Friday, April 14, 2017

Back to Wellness!

Hello Everyone.  Long time no write!  Well, there was the landscaping project, and then the kitchen and bathroom remodels, but now I'm fired up to write again.  As a matter of fact, I'm ready to dig in and write that Wellness Workbook for Grownups that is swimming around in my brain, (and my heart).

So, here's a few interesting tidbits I uncovered during my recent research. I hope you find at least something to chew on:

*If you love to exercise, don’t forget to put enough protein into your diet. Protein helps give you energy, especially during an endurance activity.  It’s important to have a healthy snack within thirty minutes after a workout, to help with recovery, and building muscle.  An appropriate snack consisting of a combination of protein and carbohydrates will help replace glycogen stores and repair muscle tissues. If you skip the healthy snack, you run the risk of reaching a catabolic state, a condition where the body uses muscle tissue, instead of body fat or carbohydrates, for fuel.  Examples of healthy after-workout snacks are: a banana with peanut butter, or Greek yogurt with fruit.  Steer clear of high fat choices, (fast food, bacon) because it can interfere with the absorption of nutrients.

*Do you have trouble with motivation in the mornings? Try prepping at night by getting the coffee pot, water bottle, snacks and/or lunch sack ready; set out your favorite mug; lay out tomorrow’s outfit, and whatever else you know you’ll need.  How about placing a motivational quote on a sticky note on the mirror? Try having a lively song queued to play while you’re getting ready in the morning, too. (Sheesh, aren't I just Perky Polly.)

*Research shows that during a massage, your lymphatic system and its white blood cells (the ones that fight disease causing germs) are becoming stirred and therefore less likely to give in to an attack!  Wouldn’t it be nice if your insurance plan allowed for preventative claims such as having a massage? 

*Sometimes it’s hard for us to skip a workout, but if something isn’t feeling right, isn’t it much better to take a day or two of rest than to risk having the injury turn into something serious?

*It’s allergy time!  Do yourself a favor and try these proactive measures: Take your shoes off before going inside. Wipe your pet’s feet before he/she enters the home. Consider investing in a HEPA filterHEPA stands for High Efficiency Particular Arrestance.  I did some research and ordered one!  So, I’ll let you know what I think, and please let me know if you have one and if you think it helps your household.

*Did you know that there’s a correlation between how much fiber you eat and how healthy your gums are? Whole grains like oats and quinoa can help stave off chronic inflammation, which is a key element in the development of gum disease. And, please don’t forget those dental hygiene appointments. In one study, the group who skipped the dentist had an 86% greater risk for pneumonia than those who had teeth cleaning twice a year.  It reduces the bad bugs in your mouth that can accidentally be inhaled into the lungs. 

On that note I shall simply encourage you to Be Well, by focusing on making your health and happiness a priority.


Monday, December 12, 2016

My Newfound Energy Booster

Hi Everyone,

It's been awhile. That's because I have a big project going on at my house. I am having professionals remodel most of my kitchen and bathrooms! Pretty exciting, to update those areas. I started purging the items that I could do without, while packing things up for the remodel. Then, while hanging around to help make decisions and answer questions, I began cleaning up other spaces too, including my 30+ years of files.  Thus the reason for this post, something that has put a new bounce in my step, which is the delightful feeling of living in a cleaner and simpler space. Why did I wait so long?

I know this post will probably be useless for some of you, because you already have everything in order, and for that, I applaud you. I've lived in this home since 1989, so you can imagine the task at hand. I didn't consult anyone, or any books or articles before I started. I just dove in. After many trips to Goodwill, and to the garbage bin, I'm feeling pretty darn proud of myself.  Yet, there's still more to be done, since I firmly believe that you should divide an overwhelming project into smaller chunks, or goals.

When I decided to write about this epiphany of mine, I chose to look into what the professionals are suggesting.  So, here are some helpful tips for cleaning up your space:

*The goal is not to purge the unnecessary stuff and be done with deep cleaning forever. This is a journey. You can schedule specific days with yourself to go through the house and tidy up areas, such as the first of every month, or choose certain occasions, such as the first day of spring, and the first day of fall.

*Break down the job into several small parts, such as tackling the hall closet, or the bathroom cupboards. Then it won’t seem so overwhelming.  Make a list of these areas, and then attack them one day at a time.  It will feel good to cross things off your list.

*Consider taking photos of various areas in your house where you tend to store and/or display things.  Then, take a critical look at your photos and think of how you could make things look less busy. Perhaps you can even show the photos to an interior designer and get some suggestions from him or her.

*Do you need to add shelving anywhere?  If so, keep the measurements for that area on your phone, so you can be on the lookout for the perfect size you need to purchase.

*One expert suggests that you get rid of one unnecessary item a day.  After a year, you’ll have eliminated 365 items!  Another suggestion is to periodically take a trash bag around the house, and fill it with items you notice you can live without.

*If a room is too overwhelming, consider setting a timer for a reasonable length of time, and then quit for the day, or at least take a break when each time period is over. Is there a reward you could give yourself when a major area is clean?  A manicure? New earrings? Believe me, the boost to your mental health will probably be enough of a reward. It was for me!

*One piece of advice I read about, from more than one person, was that it works better if you purchase new storage containers AFTER you have uncluttered an area.  That way you’ll know what sizes you’ll need.

*Use at least four boxes while sorting. Suggested labels:  Things to Keep; Things to take to Goodwill; Things to Throw Away; and, Things to Take to Another Room (permanently, not temporarily). 

*Ideas for other boxes are:  Things to Try to Sell; and, Things to Give to Friends and/or Coworkers. Are there some things you can place in your front yard with a “FREE” sign?

*Crank up the tunes while you work.  It will be so much more enjoyable.  Some people play episodes of Hoarders while they are working.  They find it motivational, and feel like they are tackling their area long before things become too overwhelming.

*Nicole Anzia of suggests downsizing while you’re going through things.  For example, why would you need so many towels?  Donate some to a pet shelter.  Or, why have so many coats?  Just choose a few, and donate the others.  If you have a lot of books, decide which ones you really need, and give away the rest.  What about your spices?  Have you had some of them for years?  The best way to purchase spices is from a store that sells them in bulk. Just get what you need at the time.

*I remembering reading Marie Kondo's book last summer, titled, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up.   The most memorable tip that I gleaned from her book is to hold each item and ask yourself, Does this bring me joy?  Only keep the items that bring you joy.  If you are unsure, then you probably don’t really need to keep it.

*If you haven’t used an item for an entire year, you can probably do without it.

And so, as you can see, working on wellness means working on all areas of health: personal, mental, physical, social, intellectual, and ethical health.  This post is about improving mental health, obviously, but it addresses ethical health too, if you donate some of your belongings to the less fortunate.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and a bright and promising new year.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Interesting Information About My Favorite Topic, WELLNESS.

Hi Everyone,

I’m out in the boonies, camping and hunting.  Well, I haven’t hunted, but I might go out with the group later this afternoon.  Anyway, with a lot of time on my hands, I’ve been reading up on my favorite topic, WELLNESS, and of course I’d like to share my findings with all of you:

·        * I think we all know that caffeine can be very good for you, but as with most things, if you have too much of it, there will be negative effects.  There were over 5,000 caffeine overdose cases in 2007, and almost 50% of the cases were in people 18 and younger.  (I can’t help but wonder about the effects of energy drinks, because I don’t think enough research has been done on that topic.) 
    Unsweetened coffee or tea can be considered a health food, since caffeine is the number one source of antioxidants in our American diet.  There was a study that found that coffee can lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by 65%, in people who drank 3-5 cups a day.  A cup has 8 ounces, so that would be 24-40 ounces of coffee. Just to give you an idea, a Starbucks Venti is the equivalent of three cups of coffee.  Remember, I’m talking about black coffee.

·         *A lot of people, including myself, like to drink diet pop from time to time.  The artificial sweeteners in diet soda can disrupt the levels of good bacteria in your gut, which in turn can affect your mood and cognition. Darn!

·        * I like this quote:  “Treat your body like it belongs to someone you love.”

·         *Do you have trouble finding you parking spot sometimes?  Take a photo of the parking spot with your phone!  You could even write a description of where it is by using your notepad app.

·        * How to avoid hat hair:  finger comb your hair straight back, so there’s no part, and then put on your cap.

·         *Instead of buying a sports drink after a workout, drink regular water and eat a banana.  Bananas replace just as much glucose and electrolytes as a sports drink.

·         *I had to measure my waist recently when I was taking a wellness test. For women, a waist size of more than 35 inches means you are at an increased risk for heart disease. A man's waist measurement would need to be 40 inches, or more, to indicate the same risk. Are you ready for a self-test?

·         *I never know what fruits and vegetables to store inside or outside of the fridge.  Here’s the news on that:  Room temperature for tomatoes, and basil (in a glass of water).  Potatoes, onions and garlic belong in a cool, dark, dry place.  Apples and pears stay longer in the fridge.  Keep bananas out at room temp until they ripen, then put them in the fridge because the fruit stays firm longer.  The same goes for avocados and any stone fruits (like plums or peaches).

·         *Try not to think of wellness as an all or nothing endeavor.  People who think that way are more likely to turn away from trying to improve their overall health.  Set one or two reasonable goals at a time, and don’t forget to look at all areas of wellness:  personal, mental, physical, social, intellectual, and ethical health.

·         *In our culture, mimicking behavior is hard-wired within us, and we may not always be aware that we are mimicking others.  The more people who dine together, the more food people eat.  When someone seems to be finished with his/her meal, but then witnesses someone else reaching for more food, that first person might just go for more food, even though it wasn’t his or her intent.  I didn't realize that, so I will keep that in mind when I'm eating with a large group of people.

   Well, I started this post while hunting, but now I'm back home.  I loved how quiet it was when I went along on a hunt.  No deer were seen, but I did see wild horses and turkeys.  I also saw a herd of female elk. Life is all about simple pleasures.  Do you agree?

    Take care, and enjoy the changes of scenery, tastes and smells that are part of the fall season.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Motivating Quotes for Working Out

Hi Everyone,

How is everything going, especially now that fall seems to be in the air?  As you can see by the title of this post, I like to try to motivate others towards a healthier lifestyle.  Heck, that's why I have this blog! Many of us have a favorite quote or quotes to help us navigate through life. Here are some that I'm hoping will help motivate people to work out even more.  I know they help spur me on.  

*If you're sore, you're stronger.

*You're not just building a body.

*Even if you can't see the results in front of you, every single effort is changing your body from the inside.

*Your body is a strong machine, buy you gotta feed it with a powerful mind.

*If you want something you've never had, then you've got to do something you've never done.

*Some addictions DON'T require treatment.

*Fact:  Thinking about going to the gym burns between 0 and 0 calories.

*Your fitness is 100% mental.  Your body won't go where your mind doesn't push it.

*Losing weight means you'll look good in clothes.  Exercising means you'll look good naked.

*Sore?  Tired?  Out of breath?  Sweaty?  Good!

*Everything is hard before it is easy.

*All that anger, all that fear, all the negative energy, take it to the gym and spend it there.  These things nourish you and not the other way around.

*I will NOT be discouraged about how far I have to go.  Instead, I will be excited about where I'm headed.

*What a disgrace it is for a man or woman to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his or her body is capable.

*Discipline is doing what you know needs to be done, even if you don't want to do it.

*Ability is what you're capable of doing.  Motivation determines what you do.  Attitude determines how well you do it.

*Push yourself, because no one else is going to do it for you.

*Never quit.  If you stumble get back up.  What happened yesterday no longer matters.  Today is another day.  So get back on track and move closer to your dreams and goals.  You CAN do it.

I hope you found at least one of those quotes to be motivating.  If so, why not print it out in an attractive font and put it where you'll see it often?  Or, write it on a sticky note and put it on your computer or mirror.

Have a healthy day!


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Grieving Over Our Losses in Life

Hello Everyone,

One of my dearest friends recently lost her battle with cancer, and I have been grieving about it ever since.  Well, I actually started grieving before she passed, when I realized that her situation was terminal, but I was probably holding out hope for a miracle, too. Because of this recent loss, I thought I would revisit the grieving process for myself, and share what I know about it with you as well.  I hope you find it useful.

We grieve over a multitude of things in our lives - moving, a poor grade, losing something or someone special, a break up,  pets dying, a loved one's addiction or illness, the list goes on and on.  As a matter of fact, you could be grieving over several things at the same time, and not even realize it.  We all grieve in our own way. The process can go quickly, or take a lifetime. No two people will experience the process the same.  Some people get stuck on one of the steps of grieving. It can affect their mental health, and their relationships with other people.

There are steps to grieving, and I will list and explain them here.  Just know that it's not a template for exactly how things will go, because some people skip a step, and some people just don't allow themselves to feel or to grow. Also, there is more than one model out there for the steps of grieving. Here's the one that I'm used to working with and talking about:

Step One:  Shock
This usually happens when you discover the loss.  The feeling can be described as numbness. A person might not even react the way you think they should.  The mind is trying to take it all in, but it's just too much.  This initial stage can be helpful, if you have to hold a conversation with someone about the loss, for example, because you might be able to keep from having an emotional outburst.

Step Two:  Denial
Sometimes this step comes along with the shock.  You don't believe it could be happening, and you might even talk yourself out of believing it.  For example, if your parents told you they were divorcing, you might think they're just angry, and will change their minds.

Step Three:  Anger
Oh yeah, you can get angry about the loss, and you might even have an unanticipated explosion. A defense mechanism called displacement can happen during this stage, where you take your anger out on someone or something else.  Has anyone ever punched or kicked a door or wall at your house? Have you yelled at someone who isn't even related to the loss?  Yup, displacement is actually a fairly common response.

Step Four: Guilt
This is best described as the "If only...." stage.  A person might blame himself or herself, by thinking things like, "If only I hadn't let the dog out, he wouldn't have been hit by a car."  Or, "If only I could have convinced him to quit smoking." Or, "If only I hadn't been born, my parents wouldn't be divorcing."  Hopefully you can see where this type of thinking is not healthy, and will do no good whatsoever.  Once a person realizes this, he or she can move on.

Step Five: Depression
Of course there is sadness, sometimes such deep sadness that the person experiencing the loss might need the help of counselling and medication.  This is the stage where someone could be stuck for years.  But, some people can skip or move quickly through this step, perhaps because they were more prepared for or understanding of the loss. Click on this link to learn about the signs of depression:

Step Six:  Tears
This could also be called The Big Cry or The Big Scream.  Surely many people cry before they get to this stage, but this is the huge, usually unexpected, cry.  It could happen at the most inopportune time, or perhaps in a darkened movie theater.  You never know when it will happen, but it feels very cleansing, like a huge relief has been taken off of your shoulders.  People who have trouble crying, will scream instead, whether intentionally  or unintenionally.  I have heard of a therapist telling a patient to go to the beach and scream at the crashing waves, in order to get through this step.

Step Seven, (my favorite):  Growth or Acceptance
Yes, there can actually be something good come from something that at one time brought you grief.  For one thing, every time you grieve over something, you become more resilient, more able to spring back from future losses.  Think back to some of your losses in your past.  Did life ever become better after a move?  A divorce?  Was there a lesson learned?  Was there personal growth?  I hope so.

I'm still not sure what  Growth I will experience  from the loss of my dear friend, Teresa, but I know that she would want me to go forth and make the most of my life.  Having Teresa in my life made me a better person.  I feel very lucky to have been one of her close friends.

I wish you wellness.


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

More of This and That

How is everyone doing?  I thought I’d share some random stuff again.

I would just like to give an opinion about bullying.  It seems like discussions on that topic are limited to kids bullying kids.  I’m here to say that I recently experienced bullying from some elderly women at the rest home where I volunteer, playing the piano for sing-alongs!  Yup, you read that right.  Long story, and I’m sure I’m waaaaaaaaaaaaay too sensitive of a person, but they really stole my thunder. I need to remind myself that a few bad apples can spoil the whole experience.  I also need to remember that there were several other people there who enjoyed my music, and thanked me for being there.  Still, it’s hard.  People should not intimidate others, and people (like me) need to not let people get to them. Enough said, other than the fact that we need to look at bullying as a societal problem, and not just something that happens among kids. Don’t fans sometimes bully the referees? Have you ever experienced bullying in the work place?  There are immature people everywhere.

Moving on.  Let’s hear it for this number – TWENTY!!!
·  Just TWENTY minutes of cardio can give a person an afterglow of up to 12 hours.
·  It takes TWENTY minutes for your brain to send a signal that you are full, so put down that fork once in a while, take a sip of water, breathe, chew each bite longer, sit on your hands if you must, to avoid the tendency to overeat, simply because of eating too fast. 
·  It takes TWENTY minutes after a stressful situation occurs for serotonin, (a chemical messenger that is believed to help stabilize mood) to bounce back, and for the stress hormones to fall.  Be patient during that time, and try not to make any rash decisions. 

    *Just think, since it takes a 3500 calorie deficit in order to lose a pound, if you cut out just one 100 calorie “extra” every day, you would not be taking in 100 X 365 (or 36,500) calories a year.  That’s the equivalent of a ten-pound loss!  If you want to (slowly) drop 10 pounds, change one simple thing.  No creamer in your coffee?  One scoop of ice cream instead of two?  Regular popcorn instead of buttered popcorn?  Water instead of soda? Just one little change can do that.

*Do you have a tendency to pour a huge bowl of cereal?  Try a coffee mug instead of a bowl.

*Sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest foods out there.  They have fiber; vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B6; anti-oxidants; anti-inflammatory nutrients; iron, and more!  Try eating one cooked in foil, or roasted with a little olive oil, with no sugar added. You might be surprised by how good it tastes.

*Have you ever wondered why some elderly people eat so much less than we do?  Well, good for the older members of our society who do that, because after age 30,  metabolism slows at a rate of about 5% per decade, and that rate accelerates as we age.  Shucks!  So, at age 70, that means your metabolism is at LEAST 20% slower.  One more reason to exercise, and build muscle mass.

*Here's some suggestions for change that I read about recently:

  •  Instead of saying I should..., try I’d like to…
  •  Try mindful eating, instead of mindless eating.
  •  To Do lists are good, but also consider a Don’t Do list.
  •  Instead of saying you have to work out, say you get to do it.
  •   Say I don’t quit, not I can’t quit.

*I know this sounds easier said than done, but the next time you feel pain in a certain area of your body, try concentrating on an area of your body that isn’t feeling pain.  Let me know if that works for you, and I’ll do the same.

*The next time you think you are way too busy to exercise, even for 30 minutes a day, even if it’s broken down into three ten minute segments, remember this:  Thirty minutes is only 2% of a day.

*Is there something or someone who is really frustrating you?  Picture the problem or the person on a conveyor belt, and the belt is moving away from you.  Hey, I’ll try that with those ladies from the rest home!

*A goal is a DREAM with a DEADLINE.  I like it!

All for now, but please remember to put yourself and your health first.  Remember the instructions you’re given on an airline:  Put your oxygen mask on first, before helping your loved ones and those around you. 

I hope you are loving life.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Proper Weight Loss Practices

Hi Everyone,

I skipped posting in March, so it feels good to get back to spreading the word about my favorite topic - wellness.  Today I thought I'd share some information about how to, and how not to, try to lose weight.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but as I have said many times before, the amount and quality of the calories you bring in are more important in the weight loss equation than the amount of calories you burn through working out.  Weight loss is 80% about food, and 20% about exercise. 

Some people get desperate to loose weight quickly, perhaps because they are just fed up, and want immediate results. Because of that, they don't go about losing weight the right way, and are disappointed with the results, or lack thereof. 

Here are some things to consider when trying to lose weight:
  • Be sure that about 25% of your diet includes fats.  When you take in less than that, your body stops burning fat, and starts storing it instead.  Try 'Googling' which fats are good for you.

  • Take in around 1200-1500 calories a day for weight loss.  Any amount less than that and your body will respond by slowing down your metabolism.  I found a link that will help you calculate how many calories you need to take in daily, for your gender, age, exercise level, and desired loss.  It even gives you a completion date, if you stick with that number:

  • Write down everything you eat. From there, you can easily look up the nutrition details, such as calories, and grams of protein, (the two numbers I think are most important) online.  There are programs that you can use to keep track of everything easily.   I am a firm believer in Weight Watchers International for many reasons, one of which is the application they have for calculating food intake.  If you aren't into their smart points, you could follow their simply filling plan, where you don't even have to count points.  I love the support you can receive from other members too, both online, and at the meetings.

  • When you have a snack, make it about 60% complex carbohydrates, and 40% protein.  The carbs will be stored in the muscles as glycogen, and the protein will take the body longer to digest.  A good example would be some deli meat and a piece of fruit. Complex carbs are found in dairy products, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

  • If you don't get enough sleep, it will mess with your metabolism.  Plus, sleeping in a cooler room can help trigger the burning of brown fat, especially if the thermostat is down to 66 degrees, according to one study.  Sleep deprivation can make your body age faster, too.  With less sleep there is a greater chance of diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and memory loss! 

  • Cut out white bread as much as possible.  It is almost as bad as pure sugar because it digests quickly and will raise your level of blood sugar, thus releasing more insulin into the bloodstream, and transporting the sugar to fat cells for storage.  While you're at it, eat fruit rather than drinking fruit juices, for the same reason.

  • Have water with you at all times.  Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink water, by then you're dehydrated.  Remember, water is what transports nutrients and helps with muscle function. Make water and milk your drinks of choice, and forget about diet sodas, energy drinks and alcohol.  Alcohol has empty calories and no nutritional value. Plus, when your body is metabolizing the alcohol, trying to excrete its toxins, your body can't metabolize sugars and fats as efficiently, making it harder to maintain a healthy level of blood sugar.

  • Some people eat either too much or too little protein.  Multiply your desired weight by .36 to calculate how many grams of protein you need daily.  Also, try not to take in too much protein at one time.  The body can only handle about 30 grams at a time, and the extra will be stored as fat.

  • Don't forget to have three or more servings of dairy a day.  It contains whey and casein.  The whey boosts protein synthesis, and the casein stops protein breakdown and maintains your lean muscle mass.  Whey powder is great in smoothies.

  • Choose regular salt over sea salt.  You need the iodized salt, because it helps in the production of thyroid hormones, which in turn helps your metabolism.

  • Try eating the real thing, instead of fat-free or sugar-free substitutes.  You might be lured into thinking you can eat more calories overall if you do that.  Also, this is a lifestyle change.  You should be able to have your favorite treats when you want them, just in smaller portions, and not when you're already full.

  • Eat five servings of vegetables a day.  There are so many nutrients, plus fiber, in vegetables.  Shoot for a variety of colors in all your foods, too, so that you'll get a variety of nutrients.

  • This last bit of information includes exercise.  That's because people think they can spot reduce.  Sorry.  If you have a large tummy, the only way you can change that is by getting rid of the layer of fat on top of the muscle.  That is accomplished by eating better, (of course), along with a regular exercise program that includes high intensity intervals.  An example would be to alternate walking briskly for five minutes, then very briskly for one minute, repeating that sequence for about 45 minutes total.  Some people just do hundreds of crunches a day.  That would make the tummy stick out more, because you're increasing the size of the muscle that is underneath the fat.
Whew.  Sorry that was so long-winded.  I hope you were able to learn at least one thing that can help you gain a healthier lifestyle.  I know I learned a few things through researching this important topic.  Have a wonderful spring.