Friday, May 29, 2015

Five for Friday - Five Small Changes Resulting in One Significant Improvement

I am always looking for ways to improve my blood sugar, and overall health in general.  Recently, I've made some seemingly small lifestyle changes that, according to my home checks, have improved my blood sugar.  Here are five of those changes:

1.  I've started taking daily walks.  Usually I walk for about 20 minutes a day, sometimes more.  
2.  I've cut down on, but not eliminated dairy from my diet.  The only dairy I continue to consume on a regular basis is whole fat organic pasture-based Greek yogurt.
3.  I've cut down on, but not eliminated flour products from my diet.  It recently occurred to me that I may be addicted to products made with flour.  After reading about the suggestion to give up flour I decided to give it a try.  While I still do eat it once in a blue moon, I have cut down significantly.
4.  I've been decluttering.  Less stuff means less stress.  Less stress means better overall health.
5.  I've increased the size of the weights I lift from 2.5 pounds to 5 pounds.  

According to my home glucose monitor, my average blood sugar for the month is normal.  Time will tell if it is consistent with the official test I will get next month!  Either way, it is clear that there has been some improvement.  Best of all, I've developed a lifestyle that I can maintain.  

What are some changes you've made that have resulted in better health?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Thankful Thursday - The Best of Both Worlds

I'm grateful for having the best of both worlds in my own neighborhood. The grocery stores, gas station, etc. are all close by, but I also don't have to go very far to be completely surrounded by nature.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015

Mindful Monday - Taking Yoga off the Mat and Into the World

"We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share.  If we share with caring, lightheartedness, and love, we will create abundance and joy for each other and then this moment will have been worthwhile." - Deepak Chopra

Friday, May 22, 2015

Five for Friday - Maximizing Kitchen Time

Eating healthy is often associated with spending more time in the kitchen.  It can be tempting to stop and pick up fast food or packaged foods at the grocery store to reduce the time you spend doing the work.  

Once you develop some new routines, however, this will change.  You will start to notice positive changes in how you feel and you will want to spend time preparing healthy foods at home.   Here are a few strategies than can turn your life around in a healthy way:

1.  Plan to spend a period of uninterrupted time for each meal.  The time you spend on each meal can vary each day and throughout the day.  Decide how long you can realistically spend in the kitchen and commit to it.  Give yourself time to prepare a healthy, tasty meal, but don't feel like you have to spend all day in the kitchen to accomplish this, because you don't.  

Here is what a typical meal preparation day might look like for me:

-15 minutes to make my morning smoothie, about 45 minutes to drink it (usually while I'm doing something else), and about 5 minutes to clean the NutriBullet. 

-15 minutes to prepare a sandwich and a side of veggies for lunch, 30 minutes to eat, and 5 minutes to clean up.

-5 minutes to dish my dinner out (most often it's leftovers), 20 minutes to reheat it in the conventional oven (during this time I often make a salad), 30 minutes to eat, and about 10 minutes to clean up.

The time you spend preparing meals, eating, and cleaning up will vary according to yours and your family's needs and schedules.  The point it to commit to a certain amount of time for each meal and stick to it.

2.  Develop a healthy relationship with your kitchen.  Think about the relationships you have with others.  How do you nurture those relationships?  You probably spend some time with them and you spend some time apart from them.  Both are healthy in a relationship.  The same applies to your kitchen.  You probably don't want to spend all day in the kitchen, but you do want to dedicate a certain amount of time to it. Give your kitchen the gift of time.

3.  Eat hearty servings of raw food.  For example, maybe have a smoothie for breakfast and a salad with dinner.  No cooking involved!  Need I say more?

4.  Eat primarily with the intent to nourish your body, not just satisfy hunger.  You have choices about what to eat.  Ask yourself, "How will this nourish my body?"  If you can't answer that or if the answer is, "It won't," then it may not be worth eating.  Of course, splurging happens once in while.  Just don't make those once in a whiles add up to everyday.

5.  Invest in a few kitchen essentials.  Some of mine are two cutting boards, the NutriBullet, and a quality knife.  Figure out what works for you and invest in them.  Focus on just a few essentials.  This will save you money and clean up time.  Fancy gadgets can be fun, but sometimes they cause more stress than they're worth.  Enjoy a few good quality ones that often have multiple uses.

What works for you when it comes to maximizing your time in the kitchen?  Please share!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thankful Thursday- Stairs Design

I'm grateful for those who designed the outdoor stairwell in my community and the alternate route to the shopping center for those who don't do stairs. The stairwell has about 15-20 steps that are not very steep. After each set of three or four steps there's a platform, so it's not just one long flight of stairs. I like the break from the steps in between. The railings are also very useful to me. It's a flight of stairs I feel very comfortable walking on my own, which is rare.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tuesday's Tip - When You're Sick

There will be times when you're just not feeling well.  (If not, way to go!)  This past Sunday I was not feeling well.  I didn't feel like eating or drinking much, but I wanted something to keep hydrated and keep my energy as up as it could be.  I have a box of crackers that I used to eat on a regular basis.  Although they are the healthiest I can find in the store, they are not healthy enough to be eating daily.  So, I now save them for those times when I'm not feeling up to par, but need something in my stomach.  They came in really handy on Sunday!  

One thing I realized is I need to change the juice I've been buying.  I rarely drink juice anymore and I therefore rarely buy it.  In fact, some of the juice I have will expire soon.  It's all 100% juice with no added sugar.  However, it isn't organic and is likely loaded with GMO's.  While it sufficed this weekend when I was sick (I drank a mere 4 ounces) I know in the future I need to make changes.  I don't want to add GMO's to my body when I'm already sick!

So, what's Tuesday's tip?  

Stock up on healthy non-perishables for those times when you are not feeling up to par.  

It will keep you from splurging on the unhealthy, but easy to consume stuff.  Just don't use this as a reason to eat these emergency non-perishables too often.  I'm talking about keeping them for those times when you are truly feeling sick and cannot muster up the energy to prepare healthy food in your own kitchen.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mindful Monday - My Anchor

"Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky.  Conscious breathing is my anchor." --- Thich Nhat Nanh 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Five for Friday - Benefits of Walking

Many of us are aware that walking is good for our health.  Sometimes when those benefits are not immediately visible, it can be discouraging.  I am hoping my daily walks improve my cholesterol and blood sugar, but I won't know that until my next scheduled blood test.

In the meantime, there are some benefits that I have noticed without having had a blood test yet.  Here are five of those benefits:

1.  Improved Concentration - Sometimes when the afternoon slump hits I take a walk instead of taking a nap.  When I return I'm more alert and able to focus on what needs to be done.

2.  Improved Emotional State of Mind - After a walk I am better able to deal with difficult situations in a rational way.

3.  Increased Awareness - I have been living in the same building for over ten years, but only now am I noticing certain things - different species of birds, plants, trees, and even the layout of the environment.

4.  Increased Strength and Stamina - Since I started taking almost daily walks about six weeks ago, I'm able to walk for longer periods of time and at a faster pace.  I'm able to do much more than I ever thought I'd be able to.  When I first started taking regular walks, I thought my limit was 10-15 minutes.  Even then I was able to walk for at least 20 minutes when I actually put it to the test.  Now, sometimes 30-45 minutes goes by without me even realizing it!

5.  Increased Confidence - I've become much more confident in what I'm capable of doing and this confidence filters into other areas of my life.

How does walking benefit you?  Have you noticed any of these benefits?  Please share!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thankful Thursday - Better Days

I'm grateful for this beautiful day that made my walk more pleasant. Even the birds were celebrating.  We've had oppressive humidity and temperatures in the 80's, which is difficult for me to tolerate.  Today's lower humidity and temperatures reminded me that tough times are followed by better days. Everything will be okay.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tuesday's Tip - Follow Your Heart

What your passion is today may change tomorrow...and that's okay.  Give yourself permission to follow your heart.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mindful Monday

"Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow". ~Henry David Thoreau


Friday, May 08, 2015

Five for Friday - Alleviating Writer's Block

Don't know what to write about?  I'm not going to suggest topics.  That's up to you.  What I'll do is give you five strategies for alleviating writer's block.  Here we go!

1.  Take a Walk.  Even if you don't make an intentional effort to think of ideas while you're walking, often ideas come to mind this way.  It's also a great way to clear your mind, which leaves more room for fresh ideas!

2.  Meditate.  Again, a clear mind leaves more room for fresh ideas!

3.  Listen to music.  Just feel the music and let it flow through you.  Ideas will often follow.

4.  Take a nap, but keep it short.  Power naps are great for re-energizing your body and your mind.  If you sleep too long this may backfire, so try to sleep no longer than an hour.  My preferences is usually 20 minutes when I need a power nap.

5.  Express your creativity in a different way.  For example, instead of writing, try doing something else like drawing.  Free your mind and just cut loose.  This relieves stress and clears your mind.

What other ideas do you have?  Please share!  We all experience something like this at certain times.  In fact, it was writers' block that inspired this post! :-)

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Thankful Thursday - Success with the Scooter!

A few weeks ago I shared my frustrations about not being able to shop in the local natural food market independently and easily.  You can find the original post here and the update here.

When I was in the store recently, a manager saw me and came to talk to me about my request.  He was unsure about the details, so I called the manager who met with me several weeks ago.  I am happy to report that the management has agreed to order a motorized scooter with a basket!  I was elated when I heard the news!  This is exactly what I was hoping for.  There is no given time frame for when it will arrive, but you can be sure I'll stay on top of it. ;)  I'm grateful that they recognize the need for this, realize it's possible, and that they're finally following through with my request. This is going to help so many other people besides myself!

Monday, May 04, 2015

Mindful Monday - Listen with the Intent to Understand

Over the past week a lot has been said about the events taking place in Baltimore.  Social media exploded with images and comments about what people think is right or wrong.  We've shared opinions and exercised our right to speak freely.

But how much listening have we done?  I mean, how much have we truly listened?  Not much.  As students this is a skill we were taught.  An expectation, actually.  Yet, something happens in adulthood.  The very thing we're expecting our children to do is something we as adults are not doing enough of ourselves.  How can we expect our future generation to do this if we're not following our own set of expectations?

Of all the comments I've seen on social media, the one I'm about to share with you had the most profound impact on me.  It was written by a sports broadcaster in Baltimore.  I invite you to read it.  When you read it, read it with the intent to understand.

" Over the past couple of weeks as tensions have risen to a boil in Baltimore I have intentionally avoided making any comments about the swirl of surreal scenes that have unfolded: A drug store burning, tear gas in the streets, an empty Camden Yards, Ravens players reaching out to high school students, angry crowds, prideful parents, hopeful residents, prayerful communities. I have watched a flood of traffic fill Twitter, the indelible images stretching across TV screens, and the screech of anger from all corners of the larger community and all walks of life. It seems as if everyone wants to be right and wants to pass judgement.

Here are some of the things I have learned:

- Complex problems don't lend themselves to solutions of 140 characters or less.

- Opinions and emotions are dangerous dance partners.

- Telling other people how they should live their lives flies in the face of the concept of liberty.

- The right of expression must find common ground with the rights of property and business owners to achieve real effectiveness.

- There comes a point at which talking adds nothing more than noise to a situation.

But the most important thing I have taken away from Baltimore's spring of 2015 is that we all need to listen more. Perhaps one day they will develop an app for that, an app where we just listen to each other—with no need to comment, contest, challenge, or confront. Just listen.

There are more than enough commentators to this situation as it moves from percolating anger to joyful celebration. I won't be one of them.

I am not African American. I do not live in a neighborhood with high crime and low employment. I do not feel helpless or without resources. I have never flinched because I made eye contact with a police officer. And I am not qualified to comment on how life looks and feels from any of those perspectives. But I am qualified to listen. We all are. And it is my greatest hope that what we have seen unfold in Baltimore becomes a spring board not to a larger platform for any individual or groups, but simply an inspiration for all of us—people of any age, any race, any gender—to put more pause into our lives, more pause filled with the lost art of listening. Not listening to judge. Listening to understand. Not listening to agree or disagree. Listening to understand.

No life can be brought back. No injury can be unrendered. No errors in judgement can be corrected in the past. But if we listen without need to judge we can begin to change the future together and create a future where understanding replaces undermining, a future where empathy diffuses anger, a future where we build stronger relationship instead of merely rebuilding old problems that will find a way to erupt again.

This is my hope for my town and for yours—wherever you call home. Because if you think this is a problem that belongs to only Baltimore then I would suggest you aren't listening." - Gerry Sandusky

As we begin a new week, I invite you to join me in truly listening.  Be mindful of what others are saying.  Don't judge or listen with the intent of stating your opinion.  Listen with the intent to understand.  Permanent and positive change can only happen when we've mastered this skill.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Five for Friday - Five Positive Newsworthy Events

Five Positive Things Have Been Happening in Baltimore This Week

1. Today there are only two places listed on the website I looked at for closings and delays. This is a huge improvement from Tuesday!

2. When school was closed on Tuesday due to the rioting that took place Monday night, some students voluntarily used their time to clean up the streets. THIS is the future of our youth. Many adults voluntarily helped as well.

3. Although for the first time in Major League Baseball history a game was played in a stadium full of empty seats, The Baltimore Orioles managed to pull off an 8-2 win yesterday! Fans showed their support in various ways. Some stood at the gates of the stadium, some rented hotel rooms that overlook the stadium and watched from there, and some watched from the balconies of their apartments. Many others "checked in" at the stadium on their smartphones. They were there even if they couldn't be there!

4. Children are taking care of the police officers, making sure they stay well hydrated. THIS is the future of our youth!

5. Music is being used to bring people together. ONE THOUSAND people showed up for an outdoor concert on Wednesday!

What are some positive things that happened in your neck of the woods?  Please share below!