Healthy Living

reclaiming health where to start

Welcome! Today is the first installment of a 5 part series entitled "Reclaiming Your Health: Where To Start."  Besides my own journey, I find myself in the path of so many others who are suffering from chronic illness or pain. It is a frustrating road and at times can feel so isolating but there is a wide community of people who are making their way through illness, learning together, supporting each other.  I want to welcome you to that community and encourage you to keep seeking wisdom.  Don't give up, help will find you!

Let's journey on together, shall we?

1deepbreathin

 Reclaiming Your Health: 1- Deep Breath In, Let It Out Slowly

Some of you will find this first step incredibly freeing.  Calming.  Peace in the storm.  Others of you are secretly yelling at me, "I want answers now!"  I've been on both sides of that coin.  I've been on the side that wants to curl up in fetal position with my blankie and have someone tell me that everything is going to be ok.  I've also been on the side that is angry, sick & tired of being sick & tired and just wants the magic pill or magic blood test that will finally fix everything.

Either way, you need to stop and take a deep breath.

If you can I would like you to physically do this, but at the very least, in your imagination I want to you to close your eyes, take a deep breath in through your nose and then let it out slowly through your mouth.  Do it a few times.  Let your shoulders relax, rest your heart and your mind.  Feel the hope and encouragement sink into your soul like a healing balm.

This journey is not a sprint.  I wouldn't really call it a marathon either, although it can feel that way, for sure.  It's more like a wandering, maze of an adventure that you didn't sign up for but are now trying to find a way out of.  At times it's a walk down a well laid path with lots of water and food along the way to refresh you.  Other times its a hike through the wilderness where water is scarce and you are a little scared you might not make it over the next hill.  At times the way to go will be clear and other times you will feel a little lost.

You've been through so much already, it's ok to recognize that.  It's important to recognize it.  Some of you need to give yourself permission to have a good cry over the unfairness of it all.  You were used to "doing it all" and now you're reduced to doing the bare minimum.  You may have to learn a new "normal."  Your old life is just that, old.  Wave goodbye to it as you set out on this new journey.  Blow it some kisses and say thank you for the years it got you through.  Then embrace the new season that you are in today.  It may not be what you had planned, but I promise it can teach you so many wonderful things and bring so many amazing people your way.

Attention perfectionists and control freaks: let it go. You will not be able to control this journey.  If you could, you would have healed yourself by now.  Your dedicated, persistent nature will serve you well on this long journey, but now you need to adopt patience and the ability to accept the things you cannot change. You might get off course and that's ok.  When you're ready, just get back on the trail. If you find yourself up against a road block, instead of fighting it stop and reflect what you can learn from it.  Take it as a signal to stop and rest.  Refuel.  Deep breath in, deep breath out.

Make a pact with yourself right now that you will pace yourself on this journey.  There will be times of fast and furious learning, researching, testing and seeking.  But there will also be times of rest, healing, listening and community. They are both important but our tendency is to want to push, push, push towards the goal.  That's a shortcut to disaster.  Your body will give you cues when it's time to trudge forward in search of the answers.  It will also alert you to when you need to rest and it will not be put off.  Rest is not weakness.

Rest is not weakness.

Lastly, I want to caution you from going into a deprivation mindset.  You will be making some changes along the way: dietary, medical, relationship-wise, etc.  You may have to stop eating things you enjoy in order to give your body a chance to heal.  Or maybe you will have to limit your social calendar to allow for quiet rest at home.  Instead of focusing on these as deprivations, see them as opportunities to thrive in other ways.  Just because you are sick or in pain does not mean that you can't still have a full life.  A life that is full of joy.  A life that thrives in the wilderness just like an oasis in the desert.

Seek out the things that bring restoration, hope and love into your life.  Open your heart up to new ways to grow.  When you set your mind towards an attitude thriving, you might be amazed at the adventures you can have.  You might still be sick or in pain, but that doesn't mean you can't still find beauty all around you.  That beauty will refresh you.  Drink it in and thrive.

Are you ready?  Deep breath in...


Thanks so much for stopping by and following with me on this series.  Part 2 will be available soon!  Oh, and if you know someone who is suffering with chronic illness that needs some encouragement, please share this series with them.

1deepbreathin

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Continuing with our Granola Week, and all it’s crunchiness, I will reveal to you my personal challenge to myself for 2012.  I don’t call them resolutions, I don’t like that word.  One of the bloggers I read calls it Project 2012 and I really like that because that means it’s something I’m going to be working on all year as opposed to something I’m going to force my self into cold-turkey on January 1st.  It’s about adopting good habits, one little change at a time.

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So here it is, my Project 2012… eat my colors!

 

The last 2 years I have made a concentrated effort to eat more pure food, less processed food, fewer chemicals.  And it paid off.  Now that I have a decent grip on that, I want to concentrate on upping my fruits and veggies intake in 2012.  It’s not that I don’t eat any, I think I do a better job than some people I know, but I want to do better.  I think there’s room for improvement. 

Why does it matter?

Number one reason, hands down, is that colorful foods contain essential nutrients, antioxidants, & phytonutrients that help your fuel your body and help it fight disease and inflammation, including DNA breakdown and cancer.  You can take supplements to try to get these disease-fighters into your body but the best way to do it is through the food that you eat.

How do you guarantee you are getting the right combo of nutrients?  Eat your colors.

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There are a few exceptions, but in general foods of similar color contain similar nutrients, antioxidants & phytonutrients.  At the end of this post I will include some good articles on which colors will give you which phytonutrients but here a few guidelines to get you started (via Fitness Magazine and American Dietetic Assoc.):

Green-   protects your vision, protects against UV damage, fight depressions, and defends against certain cancers. Try avocados, apples, grapes, honeydew, melons, kiwi, limes, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, green peppers and leafy greens such as spinach

Red- boosts metabolism, whitens your teeth, increases cardio endurance.  Try cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, red/pink grape fruit, red grapes, watermelon, beets, red onions, red peppers, rhubarb and tomatoes

Yellow- heals wounds, beats bloat, boosts energy and protects skin from free radicals.  Try apricots, grapefruits, pineapples, yellow peppers, yellow corn

Orange- improve memory, prevent breast cancer, boost immune function and improve muscle function.  Try cantaloupe, mangos, papayas, peaches, carrots, and sweet potatoes

Blue/Purple- fight the flu, improves memory, and improves blood flow.  Try blackberries, blueberries, plums, raisins, eggplant, purple cabbage and purple-fleshed potatoes

White- lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, promotes heart heath and may reduce the risk of stomach cancers.  Try bananas, cauliflower, turnips, garlic, ginger, jicama, onions, potatoes

All that just from eating more fruits and veggies!

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I’m going to give it a go, hopefully I can get a little closer to the recommended daily servings!

Here are some great articles if you want to do a little more reading:

In case you missed the announcement yesterday, it’s officially Granola Week around here. 

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This week we are giving some attention to the healthier side of life, maybe adopt some good habits for 2012, and who knows what else!

Today, I thought I’d give you some sites or references to help you explore your “granola-side.”  These are some resources that I have enjoyed lately:

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Joy the Baker and Shutterbean are two food-blogging friends who do a podcast for Homefries.   I wouldn’t exactly call either of them “granola” per se, but like you or me they try to balance it all. So not too long ago they recorded an episode entitled “Embrace Your Inner Hippie” and it was hilarious AND helpful.  They bantered back and forth on subjects like: nut milk, coconut oil and kale chips.  If you are a granola-newbie, this episode is a great place to start.  You can listen to the podcast straight from the website or download it to your media player.

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I stumbled on to Crunchy Betty’s site a few months ago and have really enjoyed it.  She makes a healthful lifestyle seem less stodgy and boring with her wit and very honest articles.  Her focus is on healthy beauty so there is a ton of information on her site for homemade facials, hair masks and household remedies.  She recently wrote an e-book about healthy skin care for acne prone skin.  Lot’s of fun information on her site, be sure to check it out.

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Molly Katzen’s book, The Moosewood Cookbook, was revolutionary when it was published in 1977 because it is “credited with moving healthful vegetarian food from the "fringe" to the center of the American dinner plate.”  My mother cooked from this cookbook, and we are die-hard carnivores.  Molly Katzen’s easy style and delicious recipes can help you get some more veggies on your plate.  Even if you can’t afford the book, her website is full of recipes.

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Some of you may be familiar with simplemom.net, a site all about, well, being a mom.  But you may not know about the offshoot site simpleoranic.net.  It runs tandem with simplemom.net and is all about living an organic lifestyle.  They cover health & nutrition, inspirational stories, living mindfully and more.  It’s a great site for learning how to incorporate organic, chemical living into your lifestyle.  A good place to start would be their 2011 recap.

Hope these resources give you some inspiration!

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That’s right, it’s Granola Week!!  That does not mean we are going to be making cereal all week.  Although there will be a granola recipe on Friday, as promised.  So what does “Granola Week” mean?

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“Granola” is a term often used for folks who embrace things like wheat germ, flax seeds, spirulina, and omega 3 fatty acids.  “Granola” people search out the organic, grass fed, and hormone free foods, make their own laundry soap and weave shoes out of hemp.  There are varying degrees of “going granola” but with the popularity of stores like Trader Joes & Whole Foods, Dr. Oz getting the message out and celebrities touting all sorts of alternative eating lifestyles, “going granola” is very chic these days.

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But let me tell you something, my mamma was “granola” long before it was cool and I grew up eating some weird stuff.  When I was little, every morning I had to take a big spoonful of cod liver oil (and not the cool flavored kind they have now!), I ate peanut butter that was freshly ground in front of my eyes and you could literally peel it off the bread it was so dense.  That is, when I was allowed to eat bread.  There was a whole era that I was only allowed to eat my peel-off-peanut-butter on rice cakes, no bread.  I ate homemade fruit leather (which was convenient since I lived on a fruit farm), puffed millet cereal, 12 vitamin supplements a day and so much more.

Fortunately, my mom also believed in balance so although we did eat really healthy 90% of the time, she also made desserts made with real sugar and butter and pork sausage was always in our fridge.

When I got older, I found myself craving the healthy foods I had grown up with and at the New Year when people are making all sorts of resolutions to eat better, treat their bodies better, I think it’s a good time to give a little nod to “going granola”.  It’s the best time to purge the junk out of our systems and maybe adopt some healthier habits for 2012.

So for today, I want to issue a really simple challenge:  as you eat this week, be mindful of how much packaged, processed food you are consuming.  This was my New Year’s resolution 2 years ago and it really made a difference in my energy and overall health.  I hadn’t realized how reliant I had become on quick, processed food.  Me, the girl who grew up eating fresh, home cooked meals 3 times a day! 

The problem with most packaged, over-processed foods is that they are usually laden with sugar, sodium, preservatives and some other devious ingredients like partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and corn syrup.  In moderation, just about any food is ok, but when these things become a major part of your food intake it can cause trouble.  No, not canWill. 

So I’m asking you to just pay attention.  You don’t have to go through all your cupboards and throw out all your food, unless you want to, that is.  Just be mindful of what your eating, what you are cooking.  Is it a raw, whole ingredient or is it from a box?  Does it have more than 3 ingredients you cannot pronounce or don’t know what they are?  How much sugar and sodium is in it?  How much fat?  Is it good fat or bad fat?  Are there any vegetables or fruits involved in your daily eating?

When I started looking at what I was consuming, I started to change.  I began relying less on the pre-packaged lunches and started making my own quick lunches using whole foods and veggies.  If I did buy a packaged food, I made sure I recognized every ingredient and I wouldn’t buy anything with partially hydrogenated oil in it.

It made a difference.  I started having a bit more energy.  I started craving good-for-me foods instead of junk.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m no angel.  I don’t consider any food “banned”, just limited.  But my ratio of good to not-so-good food went way up and my body thanked me for it.

Just try it!