What’s In It?

Every day we hear more bad news about the effects of the foods we eat on our bodies. One medical report after another tells us that what we eat is killing us. Magazines highlight the best proteins, carbs and fats. So the question remains: why aren’t we changing the way we eat?

Now, I am not a radical foodie! I am a vegetarian because I discovered that meat doesn’t agree with me.  My journey was accidental in that I only found out I needed to avoid meat by being forced to.

Fifteen years ago I grudgingly agreed to spend a week with my mom at a health spa in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I said yes to sitting by the pool and soaking up the sun. I had no idea that this was a vegan spa (what’s vegan?).  I recall the massive headache that plagued me during the first day and a half because there was no coffee or sugar. I was irritable and frustrated and considered going AWOL in pursuit of a Snickers bar and a DietCoke.vegetarians

What transpired over the week was nothing short of transformational. I discovered that my painful gut issues disappeared. I also had my first introduction to the concept of holistic wellness; wellness as concept that connects the mind and the body.

I returned home inspired to buy organic milk and range-fed chicken for my kids. I cut out all meats. Which brings me full circle to my topic. Have you ever really considered where and how your food is produced?

I am not advocating that you break the bank and buy strictly organic, or that you choose the raw food plan. No, I simply encourage you to look at how the food you consume is produced and decide for yourself whether or not this should continue to occupy space in your kitchen.

sliced_cheese1A perfect example for me is processed cheese. For a long time, I purchase sliced “American” cheese for my children (I won’t name brands, you know the kind).  This was a staple in my house and enhanced many of my girls’ favorite foods. One day I was online and found a sound bite on the very same, portable, easy to unwrap, cheese. Imagine the shock when I read that American Cheese cannot even be legally sold as “Authentic” because of the additives, emulsifiers etc…

I won’t say that my pantry is a perfect specimen of organic unprocessed foods, but it is far cleaner that it used to be because I read the label. Yes, I want to know the calories, fat and sugars, but I think it’s important to also look at the ingredients. If you can’t pronounce it, chance are you shouldn’t put it in your body. I made it my mission to try to replace some of the items that we regularly stocked. Once a week I chose one item and looked for an alternative. Sometimes the switch was successful and sometimes it wasn’t.

One of the great benefits (aside from a healthier kitchen), was that my daughters began to read labels as well.

As I said at the outset, this isn’t about revamping every item in your culinary repertoire, it’s about educating yourself.

Need tips on clearing out the kitchen? Email me at Liz@toyourhealthwellness.com

Want some additional resources? Check out  the Links page on my website, http://www.toyourhealthwellness.com

To Your Health!

 

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Tap Tap Tap

I recently took a class in EFT (Emotional Feeling Technique) or Tapping. While I was familiar with Tapping, I had not really looked at its origin or applications. I spent the week listening to seminars from speakers in all fields all over the country and in Australia.

Tapping has gained supporters in recent years, but its origins can be found in ancient Chinese practices such as Acupressure and Acupuncture. The basic premise is that if we apply pressure, or tap on specific points in the body, while working through some pain (physical and emotional), we can begin to lessen and relieve distress.

Like many folks, I went into these seminars with my eyebrows arched and a long  list of questions. I had seen the promo videos with Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay and Cheryl Richardson, all of whom I admire.  As is my pattern, I dove in, head first.  I took copious notes and listened with an open heart and mind to some pretty remarkable experiences.

For me, the hours spent listening to the advantages of Tapping through emotional pain were most intriguing. Lori Leyden, who now runs the Orton Foundation (see links), talked at length about the effect that Tapping had on the families of victims of the Newtown, CT shooting.  Volunteers went to Newtown within weeks of the incident and began working in groups and individually with adults and children, teachers and emergency response teams. Lori was able to cite concrete examples of Tapping’s success.

In another session, the leader talked of the relationship between adult triggers and childhood pain. At the time I was having some conflicts with friends. I did a little Tapping, focusing on the fact that my feelings aren’t really about what is happening now but date back to my childhood. In the end I remembered an event in preschool that has colored and influenced my life. The trigger for this pain was my current situation, but the pain dated back to 1962!

I came away with a sense of appreciation for this technique and a vow to learn more and try it on for size. I am excited to continuing learning about Tapping and hope to bring it to my clients in session.

Feel free to email me with questions.

To Your Health!

What Are You Hungry For?

Since I talked about the Diet dilemma in my last post, I wanted to followup with a conversation about what gets in our way.

In my work as a Wellness Coach, I have often been asked how to handle cravings and binges. Like any behavior, the first step is to identify the craving or the urge to binge. One of the things I often tell clients is to keep a calendar or journal handy. When the urge to overeat hits, write down the day, time, the food you are craving and the feelings that are associated with this urge. If, for example, I suddenly can’t stop thinking about Peanut M&M’s and the more I think the hungrier I get, I stop, pick up a pen, note the date and time, write down Peanut M&M’s and what I am feeling.

Initially, clients look at me like I am crazy! ‘Why do you want me to write down what I want to eat?’ they ask. My response is to remind them that sometimes the ‘what’ you want to eat provokes thoughts and feelings that, once noted, can be dealt with.

When I recognize my craving for the aforementioned candy at 11 P.M., I am reminded of the Halloweens of my childhood. I grew up in New York City, so Trick or Treating took place in large apartment buildings. When we finished scavenging for sugar, we (my brother and I) would empty our sacks, divide up what we loved and hated (all the while indulging). The next day the candy would be gone! My parents donated it every year, the day after Halloween! I never had the chance to get sick of it. I needed to stuff it in as fast as possible, because it was leaving soon. My craving today is usually met with the same sense of urgency. I am worried that I won’t get enough because it will be taken away.

This urgency for sweets is usually a metaphor for urgency in life.  So, although many of us eat to fill a void, there are times when the stress of life or a stressful event makes us feel the same urgency or emotion we experienced in childhood.

The bottom line is that, in order to truly lose weight, we have to cope with the issues that encouraged us to gain in the first place. These issues need to be observed. I am not suggesting that you rush to the nearest therapist, although, for some, this is a wise choice. I am encouraging you to do your own work. Pick apart the elementss of your ‘eating’ life that need examination.

Wellness Coaches, like me, often work with clients helping them narrow down the issues mentioned above. We ask questions, point clients to resources and help them do the work. Your awareness of your triggers or what you are hungry for, is profoundly helpful.

As you plan the weight loss plan or diet, as you visualize your success, try to be aware of the things that have gotten in your way before and what their cause might be.

To Your Health!

 

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Interested in Wellness Coaching? Email me at Liz@toyourhealthwellness.com

Take Your Candy!

Vitamins_and_Mineral_Pills_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_091231-191192-070009Have you noticed the number of supplements, vitamins, and over-the- counter meds that are marketed as and flavored like candy? I was at the pharmacy the other day. I was looking for a particular brand of calcium. First I noticed the chocolate-flavored chews made with extra calcium. Then my attention was drawn to the other stomach “aids” only to find gummies and fruit chews. Further down the aisle I found an entire shelf of vitamins in the form of candy.

When I was little, the only ‘good’ flavored medicine was St. Joseph’s Baby Aspirin.(As a matter of fact my brother chewed the better part of a bottle because it tasted good.) Most other medicines tasted like, well, medicine. My kids had ear infections and both went through an exhaustive list of liquid antibiotics. Although flavored, there was no confusing them with candy. We had plenty of ‘pushback’ about not taking medicine so we usually gave the girls a treat, like fruit snacks or a cookie, to make the taste go away. I don’t mind admitting that, as a mother, I relied on bribery from time to time.

I guess I am left wondering what the fallout from these candy-flavored products will be. Obviously Americans do not need any more processed sugar. But the pendulum has swung so far in the direction of pleasure and ease that it seems even our medicine must be tasty. Furthermore, I wonder how effective these supplements can be when they are enhanced with flavorings and sweeteners? I mean can fiber really be effective if wrapped in a gummy?

candyI have had a sugar problem for years. I love it! Recently, I’ve decided (with a little push from my doc) to give up all white sugar.  I don’t even have artificial sweeteners like aspartame, because research has shown that the chemicals in aspartame often increase the brain’s craving for more sugar. I have had to adapt to the taste of Stevia. I can’t say I enjoy it quite as much, but I can make it work. I don’t know what changes are going on inside my body, but I no longer need the caffeine jolt in the afternoon or feel my energy spike and then plummet after a sugary treat.

I would love to tell you that the urge for all sweets has already diminished, but I would be lying. I see the advertisement for that new Hershey’s Chocolate Spread and think about eating it from the jar with a spoon.  Food commercials often make me wax poetic about Fiber One Brownies or flavored coffee creamers. I am, however, an adult (I keep telling myself this) and I know that this change is for the good long-term. I will allow myself some wonderful sweet morsel at sometime in the future, but I can tell you two things:

1) It won’t be until I am confident that I can just have a small portion, and

2) It won’t be in the form of a calcium or fiber supplement!

 

Until Next Time!

I Hate To Exercise!

I hate to break a sweat! But, as my previous post suggests, I do it (sweat) spontaneously on a daily basis. As I write this I am dripping from blow-drying my hair. So why in the world would I intentionally work myself into a lather?

I know, I know, it’s good for me. But, for some reason, I just resent the intrusion into my life. I have, for intermittent periods, embraced exercise and the accompanying sweats. But I am not self motivated. My brother runs or swims daily. He’s moved up and down the east coast and he always seeks out a YMCA or club to meet his needs. My sister goes to a personal trainer. I tried hiring a personal trainer. When I interviewed her, I told her that I was paying her not only to get me in shape, but also to listen to me complain– LOUDLY!

I have sporadically played tennis, worked out at a gym, done aerobic dance classes. I even tried Zumba because I love music; I was totally intimidated, especially when I realized that it was ‘black light night’, everyone was in neon but me. I was in white. I stuck out like a marshmallow.

With a history of orthopedic problems, I should be embracing weight-bearing and aerobic exercise to prolong the quality of my life. I am a Wellness Coach. I know this! What’s up? For years I blamed myself; I am lazy, a couch potato, unmotivated. I mean let’s be honest, I’d rather watch a DVD than exercise to one.

About five years ago, a friend suggested I read a book called ‘The 8 Colors of Fitness’ by Shelley Brue. I took a quick look and was intrigued. Through a brief personality assessment you are matched with a color. That color indicate the type of exercise and setting that best suits your personality.

color-wheel-dodecagon-mdThe most important thing I learned was that I am social (surprise) and therefore, will exercise more successfully with a partner or in a group. That explains why tennis was always fun.

Armed with this information, I began to explore. Do I invest in a club membership, try Zumba, personal training? What I came back to was yoga. I have practiced yoga on and off for about ten years. When I participate, my incredibly tight hip and hamstrings noticeably loosen, my sciatica is less bothersome and I tend to sleep better.

There are a wide variety of schools of yoga. and each teacher approaches the practice differently. In the end I chose to go back to the woman who has guided me for years. Olga(www.aligningwithgrace.com) believes that the practice of yoga is individual. There are a variety of body types and abilities in our tiny class. Once a week we set a personal intention for ourselves and spend 90 minutes working our bodies. She reminds us that we go only as far as our bodies PERMIT; that yoga is not about what other people do, it’s about what you can do.

Because I know that exercise for exercise’s sake is usually abhorrent to me and because an ulterior motive can often motivate me further (i.e. winning at tennis, enjoying music, socializing), I am continually drawn back to the practice of yoga. The quiet and concentration take me out of my mind and force me to concentrate on working with my body. I am probably the only one in class who breaks a sweat even though the temperature outside is below freezing, but I have given up on the idea that I can exercise without the ‘glow’.  The positive feedback I get for my efforts reinforces my motivation and there is a relaxed camaraderie amongst us (and there’s not a lithe, Lycra-clad twenty something or a wall of mirrors in sight!).

What color are you? What does your experience with exercise or health tell you about what you do for yourself? Take a look at your own life pattern. If the current drive toward better health isn’t working for you, find a new one.

I’m here for you!triangle pose

News Flash…Hot Flash

I am lying in bed, almost asleep. It starts; the heat creeps up my body from the tips of my toes to the top of my head. This isn’t a flash this is a tsunami! In minutes I am drenched or dripping, uncomfortable and irritable.

hot flashI am at a party. I’ve just been introduced to someone new. Polite conversations begins, I sip my wine and suddenly, I am wiping my brow, the back of my neck is dripping and I find myself fanning myself with a cocktail napkin and apologizing embarrassedly.

I am at the store. As I check out, I am convinced that the salesman thinks I am stealing because, out of nowhere, I turn bright pink and start to drip.

Menopause, the gift that keeps on giving! I don’t know when it will end, no one does. The cures are often riskier than the symptoms. And if the hot flashes aren’t enough, there are all of the other “changes” that come with the end of Menses.

I look in the mirror and notice I have my mother’s knees. The skin sags. I recently noticed jowl-like droops on my face. Out of nowhere, the eight (yes) pounds I gained over the holidays settles in my belly, when it used to distribute all over. My skin is suddenly dry where it used to be supple!

Honestly are these the badges of honor bestowed on me for being a woman? This is not some fun secret club or sorority; this is awful!  When we run into folks that we haven’t seen a while, I constantly hear how distinguished my husband looks with grey hair. On the other hand, I try to hide my roots until my next color. I had to buy a dress recently. Designers are deliberately shortening the lengths to remind me I no longer have the legs of a 30 or even 40 year old.

I am not disturbed that I am aging. I look at my daughters and feel pride that that we (have to give the husband credit) have raised such smart, self-sufficient, wonderful women. It took work to have them and raise them. The stretch marks from their pregnancies (not the ones from weight gain-how do you tell?) are sort of like proof that long ago, I incubated and nurtured these beings to life. But, let’s face it, we finally reach the pinnacle of female success. We have raised kids, nurtured careers, saved for that retirement (one, all or none, you pick) and this is when my body starts to shortchange me?

I remember the horror/excitement of getting my period. I was thirteen. The only ‘drag’ was ‘equipment (Remember pads and belts?). To be honest, I was looking forward to Menopause. No more periods, no more birth control, no more elasticity in my skin!

Enough, I say! I can no longer stand to look in the mirror and see only what has changed with age. I must find a better way. I need to start to see the ‘wisdom’ in my jowls, the knowledge in my under eye circles, and the miles tread on my thighs and knees.

I will embrace my body and it’s changes, rather than it’s flaws. At least, that’s what I’ll do today!

One day at a time!

An Organized Purse, A Clear Mind?

Isn’t it interesting that the frenzy of the winter holidays is followed by a push to clean out and organize? Actually, the timing couldn’t be better. The clutter of the holidays the gifts, the tree, the trimming, the food has to be dealt with in the New Year. Why not clean out a closet at the same time?

I love to organize, to clean out and giveaway things that are just collecting dust.  It’s hard (I still have the shoes I got married in and I’ll never wear them again), but so satisfying. My philosophy is simple; I can’t bring something in to my house without getting rid of something. I have one room in my house that serves as the collection site for the things we no longer need or use. When the pile begins to grow too large, I contact one of the charities in our area for a pickup Easy!

Cleaning out and organizing feels cathartic to me. When I look at a pristine well- organized closet I’m reminded that I control my life, not the reverse. I have many friends who disagree. They debate the “ifs” and “I might need it” of every item. The task takes twice as long and before you know it, they’ve given up. Their homes don’t provide them with the calm and ‘sanctuary’ they crave. For that matter their homes are often a mirror of the chaos within them.

Peter Walsh (of Oprah fame) says, ‘Your home should be the antidote to stress, not the cause.’ I agree. If you walk into a home that is a mess or room with a table crammed with paperwork, do you want to stay? Does it relax you? Quite the opposite, it can be debilitating. If you’ve ever seen any of the hoarding shows on television, you know it can even affect your health.

My point is this, if you spent 10 minutes each day on a small part of your home — a closet, the pantry, the fridge — and clear out the clutter, you will feel so much better. Imagine being able to find that other glove, or the potato masher?

My cousin is a professional organizer in New York City. She has successfully moved, organized and created beautifully organized spaces for her clients.  Although she works on her own, she often has the client work with her. Long-term success organizing a space is often a result of the client’s participation.

I work on this with clients all the time. If you control your environment, you control your life. One of my clients has struggled with binge eating for years. When I asked her what it feels like while she’s binging, she says things like, ‘frenetic’, ‘crazy’, ‘out of control’. During one session, I asked her to try something different. When the urge to binge begins, I suggested she find an unorganized drawer, her purse or a shelf and organize it! I told her this should take no more than ten minutes. When the task is done, she should come up with three words to describe the space.  After a week, she reported that her first attempt failed, because, in her words ‘I took on too much’. A day later the urge to binge reared its ugly head again. This time she dumped out her purse on the living room floor and cleaned it out. She described it as ‘clean’, ‘clear’, and ‘light’. Once done, the urge to binge was diminished.

Notice, I said ‘diminished’ not ‘cured’. Like everything else in life, this takes practice.

Is there a space that you need to tackle? How will purging in small, manageable pieces help you?

Until next time!