Sunday, July 27, 2014

"Reel" Food

I just returned late last night from a four day fishing trip in Alaska.  This is an annual trip that my brother treats our family to, a rugged Deadliest Catch kind of bonding. After 13 years of making this trip, and at the end of each one swearing I will never do it again, I find myself packing up my dramamine, wool beanie and thermal underwear for the next annual adventure.

I’m not sure what it is about this trip.  It’s definitely not the getting up at 4:30 am, being out in a boat on the ocean in windy and rainy conditions, or being so exhausted at the end of the trip that I need a couple more days just to recover.  But when it is over there is a feeling of accomplishment, the slaying of the dragon, and our bond becomes a little tighter with each war (fish) story we share and the many laughs that accompany them.

A surprisingly and wonderful sunny, calm moment ~  
These trips are about much more than fishing. They are what we call primary food.  Primary food is the way we feed our souls, the way we feed our relationships, our careers, our joy, our need for connection.  And speaking of connection, it is so obvious to me when I am on this trip, away from my computer, my cellphone, emails and Facebook, that this is what true connection means.  Face to face, together in the trenches.  Those trenches can be true "down in the dirt" or shopping together in the designer jean aisle at Neiman Marcus.  Doesn’t matter.  The fact is we are together, in the flesh, sharing our time, sharing the experience.

For me, one of the hardest parts of coming back home after those four beautifully challenging days is that I have to turn the computer back on.  Panning through the numerous emails to find that my delete button is showing it's wear and that the only messages that really matter are a mere handful. Looking through all the Facebook posts that have accumulated during my downtime, only to find that, truthfully, I could have lived the rest of my life without knowing the majority of what is going on in the lives of most of these people.

Social media and all the rest is a part of the way we live now and it is not going away. And, I am very aware of the advantages, especially when it comes to business.  But it is extremely important to remember that when it comes to true relationships and friendships, social media should be treated more like a garnish.  The real meal by which we are nourished comes from relationships that are shared and nurtured when we are together. We are filled up when we share real experiences, a good belly laugh, stories, and conversation.

It is important to feed your relationships, your friendships, with true connection. If you can give your time, give it ~ in the form of a visit, an outing or a phone call. And while you might “like” their photos and status updates on Facebook, make sure you are giving them the true attention they deserve.  Hearing someone you care about laugh can go a whole lot further than an emoticon when it comes to lifting our spirit and healing our soul.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Massage ~ getting rubbed the right way

You might be delighted to hear that massage, once thought of as a "luxury item" or something you received an occasional gift certificate for on your birthday, really needs to be part of your regular health regime.

Not only does massage feel incredibly good, works those aching muscles and gets your blood circulating, we now know that it does a great job reducing that stress hormone cortisol from continuing to run on high. That stress hormone, Cortisol, is released in response to fear or stress by the adrenal glands as part of the fight-or-flight mechanism. Like when you come home and see your teenage daughter wearing a much too short mini-skirt, or the repo man with your car in tow, you know, things like that.

But it seems that in our fast paced world and stressful lives our cortisol doesn't know when to kick off.  It stays running.  And it can go up and down, to extremes. Like an air conditioner you forgot to turn off at night and wake up to a freezing morning.  It is a waste of energy.

Cortisol also increases blood sugar when you're feeling stressed and that excess glucose becomes stored as fat once the stressful event is over. Cortisol has been blamed for abdominal fat, as you've seen on so many ads that have been running lately.

Studies have shown that deep-tissue massage lowered cortisol and raised oxytocin, the hormone of alleviation and bonding.  The studies also showed that massage improved immune function, slows the heart rate and lowers blood pressure.

So while I realize that not all of us can afford a weekly massage, we can probably recruit a family member or partner to do an exchange with us.  Some kind of barter system.  Get creative. But it seems that touch, and in this case, massage, is vitally important for so many reasons.  I mean, what a wonderful way to reduce stress, build your immune system and feel a little love.  Not a bad prescription for a healthier you, eh?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Seed Cycling and the hormone connection

Hormones ~ what the hell are they really, and how in the world can they wreak such havoc on someone’s life?  I remember well my teen years, when mere innocence gets replaced by a tsunami of hormonal upheaval, trading hopscotch for cramps, Chinese Jump Rope for headaches, and the monkey bars for a face full of breakouts ~ it doesn’t seem quite a fair exchange.

Later, after I had given birth to my daughter, my hormones just seemed to be pissed off.  Of course, there was still the steady supply of bloating and achiness, but now they were accompanied by an incredible 3-day migraine that became a permanent monthly fixture. They were also accompanied by blurry vision, nausea, you know, the whole enchilada.  Then came the night sweats (luckily I didn’t have too many hot flashes, like my best friend, Virginia, who always exclaimed she was going to tear off her clothes and run down the street naked ~ and I’m sure she made good on that exclamation a time or two.)

But probably one of the worst things, and the one thing most misunderstood by the innocent bystander (usually the men in our lives and our children) are the mood swings.  These moods swings would randomly and without any notice, show up and have me crying, depressed, grouchy, and definitely not a pretty picture to be around. They were accompanied by more drama than a daytime soap opera. My then husband (lord help him) would collect my daughter and patiently take her out for Chinese food, or anywhere, just to have some peace for a short time. He would give me what he hoped would be ample time to sulk in my own misery before calling to make sure the coast was clear before they headed home.

Now 25+ years later, and I’m still dealing with it.  It seemed I had broke through, rounded the corner, that I was free for awhile.  But no, recently I woke again with night sweats, and those familiar pounding headaches.  And, they’ve been lasting three days. 

Hormones are not something that we only have to deal with periodically.  They are here to stay, fluctuating and changing their minds on a regular basis. Sometimes they get out of whack, go into hiding and then reappear like a game of hide and seek.  And they always jump out from around the corner and scare the hell out of you. But taking hormone replacement therapy scares me even more.

So, here I am now with what I hope to be some good news.  I just discovered something called seed cycling and have just started doing this.  This is new to me, I have no idea how long it has actually been around, but I’m guessing a long time.

Seed cycling integrates different seeds into the diet at different times to support optimal hormonal balance.  Basically, you eat a tablespoon daily of certain seeds for two weeks, and then the same amount of different seeds the remaining two weeks of each month.  The idea is that seeds carry certain oils, vitamins and nutrients that can help support the body’s production, release and metabolism of hormones.  Different seeds contain different types and amounts of lignans (a chemical compound) and essential fatty acids.  Lignans help our body bind up excess hormones, whereas fatty acids help with our hormone production.

I could tell you all about it, but I think if you just Google it, you’ll find much more than I can offer. I will post one link here where you can go to read up on this practice. The author knows a lot more about it, is clear and precise, making it easy to follow. Seed cycling ~ oh yeah, I’m all over it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Little did they know ~

The doctor basically called me a liar.  I was 13, sitting with my mother in his office as she laid out the story of how her 13 year old daughter had gained a whopping 30 pounds in 3 months.  She told him how she cooked the right foods for me, watched the calorie intake, and still, something strange was happening.  He looked at me, and then looked at my mother and asked “Is she hiding food under her bed? She must be hiding food somewhere.”

At the time, which was around 1970, the school of thought was “burn more calories than you consume, and, a calorie is a calorie.” Plain and simple.  There was no thought given to metabolism, hormones, chemicals, allergies, or any other possible explanations.  Everyone assumed that if you were overweight, you ate too much and were just a lazy couch potato.

5 years later, at eighteen, I had surgery and was in a hospital bed for 10 straight days. And though I can’t quite remember all the details, I do know that for the first few days I was on a liquid diet while the remainder of my stay I consumed nothing more than hospital food, and still unbelievably managed to gain 10 pounds. The doctors had no explanation for it.

Somewhere around my early 20’s, the extra weight just seemed to disappear. It was so gradual that I didn’t even notice.  It just seemed I woke up one day and realized I was no longer fat.  I hadn’t been dieting. In fact, I hadn’t changed anything that I could think of.  No radical exercise regime, no stress, and no change in eating habits.  It was just gone. Through the years I managed to keep the extra weight off. Occasionally I would go up an extra five or sometimes even 10 pounds, but I never took it off by dieting.  It just seemed that somehow without my involvement, it would just disappear.

Now, in my 50’s, I’ve been facing the same situation. But this time I come armed with much more nutritional, emotional, and physical ammunition. I’ve learned a lot.  The biggest and most important discovery I have made over all of these years, as I have struggled to maintain what I felt was a good and healthy weight for me, is that it is about much more than the food.

I received my training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I was trained in more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. Drawing on this knowledge, I will help you create a completely personalized “roadmap to health” that suits your unique body, lifestyle, preferences, and goals. My mission is to help those who have had similar frustrations and are at a loss with what to do next.  Together, we can figure this out.

Learn more about my training and my unique approach to health coaching.

Are you curious about how health coaching can help you? Let’s talk. Schedule an initial consultation with me today.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Divine Intervention

Can I go off again on the subject of aging?  I do know that I’ve sung this song a time or two, but mainly to the tune of all the physical break downs. As much as I’ve complained about the faulty eye sight, the aching joints, the stiff lower back, the mornings that take a little longer to welcome in the day, I don’t know if I’ve touched on the pure emotional toll aging takes on a person.

It’s hard sometimes to stay present and be in that state of gratitude for everyday that you wake up breathing.  Yes, I know I should get down on my knees and kiss the ground each morning. Let out a big hallelujah that I have been gifted another day of life on the planet.  And occasionally, I do remember to do this.  Usually it is on the days that my coffee tastes incredibly good.

Today I was driving near the City College and a few young girls passed me on their morning jog.  Not together. They came one after the other.  It was one of the rare times that reality sort of grabs my attention, reminds me of yesteryear, and I feel a deep sense of loss as it goes sashaying by.  It hit me how these young people have so much opportunity ahead of them, so many choices that they can make, so many different directions they can take.  And I felt excited.  For them.

But it is a melancholy day when you realize that most of your major life decisions have already been made, you have already had your chance to choose a career, the size of your family, the man/woman of your dreams, the place to call home, you've rounded third, you know, not much to do now but slide. Now this is just an observation, and nothing more. This is not a I'm not really gonna do it suicide note, a letter of regret to my past loves, or anything of the sort. I realize that life is not over and there is still plenty to do and choices to make. But they’re just not the BIG ones. And there are times I’d welcome a do-over on the BIG ones.

I know a lot of times people look back and many of them say, “I wouldn’t have had it any other way” ~ I wonder how true this statement is.  I wouldn’t have it any other way either as far as the friends I’ve made, the family that I have, and the daughter that has blessed my life like no other. 

And yet, there are so many things I would’ve done different.  If I'd only thought things through a bit more, if I would’ve known that so much depended on the decisions I would make, if I'd really taken this "life" thing seriously.  Especially that old saying "life is short" or "in the end, it's the blink of an eye."  I wonder where life would have taken me if I would’ve adopted an attitude of “planning” as opposed to the more, free spirited, “there are no mistakes” mantra.  Could that even possibly be true?  That there are no mistakes? If you want to feel comfortable in all of your choices, you can subscribe to that school of spiritual thought, that we are all exactly where we are supposed to be in this very moment and all others. 

So then, this is it.  Everything is exactly as it should be. Well, okay, things really aren't too bad. It's just that sometimes I wish I would have been consulted about my own divine plan.

Falling back in Love