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~
The Challenge of a Busy Day
I had to run from here to there a bit today. In order to fit in my patients, administrative duties, and family commitments. It was a good day, with the potential for me to get overwhelmed– which I didn’t!. There were challenges; fitting in my workout, meditation, and eating in a way that conveys I care about myself. What are some of the ways you deal with the challenges that come with a busy day (life)? Here’s what worked for me. I got up a little bit earlier (I’m still working on the sleep hygiene piece of the puzzle. It’s not good. I am still averaging just under 5 hours a night) so I could do my typical workout and still have time to get where I needed to go; showered. I prepared and packaged my food the night before. Instead of my usual cooked veggie breakfast, I had a protein shake with gobs of spinach so I still got a good share of veggies to begin my day. One thing about protein shakes before I move on, read your nutritional label. You want the sugar grams to be minimal at best. Most of the expert authors I am reading say it has to be below double digits. Mine has 0 (NICE!) here’s the link in case you are interested. What do you like in your shakes? I throw some cinnamon and spinach in there and it works for me. I wasn’t able to make time for my meditations and I can tell you I missed it. I want to talk more about spinach, so let’s go back to that.
Popeye was on to something
Popeye infamously gained the physical strength he needed to navigate tumultuous relationships (as a mental health professional I would have preferred if he did not use aggression to solve relational problems) by eating his spinach. He chowed that down and we should too! I add spinach to much of what I eat (spinach and avocado are my favorite add-in and add-ons). I always put spinach in my protein shakes; it looks like a Shamrock shake and for whatever reason that makes me happy. I typically also mix it in to my morning cooked veggies. An example breakfast would be spinach, mushrooms, zucchini, tempeh (fermented soy, not into that?- use eggs or crumbled sausage. You do you.), sprinkled with garlic, onion, salt, pepper, and paprika. I throw spinach into soups even when the recipe doesn’t call for it. I find it adds to the flavor and makes the soup hardy. I also often plate other cooked veggies on top of a bed of spinach. Beyond spinach being easy to cook with, incorporate, and filling; it’s packed with good reasons for us to, like Popeye, chow down.
I made this tonight for dinner. Mushrooms, spinach, artichoke hearts (I am really into them lately. Make sure you check the label. One jar I found had 8 grams of sugar. Why do my artichokes need sugar added? ugh-sneaky), tomatoes, red onion, and spiced with basil, oregano, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
Spinach is high in niacin (aka vitamin B3, is needed in every part of your body. As a supplement, niacin may help lower cholesterol, ease arthritis and boost brain function) and zinc (you need that for a healthy immune system), as well as protein (One answer to the question: “Where do you vegans get your protein?”), fiber (you need that to keep you regular and pooping), vitamins A, C, E and K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese (I’ll discuss some of these other nutrients in a future blog- I didn’t want to overwhelm you). It’s got good things for every part of your body (and mind too).
Additionally, spinach has an abundance flavonoids and those bad boys act as antioxidants to keep cholesterol from oxidizing and protect your body from free radicals (that’s a good thing. There’s a reason they are free, you get what you pay for in this example.), particularly in the colon (you don’t want free radicals there or anywhere else). The folate in spinach supports a healthy cardiovascular system, and magnesium helps lower high blood pressure, impacts your mood; helping people settle down and sleep. Spinach is good for your overall wellness, studies have shown that it helps maintain brain function, memory and mental clarity.How are you going to get that spinach into your diet and support your wellness by what you eat?
With Love & Gratitude~
Doing something new or different is good for your brain health and for me, that often means my emotional/psychological health as well. I tried something new today. My running partner Sam was telling me about Chrissie Wellington (check out what I am talking about) and her youtube running videos that motivate and help with pacing. This morning when I got on the treadmill I used this to change up my run. It was different, fun and I will definitely do it again. That’s the thing with exercise, you have to find something that excites and challenges you! What are you willing to try?
It’s kind of a wonder drug-ish
I want to talk to you about curcumin. What even is it? I am excited to tell you. Let me start off by saying it’s the stuff that I take when my knee hurts and then my knee doesn’t hurt. Magic, or at least turmeric. Before I get into what curcumin is and even more fascinating what it does, let me tell you about turmeric.
Vegetable Turmeric Stew- I made this!
Turmeric is part of the ginger family. Its stalk is used in both food and medicine, creating the common yellow ingredient that colors and adds flavor to curry (and tofu, and veggies, scrambled eggs, potatoes.. you get what I am saying here!). If you eat Indian food you are already familiar with the color and flavor. In traditional Indian Ayurveda, turmeric is thought to support general body strength, vision and normal milk secretion. Within dietary supplements, turmeric is found both alone, and in combination with products created to exert antioxidant activity and provide gastrointestinal support (it’s good for your gut and that might be the key to our overall health). Good news. The primary active compounds in turmeric are the flavonoid, curcumin and related “curcuminoid” compounds which deliver potent antioxidant properties and that’s why we need to talk about getting curcumin into your body. More good news, there are choices; food, tea, supplements.
Curcumin is not just and antioxidant, which is sexy enough, but it is also an anti-inflammatory (that’s why it helps my achy knee, the one that knows I am almost 50 years old. I hyperlinked above to the exact kind I use). It also modulates hormones and neorchemicals. Some studies show it helps with depression (possibly because depression shares symptoms with other diseases and manifestations of inflammation in the body). People with chronically high cortisol and with the biological markers of inflammation and symptoms of depression respond better to anti-inflammatories then antidepressants. Another study found that curcumin was superior to Prozac in cases of depression, especially when the Prozac was not working effectively. AMAZING, right?
You know what else it does, according to Dr. Sara Gottfried, curcumin “[C]ounters the proliferative effect of estrogen on cancer cells.” If your estrogen hormone balance is off, it feeds cancer, curcumin acts in the reverse. All this information encouraged me to find ways to incorporate turmeric, and therefore curcumin, into my system. I found this tumeric tea that I love. There are several varieties. Find one you love and take care of yourself! If you like the taste of turmeric, you are going to want to have about a tablespoon a day (sprinkle it on your food, another new thing to try). If you are cooking with turmeric occasionally, you are might not getting enough in your diet to reach the optimal level for health benefits especially if you are using it instead of those nasty NSAIDs, you will need 500-1000mg to get pain-relief results. 800 mgs is the sweet spot for me and my nagging knee pain and why I had such a great time with Chrissie Wellington on the treadmill this morning.
Tomorrow let’s catch up on data.
With Love & Gratitude~
I made it through my 24 hours of just veggies and I already feel reset. What a relief. I am reset and ready to move forward. Before moving forward, I wanted to discuss a few how I got heres with you all. Specifically, I want to address the things I have given up, the reasons why, and the results I have experienced. I would love to hear about your experiences too, so feel free to share them.
Good-bye to diet soda
I never drank regular soda except in an occasional rum and coke. When I was on the top of my drinking game I would even order a rum and diet coke, like it mattered. I did drink about 4-6 diet sodas a day. I was all about the diet coke, sometimes a diet sprite or ginger ale if I wanted something light (as if that even makes sense) and if I was buying large bottles, diet cream soda. Oh how I loved that diet cream soda. Here’s what happened, and this was about 12 years ago so some of the details are probably not 100% accurate. Two things, my dad quit drinking soda and I read that even if you drink diet soda, if you cut it out for a year you would lose 10 pounds. My dad inspired me as he talked about feeling better, that he was less gassy (perhaps pulling his finger would no longer get the same result as it did when I was a child), and that he genuinely felt less bloated in his mid-section and he could SEE a difference. My Dad’s influence is typically not enough to get me to do something, and did I say I loved my diet sodas. Well, shortly after dad quit soda I stumbled on this article that I mentioned above and that inspired me. I was looking to lose some weight and thought this was a good and fairly easy way to do it. Since then a lot more information has been mainstreamed about soda. Between the sugar & high fructose corn syrup (in regular soda), caffeine and those bubbles it’s freaking poison. Diet soda doesn’t have the same kind of sugar, but your hormones can’t distinguish so your body responds as if you are drinking the non-diet kind. Poison.
One of my wellness clients who was feeling stuck with her fitness goals and how she looked on the outside fought me about ditching the soda. I fought back hard because I knew she would see results and feel them too. Well, she just reported (literally like yesterday) she is basically off the poison and feels and looks healthier, not to mention her emotional/psychological wellness improved too, because she felt proud of herself. Love it!
I dabbled with being vegetarian in high school and college. Beer and pizza were still on the menu because they are meatless so that worked out for a while until I wanted a burger or Thanksgiving came up and what else could I eat but turkey. Also, I didn’t really like vegetables beyond traditional tossed salad so that was limiting. In my 20s-30s I went back to eating meat, eating whatever without much thought or connection to what I was putting in my body although I limited the meat I ate. Why I keep trying to limit or stop eating meat was, and still is, mostly a spiritual wellness thing for me.
I became vegetarian again in my late 30s. I still ate dairy products including eggs and I ate fish because can’t imagine my life without Sushi. I decided the day after my 40th birthday I was going to try to be vegan for a week. I was sure this was not going to last even the week because I love pizza (ate it at least once a week), I come from a long line of ice cream enthusiasts (I ate that almost every night, that’s not an exaggeration) and as far as I was concerned cheese belonged on everything. I picked the start day as the day after my birthday because I wanted to be sure eat gobs of ice cream cake (and I did) t. Well that was just under eight years ago and I never turned back. I do eat Sushi or other seafood when I feel like it. I will always have a bagel and lox with my family on Long Island. I will taste things that I am curious about. On a day to day basis though I do not eat animal including meat and dairy. I do not miss it. In fact, when I do try something, it feels spiritually off and some dairy makes me pretty sick. There’s good reason for that, which I will talk about in a later blog where I integrate the research. Another thing that I noticed when I stopped eating dairy was that my body changed. Weight that I used to hold in my hips and lower back, that did not respond to weight loss or my exercise regime disappeared. Nice perk! One last thing, I LOVE vegetables now and eat a huge variety of them. I actually feel weird and off center when I don’t get enough. Dr. Sara Gottfried recommends 8 cups of veggies a day, I usually reach that goals before dinner. As you can imagine I have no problem with regularity like many of my peers; another perk.
No Alcohol (for now)- No Sugar (need practice here)- No Gluten (Mostly)
The books that I am reading (see list below) and other ways that I have been educating myself (As a mental health counselor, I am particularly interested in how what you eat and how you take care of yourself impacts your mental health) all are making strong arguments for minimizing sugar and alcohol intake and much of what I am learning is making a similar case for gluten. I go no alcohol periodically which I find fairly easy except when there’s an event that involves champagne or meal that feels wrong without a glass of wine. I know that I will be drinking on our vacation in a few weeks because it would seem wrong to me not to start each day at the beach resort without having a mimosa.
Of course, alcohol and sugar are linked (chemically) and as easy as I find it to go months without alcohol, I find it challenging to go more than a few days without sugar. I wrote some about this yesterday and I will write more in the future. I will tell you that the first three days are tough and then it becomes easier unless you find yourself face to face with M&Ms. I also notice I have triggers, like I always want something sweet after a meal (there’s a reason for that, I’ll get back to you I just have to find the specific research on that) and I often feel like a need something sweet at work in my clinical office (I am not there every day so at least I have that going for me) and a night (again, there’s a reason for that, I’ll get back to you I just have to find the specific research on that too).
In no way did I ever plan to cut out gluten. I mean really, I am from Long Island, I am supposed to eat bagels! I love bread, I love to bake and eat what I make and for the love of GOD I am vegan, what’s left??!! The first time I did Dr. Sara Gottfried’s Hormone Reset Diet I played along and removed gluten as prescribed. I missed it, but like I said yesterday I really do love this reset. Anyway, when I added gluten back in I noticed that I felt like ass. Specifically, I felt tired and sluggish. I don’t have the time or desire to feel that way, so I am mostly gluten free. That gluten, like dairy, is sneaky in so many things, so you have to be vigilant. Again, there are good reasons why should remove gluten and then reintroduce it to see what happens. I will discuss what I have learned about why so many folks are having poor responses to gluten.
With Love & Gratitude~
What I have been reading:
A Mind of Your Own: The Truth about Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies and Reclaim Their Lives by Kelly Brogan, MD
The Hormone Cure by Sara Gottfried MD
Younger by Sara Gottfried MD
The Hormone Reset Diet by Sara Gottfried, MD
It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig
The Case Against Sugar by Gary Traub
The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone
Ready, set, go
Running is magical for me. Truly a moving meditation when I run solo, even on the treadmill. Today, though, I get to run (and when I say run, I mean mostly walk fast with some running sprinkled in) with my long term running partner Sam. Over ten years ago, when Sam and I started running together I was training for my first marathon (and needed support for the long runs) and he was training for his 40-something-th. Turns out although we have little in common otherwise running bonds are strong enough to create and maintain amazing friendships. We logged over six miles, heard some spring birds, talked and talked and talked, set some new fitness and wellness goals, and GET THIS saw a snowy owl! One of the best things about being active and being outside while you are actives are those moments. A freaking snowy owl which, as an aside, is a great reason to take break when running or even walking.
Sam and I do a lot of talking about our fitness and wellness goals, training ideas, and offering commentary. He’s not just a good running partner (we sometimes snow shoe together too), is he is also a good accountability partner. It’s not a bad idea to have one of those. As you set your goals share them with someone who will support you! Here’s what I came up with; I need to register for a fall ½ marathon. I was scheduled to run one last September but then I had to have an emergency appendectomy two weeks before. It sucked. It still sucks. It is taking me a long time (I’m inpatient) to get my running anywhere near the level it was at. I am determined to do that. Today I started looking for ½ marathons in the Fall within an hour or two from where I live. I also texted another running partner and bestie, Judy, to see if she wanted to do one with me. Accountability, connection, loyalty, commitment; all good for my emotional wellness. I will keep you posted.
About those cookies
Along our run/walk I told Sam about the cookie incident as well as the negative self-talk. As I unloaded (he really is such a good friend), I also decided. I decided today would be different. I laser focused today and created a schedule for myself that allowed for thoughtful eating, meditation, time to spend with my family, and getting a few things crossed of that same list that set me off just yesterday. Guess what- it worked. When I can make chaos feel and look like stability my psychological and emotional wellness improves.
Sometimes you just need to reset: Cleansing
I really needed today’s reset. There are many different ways to reset so I like to decide how to reset by asking myself, “What do I need now?” Here are a few of the different cleanses I have needed and some commentary about them. My goal here is to create a conversation that you have with yourself, someone in your life, or even me to figure out what you need, and what you need now.
24 hour Fast
Sometimes I need a full day fast. I usually use the sundown to sundown model that I am culturally familiar with. During this fast, I drink water and tea but that’s it. I may go for a walk, but that’s the extent of the physical activity. I meditate, read, and if I feel like it, do some writing type work. I don’t leave home, I might not even shower. It’s about taking it easy and being quiet; inside and out. This type of cleanse centers me. I do it at least once a year, typically 2-3 times per year.
24 hours Veggies only
Veggies make me happy. It may surprise you, but as a vegan there’s a lot of other things I eat besides vegetables. Bryer’s makes a vegan ice cream that is crazy good and crazy loaded with sugar. I can’t have it in the house. I’ll eat the entire half gallon… in one sitting. Going just veggies for 24 hours rekindles my love for veggies. People often ask me when I share vegetables I cook why they taste so good, my typical answer “Because I am in love with them and I treat them accordingly.” What does that really mean, I am not afraid to use spices and use them liberally. This type of cleanse works best when I all that I need to reset is my eating, particularly getting gluten and sugar out of the dietary picture.
4-7 day cleanse (product)
This product, combined with following the prescribed eating plan does the trick for me when I need a cleanse that has physical results. It requires me to drink some fiber (which I actually love the taste of), eat clean, sleep, and move my body gently (no running or cross fit, although I ignore that part). It includes other supplements in the form of pills that are aimed at detoxing your liver. If you have been putting crap into your body, you may even get a bit stinky during this cleanse as the toxins are released. Hooray, if you are stinky it’s working. You have to meal plan and be thoughtful. I have had great results with this cleanse, losing 5-9 pounds during a 7 day cleanse. I usually do this one a few times a year, once a quarter. One last thing that I love about this particular product is there is no stress the comes from running back and forth to the bathroom.
21 day hormone reset diet (Dr. Sara Gottfried)
Oh how I love Dr. Sara and her advice. I have learned so much from her books and blog. She has an entire book dedicated to resetting your hormones and taking back your physical, emotional, nutritional, hormonal and even spiritual wellness. I have followed Dr. Sara’s Hormone Reset Diet twice. It’s challenging but the results are fantastic. This is my cleanse of choice when I need a full wellness reset. I swear last time I did it my eyes went from blue to blue sparkles!
No Alcohol (duration TBD) and/or No Sugar (duration TBD)
My body needs breaks from sugar and/or alcohol regularly. Dr. Gottfried recommends detoxing your liver several times a year for at least 2 weeks at a time. In case you are keeping track, I have been alcohol free for 10.5 weeks. Longest I have gone without sugar; 3 weeks. According to Dr. Sara, it takes 3 days to reset your hormones. No sugar and no alcohol will reset set some of the key hormones that impact your health and wellness.
Physical Space Clean Out (like my closet, desk, kitchen cabinets)
This kind of cleanse (purge) is time consuming yet worth it. I find this kind of cleanse is exactly what I need when I feel anxious. It diffuses my anxiety and improves my focus.
Technology Hibernation (duration TBD)
Technology, particularly FaceBook and email overwhelm me. How about you? Do you ever feel maxed out by your connection to technology? I was inspired by one of my mental health counseling students, Allison, to take FaceBook off my phone. I did and that was months and months ago. I won’t go back there. Every so often I will put an away message on my email and take at least 24 hours without checking it. This helps me when I am feeling fried, anxious, or irritable.
Let me know what you have tried and how it works. It would be cool to have a cleanse-type check list to refer to when your wellness is off or not optimal. I would be happy to put that together and post it.
With Love & Gratitude~
Started off strong & then…
I started my day off with a few wellness related activities. I dry brushed, flossed, took my supplements, had a protein shake, meditated and completed two tasks on my to do list.
I was psyched to have today to work from home even if I had a lot to do between today and Monday. I looked at my to do list and immediately felt overwhelmed. Following up with yesterday’s blog about cortisol and negative self-talk, I could clearly see the link as I cursed myself for taking on too much work (again). It’s not only hard for me to say no in general, but I love my work so I tend to over commitment. In addition to my teaching and other responsibilities at the college, seeing my clients, and running my clinical practice (and my Mom duties!), I took on six presentations, all out of town, and I am putting the finishing touches on my parenting book. It’s too much.
Even with all that I on my plate I decided I was going to the gym and made a commitment to my friend Melissa to join her at the HIIT class again. Do you have a gym, workout, walking buddy? I recommend it HIGHLY. Even when I want to find something else to do with my time, if I have made a commitment to another person, I am way less likely to fill my time slot with something else. The HIIT class was packed, awesome and tough. There’s a great energy in the room. I am so grateful to my fellow workout classmates and Trish the instructor for creating this very positive experience.
After HIIT class I hoped on the treadmill. I was in the mood to run. Some people would refer to what I do as jogging, it’s running I assure you. Also, a word of advice, if I may, never refer to what people do on the treadmill, road, or track as jogging. It makes us runners want to throttle you. Running is a moving meditation to me whether inside or out (which prevents me from the aforementioned throttling). I picture my stress falling behind me as move forward. I even sweat happy.
This is where the tide turned. After the run, I got on the scale. WHY! WHY? WHY! I know from long history of having a negative relationship with the scale, that I have to be in the perfect space emotionally and psychologically to responsibility deal with the number before me. I wasn’t. It’s as if all the other data, the inch measurements, the way my clothes fit, the way I feel, the changes I have made, the steps I have taken- – well, they don’t matter. I mean they do matter, but in that moment, they did not.
Welcome to Egypt
I kept my shit together through lunch time and then began to prepare for an Around the World Party. My country was Egypt. Now I have never eaten or made Egyptian food, but I was determined to deliver the goods at a high level. Thank you Pintrest (follow me there to see what recipes I have tried out). Anyway, I found an Egyptian soup that looked yummy, easy (key), and vegan. My daughter was making a potato dish as her contribution. We needed a dessert. Back to Pintrest, this time I found Egyptian Butter Cookies, definitely not vegan, nor sugar or gluten free. I usually will try to augment those ingredients and healthify (good word, right?) the recipe. I was scared though because I had never made these cookies before. I decided to use a Paleo flour, but I kept in the sugar and ghee. At least the cookies were gluten free. Besides being gluten free they were freaking delicious. In fact, they were so delicious, I pounded down three (they really are small) before I left for the party and then like six at the party, and another six after the party (there were leftovers).
All that sugar and ghee (clarified butter) which I usually do not eat resulted in night sweats, a bit of a pity party, and a stellar example of over-the-top negative self-talk. So much for Dr. Sara Gottfried’s advice that I shared just yesterday.
Tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity. I have a morning running date with my long term running partner and friend Sam. I can do better, and I want to do better; psychologically, with what I choose to eat and not eat (at least I did not indulge in the Riesling in Germany).
with Love & Gratitude,
This wellness thing is tough
I haven’t been at this wellness thing with this level of attention for very long. It’s only a little over a week. I do feel challenged. My biggest challenges are
- Getting enough sleep
- Fitting in time to meditate x2 per day
- Negative self-talk
I don’t need the laboratory test to know my cortisol is high, and my guess is neither do you. In fact, when I reflect on my challenges at this time they all have link to maintaining a high cortisol cycle. Annoying. Dr. Sara Gottfried uses simple questions to assess your hormone status in her book The Hormone Cure. I score ridiculously high on the cortisol quiz. Although I am very proud of high scores on tests and quizzes historically, this is not one of those. Dr. Gottfried explains the science that links these seven health risks to high cortisol:
- Abnormal blood sugar, diabetes, and prediabetes
- Obesity, increased body fat, and metabolic syndrome in women
- Mood and brain problems, including depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis
- Delayed wound healing
- Infertility and polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Worsening sleep
- Bone loss in menopausal women
I am not interested in any of those health conditions. Will you join me on doing what we need to do to lower our cortisol? Here’s what I can commit to, no caffeine, better sleep hygiene (my goal is in bed by 10pm, most days I am up by 5am), meditate x2 per day, nap if I have a chance (It’s on my agenda for tomorrow), maintain no alcohol. Dr. Gottfried also makes these suggestions; eat dark chocolate (I can definitely do that), get a message at least once a month (I can do that!), chant daily (I could try that?), practice forgiveness (I want to do that), have an orgasm (that sounds reasonable), don’t worry be happy (I practice that, it’s not as easy as it sounds, you already knew that!), take vitamin B5 (done), take vitamin C (done). She also recommends the following supplements: Phosphatidylserine (PS), fish oil, L-theanine (it’s in green tea), L-lysine combined with L-arginine, L-tyrosine. There’s a lot we can do to reduce our cortisol level, good news. Because I really do love data, next doctor’s visit I am going to get my cortisol (among other things) tested.
Being mean to yourself
When my mental health counseling clients are being mean to themselves I challenge them in session. I frequently respond to their critical view of themselves by saying “You are being so mean to yourself.” I use this type of response to highlight that if they changed the way they spoke to themselves, if they were not so critical; that it would ease their anxiety, depression and allow them to navigate the world with different mindset that notices the positive. I really do try to practice what I preach. I really work hard at turning down the volume on my inner critic, and wowza she is critical! Finally, I work at cultivating my inner coach who is supportive and pushes me forward toward my goals and living my life fully. For whatever reason, I am sure there is one, my inner coach was seemingly unavailable the last few days. WAIT A MINUTE- I just figured it out, my inner coach needs sleep. I can see this so clearly right now. When I don’t get sleep I am not always tired, but you know who is tired, my inner coach! Happy dance, that makes so much sense to me.
Got to go, my inner coach needs to rest!
With Love & Gratitude~
I am wired, but not tired
Tonight, will be another night that I do not reach my goals of turning off my screens by 9 and being in bed by 10. I have a lot of energy right now and it’s 9:45. I try to take advantage of high energy times because during them I can be very productive. I love checking things off my to do list and I am on a roll. A few considerations: 1. I have been off caffeine since Monday. I powered through a lull this morning and the rest of the day felt energized. 2. I took a day off of cross fit or any other workout. Time to heal. I have not reached 12k steps yet either and I am not sure that I will. 3. I am not sticking to anything perfectly which is a challenge for me as perfectionist, nonetheless I still feel really good, and certainly way better then when I started this 8 days ago. Could what I am doing be working?
What to get rid of and how to do it
You have to do what makes sense to you. There are so many factors to consider when making lifestyle changes. One thing to consider is that you don’t have to go all in and do it all. You can, as Alicia Silverstone says when talking about becoming vegan, lean into it. You can lean in to meditation, changes in what, how much and when you eat, your use of medications and recreational drugs, how, when and with what intensity you move your body, what supplements you use. It has to make sense and fit for you psychologically, emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually; you get what I am saying I am sure! Dr. Kelly Brogan makes some suggestions of what you should get rid of right away, here’s her list: 1. Gluten-containing proteins (found in wheat, barley, and rye), 2. Most forms of sugar (refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sugars), 3. Nonorganic and genetically modified (GM) foods such as corn, soy, and canola oil, 4. Unhealthy fats (processed vegetable oils), 5. Casein (the protein found in dairy products including milk and cheese). On this list are items that we put into our gut that disrupts our gut environment and cause inflammation.
Are you at all interested in making a dent in this list and see what happens? I am! I already have the unhealthy fats and casein conquered. Right now, I am working on sugar and gluten. If I visit my home town on Long Island, there’s NO way I am not having a bagel- just saying.
With love & gratitude, Jodi
Did you know this? According to Dr. Sara Gottfried, “More than 700 synthetic chemicals mimic estrogen in a toxic way, and their prevalence in our environment is on the rise. These toxins, found in an array of items from receipts to canned foods and from plastics to pesticides, have now been linked with early puberty, female infertility, ovulation, miscarriage, endometriosis, male infertility, obesity, diabetes, and an increase in certain cancers.” I did not know anything about this. Here’s a few things I am doing to try and minimize these toxins:
- I don’t get receipts or when given the option I have them emailed or sent by text to me.
- I invested in glass containers. I am slowly removing the plastic ones from my home and replacing them with the glass ones.
- I buy fresh food when I can.
- There are lots of real plants in my office.
I know I am leaving some things off this list, but since my sleep has been a little sucky, my memory and cognition are affected; that’s what the research says. Anyway, what can you do to decrease your exposure to toxins?
More on the NO sugar-thing
I am going to keep talking/writing about this. One, so I can share what I have learned with you, and two, so I won’t have another M&M binge. That being said, for those of you who are a bit nerdy about the science of this (I mean nerdy in a loving way), I will also dedicate some time to writing about what hormones sugar impacts, how that manifests in your body and what the results are. Dr. Sara Gottfried states in The Hormone Reset Diet, that most of us are eating way too much sugar. Similar arguments are made by Gary Traub, Alicia Silverstone, and Dr. Kelly Brogan. What happens when we eat sugar is we become addicted! You already know it’s bad for your teeth, it makes you feel like you are in a fog and cranky. Dr. Gottfried says, “It [sugar] feeds the bacteria in your gut that makes you hang on to fat, which then makes you gain even more fat.” Crap and another reason we should be taking probiotics. She further says, “It’s not that you are eating too many calories and not exercising enough. It is far more likely, that you can’t zip the dress because you have insulin resistance, where your cells become numb to insulin.” Turns out that insulin is one of the hormones that impact how you derive energy from the foods you eat. The sugar thing is tied to the insulin thing. The insulin thing is tied to weight gain thing, the inflammation thing and the diseases of inflammation thing (that includes depression and if you don’t think so read Dr. Brogan’s work). That’s a lot for now, there will be more tomorrow. In the meantime, no M&M’s for me, cup of tea and air popped popcorn.
Dry Brushing & Hot Body Scrub
This is worth adding to your morning routine. The first time I heard about brushing was in consultation with an occupational therapist I was collaborating with for a child I was seeing in my role as a play therapist and mental health counselor who had been diagnosed with Autism. Fast forward about 10 years and I read The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone. Silverstone suggests scrubbing the body with a washcloth and hot water. This is supposed to be not only good for your skin, but circulation and lymphatic circulation, it releases toxins and helps dissolve fat trapped under the skin. Fast forward another 10 years to present day and Dr. Brogan is also advocating for dry brushing. I have been doing this every morning, for months. I have some observations to share with you. My skin feels soft, even though I live in a cold climate and it is very dry inside and out. The other thing I noticed is I just love it. It has become part of my morning routine I love how it feels on my skin, I love the sound it makes; it’s soothing. Finally, I often wake up with a level of intensity that is a little much, when I dry brush or hot scrub it seems to ground me; I love that.
Thanks for listening and keeping me writing and away from the candy!
With love & gratitude, Jodi
I guess I skipped a day; I apologize for any confusion. Maybe I just want this month to go bye quick!
Today was a bit tough. My schedule was somewhat chaotic and I did not take a designated lunch break, so I threw the second half of my breakfast (veggies and tofu) down during a meeting. That wasn’t a good idea. What I realize happens in that scenario is that even if I am not hungry, when I don’t take a little time to just eat my meal, I wind up not feeling satisfied. I need more practice at mindful eating. I wasn’t satisfied and to be honest I am still not. I figured if I shared that with you it might help be unburden that feeling. I am also still going with my hypothesis that I am in general hungrier the week before I get my period (TMI? I hope not because I plan on talking to you about pooping soon). Another thing I just thought of… I stayed up later than I have since starting this last night AND only slept 4:40, yikes. And ANOTHER thing… I went without caffeine today (high five myself here because around 10am I really thought I needed it, I was jonesing).
This morning while I was doing my meditation the constant inner chatter was in high gear. I observed that it’s not just chatter that I experience but a sense of unrelenting noise. Get this, at some point during this morning’s meditation the chatter stopped and the noise disappeared it was just internally quiet. It was very obvious and very cool! Have you tried to meditate yet? If not that, deep breathing? Guided meditation? For an example, here’s a link to a guided meditation I created with my son when he wasn’t taller than me.
No Sugar, why this is such an important part to my wellness puzzle
There is so much research and literature out there about why we should be eating low-glycemic (low sugar) that for the next few days I will start to share some of the arguments that really inspired and motivated me. First, in It Starts with Food, the authors state, “These foods [sugars, artificial sweeteners, and alcohol] light up pleasure, reward, and emotional pathways in the brain, offering supernormally stimulating flavors without providing the nutrition that nature intended. These are foods-with-no-brakes, promoting overconsumption and the inability to control your cravings, habits, and behaviors.” Those words really hit me hard because the way I make sense of that is sugar negatively effects our wellness physically, spiritually, emotionally, and even at a cellular level.
Meeting my husband there for a date. Got to go.
With love and gratitude- Jodi