Oh Sugar Sugar; 11 reasons to decrease your sugar intake.

Do you have a sweet tooth? Me too! I have alternated over the years between eating a lot of sugar to eating little to no sugar at all. I know that I feel a lot better when I do not eat sweets but it sure does taste good. I find that knowing the reasons behind decreasing something can have a big impact on staying motivated to pass it by; even when others are partaking. Below are 11 reasons to really consider decreasing your sugar intake.

Let me clarify. I am not talking about natural sugars like honey, fruit, or real maple syrup. I am talking about processed sugar made from Sugar Cane or Sugar Beets. I have found that replacing processed sugar in receipts with Stevia, Honey, and real Maple Syrup helps when you want a sweet treat or to serve a dessert but not all the other affects.

 

Reasons to decrease sugar intake

Inflammatory – Sugar can cause an inflammatory response. I notice that I have joint pain when I eat sugar. Decreasing the intake of this inflammatory substance can almost completely relieve my pain. This is my number one biggest reason why I try to avoid sugar in my diet.

Addictive – There are lots of studies out there about the addictive nature of sugar. Some people think it may be even as addictive as Cocaine. What I do know is the more sugar I eat, the more sugar I want. It takes me about 3-5 days, without having sugar, for the cravings to decrease.

Empty calories – Sugar has no nutritional value other than the carbohydrates. These are a fast energy source, but if we do not need them, they are stored as fat.  If you are making choices in the foods you get your calories from, then I urge you to choose foods with more nutritional value.

Blood sugar effect – Eating sugar spikes your blood glucose levels. In people with properly functioning pancreases, insulin is released to regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood stream. This spike in blood sugar levels can cause problems even for people without diabetes. For me, the spike triggers my body to release insulin, which does too good of a job removing the glucose from my blood stream and I end up getting low blood glucose levels. This causes me to feel woozy and have trouble concentrating.

Cognitive function  – There are some studies which suggest that sugar can cause fogginess in the brain. Sugar intake has been linked to forgetfulness and trouble concentrating. This is ironic when you think about how many student will reach for a candy bar for that little pick me up to keep studying.

Blood pressure and heart disease – There are many complications to the the cardiac and circulatory systems that diabetic people face. There are studies out there that show that, even for people without diabetes, increased sugar intake can cause elevated blood pressure as well as strain to the heart.

Depression – Some studies are showing a link between sugar and depression. Others are saying that inflammation increases depression and we already know sugar causes increased inflammation. 

Cancer – Sugar feeds cancer. This alone is a good reason to avoid excess intake of this sweet poison.

Hunger – Because of sugars effects on the blood glucose levels, it can cause a continual rise and fall and when blood sugar levels fall, we feel hungry again. Because of this it is easy to get into a cycle of eating sugar again and again throughout the day because of the effects it has to continually cause us to feel hungry. Eating less sugar will reduce those feelings of hunger.

Money – By not spending money on sweet treats, which make us hungry repeatedly through out the day, we will save money. There are lots of great natural foods to put that money towards, that will not cause the repeated need to munch and save you money in the long run.

Immune system – Sugar affects the functioning of our white blood cells. These are the cells that rush in when an invader gets into the body to fight off infections. If we are eating a lot of sugar, and causing these cells to be sluggish, we are risking increased illnesses.

All of these reasons and we didn’t even talk about tooth decay! Ultimately, whether you decide sugar is thumbs up or thumbs down for you, do your own research. Know the facts about what that cupcake might cost you or how it could affect you in the long term. Ultimately life is full of choices and luckily we all get to make our own. I, personally, am choosing to not have sugar as one of the choices of what I put in my body. At least most of the time, no one is perfect after all.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you make the food choices that are right for you.

 

Making Time for Your Priorities: 6 questions to ask yourself

What are the things that are most important to you? What are the things in life that you wish you had more time for? Life is so full of the push and pull to do various things, that finding balance amongst all of these, is one of the challenges we all face. I used to look at people who were retired, or didn’t work for one reason or another, and thought they must have it made. They have all the time they need to do whatever they want. As I have paid more attention to this perceived abundance of theirs; it seems not having a job does not mean that there is plenty of time to do it all. These people are still very busy and vocalize having a lot on their plate to get accomplished.

So, I had a couple thoughts about priorities during a meditation this week.

The other morning, as I sat in meditation and my husband scurried around cleaning up the kitchen, it struck me that we make time for the things that are priorities in our life. If we feel that there is no time for our priorities, we need to take a look at our life and see how we are really spending our time. What things have crept into our life that are not priorities, but we just treat them as if they are? I am blessed to have a husband who shares the household duties with me.  He never suggests that I am not carrying my fair share of the load or that I should be doing more and this helps allow for more time. Working a full-time job, that often requires more than full time hours and almost weekly travel, makes the time to pursue things like blogging, planning retreats, offering classes, sharing inspiration, and my own personal development quite sparse. I have changed things in my life to be able to have time for the things I feel are priorities. Here are some things to ask yourself. I have and continue to reevaluate these as life marches on.

  1. Where does time go? By looking at how we spend time, it is possible to find some extra space in the day to do more. Things that steal time for me are playing games on my phone, procrastination (where I stay busy to avoid something else) and the occasionally TV binge.
  2. Is it really important? About 25 years ago, I made a conscious decision that the TV would not be in the main room of the house. When there it steals our time. It is easy to fall into the trap of coming home and plunking down in front of it. Don’t get me wrong; there are a lot of really great things to watch on TV. Just be mindful about what you are watching and how much of your time it is truly taking. Is it really the priority? Our Tv (at home) is in a family room in the basement. So that it is not in the center of attention when meals and conversations are had.
  3. Is there another way to accomplish it? We all know that living in a sanitary way is important for health. I am not a germaphobe and my house does not have to be perfect, but It does need to be tidy. Also, according to Feng Shui, a cluttered environment causes a cluttered mind. Your space needs to be a priority, but maybe you make a chore list to share with others in your house? Can you hire a housekeeper? Are there efficiencies you can add like cleaning the shower as you get out of it in the morning once a week? We have worked out a trade deal with one daughter so she comes and cleans our house in exchange for us helping her with things she needs. Be creative!
  4. Is there times when you can multitask? I love audio books! I listen to them while I commute, exercise, cook, etc. It is a nice way to fit in some learning or self development while doing other things that I have to accomplish anyway.
  5. Could you start your day differently? I am a morning person and getting up early to get things done, before the demands for the day start closing in, works well for me. Even if you are not a morning person, is there a way you can make a morning routine more supportive of the things you want to be priorities in your life? I recently started daily meditation again as well as another 40 day yoga practice. I have found that if I get up a little earlier in the morning I have time to meditate, do my yoga, and often even blog, before I have to go to work. Having this routine has been very positive for me feeling more centered and finding balance in my life.
  6. Check your attitude. How is your mood or your tude? In March, I had a tough month. I couldn’t seem to find the energy or desire to blog or commit to other healthy habits. I was eating poorly, vegging out in front of the TV, and I was uncharacteristically crabby. Then I started “shoulding” all over myself, which made it worse. I felt guilty for the choices I was making but yet I seemed incapable of changing them that month. On April 1st, I decided enough was enough. I made intentional changes to take control of my life again. I got my diet back into check, stopped the sugar and restarted intermittent fasting. I stopped zoning out in front of the TV. I started the daily meditation and the 40 day yoga practice. My mood shifted the first day. It is very empowering to take control of your life.

I hope these questions will help you to make your priorities, priorities. Remember that you are a priority and not to give all of yourself away. You need to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, so that you will have what you need to be there for the others you hold dear.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May your priorities fall into place, as if by magic.

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Letting Go of Darkness

The full moon is in a transformative time that comes every 28 days. It is all about letting go of the old, while the new moon is about manifesting or bringing in the new. These energies of the moon start about 4 days prior to the actual event and last for about four days after, according the Susan Miller: Astrologer. This transformative time gives us wonderful opportunities to think about what no longer serves us and what we would like to see come into our lives.

Last night was the full moon. My husband and I attended a Kirtan. These are becoming the favorite feel good events of ours to go to. This full moon Kirtan was a beautiful event and attended by many sweet souls. This, once again, made our souls sing along with our voices; as the call and response of the mantras progressed throughout the night.

When attending an event like this or starting a meditation, going to a yoga class or retreat; it is always a great idea to set the intention for what you hope to achieve or experience. I learned this many years ago from a wise teacher and have found it to powerfully enhance my experiences as well as help me along my path of healing and health. Knowing that there was a full moon shining overhead, I set an intention to let go of any darkness in my heart. To let any anger, fear, jealousy, hate, distrust, sadness, or need to complain flow gently out of my heart and into the earth. There it could become fertilizer to grow something beautiful. I intended for all darkness to leave my heart so only love would reside there. My great grandmother said, “Those who sing, pray twice”. Singing or chanting is a beautiful form of prayer.

As Chi Johnson lead us skillfully through the various chants. We came to the one that was so very perfect for a full moon Kirtan: “Nataraj, Nataraja, Jai Shiva Shankara Nataraja”. (One part of this powerful mantra) Shiva is the Hindu god of destruction and transformation. He is also called Lord of the Dance. This is basically asking Shiva to dance through our lives and destroy what no longer serves us, so that we can transform into who we truly are. As we sang this chant I asked Shiva to remove any darkness from my heart. No, not just remove, but destroy anything other than the love that was residing there. “Music in the soul can be heard by the Universe”, Lao Tzu.

When we are hurt, darkness can take hold in our heart center and it can come out in a variety of ways. It has a purpose though; it is trying to protect us. There is purpose is all things, even when we cannot see it or know what it is. The complication is, that sometimes we hold onto these things much longer than we need too. My heart’s fear of being hurt, served me well, as I was healing from the acute pain of a broken relationship. It no longer serves me though. I have held onto it much longer than I needed too. Now is the time to release any darkness in my heart to make room for unending love. Love for all people and things. Love and respect so that I can more fully live in the flow of life. By doing this I can open up to appreciation and gratitude for all the beauty around me.

I am grateful for the Full Moon Kirtan. I am grateful for Shiva dancing through my heart, so that I can release that which no longer serves it. I appreciate all of you who walk your journeys along side mine. When you are ready, know that you are safe to release those things that once protected you.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you easily let go of the darkness that has taken up residence in your heart, as if by magic.

* Photo was taken on the banks of the Ganges River in Rishikesh, India.

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Wisdom From An Ancestor

My great grandmother had a saying; “You will never be truly happy until you think more about others than you do yourself” – Ura McGurran. When you make choices in life, do you consider how they affect others? Maybe too much. Maybe so much that you are living your life for others and not taking care of yourself. So how do you strike a healthy balance? There is so much emphasis today on self care and putting ourself first. How can my great grandmother’s words still be relevant now? Let’s take a look at some self care activities and selfless acts and see where the common ground lies.

Do you feel guilty when you participate in self care activities? There is no real reason to feel guilty for caring for yourself. Do your self care activities hurt anyone? One really wonderful thing about self care, is that by doing it, you set a good example for others. A recent conversation I had with a friend, was about her feeling conflicted because something she needed to do for herself, was being viewed as selfish by her daughter. I encouraged her to go ahead and do it anyhow because, by doing so, she was setting an example for her daughter about taking care of herself and following her dreams. Her actions didn’t hurt anyone. In fact her actions help recharge her to further help others. Even when we take care of ourselves we can still be thinking of others and the example we are setting.

Selfless acts can also be a form of self care. My husband helps a friend rake his leaves, every year. He has never been asked to do this. There is no expectation that he does it. He just does it because he cares about his friend. The really good feeling he gets in his heart from helping out his buddy is a form of self care also. Selfless acts can also be a form of self care. Does this idea surprise you? It is possible to think more about others and still find happiness and balance in your life.

When we think about people who have inspired us as a world, we see that their acts brought them both happiness and purpose. People like Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama; show us how caring for others is also caring for ourselves. I assure you, that new outfit will help you feel great, but there is no greater joy than helping another and seeing the true appreciation in their eyes. When we help others do something they could not have done for themselves, a ripple goes out into the world. The movie “Pay It Forward” taught us this. It entertained us while sending a message that “random acts of kindness” are a form of self care. They help us feel good and shift the energy of the world higher.

By thinking more of others than we do ourselves, as my great grandmother so wisely shared with her children generations ago, we are also taking care of ourselves. By lending a hand to those in need, we can find happiness, change the world, and set an example for future generations.

Yes, please care for yourself. Treat yourself to quiet walk in a pretty place or take a nap when you are tired. But remember, true happiness can also come from helping others.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May your life be filled with true happiness, as if by magic!

 

 

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Daily Meditation – Week 4 check in

If you have not already joined our 90 day meditation adventure, I hope you will still do so. Here is how the last week went for me.

Experiences during the week: I am still on the road with co-workers. This always complicates my ability to make time for myself. I love my co-workers. They are amazing, smart, and experienced people. I enjoy their company and have fun spending the evenings chatting with them. This has complicated my life, however. I know they would be supportive if I told them I needed to sneak away to blog or meditate, but I enjoy them, so I make the choice to stay.

What I have learned: I have learned that making the choice to not make time for myself causes it not to happen. Not only did I miss meditating certain days over the last week, I also missed writing the week 3 check in. I let myself down and also let you down. This is a wonderful illustration of why it is important to make time for ourselves. This morning, while I meditated, my monkey mind tried to tell me all the other things I needed to get done. I decided mantra was the best way to quiet that monkey mind. I started with “I am thin and beautiful. My fit body supports my active life.”That mantra felt good. I then switched to “I release what does not serve me and keep only what I need”. With this I was able to have a profound experience. I saw a volcano all orange and red. It made me realize that the process of releasing, what no longer serves us, creates change. Although change may be scary at the time it is happening, it does serve a purpose and things will be okay in the end.

My weight: I am still on the road and have no mechanism to measure if my weight has changed. I do not sense a change in how my clothing is fitting me.

How I feel: After my meditation this morning I feel grounded and more connected. I feel that my senses are more tuned in. I hear the birds chirping and cooing. There are so many different bird songs making a morning symphony. I smell the Arizona air and the occasional scent of someone smoking weed on their balcony. I feel the dry heat of the dessert building despite the early hour of the day. I see the filtered sunlight sneaking through the leaves on the tree in front of my balcony. The taste of my black tea washes through me, helping me be fully present in this beautiful day.

How it is affecting my life: It is challenging me to be better. Teaching me that “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again” was a very profound quote by William Edward Hickerson. So despite a shaky couple of weeks, I am still committed to the 90 days meditation challenge. If you have tried and struggled, please don’t give up. It is never too late to start again.

Thank you for reading my blog today! I wish you a lifetime of trying again when the first pass does not provide the desired outcome. I wish you a lifetime of goals met and feeling good about yourself. I love you.

Previous meditation blogs by the Adventure Sisters: Join Us on This AdventureMeditate the weight away?9 ways to improve meditation, Meditation contemplations, There’s an App for That: A review of meditation Apps7 Common Meditation Myths11 Types of Meditation 

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90 Days of Daily Meditation -check in -week 2

If you have not already joined our 90 day meditation adventure, I hope you will still do so. Here is how the last week went for me.

Experiences during the week: This week’s meditation has been a struggle for me. I am disappointed in my meditation performance. I allowed my business of life to get in the way of my daily practice and there were even several nights when I laid down at the end of the day just to realize I had not meditated. When I would attempt to do so, while laying there, I would drift off to sleep. Though I did have one very profound meditation during the week. It happened when I meditated first thing in the morning. During my meditation I received a couple of great inspirations. One, was to rename a class I’m offering with a catchier name, occurred to me during the time I quieted my brain.

What I have learned: I have learned I need to schedule a time to start my meditation or I will try to do it at the end of the day when I lay down before I fall asleep.

My weight: I am still on the road and have no mechanism to measure if my weight has changed. I do not sense a change in how my clothing is fitting me.

How I feel: I feel motivated to do better this next week. I feel a need to put myself first again. My travels this week brought me from the eastern time zone to the pacific. Which I will be reversing tomorrow and then back the following week. Because these switches can be a bit challenging I will need the meditation more than ever, to help keep myself calm and centered.

How it is affecting my life: On the days I meditated early in the day, I found the meditation profound and a blessing to start my day. On the days I did it at the end of the day while laying in bed, I found it induced good sleep. I was exceptionally tired this week due to a demanding schedule and travels that took me to or through 9 different states from Thursday to Monday. Even though I had high hopes for more profound meditation experiences, in reflecting, I see that the meditation experiences I had were the ones I needed.

Thank you for reading my blog today! I am proud of you for the things you are doing and/or wanting to do to take care of yourself. Even baby steps count! I wish you a lifetime of meditations that are exactly what you need. Blessings!

Previous meditation blogs by the Adventure Sisters: Join Us on This AdventureMeditate the weight away?9 ways to improve meditation, Meditation contemplations, There’s an App for That: A review of meditation Apps7 Common Meditation Myths11 Types of Meditation 

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What Do You Regret?

I like to listen to music while I work. It helps me concentrate. Your Side of the Bed by Little Big Town was playing. In that song they ask “Are you sleeping with your own regrets?” It got me thinking about regrets. I have always tried to live a regret free existence. I have always felt that we do the best we can in the time and place we are in. Even with this philosophy, there have been a couple things in my life that I have struggled with. Sharing these regrets makes me very nervous. They are things I do not talk about. What is interesting to me as I reflect on this is that I don’t mind sharing with strangers but I am very nervous to have people who know me aware of them. I guess I fear being judged.
One of those things was related to my first husband’s daughter. She ended up in foster care. I, for a long time, regretted that I didn’t try and get custody of her. At that time in my life, I had two children that I was raising as a single mother. I felt I was not in a place to be able to take on another child. After this girl became an adult, I was able to make contact with her. I told her I was sorry that I did not fight to get custody of her. She was very gracious and said that she was just fine and that she has gone on to get a degree in social services. Perhaps her childhood was related to her calling in life. Perhaps that is why the Universe conspired for me to feel I could not take on raising her. Maybe her upbringing turned out to be better for her than anything I could have provided her with.
Do you believe in soul contracts? The idea that we come into this life with set experiences we are meant to have. When I first heard about the idea, I was not so sure about it. Now I find it is a good fit for my belief system. It makes sense to me. If I had saved her from foster care would I have cheated her out of one of her soul contracts? Or would I have cheated myself out of the experience of regret and trying to make amends? Do soul contracts mean we do not try to help others? I do not think so. Helping others could likely be one of our soul contracts. Do you think regret serves a purpose? Does the avoidance of regret help us make better choices?
Another time in my life, I regretted, was when I was a teenager. I was depressed and was going to commit suicide. One of my friends realized what I intended to do. She told the counselor who drove out to my house. The close call made me re-evaluate the importance of life and I have never been suicidal since. My friend saved my life and I am eternally grateful for the action she took. My regret is in the action I took after the counselor was alerted. I lied. I told the counselor, my mother, everyone, that my friend was wrong. It made her look foolish. We were never friends again after that day. I lost my best friend as a result of that lie. I have since contacted her and expressed my gratitude, as well as, apologized for lying. She forgave me.
I recently wrote a blog called Beneficial Forgiveness.  Dealing with these regrets is a perfect place to practice forgiving yourself. Remind yourself that you did do the best you could, in the time and place you were in then.
How have regrets shaped your life? Do you have regrets? Are there some you can’t seem to move past? How can you work on forgiving yourself for these things?

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