I have some stories for you! I am so excited to share my new book . I take all I have learned as a mental health counselor, play therapist and mom and apply it to parenting.
When a loving and respectful parent-child relationship is the foundation for parenting and discipline the result is well-behaved, thoughtful, and socially conscious children.
This book focuses on what parents can do, and more importantly how they can be with their children in order to create an atmosphere where children choose pro-social behaviors. The behaviors are not created from a place of fear or even traditional discipline, but from 20 simple principles parents can implement in a variety of circumstances from infancy to young adulthood. Following these principles parents can positively impact the behavior of their children, enhance the parent-child relationship, increase their parenting-esteem, and promote lifelong relational skills in their children. The principles come from the perspectives of children, and have an inherent simplicity that is focused on the parent-child relationship. Following these child-centered principles fosters parent-child relationships based in love and respect.
Stay tuned for info on print and audio book versions.
Today is officially a month. I recognize I have been quiet the last week. There’s a reason for that. I drastically over-committed and I suffered for it. Having an entire month to reflect on, it turns out that I have learned a lot that will help me as I move forward.
It has been three months since I have had any alcohol. I have not craved it or felt like I was missing out when I was in social situations where other people were indulging; that is, until Saturday. I was at a conference with my fun play therapy colleagues. I was offered a glass of champagne (my favorite), no thank you; red wine, white wine, no thank you, not drinking; and a beer, um no. Here’s the thing, I wanted the champagne, I even wanted the wine red and/or white. What happened when I denied myself of a glass, which I think is all I would have had in this scenario, it was not good. Instead of filling my glass, I filled my belly. I ate crap I typically do not eat. I felt like ass because I ate a good deal of sugar, gluten and just too much overall. It affected me physically in the short term. It also affected my relationship with myself. I was mean to myself, that in turn affected my mood, which then affected my carb, sugar, chocolate cravings. Freaking disaster.
The last two weeks my sleep has sucked. I already discussed that. I am 100% sure at this point that if I do not address my sleep hygiene as a priority I will never be able to reach my overall wellness goals. When I am sleep deprived, I wake up in a foul mood. I skip morning workouts. I complain and feel sluggish when I do make it to my 6am workout and therefore don’t get the same feeling of pride and overall health when I complete it. It seems to me that I am hungrier than usual when I don’t sleep well and I am more interested in eating food that is quick and easy versus nutritious and consistent with my wellness goals. My focus is negatively affected. I am not on the top of my game. On the outside, I look tired, my sparkle is dimmed and there seems to be more hair in the drain. I know what I need to do. It’s time to take actions.
A Complicated Relationship
My relationship with food is complicated. It is simplified when I eat whole foods, when I prepare my meals, when I take the time to think about what I am eating before I am hungry and take the time to make yummy whole food that does not include sugar, and gluten; that is not processed; and is part of a plant-based diet. It does not have to be complicated. I make it that way, I can make it the other way.
I feel like I can seriously work on my sleep. I am 12 hours away from going on a short vacation (HOORAY). I have a new book coming out, Raising Freakishly Well-Behaved Kids in the next 90 days. I will need to care for myself while the book release kicks into gear. Writing, journaling, blogging has really helped me make sense of what I have learned and learned about myself. I am going to take a week off and then start back up. When I start back up I will be focused on Parenting, connecting the content of my new book to wellness. I am excited about that. Thanks for hanging with me.
With Love & Gratitude~
Can commitment be a bad thing?
My goodness I have not updated you in a while. It’s not because I quit on you guys (or myself) I just got really bogged down. Jack Canfield creator of the Success Principles says “Over commit, under achieve.” He’s on to something for sure! Overcommitting myself is probably related to my poor sleep hygiene, and most of the other wellness challenges I face. My sleep schedule has been terrible over the last few days and it’s not going to improve in the near future.
Here’s what wellness challenges I notice when I get over-loaded:
- My sleep goes from being awful to sucking. I have not had a night over 5 hours in several days. Dr. Gottfried says that will get in my way of focusing, choosing healthy food for nourishment, and losing (or even maintaining weight), for starters.
- I am on edge emotionally (also connected to being sleep deprived).
- Caffeine is back into my diet.
- I am hungry.
- My meditation routine is totally off (I haven’t meditated in days).
- Sleeping even an extra few minutes seemed like a better idea then working out then I get get mad at myself (and random other people) for skipping a workout.
- Sugar cravings, particularly chocolate have reemerged. I had some vegan ice cream yesterday and today.
- For whatever reason, I haven’t had enough water.
- Twice today, I said yes when I should have and wanted to say “No.”
This is what I notice. I cannot imagine what is going on inside and what the cumulative effects on my health are. It is also interesting to me that most of the consequences of overcommitting are also consequences of sleep deprivation. Vicious. Sleep is the key. I need to plan out my sleep with the same vigor I plan out my workouts, my work, even my meditation gets a slot on my calendar sometimes.
My commitment to sleep is my commitment to wellness.
It’s already after 10:30pm and I am clearly not off the screen. It would be beyond challenging to me to get this going tonight because after finishing this I have to do a few other things that HAVE to be done for tomorrow. I am also headed out of town for a conference for a few days. Hotel sleeping when sharing a room with some friend-colleagues is not really an ideal situation for me to put my plan into practice. Best start day for me is Sunday. Anyone else want to give it a try? Starting on Sunday will give me three days before I go on vacation to begin my journey to better sleep. I know that’s not a lot of time, but really I need to get started!
I have learned a lot about sleep hygiene in battling with my own insomnia, helping my clients with their insomnia and other sleep disturbances, and in the recent reading that I have done about overall health and wellness. I am a chronic hypocrite when it comes to sleep hygiene and do not even remotely practice what I preach. One thing that writing this blog has really illuminated for me, is that sleep is what stands in the way of me achieving my wellness goals. I can no longer be a hypocrite. Plus, I just shared that with you all and now I have a bunch of accountability partners (thank you!).
As I get started on what my plan is; I recognize it will look simple. I also recognize it will in NO WAY be easy.
Step away from the screen by 9:30pm.
Get ready for bed at 10:00pm. Have a cup of tea (decaf, of course), wash face, brush and floss teeth, read for 10-20 minutes.
Get in bed 10:30pm. Lights off, done for the night. *If after an hour I am struggling to sleep take a dose of magnesium and a dose of L-tryptophan.
I’ll let you know how it goes! Wish me luck!
With Love & Gratitude~
Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I am celebrating my first St. Patrick’s day in a way. I recently submitted my DNA to ancestary.com and despite any existing knowledge of my heritage, I have some Irish in me! I have been thinking about doing a more comprehensive DNA screen. Both Drs. Brogan and Gottfried discuss it in their respective books and blogs. You can get good information about your particular health profile and what you need (and what you should avoid) in order to optimize your physical and mental wellness. I am considering it, it’s pricey (and worth it?).
I decided to celebrate my first St. Patrick’s day as with Irish heritage by going for a run. I have already had enough days that were focused on beer drinking in my history that I opted out of that stereotypical part of the celebration. Plus, that would get in the way of my goals and I am determined.
My son plays basketball and my husband coaches. Most of my day, today, was attending games. I prepared my food and meditations so that I could keep both on track. I might have not eaten enough, but to be honest my appetite wasn’t there. That’s different for me. I usually have a difficult time even identifying when I am hungry and when I am not. Either way I usually eat. Today I listened to my body, today I could hear what it was saying. This may be a bit of craziness, but I think the adjustments I have been making in my diet and other wellness activities have made me more in tune and connected to my internal voice and cues. I am communicating better with myself. Anyone else experience that when they are eating better? Limiting their sugar and processed food intake?
I have a very busy week ahead starting with two full day presentations out of town and then evening activities after work. I am going to sleep by 10 tonight and waking up whenever tomorrow. No alarm for me. OH and I said “No.” I was supposed to go for a run with my running partner tomorrow morning, which is something I like to say “Yes” to, but it’s only supposed to be 15 degrees at our running time tomorrow so I said “No.” I do think I need the sleep more than the run at this point in time anyway. I really am determined to regulate my sleep.
Dr. Sara Gottfried recommends taking the supplement resveratrol. It is among the supplements she suggests in keeping a health profile that is younger than our chronological age. That’s important to me. I want to look younger then I am on the outside. I want to feel and “look” younger than I am based on what’s happen inside.
Resveratrol is a remarkable extract in red wine. According to significant amounts of clinical research this extract plays a role in cardiovascular and cellular health. You can’t just drink red wine and get the benefits because it would take at least three bottles of red wine a day to experience the effects of resveratrol extract. That seems excessive and like the negative effects of drinking three bottles of wine a day would surely out-weigh the positive effects of the resveratrol.
I am choosing this particular brand of resveratrol not just because it works to maintain cell health, promote normal cell cycle activity, promote apoptosis (programmed cell death) in unhealthy cells, support the normal activity of the SIRT-1 gene (you definitely want this), and promote cardiovascular health, by promoting healthy platelet activity, promoting vasorelaxation, and providing antioxidant protection of LDL particles, but also because of the concentration that is found in this brand.
What’s the deal with the SIRT-1 gene? Dr. Gottfried talks about the SIRT-1 gene. This gene activates a critical component of calorie restriction in mammals and promotes fat metabolization (good news). There is evidence that resveratrol mimics the effects of calorie restriction by targeting metabolic and stress response pathways affected by calorie restriction, but without restricting caloric intake, which may be helpful in promoting a longer lifespan. Healthy SIRT-1 activity, is connected to healthy mitochondrial function and energy expenditure, which is thereby connected to healthy weight promotion. Remind me why I am not taking this regularly? There’s not a good reason. I will be adding it to my morning supplements starting tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted.
With Love & Gratitude~
… and yourself…
I really do love my work which I think is why I am somewhat of a workaholic (fine I am a workaholic, there I said it). I also, like many other people have trouble saying “No.” How about you? Do you have trouble saying No to things you don’t want to do? As a mental health professional, I know the importance of living on purpose and saying no the things that pull you off your course. This week I am really going to pay close attention to when I say “yes” and “sure.” Checking in with myself when I agree to do things, making sure I am centered. How about you, what can you do this week to keep yourself centered?
I had said yes months ago to doing this full day presentation out of town. Collectively I over “Yes’ed” this month, but nonetheless I was psyched to spend my day doing what I love. I didn’t try an overdo it by getting to the gym at 5am, I did prepare and pack smart food choices for the day, I did give myself permission to have some caffeine if I needed it when I was driving. I felt balanced, centered and vivacious. I think what I am doing has been working. Guess what- it showed, that’s very reinforcing!
Where are the M&M’s?!
Later in the evening I got some disappointing news. I was bummed and I could feel the obvious emotional eating pull like nobody’s business. It was sad. I felt desperate. I wanted to stick with healthy and smart eating but I also wanted mint chocolate ice cream, chocolate in any form, cookies. My craving for sugar was indiscriminate and my self talk was insane. Here’s what I did. I put some frozen bananas in the blender with cinnamon and vegan, sugar free chocolate chips. It kind of worked. I say kind of, because I also had a handful of regular, full of sugar, vegan chocolate chunks. I did stop there (after I already had air popped popcorn and hummus). I think it would be helpful to have a food plan for the next emotional eating episode.
What really struck me was even though I had the intellectual understanding of what was going on, I could not use intellectual arguments to talk myself out of the emotional eating trajectory. What I did have was a strong appreciation for my relationship with sugar and how helpless I felt in that moment. That’s not good for my wellness in any capacity. This is why I need to break up with sugar and not fall for the tricks my emotions play in bringing sugar back into my diet.
I have talked tangentially and directly about supplements. I should be overt about the ones that I take and why I take them. I will also include links for each if so if you want more information you can find it.
I have to take B12 because I am mostly vegan so I won’t get it in my diet through food and your body does not make it (and you need it!). The other Bs are health all stars. Particularly they help with hair, skin, nails and your adrenals. Good news when you don’t get collagen (also from animals) and are stressed. I take it every day.
I take curcumin instead of pain medicine and have good results. I also take it when my knee hurts before or after a workout. It always works for me which makes sense because it has anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin promotes liver detoxification, promotes healthy glutathione levels and normal cellular regeneration. If you take it everyday Curcumin can help detoxify impurities in your body that build up over time. This particular brand also includes 167 mg of broccoli seed extract, a powerful source of sulphoraphane glucosinolates which supports the normal production of Phase II liver detoxification enzymes, including glutathione synthase, heme-oxygenase and catalase, and the body’s natural defense systems. Glutathione is the master antioxidant in the human body, it preserves and protects the brain and other body tissues from the damage of free radicals. Furthermore, glutathione recycles ( who’s not for recycling?) vitamins C and E, which are also powerful antioxidants. I take curcumin as needed, and am considering taking it more fr
I love this stuff. I take it every single day. OPC-3 Beauty Blend promotes skin elasticity, supports healthy collagen production, replenishes essential vitamins and minerals for the skin, and provides the skin and body with improved antioxidant defenses. It has so much of what I nutritionally need is in here. There are antioxidants grape seed extract, red wine extract, bilberry extract, citrus bioflavanoids and Pycnogenol®. These antioxidants are powerful free-radical scavengers that not only work to keep the skin healthy and beautiful, but also provide free-radical-scavenging abilities which are beneficial in a world filled with smog, pollution and other various unseen toxins. YES! See why I love this (not to mention it tastes good).
I am all about getting my gut health in order and everything I have been reading is saying this is the way to go. I have been taking probiotic daily for past two months. I can’t say I notice a specific difference. I can say that I really don’t get sick. Partly, I refuse to get sick the other I believe is related to my eating and supplementing. It’s certainly not because of my good sleep hygiene. Back to probiotics, here’s what they do. Probiotics are good bacteria that work to help maintain an optimal bacterial balance in the digestive tract. Gut health is connected to overall health. Probiotics promote healthy digestion by providing beneficial bacteria to help balance the GI tract, this also promotes a healthy immune system. There are 10 different strains and 10 billion active probiotic organisms. Each strain has a unique purpose, and the strains work synergistically to promote numerous areas of health, from immunity to stomach comfort and bowel regularity. That all sounds good to me.
I take Vitamin D with K2 everyday in the fall and winter because I live in the least sunny place in the US (not exaggerating). I need the D and it is recommended that you find one with K2. This one contains vitamin D3, the metabolically active form of vitamin D, along with vitamin K2, a form of vitamin K which supports vascular health and calcium utilization. Vitamin D plays an important role in bone health, heart health and immune support while working with vitamin K to support normal absorption of calcium, and promote healthy arteries. You can get your D level tested. I did several years ago because I was feeling foggy, tired and cold. Turns out my D level was nearly 0. Not good. I had to take mega-doses to get back where I needed to be for my health. Now I use it regularly and that keeps my levels normal. A word of warning, some studies have concluded that vitamin K2 does not interfere with anticoagulant medications.
A little bit of this and that
I take magnesium when I have trouble sleeping or settling down. I probably need it more regularly then that. I have talked about that in past blogs so I won’t repeat myself. I sometimes take resveratrol, coq-10, Green Coffee Plus Garcinia Cambogia. I’ll talk more about those another time. There are some other supplements that I have tried or am considering and I will share that with you too.
With Love & Gratitude~
Reminder to self…
I am a full-time professor, but not this week. It’s spring break. Like a hard-core workaholic, I filled my week off from my responsibilities at the college with additional work. I used my time this week to do some additional consulting and give two presentations. Today, though, is my stay at home, work at home day. My plan was to get in cross fit and run on the treadmill, reengage with my meditation practice, and review some student work. That’s not exactly what happened- I am kind of noticing a pattern.
This is Pepper, my sleep hygiene mentor.
I woke up to my alarm at 5:15am to meet up with my workout buddies at cross fit. I was SO tired, I started to text them and let them know I would not be going. I was about to write “see you Friday,” and then I realized I could not go Friday because I would be presenting out of town again. I dragged my ass out of bed and did the workout. Instead of getting on the treadmill after the workout, which would have been excessive anyway, I went home and went back to bed. I left my sweaty and somewhat stinky workout clothes on. I was that tired. I got in a decent nap, felt better, and moved through my day doing a bunch of errands. Then something interesting happened; I decided even though it was cold and a little windy out, I was going for a run. Outside. The sun was shining and I was craving an outdoor run.
I felt amazing while I was running and focused on incremental goals along the way. Get to 3 miles, get up the hill, run through the discomfort, get to mile 4, make it to the corner, get to mile 5. I did it! I did 5 miles without a walk break and at good pace (for me). It felt good to be running. So, good that when I got home I went right back to bed. I took another nap. Yep, I overachieved in the nap department! Between the run and the naps, I did not really get anything else accomplished. I am practicing being ok with that.
Can I share?
I have been re-reading Dr. Kelly Brogan’s book a Mind of Your Own. My copy is tethered and filled with notes. There’s a lot I want to share with my mental health counseling graduate students, there are things I want to share with some of colleagues and patients and then there are the new things I am learning that are relevant to the experiences I have had as well as members of my inner circle. I recommend this book, it’s really an important read for mental health professionals and people who are challenged with depressive symptoms. I teased these knowledge gems that are food/supplement means of combatting depressive symptoms out of Dr. Brogan’s book.
These are my five favorites:
Activated B Complex
If you don’t even meat, please supplement with activated B complex. You need it. Even if you eat meat you should consider supplementing with activated B complex. The vitamin Bs have the greatest impact on your mood. They act in ways that help with stress, they are contribute to healthy skin, nails, hair, eyes, liver, and the adrenal glands. We don’t store the Bs so you have to take them daily. I use an isotonic version because it’s easily digestible, there are no fillers or binders, and it gets into my system quick. Its associated with decreased risk of depression.
Taking magnesium helps settle you down. Those us who have anxiety, insomnia and PMS really benefit from supplementing with magnesium. Full disclosure, I do sometime have wacky dreams when I take it, I still take it because when I cannot sleep I get wacky in my wakefulness and that seems to be a greater liability. Here too, I opt for an isotonic form. This especially valuable when I am taking it when I cannot sleep because it takes about 5 minutes before it is absorbed into my system. In pill forms it would be hours.
This is a mineral that used to be in our food to a greater degree because of soil quality that has changed. This mineral promotes mood-lifting neurotransmitters. Essentially this helps with improved mood and the alleviation of anxiety. Therefore, selenium helps with both anxiety and depression symptoms; there are many people who have both.
I don’t really get how this works in the body, it’s beyond my understanding (at least for now). What I do understand is that supplementing with SAMe can help with pain, depression, liver disease. In Europe, they have been using SAMe to combat depression and anxiety for over 30 years (without the nasty side effects of SSRIs like Prozac).
This is a calming amino acid that is found in tea. I love my cup of tea so this is an easy one for me. This amino acid can help reduce anxiety, produce a healthy mind –set; that is simultaneously focused and relaxed—wait that’s a thing. Dr. Brogan calls it “meditation in a capsule!”
Tomorrow I am presenting all day out of town and taking the day off of exercise. I thought you should know that. As a way of addressing my psychological-emotional wellness I am practicing not having such an “all or nothing” mind-set.
With Love & Gratitude~
Today was an interesting day. I was doing a presentation on play therapy about 1.5 hours from my home. I really love doing these kinds of presentations. I love my work as a counselor and play therapist. I also love being able to train and teach students and other professionals. Although this throws off the rhythm of my schedule; it is good for my spiritual, economic and occupational wellness. I have to get on the road early, figure out the food thing, and make sure I am on my game because I set the tone for the day.
First off, I had to decide if I should get up at 4:45am to go for a run on the treadmill. That was the only time I would be able to squeeze in exercise. I factored in that I also have an out of town, full day, presentation scheduled for Friday, and that really would not work because the destination is even further away. I decided I was going for it; it is only 30 minutes earlier then I usually wake up.
Next, what to eat? I knew I would not have a ton of time when I got home from the gym so I needed something quick. I got that, protein shake with spinach. What to bring with me for lunch and a snack for the drive home. I got that too, protein bar, cashews. Perhaps that doesn’t seem like enough. A protein bar for lunch. Yeah, that’s not enough and a mistake many of us make. We have to eat enough to maintain our wellness, to literally think straight, and if you are trying to lose weight, you are really getting in your own way by not eating enough. In a gross over-simplification, what happens is our body systems act as if we are starving and trigger chemical responses to hold on to what we eat, blood sugar goes into a tail spin and our internal environment gets screwed up. There you have it. I made a mistake. The other mistake I was setting myself up for was thinking it was more important to sacrifice sleep then to sacrifice exercise. I have averaged 5 hours a night of sleep in the last seven days. I need sleep.
Change in plans
12:30 am and I still wasn’t asleep. I changed my plans. I turned off my alarm and decided to sleep as late as possible. I guess I would be getting two days off from exercise this week. I still followed my eating plan even though I knew it was not a good idea and headed out the door. I have been off caffeine for a week and a half; that went out today. I was so tired driving to the presentation I needed a baby sip of caffeine. I’ll hop back on that horse ASAP. What was happening to me was exactly what Dr. Sara Gottfried describes when your cortisol is off. I have a hard time falling asleep, low energy in the morning and then cravings of carbs and that’s exactly what happened next. Before I even got to my destination, I downed the caffeine drink and ate ½ the protein bar. Shit. Dr. Kelly Brogan also refers to this when she talks about being simultaneously “wired and tired.”
An intervention from Mother Nature
Presentation was underway and going well as far as I could assess. It was snowy outside, but here in Central New York, we measure our snow in feet not inches, so I did not think much of it. An administrative person signals me to come to the classroom door and advises me that we need to call it a day because of the weather. Everything in the area was shutting down and they were worried about our safety. Uh-ok. That was a first. That changes the entire trajectory of my day.
I was home and in my play clothes by 1:30. I had lunch. Tossed salad with a veggie burger and guacamole- way better than the other half of a protein bar! I took one look at the cats sprawled out and sleeping on my bed and decided to join them. My kids were sent home from school too and my 18 year old daughter, joined me and two of the four of cats for a nap. Naps are so underrated. I mean I really needed the sleep, but there are studies that show people who nap regularly live longer and healthier lives (sweet!). I felt so much better after I ate healthy whole foods for lunch and took my nap and then I went for that run on the treadmill. And guess what else happened… I ran further and better than I have since I had my appendix out in September of 2017. I have said before for that running centers me. It’s a moving meditation for me. What does that for you? Not sure, figure it out and have fun as you discover it!
With Love & Gratitude~