#Cultivate2012 Health

Health: How did you treat your body this year? You only get this one vessel one time around. In what ways can you cultivate better health for your body next year?

Between giving up gluten and moving into my own space, I’d like to say I’ve treated my body with respect. Have I been great to my body? Absolutely not. I’ve neglected to practice gentle movements, such as walking and yoga. I’ve consumed far too much sugar, and I’m terrified that my upcoming dental x-rays in February may reflect that. I’m also far too sensitive to the effects of sugar to continue consuming it near daily. My blood work showed I might even have pre-diabetes.

Next year I think I”m going to give up unnecessary sugars for Lent. Unless it occurs naturally within the food I’m eating, I won’t add it or eat food made with processed sugars. I’m going to work on creating habits that get my blood flowing. I don’t care if I look better in my clothes — or out of them, for that matter. I simply care that I feel well and my body maintains good health. Too many times I feel the pressure to either lose weight or not lose weight — it depends on who I’m around. I just want to feel healthy for myself. My shape is my own, and I’ve actually started coming to terms with the “momma pouch.” That pouch reminds me that I need to be healthy for my children.

I think I’m also going to remind my doctor that I’m NOT too young to have my cholesterol checked. We checked my thyroid and discovered that it was not, in fact, causing me any troubles. If we check my cholesterol and discover that I do not have any hypercholesterolemia problems, at least I’ll feel at peace with my health. I’d really like to rule out anything serious so I can feel comfortable that I simply need more sleep, healthier food choices, and more exercise to feel better.


#Reverb11: Appreciate

Appreciate (Written by Victoria Klein): What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

I apologize. This is late, or at least by my standards it is. I just couldn’t figure out what one thing I’ve come to appreciate most this year, let alone how I express gratitude for it. I came up with two things I appreciate all the more now: health and autonomy. Why do I appreciate these so much more than I did before 2011? 1. I was fairly healthy before, or as healthy as an anxious asthmatic can be. This past year I’ve been sick more times than I can count, and I’ve suffered from some serious conditions as well. When you don’t have insurance, though, it’s rather difficult to handle all that ails you. 2. I had been an autonomous individual for 8 years before moving into someone else’s house. Sharing a kitchen? Did you just see me physically cringe on my end of the Internet? I make no effort to hide my foodie side around here — and I feel like I’ve been paraphrasing that over and over during this year’s Reverb. Of all the concessions I’ve made, keeping the majority of my kitchen items boxed up in a garage has been one of the worst.

Now that we’ve covered how much more I appreciate my health and my autonomy, how do I even begin to decipher ways in which I’ve shown gratitude for those precious things this year? How can you express gratitude for something you lack? I’m truly at a loss. Planning to bring these qualities back into my life hardly seems like a way to express gratitude for them. And when you live with a smoker, even a good health day becomes a bad health day. If I wake in the morning, refreshed, feeling well, and feeling happy, all I need to do is walk out of our side to the kitchen. I don’t even need to take a deep breath — a shallow breath is all it takes to incite a coughing fit for my sensitive lungs. I look back on the times when I was well, the home was my own, and the rules came from me (with a good helping of my husband’s agreement, of course). I look forward to the times when that will again be the case. But for now, I try to ignore the fact that my mind and body are both loudly screaming at me to remove myself and my family from this situation.

Because I can’t truly decipher a way in which I show gratitude for my lack of health and lack of autonomy, I promise each and everyone of you who’s read this that I will celebrate my autonomy on February 1st with a healthy dinner. I’ll serve up a fresh salad, whole grains, steamed veggies, and a lean protein choice. For dessert, we’ll dine on fresh fruit and cheese. I’ll go to bed early, and I’ll awake on Groundhog’s Day ready to determine when “spring” is coming, where spring really means the blossoming of better times.


#Reverb11: Health

Health: How did you treat your body this year? You only get this one vessel one time around. How will you treat your body next year?

I confess, I should have given credit to Jasmine for inspiring me to pause and reflect on why it is that I’d like to lose weight. She inspired me to look more at being healthy regardless of any weight change — to simply be healthy for the sake of health. Admittedly, I do suffer from body image issues. I agonize over the shape of my abdomen, which will never regain that pre-pregnancy smoothness. I grimace as I attempt to hide a little pudge here and a bit of pudge there under my clothes. But somehow, not many other people see the flaws I see. (Of course, not many are invited to see what happens after a 5 foot tall woman has three children, two of whom were 10+ pounds.) But I’ve realized it isn’t just about feeling like I look good — it’s about actually feeling well.

I’ve been exercising on and off throughout the year, some days eating a healthful diet, others binging on a bit too much junk. I recognized what makes me feel well and what makes me feel like a rumpled pile of clothes carelessly tossed on the bathroom floor. At one point when I stopped seeing a difference on the scale or tape measure, I decided to stop caring about the numbers going down — I just wanted them to stop going up. I started to accept the fact that stress can be a very serious enemy in the struggles of weight loss, and I started to accept that I really need to focus on eating well for the nutritional benefits and exercising for the overall benefits. I’ve had the burdensome privilege of living with my in-laws, seeing how their poor decisions have negatively impacted their health. COPD, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity — you name it, they probably suffer from it. And I may upset a few of you, but a lot of their physical and financial woes can be traced back to cigarettes and junk food. Put junk into your body, and you’re going to turn your body into a junkyard. This is what I don’t want to do to myself.

Next year, I’m going to go gluten-free for the duration of Lent. I’m going to be eating sweet potatoes, rice, proteins, fruits, and vegetables. I’ve begun to suspect that perhaps my body no longer tolerates gluten, and I also suspect that my metabolism has begun to slow down. Pending how I feel after reintroducing gluten to my diet after Easter, I may or may not go gluten-free as a lifestyle change. Should the weight come off, that would be great. Should the weight stick, I’m going to learn to live with it. Life could be so much worse. And as important as writing and offering my services are to me, I plan to give more precedence to my exercising. I create the task of writing 3 pages each day, and I some times spend more than an hour trying to fill those three pages. Rather than sitting idly while I agonize over words, I could fill that time with a little stress and disease fighting exercise. I want to maintain my health throughout my life, and it is imperative that I take care of myself now so that I can feel great during my 60s, 70s, 80s, and longer (if I’m lucky). There will be more bouts with that punching bag, too.


[Monday Meditations] On Weight and Overall Health

First of all, let me state that the Mindful Mondays series is officially over. I realized a couple days ago that I don’t discuss mindfulness on Mondays anymore — I’m meditating upon a subject that resonates with me. So from now on, I will be writing Monday Meditations.

Last week I pulled out the tape measure to see if nearly four weeks of working a labor-intensive job had any positive results for my weight loss endeavors. Sadly, it hasn’t. I may not be home sitting on my backside, I may be sore most days from physically exerting myself, but I’m not seeing any results whatsoever. I found that to be rather depressing considering I hoped my arduous efforts would have given me an advantage. And thus my mind began to turn over all the possibilities — is it the quality of my food or perhaps an underlying health problem? Being that I’m uninsured and basically unable to pursue the health problems, I’m evaluating my diet. What am I eating? Do I notice any negative consequences after consuming certain foods? Could I be intolerant of a particular type of food? Is it really just excess stress causing cortisol to keep my weight in homeostasis? I will be exploring these questions during the coming months in order to mindfully care for my overall health and well-being.

Mindfully speaking, I know we’re entering a time of year in which weight loss efforts are impeded by seasonal baked goods and holidays devoted to eating — you might think it’s all about commercialism, but I anticipate the holidays for the large spreads that I’ve become accustomed to. That being said, it seems silly to wait, but I’ve decided that February and March I will give up gluten to see how my body reacts. Then I will have Easter to evaluate how my body tolerates gluten-containing products. In the interim, I can mentally prepare myself to give up bread, pasta, and baked goods.

I have also decided that I’ve been involved at my job long enough to begin an exercise plan at home again. My body has mostly adjusted to my job. I can add a new activity each week until I feel I’ve gotten back into the exercise routines I started earlier this year. I’m going to add yoga back first because it’s low impact and reduces stress. To be totally honest, I’m really feeling inspired by Jasmine’s quest for total health. I want to feel energized. I want to feel calm and peaceful. Starting with diet and exercise just makes so much sense to me.


#Trust30 Dreams

Dreams by Michael Rad

Abide in the simple and noble regions of thy life, obey thy heart. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Write down your top three dreams. Now write down what’s holding you back from them.

Here are my top three dreams, in no particular order: 1) buy a house with at least 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a pool, and enough land for a fruit and vegetable garden, a private picnic area, and room for the kids and pets to run around; 2) become a successful English consultant, spending my days tutoring, writing, and editing, all while paying the bills in full and living comfortably — NOT paycheck to paycheck, barely making ends meet; and 3) maintain good health. Above all else in the world, these are the top three dreams I’d like to live.

What’s holding me back from buying that dream house? Why, money, of course. I’m actually smitten with this house because it meets all the criteria, plus it’s ridiculously inexpensive. I first saw it listed at $289,000 earlier this year. Now, $259,000 is still above my budget, but a girl can dream. In order to purchase a home, we need to save for a down payment and net enough income in order to pay for the mortgage. Saving and netting more income is easier said then done, too. Unexpected expenses keep popping up, and income has been tenuous at best. Finally returning to the workforce should help alleviate some of these issues, but getting passed the following hurdles should increase our chances to fund this dream.

What’s holding me back from becoming an English consultant? At the end of the day, I need to take responsibility for not getting things accomplished. I don’t necessarily have to let other people’s drama come between me and getting work done. I tend to shy away from asking for help, too. I simply need to assert myself more often and go to the library or some equally out-of-sight-out-of-mind location where I can concentrate on the details of my business. To advertise my tutoring services locally, I’ll have better luck with low-tech marketing strategies, which require a certain amount of ink and paper. Ink and paper cost money, so there’s that money obstacle again. Speak up, earn money.

What’s holding me back from being healthier? I’m uninsured, I don’t have enough room to grow my own garden, I don’t have enough money to purchase tons of fresh produce, and I’m not as assertive as I should be with regards to exercise. Insurance and food = money. Asserting myself in order to get exercise = speak up.

While I’d absolutely love to snap my fingers and make money working for myself, I know that I’m not done working outside of the home just yet. I also need to bring out my voice more often. Over my lifetime, I’ve become more assertive in some ways, yet I still need more work in that regard. However, I will again reference the fact that I fought hard for my HBA2C, and my fighting paid off. Some days I’m a stronger fighter than others, but some times I just want to relax and live peacefully. I get tired of fighting. Right now, I can’t afford to stop fighting. I need to fight until everything works out the way I’ve dreamt it should. It’s time to roll up my sleeves, get some work done, make some money, and fight my way to happiness.


Mindful Monday: Stretch Before Bed

On Thursday night I began a rather impromptu experiment of a sorts. Before lying down to go to sleep, I sat on the floor and stretched. I stretched, I practiced deep breathing, and I pushed thoughts out of my mind as they would come. I straightened out my posture, I paid attention to my breathing patterns and muscles, and I was just with myself. Normally, I just quickly pray before tossing and turning, awaiting sleep while myriad thoughts cross my mind. Adding in this quiet relaxation technique, just being with myself for a few moments before bed, actually resulted in a fairly quick journey into slumber. I woke up feeling a little better than usual — I won’t lie and say it was the best sleep ever, but it was better than it’s been in quite some time. For three nights in a row, I practiced this relaxation technique, and each night resulted in a shorter period of time before falling asleep.

Then last night I got distracted by too many other things — watching a show with my husband among them — and didn’t really feel like taking the time to go through the process of stretching, breathing, and mindfully clearing my mind. It took forever to fall asleep, just like always, and I tossed and turned throughout the night. Now aside from my anecdotal evidence, I know there are plenty of sources the cite the health benefits of stretching before bed. Clearly, they’re right. So tonight I’ll be sipping my lukewarm chamomile, stretching, breathing, meditating, and praying before I call it a night. Life is rough when you’ve got three young kids full of bundled up energy, and it is so worth it to take the extra time to help recharge. After all, tomorrow it all starts again, and it’s better to feel in top form than to feel sluggish.