2020: The Year of Health

I may sound cliche to start the new year focused on health and it certainly is not new for me, but it is different this time. Let me tell you why.

In the past my focus was to loose weight. I would make a New Year’s resolution to exercise and get thin but the motivation was really vanity. I didn’t understand how powerful mind, body and spirit wellness was back then. The resolution would last 2, maybe 3 months and then I would fade back into my old patterns of behavior. Today I no longer make resolutions; instead I make a list of new year’s manifestations. These manifestation can be anything I want to come into my life in the new year. I decided 2020 would be a year of health.

My year of health manifestation list has a lofty number of health related items I want to enhance my life. They are mind, body, and spirit related, for one cannot successfully be well without balance in all these areas.

It is day 4 in my year of health and I already feel a shift in my mood. I find myself making healthy decisions and I keep slowly incorporating items to bring about overall wellness.

On Jan 1st, I started the day hungover from a New Year’s Eve party I attended. I find this very embarrassing to admit to. So, my first healthy initiatives were to give up alcohol and sugar. Next I went back to intermittent fasting. This is an eating strategy that limits the time you can eat during the day. It has many health benefits but my primary use of it is weight loss. I have gained about 30 pounds in the last 4 years and it is affecting my energy level and ability to do things. Losing weight is not about vanity for me this time. It is about being comfortable hiking, having the energy to kayak and reclaiming my connection with my body as a divine being.

Then I decided to start tracking what I eat. This is about mindfulness. So now I know what I am putting into my body and why. I am using the “My Fitness Pal” app to do so; although there are so many apps that can help you with it. I have anemia, so it helps me track my iron intake, something that is important for me as a pescatarian. I also find that tracking what I eat, makes me less likely to do the mindless noshing that can occur when I am bored.

Yesterday I decided to start drinking 1/2 my body weight in ounces of water. I feel this is helping purify my body from all the toxic things I have put into her in the past. Also, yesterday I recommitted to moving my body. Getting at least 10,000 steps a day. I even started running a little again. I plan to improve my fitness condition in order to participate in 5K events. I really enjoyed these in the past. My daughter, Liz, and I have also done a couple 1/2 marathons together and we are toying with the idea of committing to do another one of these.

Today I am starting on my commitment of “52 Hikes” during 2020. I have seen others make a commitment to this in the past, but never got on board because of the frozen tundra where I live. I know I feel better when I get outside and be “in” nature, so this is another part of the mind and spirit commitment for me.

My husband and I continue our pursuit towards financial wellness. Yoga and meditation are on my list of items to incorporate. I find that adding (a little) something new daily is helping me stay motivated and not feel overwhelmed. I’m just slowly incorporating, the items I want, into my year of wellness.

I know it is only day 4 but I already feel clearer and  more upbeat. I am more connected with my body and the aches and pains are starting to subside. I have lost 4 pounds and even reclaimed my right to be a runner.

Would you like to join me on my journey into the year of health?

Come along! It won’t always be easy but it will be totally worth it!

I love you! May your year bring you every happiness.

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.

 

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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Feeling Great, Improved Health, and Being Proud – That’s what doing “it” can do for you!

I have done it with lovers, I have done it with co-workers and friends, I have done it by myself, I have done it in a group, I have even done it with family members. My husband told me of his plans to do it today. It made me reflect on times in the past when I would do it on a somewhat regular pattern. What is it? Donating blood! After I would make my donation, I always felt like a hero! Have you ever felt like a hero? When my husband told me what he was doing today, it reminded me of times in my life when I felt like a lifesaving hero! I congratulated him on his hero status but he just smiled and laughed it off.

Blood donation is not just good for those receiving your blood but it is also good for you. According to OrganicFacts.net; blood donations improve your health by reducing your risk of cancer, decreasing risks of diseases cause by iron stores (building up in the body) and decrease risk of some heart and liver diseases. It also stimulates your body to burn calories and can help support weight loss efforts. Additionally it stimulates your body to make nice fresh blood. I would also add the “good feeling” you get in your heart for making a donation is the best benefit of all!

Another type of this kind of donation is Plasma. Connectusfund.org has an article that lists the pros and cons of plasma donation. Many look down on this practical because of the financial reimbursement for the donors time. This has health impact for the donor as well and many lifesaving medications can be created from the plasma. It is used for patients who have suffered burns, are fighting leukemia as well as a number of other illnesses.

Plasma donations can be made up to twice a week, where blood donations are limited to once every 8 weeks. I personally have no issue with the reimbursement for these donors. If they are giving up some of their precious time and a part of themselves to help others, why not allow them some help too.

Whether you donate blood or plasma, I think you are a hero! I don’t judge. I currently cannot donate either one. My veins are too tiny for the plasma donations and my iron to low to donate blood. My hat is off to those of you who give of your time as well as of yourself, to save the lives of others this way!

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you have the opportunity to feel like a hero in your life, as if by magic.

I love you!

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