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How I Prioritize Caring for Me

Women in general have a hard time with it….
How dare you think of prioritizing yourself when you have ALL THE THINGS to look after?
Is that how you see yourself? Are you someone who tends to put everyone else’s needs first? Are you feeling drained or stressed or less well than you’d like?

You do realize, don’t you, how ridiculous it is to pour from an empty pitcher? It’s the same with your own energy and reserves.

How can you possibly give your best if you’re not looking after your own health and well being first?

Are you wanting to learn how to get good at creating rituals that support your best self?

If you are, you’re going to want to begin by making very small changes that will slowly but surely change how you view yourself.

Here’s how I go about it.

In order to make anything into a habit, I have the what, where, and when already figured out.

One of the first things I do after I wake up is to drink two full glasses of water, one of which contains a bit of raw apple cider vinegar. This serves to hydrate my body (it gets dehydrated during the night) and helps alkalize the system.

I have room-temperature water ready and waiting on the counter from the night before. I have the ACV nearby. I know I’ll do it as soon as I step into the kitchen. Voila! An easy, no-thinking-required health-supporting habit.

I am a person who hydrates and alkalizes first thing!

My next what-where-when is to gather my phone with the meditation app “Insight Timer,” walk to my designated meditation space and sit for whatever time I have that day. This follows right after the water ritual. Meditation is fabulous for managing stress and not difficult if you start with only a few minutes and lower your expectations about quieting your mind!

I am a person who meditates every day!

No self-care plan would be complete without including some movement each day. Of course, your choice of workout or other movement depends on what lights you up. Forcing yourself to do something you detest will not be helpful.

For me, my what-where-when looks like deciding what my body wants that day – will it be yoga, core exercises, a few vigorous intervals, or maybe some resistance work (sometimes all of the above!)? Whatever I do, I change it up a little each day. It takes place in the same room and right after my meditation practice.

If you’re not already committed to a movement practice of some kind, I recommend starting with just five minutes of an activity you think you might like. It could be walking, dancing around the kitchen, or playing something silly with the kids or the dog. It definitely doesn’t have to involve a gym membership – unless that’s your thing.

I am a person who exercises regularly!

Of course, the same principles apply to any new behavior you want to make your own.

  1. Figure out why you want to make the change.
  2. Decide how you’ll incorporate it into your existing routine with the what, where, and when.
  3. Start doing the thing – but for just a few minutes. Keep at it.
  4. Shift in belief happens.

You see how a few minutes of anything practiced frequently will change how you see yourself? It’s sneaky!

And that, my friends, is how you and I prioritize caring for ourselves.

If you want my help shifting beliefs and habits related to your health, please fill out the contact form here.

The Power of Hope

We’ve all felt some measure of overwhelm, exhaustion, and fear of the future this year. Would you agree?

There’s a lot going on. Especially with the pandemic, there’s a tendency for many of us to feel hopeless.

Yet, when everything seems hopeless, we miss out on precious moments of our lives.

I want to tell you the story of my son Brandon, who never lost hope.

From the time he learned to walk, Brandon was prone to getting bumps and bruises and cuts on his head. As he got older, his accidents became increasingly serious. When he was a teenager, he fell off a roof and was struck in the head by a 300 lb. piece of equipment.

He later totaled his dad’s car when it hit a tree head-on and narrowly missed jamming the engine through the dashboard. Around this time, he went from being an honor-roll student to failing most of his classes.

Unbeknownst to us, he began using drugs to self-medicate the distress he felt in his brain. I believe he had an undiagnosed traumatic brain injury that later manifested as schizophrenia.

There were many years when we lived the nightmare of his addiction to meth and other hard drugs. When Brandon was 32 years old, his father died. His stepdad and I took him in, because he seemed shaken enough to want to get free of the drugs.

That lasted only a short while before he couldn’t resist hanging with his drug buddies, flaunting our agreements and becoming surly. We were forced to kick him out.

I didn’t know for well over a year whether he was alive or dead.

One day I received a call from him. He had been accepted into a group mental health facility. He was clean and on medication for his schizophrenia-like symptoms. I was thrilled that he was getting help.

We set up an arrangement for him to come to my bodywork office once a week to receive craniosacral treatments and enjoy a Mom-made lunch I’d bring from home. Although it was a long journey by light-rail, he would faithfully keep his appointments.

We’d also have him come to our house for dinner sometimes and for holidays and other outings. We built a close, loving relationship during that time.

Whenever one of my other clients would see him in passing, they would always remark about what a loving heart he had. He was a bright light in a very distressed body.

The antipsychotic medications he was on caused tremendous weight gain so that he became morbidly obese. Those same medications caused unbearable side effects that he was then prescribed other medications to control.

None of it worked very well. He still was persecuted by voices in his head. He couldn’t tolerate noise and chaos without becoming panicked.

Yet he faithfully showed up every week for his appointment. Of course I was his biggest cheerleader. He would ask for advice on things that could help his condition, but given his lack of funds and living situation, there wasn’t a lot he could do.

He never gave up hope, though.

One day in February 2016, he came in and was very excited that his counselor had arranged for him to get acupuncture treatments, a gym membership, and he had applied to the local community college to take a class.

It looked like his life was really going to turn around.

As he was leaving that day, he turned to me and said, “You know, Mom, I still believe I can have the life of my dreams.”

I responded, “I know you can, honey! I love you.”

Those were the last words we ever spoke to each other. Late the next evening, police came to our door to inform us that my son was deceased.

Through my shock and heartbreak, stories came forward of how everyone in the group home had special regard for my son. His counselor especially told me how three of his clinicians used the word “Sunshine” to describe him. One said, “If only I could have that much ambition in my own life….” She, of course, meant hope and determination.

The counselor also told me that he had moments of relief and genuine happiness toward the end. He made the most of the opportunities for fun, learning, and healing that he had.

Despite the labels, despite the discomfort he endured, despite all his challenges, he left the world believing that he could still have the life of his dreams.

None of us is promised tomorrow. With hope, we can be strong for what we want. We can notice what is beautiful and nourishing right now. And we can find moments of relief and genuine happiness in our day-to-day life. That is the power of hope!

 

How Do You Eat?

Have you ever tried your hand at making a mandala? I hadn’t, until a friend of mine invited me to an online workshop to learn how.

What I came up with was a handful of contrasting emotions that I attempted to portray in the design.

Come to think of it, these are all feelings I’ve been ping-ponging through my whole life. But at least some of them, I think, have been heightened since we’ve been hunkered down with the pandemic.

Have you thought about what happens in your body when you feel unsafe or alarmed?

Usually when I’ve talked with women entrepreneurs about their health questions, most of them tell me they just want to know what to eat.

Should they be keto? Paleo? Vegan? Low FODMAP? Low fat raw? What about nightshades and grains?

Maybe you’ve tried one or more of the above or some other that I didn’t mention. There’s certainly no shortage of opinions, recommendations, and scientific data available to consider.

However, it strikes me that almost everyone I know is in a state of high-alert right now. With fear of Covid-19, physical isolation, having to wear masks, work schedules disrupted, school schedules disrupted, and so many other activities curtailed, most of us are affected in one way or another. Not to mention all the other things going on in our world.

Whenever there’s a constant aggravation of our nervous system, the body gets stuck in a fight-flight-or-freeze state.

In that case, you can be eating all the right foods, taking all the right supplements, and doing all the things – and your body won’t make good use of them. You may not absorb the nutrients from your food or you may develop sensitivities you didn’t have before.

In the sympathetic fight-or-flight state, your body prioritizes survival above all else. Because of what occurs with the energy generators in the cells – the mitochondria – your energy is sapped, and your cells don’t repair themselves as well.

The body must be in a calm, healing state in order to make proper use of the carefully-chosen foods you put into it.

To access your healing parasympathetic state before you put anything into your mouth, put my TRUST formula into place:

  • Tune in to your body’s sensations and simply notice what you feel.
  • Release any tension that you detect with some gentle breaths and a calming mental suggestion such as, “Shoulders, relax. Belly, relax.”
  • Uplevel your stress-handling repertoire by exploring tools and techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and tapping.
  • Slow down and really pay attention to your food, savoring each bite as you chew slowly and thoroughly. The adage, “Liquefy your solids and chew your liquids,” points to the fact that digestion benefits when foods are in contact with the saliva and digestive enzymes in the mouth for an extended time.
  • Thankfulness is a great antidote to stress. When sitting down to eat, pause in gratitude for the plants, animals, farmers, grocery stores, and all else that made your meal possible.

The more you can calm your nervous system, the more your energy will increase, the better your digestion will function, and the more likely you’ll be to make the exact right dietary choices for your body.

As for me, I need to focus on the “delighted, peaceful, confident” feelings of my mandala as I sit down to my made-with-love healthful meal. That’s the best way to get all the benefits.

 

5 Good Reasons I Don’t Do Keto

 

Why Balanced Nutrition Wins Out Every Time

 

It may be all the rage right now, but it turns out the ketogenic diet is quite controversial. While its adherents claim great benefits in terms of weight loss and it’s sometimes recommended for neurological disorders and insulin-related conditions, apparently the research is far from settled.

 

In case you aren’t familiar with the diet though, it’s basically a very low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that puts the body in a metabolic state called ketosis. It changes the way the body uses fuel and is something that exists in people during starvation.

 

Instead of the usual fuel sources – glycogen and triglycerides, which are stored in the liver – the body is forced to burn ketones. Ketones don’t cause weight loss, though. They are signs that the body is unable to burn its triglycerides. If that sounds like it’s messing with Mother Nature, well, it is.

 

Here are five reasons why I don’t do keto and why I find it questionable.

 

  1. It eliminates an entire macronutrient.

    Our cells are made up of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Mostly eliminating carbohydrates means limiting fruits, legumes, grains, and even herbs. In the typical keto formula, carbs must make up no more than 5-10% of the total food consumed. Yet, even dried herbs can add 1-2 grams of carbs – yikes!

  2. It has unpleasant side effects.

While keto enthusiasts tout health benefits such as fewer cravings, improved digestion and gut health, and reduced inflammation, other experts suggest otherwise. A European study showed that folks on the lowest-carb diets had the highest risks of death from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and early death from all other causes.

The keto diet can cause low blood pressure, kidney stones, nutrient deficiencies, constipation and an actual increase in incidence of heart disease. It’s not safe for people with pancreas, liver, thyroid, or gallbladder issues. It can also contribute to disordered eating or worsen an existing unhealthy relationship with food because of its strict requirements.

  1. It’s unsustainable.

Because it restricts fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, it’s missing many vital plant compounds. Diversity in the diet is important for getting the fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants we need for a healthy gut and metabolism.

  1. It messes with your metabolic rate.

When you go off the diet, you gain the weight back but with less lean muscle mass to burn calories. That means you could have a diminished metabolism and more weight woes long-term. Oftentimes, any weight lost comes back with a little extra besides.

  1. It takes the enjoyment out of food.

    For one thing, it makes cooking really difficult. Even protein has to be limited to no more than 20-25% of total calories. This involves too much measuring and calculating in order to truly maintain a state of ketosis.And eliminating all grains, legumes, and most fruits just doesn’t work for me. I strongly advocate for the Mediterranean Diet, which is consistently ranked No. 1 for helping to improve longevity and ward off chronic disease. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein along with very tasty herbs and spices, making it delicious and enjoyable.

 

When the U.S. News panel of experts rank various diets, they look at how following the diet can influence longevity, ward off chronic disease, and how easy it is to follow. The Mediterranean Diet is top-ranked year after year. In contrast, the Keto Diet is ultimately not realistic or sustainable. In restricting almost all of an essential macronutrient, it doesn’t measure up on any of those criteria.

 

For clients of mine who want to eat clean and follow a diet that’s tailored to their needs, I’ll recommend a balanced, nutritious diet with as much variety and diversity as they can handle. It turns out to be the best diet for overall health that there is.

 

I’d love to know what your experience with the Keto Diet has been. You can let me know here.

 

If you like this article, be sure to sign up here for my free ebook: Feed Me Healthy Right Now: My Top Tips for Eating Healthy When You’re in a Hurry. You’ll also receive my newsletter for notifications when there’s a new blog post up.

 

 

 

 

Pasta With Fresh Raw Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

1 pint cherry tomatoes or chopped Roma tomatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion*
1 clove finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup slivered fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
Celtic salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces fusilli or other pasta, whole grain, gluten-free or sourdough

 

Preparation

Cut cherry tomatoes in half or quarters, depending on their size. You want the pieces to be relatively the same size. Combine in a bowl with red onion, garlic, basil, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Allow to stand while pasta cooks.

Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain and place in a serving bowl and top with raw tomato sauce. Garnish with Pecorino Romano cheese and crushed red pepper flakes, if desired.

4 servings

*Note: to take some of the bite out of raw onion, first chop it then place in a strainer and rinse under cold water. Proceed with the recipe.

Nectarines and Blackberries in Red Wine Sauce

Ingredients

3 large ripe nectarines
1 cup blackberries or marionberries
3/4 cup full-bodied red wine such as Barolo or Cabernet Sauvignon
2 tbsp. raw honey
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Dairy or non-dairy yogurt, plain or unsweetened vanilla, to serve

 

Preparation

Blanch the nectarines for 30-60 seconds in boiling water. Plunge into ice water and peel.

In a small saucepan, bring red wine to a simmer. Remove from heat and add honey, cinnamon, and vanilla. Pour mixture into a serving bowl and slice the nectarines into the bowl. Add the berries (frozen work fine if you don’t have fresh) and mix gently.

Chill for several hours in refrigerator. Serve with probiotic-rich yogurt.

Italian Tuna Bean Salad

Ingredients
1/4 cup red onion, chopped small
2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cup cooked or canned white beans, drained
5 ounces canned tuna, drained
1/2 red bell pepper, roasted and cut into thin strips
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley (or basil)
1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon capers, drained
Celtic sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Crushed red pepper, to taste (optional)
Fresh tomatoes, sliced in wedges, to garnish
Sliced romaine or mixed baby greens to serve
Preparation
Chop the red onion and rinse under cold water in a colander. Place onion in a serving bowl and add 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar. Allow to marinate while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Add the rest of the ingredients, except the tomatoes and greens. Mix gently. Taste for seasoning. You can add the extra vinegar and adjust other seasonings to taste. It’s also good with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Serve over a bed of romaine or baby greens.
Serves about 3.

3 Simple Things That Help Your Immune System Deal with Stress

Ah…these times we live in! We’re all feeling the stress in multiple ways. Many are stuck at home, trying to work a full day while taking care of children, homeschooling them, preparing meals, keeping up with household tasks…all while worrying about the pandemic and racism and police brutality and the state of politics and on and on.

 

I happen to be one of the more fortunate ones. I don’t have to leave the house very often. Our children are all grown and on their own. My immune system seems to be fairly resilient. Even so, I feel the stress from concerns about Covid-19, all the aforementioned issues, plus the welfare of our kids and grandkids and, well, the world in general.

 

The media has largely focused on external measures to slow or minimize the spread of this virus. You know them well by now. Wear masks! Stay physically distanced from anyone outside your own household. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. Wipe down surfaces with sanitizing spray. Did I say, “Wear masks”?

 

While there mostly seems to be consensus about the effectiveness of physical distancing measures, I believe there needs to be more attention paid to strengthening our own immune system’s defenses. We do that by giving the immune system what it needs nutritionally and by dealing well with stress.

 

And stress can come in all kinds of ways you may not even be aware of. Sure, there’s the nervous system stress of mental and emotional challenges – worry, difficult relationships, anger, loneliness, fear, helplessness, and financial pressures.

 

There are also physical, chemical, and nutritional stresses we deal with – lack of sleep, lack of sunlight, insufficient or excessive exercise, alcohol, toxins from the environment or personal care products, and eating crap!

 

Ok, take a deep, slow breath…!

 

In fact, deep, slow breathing is one of the best ways to counteract stress. It helps put your nervous system in rest-and-digest mode, so it takes a load off the immune system. Try 4-7-8 breathing throughout the day, that is, inhale for 4 counts, hold for 7, and exhale for 8. Simple and effective.

 

Another really, really important thing to pay attention to is sleep. I don’t know about you, but when I feel particularly stressed, I have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. That’s not a good thing immune-wise.

 

During sleep, the body lowers stress hormones and clears the nervous system of toxins. The sleep chemical melatonin has antioxidant properties that can lessen the tissue damage that occurs with viral infections. All to say, sleep has a huge impact on the effectiveness of your immune system. Do not skimp on sleep!!

 

There are many things to consider for enhancing sleep, such as early morning light exposure, limiting screen time at night, limiting caffeine and alcohol, and paying attention to the environment in the bedroom.

 

Finally, drinking lemon water upon rising is a great detoxifier and alkalizer. It helps digestive strength, rehydrates the cells, and sends your body the message that you care. Lemons have the ability to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and help us feel calm.

 

These are just a few of the ways that help your immune system deal with stress. Staying as relaxed as possible and supporting all our body systems in the best manner we can helps us be better prepared for whatever challenges we face.

 

We’ll reap the long-term benefits of better health overall plus we’ll help everyone around us stay healthier too. Do all the things – external and internal – and we help the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Healthy Body Is the Sexiest Thing You Can Wear

 

That quote was shared by my client RoseAnn after she found real solutions for the nagging health problems that had been plaguing her for years before we worked together.

A healthy body, especially as you get older, is not just a result of winning the genetic lottery. It’s a celebration of your body’s intelligence and capabilities. It’s an honoring of its continual ability to heal itself and to deal with toxins, oxidation, and inflammation.

The media glamorizes celebrities who have access to the best physical trainers, nutritionists, and plastic surgeons. But looking good – or “sexy” – is not the same as thriving n a truly healthy body.

If you want clear, glowing skin, better sleep, and the strength and energy to happily go about your day, it is possible for you. Even if you have chronic health complaints now, creating new habits will bring amazing transformation in the way you look and feel.

There’s nothing sexier than being in a body that delights in all the ways it means to be well.

 

How I Resist the Power of Junk Food in the Throes of COVID-19

Most of us are social-distancing and staying home, myself included. Yet I find myself mildly amused – and quite concerned actually – by all the memes and social media comments alluding to the fact that lots of folks are taking this as an excuse to load up on junk food.

I’ll admit that at times when the Nibble Monster arrives, I will succumb to some gluten-free crackers dipped in hummus or spread with almond butter. And because they are a packaged food – engineered to tickle the tastebuds and encourage gorging – I will eat a few too many of them.

What about you? Do you have trouble resisting the Cheetos or the chips? The ice cream or the Oreos? You might be someone who believes you deserve to treat yourself to those temptations because they’re somehow comforting. But you know deep down that those types of foods or beverages will ultimately tear your body down.

You’ve likely heard it said, “We are what we eat.” Accepting the truth of what that French philosopher, Brillat Savarin, once said, you realize it’s very important to pay attention to what you choose to put into your mouth. What you eat becomes the cells that make up your body!

How do you set yourself up for success, though, when the walls are closing in and your tummy seems to be rumbling?

First of all, you must decide on some guidelines – a framework – and decide to follow it. Quality food is essential to a healthy body.

Educate yourself about healthy alternatives to your favorite snack foods, and stock your pantry and fridge with whole, fresh foods. These include proteins, fats, and fiber-rich carbohydrates like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Know what your trigger foods are, and don’t buy them in the first place and/or remove them from your environment.

Get excited about preparing your own meals and snacks. Research recipes online and block out some time in your day or week to put them together so that they’re available when the Nibble Monster bites.

A short break of physical activity such as walking or doing a few yoga poses can also interrupt a food craving. Physical effort helps your body metabolize stress hormones like cortisol and convinces your system that you’re safe.

The best solution I know of to not have cravings in the first place? Eat enough high-quality food at regular mealtimes. Know what foods work for your body to keep your blood sugar stable. Drink plenty of water and herb tea in between meals. And if you still find yourself searching for a snack, make sure it includes some healthy fat, fiber, and protein.

Here’s a recipe I made recently that fills that bill nicely…. 

Crunchy, Spicy Chickpeas

  • 3 15-oz. cans organic chickpeas (or 4 ½ cups cooked chickpeas)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons good quality salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic granules

Preheat oven to 400º. Drain and rinse chickpeas and dry thoroughly on paper towels.

Spread chickpeas on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake them for 10-15 minutes to dry then out even further and make them crisper once they’re seasoned. Remove from oven.

In a separate bowl, mix all of the spices into the oil and mix well. Add the chickpeas and make sure they are all coated.

Spread them back out on the prepared baking sheet and roast for another 30-40 minutes or until crunchy. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Happy snacking!