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.

 

Stepping into the Keto Diet

My husband decided to join one of those weight loss contests that pop up at work after the New Year. They had set a pretty aggressive amount of weight to lose by 28 days. I had heard people were having great success on the Keto Diet and thought that this, along with the fasting we were already doing, might work best for him. So I suggested he give it try. Then I set off to learn as much about it as I could so I could help him. I was amazed by what I learned.

To start, I began looking for recipes. Keto friendly things I could make and have in the freezer, so he would have yummy, healthy food to eat while I am on the road. There are a tremendous amount of recipes available out there. The premise behind keto is high fat, moderate protein and very low carbs. It forces your body into a ketogenic state or ketosis, which causes it to use fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. According to Wikipedia; this diet was first developed in the 20s for treatment of childhood seizures.

This way of eating is in sharp contrast to the “Stop the Insanity” low fat diets from the 90s.

There is a documentary (which is available to watch on Netflix) called ‘The Magic Pill.’ Watching this documentary inspired me to also try the ketogenic diet as well. Sure I would love the weight loss but the health benefits demonstrated in the movie were my real motivation. This show follows several people for a few weeks as they switch to this way of eating. The results they had were miraculous. Cancer, Autism, Diabetes, and Asthma were all demonstrated life changing improvements because of it; not to mention weight management. One of the ‘ah ha’ moments for me was right at the start of the documentary. When they said; “Every animal controls its weight naturally, other than humans and animals fed by humans”. My goodness! I never stopped to think that there are no obese deer or even pump lazy sloths.

As a pescatarian (vegetarian who eats fish) the idea of going on a diet, without the American staple of carbs, seemed like a difficult choice. It takes away so many of the things I am able to eat on the road. I also have difficulty with my blood sugar, that can dip to low and cause me to not feel well, if I do not eat the right thing or go to long without eating. This has made me believe I need a high protein diet. I was about to learn that was not true! As I stepped off into the world of ketogenic eating, my first challenge came when I went to a German restaurant with friends. Their vegetarian dish was pasta and the fish/seafood dishes were with pasta or breaded. Hmmm… what to have? I elected for the green beans with almonds and a cucumber salad. I also ate a few pieces of cheese off a friend’s appetizer plate. I was full. Challenge accepted and completed. Next morning, eggs and veggies are a very normal breakfast for me, so that did not even require a change. Lunch was riced cauliflower made into fried rice with eggs and plenty of olive oil. Yummy!

Do you know what I discovered? My blood sugar has remained stable. I have not had the shaky or woozy feeling that I often get when I don’t eat enough protein. Here, all this time, my need for high protein was a result of a diet high in carbs. I am on my third day of this new way of eating and I feel great. I am also doing this in conjunction with the intermittent fasting I have been doing since June. The two seem to work well together.

With the combination of intermittent fasting and Keto Diet, my husband has lost 11 pounds in 6 days. Isn’t that amazing? One of his favorite treats on the Keto Diet is the Fat Bombs. They are a nice little treat but also help to keep the consumption of fat, good and high, as required for ketosis. There are lots of fat bomb recipes but the ones he likes are made with natural unsweetened peanut butter, cream cheese, a tiny bit of stevia, and rolled in semisweet or dark chocolate. They are rolled in balls about a quarter’s diameter and are delicious. You only need to eat one to feel like you had a treat and quite satisfied. After all, that is what eating fat does. It helps us feel satiated.

Whether you are curious about the ketogenic diet or planning to try it yourself, there seems to be potential benefit for amazing results. If you enjoy documentaries, I recommend you check out ‘The Magic Pill.’ It is very interesting.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find healthy eating that works for you, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken in Palermo, Sicily

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Negotiations With Myself; 10 Tactics to Stay the Course

It seems like the hardest negotiations I have to have are with myself. This realization came tonight while I was having a conversation with Adventure Sister, Emy. We are great at talking ourselves out of doing things, but talking ourselves into doing things is a whole nother story. What can we do to be successful in negotiations with ourselves?

I am a world champion justifier. If you are not good at justifying something let me take a swing at it. Maybe this gift is a part of my Susie Sunshine Personality, where I can find the good in anything. But like the grinch, it doesn’t matter if this is because my shoes are too tight or my head is not screwed on just right. Being able to justify my way out of everything down not help me embrace healthy habits. Right now I am busy justifying that I don’t need to get my 10,000 steps a day because it is cold outside.

I have negotiated things with others through out my life. Many of these negotiations have been quite successful. How can I use these techniques to negotiate healthy habits with myself?

1. Be firm and set the expectations. That inner couch potato will want to have it their own way. Having a firm line and setting the expectation with yourself will help when your mind starts making up excuses.

2. Have a prepared response. Since we are talking about negotiations with yourself, you probably have a pretty good idea what excuses you will come up with. Be prepared with reasons why these excuses are just not good enough to set your healthy habits aside

3. Keep the goal in mind. Having a clear picture of where you are heading makes it easier to stay the course. This is true no matter if the goal is weight, career, financial, romantic, or whatever.

4. Stay excited! Having a goal can be very exciting, especially when you see progress. Celebrate small successes along the way to help keep the excitement flowing.

5. Ask for a little bit more time. Your inner critic may try and tell you this isn’t working or that you aren’t benefitting from this initiative. Convince that inner critic to keep trying, just a little bit longer. A break through may be just around the corner.

6. Remind yourself that you are worth it. This is such an epidemic of people not feeling worthy. Remind yourself your are worthy have having what you are working toward. You are good enough, you are strong enough, and you deserve success.

7. Ask yourself for advise. When you start hearing the we don’t have to do this anymore voice in your head ask it what it needs to keep going. Sometime just acknowledging the voice will be enough to help you push on. Other times a little inner dialog about what inspiration is needed will give you the power to get over the hump.

8. Use logic. Remind yourself of all the good reasons why sticking with this will help you in the long run

9. Be aware of your emotions. Emotions can pop up when we least expect them. Especially when we are working toward a seemingly difficult goal. (Most goals are achievable with persistence). When those emotions pop up, acknowledge them. Do not try to minimize them. Once you have acknowledged them, allow them to move through you. Release them, do not hold onto them.

10. Push past objections. Sometimes there is no convincing the inner Negative Nelly. Sometimes you will just have to ignore that part of yourself and just keep going. You can do it!

Good luck winning those negotiations with yourself. I believe in you! You can achieve your goals and live the life of your dreams. Keep going.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May you effortlessly continue to move in the direction of you dreams, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken in Zagreb, Croatia

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Get a Massage! It’s Good for You – No Need to Feel Guilty

So, I need a massage! I really do. I can feel it in every cell in my being. Maybe you are thinking, “Stacy, a massage is a nice way to pamper yourself but saying you need it is a bit much, don’t you know.” But need is what I mean to say. Massages are part of my healthcare. I focus on holistic modalities whenever possible and massages are an important part of that tool chest. They have many health benefits, of course there are the usual benefits that everyone thinks of:

  1. It feels great!
  2. It is so Relaxing.
  3. Massage can relieve pain and tension. 
  4. It is a great way to practice good self-care and remind yourself that you are worthy.

But, did you know, there have been lots of studies that show there are many more health benefits then you might realize?

  1. As a hospice nurse, I have seen the benefits first hand, that massage has at end of life. It helps relieve the symptoms that patients face as a result of their illnesses, medications, and the process of dying.
  2. Massage has been found to be beneficial for certain diagnoses. The Mayo Clinic says that research shows massage as proven to help with conditions such as fibromyalgia and digestive problems. WebMD also reports that studies have shown its benefits against back pain, headaches, and even depression. 
  3. It increases circulation. This just makes sense that the process of massaging the body would help move the blood through the vessels and keep it flowing smoothly.  
  4. Massage boosts your immune system according to a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine. This is the precise reason why getting a massage during cold and flu season is even more important.
  5. Massages are great at decreasing tension both emotional and physical. So often emotional tension shows up physically in the body. For me it settles into my upper back, shoulders, and neck. The massage therapists who work with me, typically spend the majority of their time focusing on these locations. In a 90 minute full body massage, the rest of my body may only get a quick 15 minutes.
  6. Massages have been shown to promote calm and decrease clinical anxiety. According to the American Massage Therapy Association; decreased anxiety is one of the benefits of massage. Every massage therapist works a little differently. Some have a space with dim lighting and relaxing music but I have also had massages in the practitioners living room. For me, when you can get a massage outside, that is the best! I have had them on beaches and in forests. No matter what the location, massage has a way of letting my mind relax and the worries of tomorrow drop away. 
  7. They also, lowers Blood Pressure. According to Body and Mind Massage in Chelmsford, MA, it not only lowers blood pressure but also decreases cortisol,  the stress hormone. Reduction in cortisol can prevent weight gain. I do not know how often you would need to get massage to loose weight but it could be added to your health plan, along with other modalities, to help you on your journey.

Massages are not for everyone, but if you have never experienced one or if it has been a long time since you did, I highly encourage you to go get a massage. Go ahead, you deserve it and it is good for you!

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May your world be full of healthy habits that help you feel great, as if by magic.

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Daily Meditation Adventure: Week 12, 13, and 14

If you have not already joined our Daily Meditation Adventure, I hope you will still do so. Here’s how the last few weeks went for me.

Experiences during the week: Over the last three weeks my experiences have been varied. From drumming meditations to Deepak’s mantra meditations.

What I have learned: I have learned that the drumming meditations seem to resonate a lot with me but drumming is not always convenient. As when in a hotel room with neighbors.

My weight:   Intermittent fasting has proven to be a successful weight loss tool for me! I have lost 10 lbs. I give the meditation some credit as well, as it has helped with my stress management and stopped me from eating to comfort myself.

How I feel: I feel as if I am still searching for balance in my life. I feel as if I am still looking for a way to make it all fit into my schedule. I am searching for a way to organize my day so that there is time to do and be it all. I know there is a way to find this alchemy of balance, time, space, and connection. So I pull myself up and I journey on, still trying to be true to myself and respect what I need.

How it is affecting my life: There are times this meditation journey is a stressor and I feel blessed having not succeeded as I would have liked to by this phase in the journey. But then there are times the meditation adventure enhances my life. I have magical experiences and I find a peace and connection I would not, without it.

I would love to hear your experiences with this. Have you had magical experiences? Have you maintained daily meditation? Have you enjoyed this adventure? Is meditation helping enhance your life?

Thank you for reading my blog today. I wish you a lifetime of peace, as if by magic.

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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Daily Meditation Adventure – Week 11

If you have not already joined our Daily Meditation Adventure, I hope you will still do so. Here’s how the last week went for me.

Experiences during the week: I notice that I am (more able) to get into a meditative state. I also notice that I am able to settle into longer and longer meditations. I went from 10 minutes one day to 20 minutes the next day and the 20 minute meditation actually felt shorter than the 10. 

My weight:   Intermittent fasting   has sprang my weight loss forward. I have lost about 7 lbs since starting it. I find it very helpful. The meditations certainly help me stick to the hours of fasting but are not the soul cause of my weight loss. 

How I feel: I feel more connected. I find that I am manifesting situations and experiences more quickly since starting my meditation practice. Even if my practice has not been perfect and I have missed days (even weeks) at one point, the constant return and true desire to have a daily practice seems to be enhancing my life. 

How it is affecting my life: One day I chose a guided meditation for creativity. I felt very inspired after the meditation and wrote short story. I feel that at this point the meditation is more of a beneficial presence in my life rather than the stressor that it was when I first started doing it. 

What I have learned: I have learned to never give up. To try try again and I will be successful. What a Lessons that is! There are so many times in life when our first attempt at something does not yield the results we would like. But we can be successful We WILL be successful if only we believed continue to try! 

Oprah and Deepak are offering a free 21 day meditation series. There is an app you download and you can listen to a new lesson and meditation everyday that builds on the previous day or can stand alone. This series is the Energy of Attraction. In the past I joined a series that was related to Time. They are definitely worth checking them out.

I would love to hear your experiences with this. Have you fallen off the meditation wagon? Have you maintained daily meditation? Have you enjoyed this adventure? Is meditation helping enhance your life?

Thank you for reading my blog today. I wish you a lifetime of achieving goals and the drive to keep going to get to limited-less success, as if by magic.

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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Week 10 Check In; Starting again – Daily Meditation Adventure

If you have not already joined our Daily Meditation Adventure, I hope you will still do so. Here’s how the last couple of weeks went for me.

Experiences during the week: I have fallen off the meditation wagon. Why is taking time to take care of myself such a hard task?! Why, when the day is busy and there is much to do, do I put meditation to the bottom of the list? After so many weeks of (mostly) daily meditation, how could I suddenly stop all together? It is has been about 2 weeks since I have meditated faithfully. Today, I will once again recommit to me and begin my (at least) daily meditation practice again. I will give it new focus and place it higher on the priority list. I will attempt to find a rhythm or routine in my days, that I can make meditation a standard part of this. 

My weight: My weight has decreased by 4.6lbs since starting the challenge. I do have to credit  intermittent fasting with the majority of the weight loss.  I have lost 7.2 lbs with the intermittent fasting in about 3.5 weeks. Although, before I started that, I had begun to loose some weight just by meditating. 

How I feel: I feel disappointed in myself for falling away from something that I believe is a helpful and healthy practice for me. I feel ashamed for not following through on my commitment to you of 90 days of daily meditation. I feel hopeful that today is a new day and a new opportunity to start again. 

How it is affecting my life: I will let you know next week. 

What I have learned: I have learned that it is never to late to begin again. That not following through and failing are not the same things. I have learned that each new day presents us with the opportunity to put ourselves first and to find the rhythm of our lives that encourage us to continue on. I have learned that it is okay to love myself even in my imperfection. 

I would love to hear your experiences with this. Have you fallen off the meditation wagon? Have you maintained daily meditation? Have you enjoyed this adventure? Is meditation helping enhance your life?

Thank you for reading my blog today. I wish you a lifetime of loving yourself as is, imperfections and all, as if by magic.

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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