixed.

Installment 1 of many , over for now…good luck!

I’ve almost reached my goal

I’ve left some posts unfinished, like the last one about relationships, but I guess that’s just how my blog will be…I’m going to jump around and share what’s current, just because.

So, seven weeks ago, I decided I needed to get serious about losing weight. Although I’m pretty fit, eat a fairly healthy diet, and am in relatively good health, I did notice my clothes fitting tighter and the numbers starting to slowly climb on the scale.

For the last two years, I’ve tried (not super hard) to at least maintain my post-partum weight, which was lower than it had been for about 8 years. Then, over the last few months, I succumbed to stress and fell in love with refined carbs again. Tortilla chips, my favorite brand of Costco bread, and chocolate, to name a few.

“I love to eat! I don’t care about getting a little heavier, I don’t want to give anything up!” That’s been my mindset lately. Pair that with a pesky hip issue that’s hindering my ability to run or even walk long distances, and I was facing ¬†a perfect recipe for weight gain.

A company I’ve partnered with for the last few years, helped renew my resolve to really look at my life and set some goals. The company launched a national challenge to lose 10% of one’s body weight, as a goal to realize basic health improvements. Support groups, research-based nutritional products, healthy tips, and prizes were available to keep participants motivated and accountable.

Although I did register to participate in the challenge, I decided to pursue my own leadership path along with lots of help from the larger community engaging together. ¬†Since I used to train large groups in goal setting and fitness, I created a mini workshop for myself and others. ¬†My intent was to complete the activity for myself, then enlist others to join me in making positive changes this year. ¬† I felt like I should offer this service for free, for anyone so inclined to let me help them each their goals; then, if and when the goals are achieved, maybe I can use testimonials and turn it into a viable coaching service someday! But I digress…

If you read some of the earlier posts about weight loss, you’ll find more info on what worked for me. The starting point was to create a S.M.A.R.T. goal, then work through all of the personal “why’s”, potential obstacles, strategies to overcome them, tools or resources needed, etc.

(This, and more, is part of my workshop, so if you want to go through it with me, let me know, and we’ll connect)

Then, I decided to get into the weight loss mind set by reading simple how-to and self-help books (see other posts for resources). Even though I’ve been through a rigorous fitness certification program and trained people on this very topic, I felt it was important to look at different perspectives and stories to see if anything new resonated with me…and lots did!

The result?

(Drum roll) I’m three pounds and 2.5 weeks away from achieving my goal: to lose 10 pounds in 8-10 weeks (safe weight loss is 1-2 pounds/week)…yay for me! I feel lots better.

Here’s what helped:

Keep a food diary on a calendar on the fridge! Write every morsel and sip down. This action alone helped me reduce portions, become aware of areas I needed to improve, and make better choices, because everyone could see it in plain view! Accountability, people. It’s important.

Recognize true hunger vs craving. Experiment: try to let yourself get hungry a few times (unless you have special health concerns related to blood sugar or other dietary issues). Ask yourself if it’s nutrient dense or just darn tasty? Drink a full glass of water or tea, then decide. ¬†Distract yourself. Gnaw on some raw veggies. Be mindful of your energy expenditure/caloric intake radio…is the latter exceeding the former?

Take body measurements. It’s fun to do it again, after you’ve reached your goal(s).

Eat what you like still, but try to eat a little less of it at any given sitting. Speaking of that, sit down, slow down, and think about the energy required to bring that food into your life at that moment.  Mindful eating.

I can recommend some effective natural products that can act as an “insurance policy” as you’re making some changes…let me know if you’re interested. I prefer to promote lifelong, nutritional and behavioral lifestyle changes, but sometimes it helps to get extra, temporary help to jump start new patterns and help you stay motivated by seeing quick results. I do benefit from one of them a little, as part of my wellness business, so thanks ūüôā Youth programs in my area also benefit, so thanks from them, too! And, of course you will definitely benefit. That’s what all this is about, right?

Exercise some every day (please check with your doctor first). If you’ve never done it, all it takes is starting to move your large muscle groups for 5-10 minutes a day. Back, legs, arms, chest. Simple things like sit in a chair, engage your abdominal muscles (draw navel towards spine), do some arm raises, and seated stepping for 4 weeks. Then, add another 10- minute session just standing up and then back down in a chair. Do all moves for another 4 weeks. There are soooo many simple ways to start using your own body weight as resistance to gain strength and function.

Let me know if you’d like to discuss home-based exercise routines or basic guidelines for exercise.

Celebrate small successes! Not with heaps of comfort food, however!

Say often, “enough is a feast”. Write it down somewhere you can see it.

Play around with portion reduction.

Let veggies take up most of the space on your plate.

Check out greattastenopain.com.  She is a prolific nutrition writer, so be prepared for LOTS of content, but she has free downloads and good info on keeping your system alkaline vs acidic.

Let me know if you want to join me in creating positive life changes by 12-13-14! It’s a cosmic date (numerologists help me out here), or just seems significant in my mind. We’ve had sequential dates like that for the past few years (10-11-12,11-12-13, etc), but this is the last time for another 90+ years until it will happen again. So let it be a symbol to make this year your best! Whether it’s weight loss or other personal goals, I’d love to help share some gifts.

How are your relationships?

It’s amazing how just one person can effect a relationship, for better or for worse. So much can be written on this topic because we have so many different types of relationships, and each type may require very different strategies to maintain or create harmony.

I’d like to simply share some tools I’ve found and tried with relative success. I’ll write soon about the following:

Interpersonal conflict resolution and communication …this is a whole course in itself!

Transformative exercises that can shift perspectives

Simple strategies for finding peace within yourself

Attitude adjustment inspiration

Books, blogs, websites, resources

motivation

“If you focus only on results, you won’t see change. If you focus on change, you will see results”

I’ve created a mini workshop for effective goal setting. Get some friends together and let’s reach new personal heights together! It’s working for me…I’ve lost 6 out of the 10 pounds I’m trying to lose. ¬†Most importantly, I’m making healthier choices …I feel better already.

Since it’s challenging to always eat the way we know we are supposed to, ¬†I¬†want to share some quick recipe/prep ideas to make eating more veggies, morning, noon, and night easier.

Shred veggies and toss them in eggs for a tasty, healthy scramble.

Shred veggies, pat dry, and toss them in during the final 30 seconds of cooking breakfast potatoes.

Make a green drink every day. Use spinach, kale, chard, any dark, leafy green. Blend or juice some oranges or kiwi and you’ve got a powerful glass full of vitamins. If you don’t have a juicer, you should! However, they can be spendy, so a blender and a seive will work.

Lettuce wrap: tuna, shredded veggies, touch of favorite dressing wrapped in lettuce leaves. Add a smidge of hummus or another favorite spread. Skipping the bread sometimes can help you feel lighter. The fullness you feel will be from nutrient-dense vegetables and low-fat proteins.

Yes, shredded veggies are so versatile, easy to eat (especially for kids), quick to prep (kids can help!), Can be added to anything in a raw or nearly raw state because of the small pieces. Veggies thinly sliced (use the slicer on the cheese grater to save time) and tossed in a pan (for only a few seconds at the end) with some tofu and Bragg’s liquid aminos, Spike flavoring, curry powder, or whatever you like.

KALE is a super leafy green full of goodness. Here are my favorite ways to eat it:

Chopped thinly, mid rib removed, and sprinkled over pizza dough, before the sauce goes on. It’s hidden, so kids eat it!

Kale chips:  toss leaves in extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed, or coconut oil and drench in favorite flavorings, such as crushed red peppers or a nut butter/seed blend, chopped garlic , salt & pepper,etc. Bake on very low temp ~175-200 until crisp or use a dehydrator.

Almond butter and miso kale chips recipe : http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/kale-chips-with-almond-butter-and-miso

Kale salad: I found a recipe on the back of a pearled pasta box that’s basically a few handfuls of shredded kale, juice of a lemon, juice of 1 /2 orange, toasted walnuts, cranberries, a touch of sweetener like honey, lemon and orange zest to taste, salt n pepper, and grain or pasta of choice (l like Israeli pearled couscous or kamut). Toss and let sit for a while in fridge.

Stay tuned

More on weight loss for health

I love simplicity. One summer, a mom at school came back after summer break having lost a noticeable amount of weight. I asked her what she did. She just said, “portion control”. Yes, how beautifully simple. What I like about it, also, is that she most likely continued to eat foods she loved. Of course, I would always think about her and try to reduce my portions, but I really wasn’t.

I am an emotional eater. I graze a lot when I’m at home. Sometimes it’s an avoidance activity: clean? again?!! ¬†Hmm, I feel like some chips and salsa! So, my portion controlling was ok during meals, but not in between. What finally helped is to set a SMART goals (in previous post), and read some books.

I just read a sample from a book called, “The Thin Woman’s Brain: Re-wiring the Brain for Permanent Weight Loss“, by Dilia Suriel. The take away for me has been to really reevaluate my relationship with food and hunger. Another one, “How to Lose Weight: Cutting a Finer Figure. A Step by step guide to achieving natural and sustainable weight loss…“, by Victoria Chambers was also cheap and basic.

Key points:

  • Set goals to writing
  • Let yourself get hungry. See how it feels.
  • Don’t treat hunger as an emergency
  • Learn to feel the difference between hunger and craving
  • Drink a glass of water when you’re hungry
  • Say, “I choose” or “I prefer” not to eat (insert poor food choice here) instead of “I can’t” or “I’m not allowed to” eat said food because you’re on restriction. This gives the power back to you.
  • After you’ve allowed yourself to experience true hunger, also feel how bad overeating might make you feel and compare each to when you’ve made healthful, nutrient-dense food choices and followed wise portion amounts.
  • It takes time to create new neural pathways for eating behaviors. Think of an image of visiting a new neighbor that needs to have a new trail trodden to get there. Over time, the path will be worn and familiar with repeated excursions in that direction.
  • Observe your habits as an outsider. When do you overindulge? What are your triggers? Why? Dig deeper.
  • Busy yourself with something else, and you may forget the craving.
  • Tea, soup, smoothies with raw veggie/fruit juice & frozen banana are great diversions for unhealthy snacking.

These are some other important points:

  • Cease eating 3 hours before bed!!! This is VERY EFFECTIVE. Your body will be in fasting mode at bed time versus actively digesting. Just this one step alone can speed up weight loss for people who are late-night, after-dinner snackers.
  • Eat lots of fruit for breakfast. Add a smidge of plain, greek yogurt with a light sprinkling of granola. Key: mostly fruit. Healthy, filling, fiber-rich, vitamin-filled. Choose organic. Pesticide residue can affect thyroid function and metabolism. Nutrient density is also higher in local, organic produce.
  • Try to fill every plate with 50-70% raw (or lightly steamed) vegetables or fruit. Sound unappealing? Set a goal to do it for only one week. ONE WEEK OUT OF YOUR WHOLE LIFE. Is that doable? Then write down how it made you feel. I’ll give recipes soon! Just one time, try this: buy veggies and fruit in 5 different colors. For example, buy a cups worth of red, orange, yellow, green, and purple veggies (bell pepper, carrot, squash, kale, cabbage/ apple, orange, banana, kiwi, blueberries). Then, put 5 handfuls of the veggies and three handfuls of the fruit on a platter. It’s a lot! This amount would actually be quite filling, and it’s what all beings should be eating (in varying proportions according to body size). If we could ideally get used to doing this every day, then it would be readily available for easy snacking. Yes, it takes time, but trying it for one week may be manageable…by then, it could become habit-forming! If it’s within your sight and prepared, it’s so much easier to choose that over the processed alternatives that our bodies really aren’t designed to digest.
  • If you don’t have access to organic produce, I’ll be sharing info about growing your own food, which can save lots of $$.
  • Try to sit down, slow down, chew food more, and think about all of the energy that went into creating whatever you’re eating. Becoming more Mindful when eating is a very effective way to both enjoy your food more, think about how it’s nourishing you, and the effects your choices have as a consumer.
  • Make an effort to research ingredients found in processed foods. It’s astounding what these foods contain and what they do to our bodies over time. Environmental working group is an excellent site.

OTHER FACTORS:

  • Make an effort to research ingredients found in personal care and household consumer products. They can have significant, cumulative effects on health, because the industry is largely unregulated. I have some great resources for eliminating toxins from your home and personal care choices. Our skin is our largest organ. EWG.
  • Exercise is key. To lose weight, you must create a CALORIE DEFICIT. This doesn’t mean you have to measure food and count calories. Just get a general sense of calories burned versus consumed in any given day. Empty calories add up fast. Sometimes exercise can add stress, because it’s hard to fit it in. I hope to overcome that, as well as find ways to help with motivation.
  • Keep your muscles! If you’re over 35, your muscles start to atrophy at a faster rate if you continue to be inactive. Keep this in mind if you want to have a higher quality of life in old age.
  • Try stretching. Doing yoga doesn’t have to mean becoming a pretzel. Simple, basic classes are wonderful for maintaining RANGE OF MOTION in areas of your body, a function that declines significantly with age. Yoga also ensures that proper oxygen flow is present throughout your body, it strengthens muscles, and can even be cardiovascular, depending on how it’s done. Capability to perform daily functions is incredibly enhanced with yoga practice.

More soon

Long-term, healthy weight loss

Doesn’t sound fun or instantly gratifying, but it’s the best way to achieve true vitality. This is always a hot topic this time of year, as people make resolutions, receive offers of discount fitness memberships, and see lots of svelte, fit bodies on every media outlet possible.

Here’s my stance:

Trendy diets, deprivation (i.e. skipping meals and/or radically changing food choices), extreme regimes, hyped solutions for weight loss most likely won’t work for the long-term…at least they haven’t for me. That being said, I do try to see if I can learn any valuable tips from new research, fitness strategies, etc.

The fundamentals of healthy eating are pretty widely known, but putting them into practice is an entirely different matter. ¬†It’s most likely common knowledge that we should be eating 5 servings of veggies and 3 servings of fruit a day, but do we really do that? Some may not know that a protein serving should be about the size of a deck of cards. How often do we exceed or fall short of that? Yes, whole grains and complex carbohydrates are best, but in our busy society, the quick and easy processed kinds are much more convenient. Sugar, sugar, sugar…it’s in nearly everything we purchase from the store. That ingredient, alone, contributes significantly to weight gain and retention. It’s so darn good! Again, I’m not into deprivation, because I think comfort is so important in life! I love my chocolate and tortilla chips.

A simple start to healthy weight loss:

  • Buy a good-quality scale, but please don’t use it too much! Weight naturally goes up and down, and too much focus on weight can create pitfalls.
  • Make or buy a calendar or journal. This will be useful for setting daily and weekly mini goals. One of the most powerful exercises you can do is to also WRITE DOWN EVERY BIT OF FOOD AND DRINK THAT ENTERS YOUR MOUTH EVERY DAY FOR ONE WEEK. You might just surprise yourself.
  • Figure out what 10% of your body weight is. Just put a decimal place after first two digits. This amount of weight loss can significantly improve your health.
  • Set a specific date in the future that will provide for 1-2 pounds per week of weight lost. That’s the SAFEST and most sustainable rate. If you’re very overweight, it might be a bit more at first because of water weight lost initially. So, for example, say I need to lose 10 pounds, based on the 10% calculation (I’m actually lessening that actual amount for my weight, just to ensure some initial success for myself). I would then divide that by 1 or 2 (for pounds lost/week), and set my target date for 5-10 weeks from now. Maybe I’d shoot for 8 weeks as a midway point and to allow for some off days.

So, if I weighed 165 pounds. I would put a decimal after the 6: 16.5 pounds would be 10% of my weight. I set my goal at 10 pounds, just as a starting point.

If I divided 16.5 by 1 or 2, my safe weight loss range target date range would be 8-16 weeks or 1-2 months to achieve the goal. Again, for the lower initial goal of 10 #, my date range would be 5-10 weeks.

I like to give myself plenty of time, so that if I do lose more in one week, then maybe I’ll have cause to celebrate earlier! It’s always important to set yourself up for success.

  • Set your goals in writing. 75-95% of people who write down goals achieve them! Make them S.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. More on this later.
  • Start learning about how vegetables and fruits benefit your body. I mean how the specific vitamins in raw, organic, whole foods are actually processed inside and out by your amazing machine! No need to change anything at this point, but look up one color of each/day, for example.

Stay tuned ….

 

Wellness Gifts

I’ve come to an interesting stage in my life. Although I still feel young in many ways, I’m also experiencing changes in my health that indicate the fact that I’m officially aging! Although it can be unpleasant sometimes, I’ve decided to take a very proactive approach to making this year, and all of the rest of my years, the best I can possibly make them. ¬†People all around me, my age, are battling cancer, heart disease, and other serious maladies, so life has become even more precious to me.

Although I’ve never been too interested in blogs, the decision to plunge into this realm of communication results from a simple, yet compelling desire to share lots of positive life experiences, skills, strategies, and more with as many interested folks as possible. ¬†At the risk of seeming pretentious, I feel that I’ve lived a full life already, so it’s time to start sharing the gifts I’ve been given, for whatever they’re worth.

What is wellness? I think it touches every area of life.

1. the¬†quality¬†or¬†state¬†of¬†being¬†healthy¬†in¬†body¬†and¬†mind [finances, relationships, home, personal time–my addition to definition],¬†especially¬†as¬†the¬†result¬†of¬†deliberate¬†effort.
2. an approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases.

My intent is to write about wellness from a perspective that can make positive changes feasible for most people. ¬†My hope is that anyone so inclined will join me in a discussion. After all, I do not profess to be any kind of expert, but I’ve worked and studied diligently in all areas of wellness in my life, and have achieved some meaningful results (always a work in progress).

Some things I will be sharing: Quick, tasty, healthy recipes; structured goal setting; basic exercise and nutrition principles; weight loss resources, tips and strategies;¬†growing food (and maybe catching it); ideas for stress reduction; coping strategies for grief; staying organized; positive parenting resources; wise food and consumer choices; living green; tricks for overcoming sleeplessness; dealing with challenging relationships;¬†even dog training?! ; interpersonal conflict resolution/communication; debt reduction; ….the whole nine yards, and then some, I guess!