Posts filed under ‘Lifestyle’
Ugh. Limits. I hate having limits. I don’t like knowing that I can’t do something. I don’t want to say no or ask for help. I don’t want to be that high-maintenance person that can’t eat this, and can’t drink that. But you know what? I DO have limits. I really can’t eat certain foods or stay up all late or drink a bottle of red wine with my girlfriends because I’ll get sick. Every time. Whenever I try to push my limits too far, guess what? I get sick.
The truth is, we all have limits. Some people can manage on very little sleep and function normally. Some of us can’t. My husband can go hours and hours without eating and feel fine. I miss a meal and I’ll get über crabby and then proceed to pass out. Limits can be imposed by our bodies, our finances, and even our fears. We all have them, but we don’t always actually listen to those limits and then we get into trouble.
I’ve always been the busy girl involved in every club, every sport and every social scene. I used to say Yes to everyone and then suffer through the consequences of exhaustion and bad food choices. I’m beginning to learn that it’s OK to say No. It’s OK to be particular about how I spend my precious stores of energy and be picky about what I put into my body. It’s OK to cut ties with people who only drain my energy and cause me stress.
I’m coming to terms with my limits and beginning to listen to my body, and instead of feeling like I’m missing out, I’m actually happier because I feel so much better without the headaches and nausea. Instead of my friends being irritated with me, they’ve been amazingly supportive. Surprisingly, everyone was fine with my limits but me! I’m going to continue to work on being gentle with myself and accepting my limits.
Is there anything in your life screaming out for you to stop? Do you feel “limited”? If so, how does that affect your life?
Today I didn’t have yoga and I miss it! Yoga days are my favorite days. I’m looking forward to being more confident in my yoga abilities so that on my off days, I can do a full session at home. There are a few basic-and I mean basic–poses that I can easily do on my own, but it’s just not the same as going to the comfortingly warm and sunny studio in my neighborhood. Also, my yoga instructor is irreplaceable. She knows exactly how to describe a pose so that I get my body alignment just right, and gently encourages me to push a little further than I think I can go so that I get the most out of the position.
When I first decided to sign up, I was planning on only going once a week to keep my budget under control. Once a week turned into twice a week, then three times a week, and now I’m contemplating buying the “unlimited” monthly package so that I can go everyday. Yoga is seriously my new favorite time of the day. Bedtime used to be my favorite time of the day, but now I have more energy…from yoga… so yoga’s my favorite now.
Why do I love yoga so much?
- It clears my always frantic mind and reduces stress.
- It helps me feel relaxed yet energized.
- My flexibility is improving.
- The chronic muscle tension in my neck and shoulders (where I carry stress) is easing up.
- I enjoy the open and caring sense of community in my classes-maybe I’ll make new friends!
- Oh, and getting great abs and a cute butt doesn’t hurt either!
I love yoga so much now, that I’m actually looking forward to getting up at 6:00 am on a Saturday for class tomorrow!
Why is Yoga So Great?
Yoga is a holistic practice meaning it focuses on all elements of the person and aims to bring balance and wellness. Translated, Yoga literally means, “to yoke or join together.” Yoga focuses on the mind-body connection, although more Americanized forms of yoga tend to focus more on the “physical” aspect of yoga than the mental or spiritual. Do your research and find a class that fits your style and an instructor who you feel comfortable with.
Yoga is an excellent form of complementary medicine. Many people practice yoga to strengthen their bodies after injury or illness, reduce stress and tension caused by stress, boost the body’s immune system, sharpen mental acuity, fight mental illness and ease depression. Yoga is often recommended for those suffering from chronic pain syndromes, and even cancer. Yoga teaches you to listen to your body and a good instructor will never encourage you to do any poses that cause pain.
Is yoga really for everyone? Yes!
Yoga isn’t just for the ultra svelte hot blonde. Anyone can do it and anyone can reap the benefits of yoga’s deep stretches and breaths. You don’t need impressive flexibility or a wardrobe full of Lululemon to participate. Many yoga studios offer classes and one-on-one sessions for beginning yogis, and there are hoards of YouTube videos, books, and DVD’s that make it possible to practice yoga at home. Also, once you’ve learned a few basic poses, you can really do yoga anywhere you’d like. I love to watch people practice yoga in a grassy park, or on the beach.
As a newbie yogi myself, I’ll admit that it took me a long time to actually GO to yoga because of numerous silly fears and doubts in my abilities. I am not flexible. Not one bit. I honestly can’t even touch my own toes. At first, I used this as an excuse, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I NEED to do yoga BECAUSE I’m not flexible! Mind blowing revelation, huh. Also, I was a bit self-conscious knowing that I would likely need a lot of help learning the poses and following along. I didn’t want people to see how inflexible and uncoordinated I was. Here’s where genius revelation #2 sinks in. Maybe, yoga is about overcoming your insecurities, focusing on your body and breathing and the learning process, and not what other people think of you. As you can probably see, I no longer had anymore excuses and decided to join a class for beginners. It was sooo worth getting over my anxieties and I recommend it to anyone who’s been thinking about going but just too nervous to try it.
Everyone has their own reason for joining yoga and personal goals for their practice. Personally, I joined to improve my flexibility, reduce tension and stress, and heal my headaches. Your goals may be quite different, but that doesn’t mean yoga won’t benefit you.
Why are thinking of trying yoga? Do you already take part in yoga? If so, what are some of your goals for your practice?
http://bit.ly/Ikss7h (yoga basics and poses)
Inflammation is one of the major causes of chronic pain and illness. Fortunately, there are natural ways to combat inflammation in the body and prevent it from forming in the first place. Food is your friend here. Many foods are rich in anti-inflammatory compounds and can help you reduce pain. You can always add supplements to your routine, but I guarantee you’ll notice a pretty drastic change in your overall well-being if you go from a typical meat and potatoes or processed foods diet to an anti-inflammatory diet. Many people even lose weight because a lot of the unhealthy grains, sugars and starches they were eating are replaced with whole foods, fruits and vegetables. Anti-inflammatory eating isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle, so it may take a bit of time to adjust, but the positive changes in your health will be well worth it.
After extensive research on the anti-inflammatory diet, I noticed some patterns between what my acupuncturist was recommending, what my medical doctor was recommending, and what I was already doing based on my research. My doctor recommended that I take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement and adapt an anti-inflammatory diet. My acupuncturist, although never used the term, “anti-inflammatory,” advised me to eat more leafy green vegetables and fish which coincidentally, are high in omega 3′s and a huge part of the anti-inflammatory diet. Also, after researching some of the herbs she prescribed me, I noticed one of them was ginger–in heavy amounts. Ginger, leafy greens, and fish are all extremely potent inflammation killers. Personally, I had already started cutting sugar out of my diet as much as possible. No more juice, sugar in my coffee, candy, cookies, ice cream or sweetened baked goods. After a while, you really don’t even feel like eating sugar and it’s easier to implement the change. Sugar, especially white refined sugar is highly inflammatory and damaging to the body. I’ll definitely be writing a post specifically about sugar in the future because it’s an important topic with a lot of information to discuss.
The Anti-inflammatory diet isn’t actually a “diet.” It is a lifestyle choice and needs to be followed most of the time on a long-term basis to be effective. Anti-inflammatory foods are really no different from those recommended by nutritionists and doctors for a well-balanced and healthy body. Mediterranean diets closely mirror anti-inflammatory diets which may explain the general lack of obesity and chronic illness in countries who consume antioxidant and nutrient rich foods; think fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and fish.
If you up your fruit and vegetable intake, add spices to your food, and limit the amount of sugary, processed, or allergy inducing foods you’ll be well on your way to reducing harmful inflammation in your body whether you choose to stick to a strict, “anti-inflammatory diet” or simply make better food choices.
Last post I mentioned that I was going on a gluten-free and dairy-free diet. I was super nervous that I wouldn’t be able to resist cravings, especially for cheese! So far, everything has been much easier than I expected and I haven’t really felt like I’m missing out on anything. I was super surprised to discover tons of gluten and dairy substitutes out there that make it pretty easy to eat whatever you want. I’ve also bumped up my protein intake just by default, which is something I needed to do anyways.
Some of my favorite discoveries so far:
Udi’s Gluten-Free Products: I’ve tried the plain bagels and the white bread and both were pretty good. My husband actually likes the gluten-free white bread better than the sourdough that I used to buy and he doesn’t even have to eat gluten-free. Next I want to find the cinnamon-raisin bagels instead of the plain bagels.
Polenta: So yummy! Polenta is a great substitute for pasta, or even hot breakfast cereal. You can buy pre-cooked rolls of polenta that simply need microwaving or sautéing. I served marinara with zucchini and mushrooms over basil polenta and it was so good I made it again the next night. My hubby ate it with a bit of parmesan, but you can leave that off if you are avoiding dairy.
Quinoa Pasta: Made with quinoa and corn flour, this pasta is slightly nuttier than traditional seminola, and surprisingly satisfying. The nutritional content is higher than that of traditional pasta too, so it’s probably a better choice even if you aren’t eating gluten-free. My husband ate some without knowing it was gluten-free pasta and didn’t even notice a difference.
Tamari: Just like soy sauce, but gluten-free. Who knew soy sauce had gluten?
What are your favorite gluten and/or dairy substitutes? Any recipes I ought to try?
It’s amazing how when you put your thoughts out into the world things return to you! Just as I was sitting to write this post, my inbox pinged me to notify me of a new email. The topic of that email? What to Expect at your First Acupuncture Treatment from my HuffPost Healthy Living Newsletter. I wish I had this information in hand when I first decided to try acupuncture, but at least I can make it available to you now that I’ve done my research and been to a few sessions myself.
Acupuncture is a relatively new experience for me. I was very nervous to go for my first session and I’m not even one of the estimated 10% of people afraid of needles. I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. The anxiety disappeared almost immediately after I began the interview with my LAc. She really took the time to get to know me and my story while being empathetic and understanding. We spent over 45 minutes discussing my health, concerns, diet, and lifestyle before she even mentioned doing an actual treatment with the needles. It was really refreshing to have a medical professional actually LISTEN and TRUST that I know my body best (I do live in it after all). When was the last time you experienced that with a Western trained physician?
P.S. The needles used are one-time disposable needles. They are extremely flexible and thin. It’s normal to have very slight bruising.
Once I actually got to the needles, the process was pleasantly quick and easy. I felt a slight “pinch” and tenderness in some places, but no major pain. Once the needles were properly placed (the webs of fingers, ears, tops of feet, neck, head, shins, and wrists) I felt immediately relaxed and most of the pain I had at the beginning dissipated. As each needle entered my body, she asked how I was feeling, and where the site of pain/pain level were at. Occasionally she stopped to take my pulse.
Want to try acupuncture? Here are a few conditions scientifically proven compatible with acupuncture treatments.
1. Headaches and migraines (this is the primary reason I go)
3. Chronic pain
4. Hormonal/Menstrual issues and Infertility
5. Digestive Disorders
6. Nausea and Vomiting (esp. caused by chemotherapy)
8. Stress and related ailments
Most doctors and researchers will admit that acupuncture works. During my first visit, my provider said, “We all know it works both anecdotal evidence and through research. We just don’t really know how.”
If you are thinking of trying acupuncture, but just don’t know what to expect, read on.
Below are steps to ease acupuncture anxiety and mentally prepare for your first session:
- Find a licensed and reputable practitioner. Look here if you don’t already have a referral from someone you trust. Also, look for a qualified and trained herbalist as well. Traditional Chinese herbs are often a complimentary treatment and can extend the amount of time between acupuncture treatments. You definitely want a practitioner who can find the correct blend of herbs for your specific ailment. My LAc blends herbs herself and adjusts the dosage/ingredients at every visit to make sure I am getting the most out of my treatments.
- Check with your insurance provider. You may actually have acupuncture benefits in your health plan! Find a LAc who accepts your insurance if you do, in fact, have coverage.
- Be mindful and in touch with your body. Knowing how you feel both emotionally and physically will make it easier for your provider to fine tune your treatments. Also, there is some evidence to “the placebo effect” having a genuine positive affect on the effectiveness of your treatment.
- Eat something light before your treatment otherwise you may feel a bit light-headed when you’re done.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing so that you can skip the awkward hospital gown.
- Use the restroom before your treatment because once the needles are in, you’ll need to lie still for about 30 minutes.
- Bring medical records and your health history. You’ll likely be asked these questions and it’s better to bring your records than try to remember off-hand.
- Ask questions. Don’t be shy! Your provider is there to help you! Also, the more information you give them, the easier it to treat you.
- Avoid intense exercise immediately following your session. Better yet, plan out an extra half an hour to nap. Many providers recommend taking a short nap immediately after a session to maximize the benefits of your treatment.
- Drink up! Water, water, water…or green tea! Stay hydrated.
What exactly does “Alternative Medicine” consist of?
Alternative medicine is basically anything that doesn’t fall within the conventional model of medicine, AKA the Western Medical Model. Cultural or historical traditions are often the foundation for alternative medicine practices. For example, TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) is thought to date back around 2,000 years. Read more about the history of alternative medical models here.
Aromatherapy, chiropractic care, naturopathy and homeopathy are all considered forms of alternative medicine. Many people call alternative medicine “quackery,” “unscientific,” or “that hippie shit.” It’s true that some so-called alternative medicine treatments are useless or even harmful. However, it’s important to keep in mind that some are actually quite effective and may have fewer side effects than prescription medications or surgeries. Many scientific studies support claims that acupuncture, herbology, and other unconventional treatments actually make positive changes to the body and help treat patients.
Some forms of alternative medicine are more legitimate than others. Some are downright dangerous. Always do your research and consult a doctor or naturopath before using any alternative treatments. Alternative medicine practices can be used in tandem with conventional treatments to support in the healing process. It is always wise to understand your options for health care and be able to make an informed decision on your course of treatment.
Check back or follow me to receive new posts discussing the various forms of alternative medicine.
Healthy living needs to become Habit. It’s not easy changing the way you live. My personal example: Coffee. I live for my morning coffee, my afternoon coffee…and the ones in between (I know, it’s horrible, you’re cringing). It’s not just the caffeine that’s addicting. I’m addicted to the comfort of the cup, the warmth, and the glorious smell. Coffee was my go to form of self-medication for headaches and sometimes even stress. Unfortunately caffeine can cause a phenomenon called rebound (more on that in a later post) and probably contributed to my head pain more than it helped.
Honestly, it’s been super challenging to cut the amount of coffee I consume, but making healthy substitutions (like green tea) is helping. I made my usual morning coffee and only drank half today so I know it’s getting easier.
Quitting coffee isn’t necessary for everyone, but if your doctor suggests it or you’re struggling with insomnia, it just might be a good idea. Coffee in and of itself is not the problem. Caffeine is the problem. Many health sources say coffee is fine in moderation, and may even be good for you. However, it’s important to remember that coffee does contain a potentially addictive stimulant.
Wish me luck on my quitting adventure! Luck to you on yours!
Living naturally sounds quite simple. In many ways, it is. The problem, however, is that we are accustomed to using chemically laden products, eating processed foods and medicating with prescription drugs. It often seems easier to pop a pill than it does to cook a healthy meal and go for a walk. In our over-scheduled, hectic lives we often take “shortcuts” that negatively impact our health. At first, these shortcuts make our lives easier and free up precious time. However, in the long run, unhealthy practices corrode our energy and weaken our immune defenses. Making time for exercise and rest actually increases productivity and improves energy in the long run. Proper nutrition is essential for the immune system. Your body will thank you for giving it all the tools (nutrients, sleep, exercise, etc.) it needs to work properly. I guarantee you’ll be happier and feel better when you allow your body to work as designed.
On that note, it’s ok to start small. Don’t expect to make one big swooping change and live an instantly different life. Studies have shown that it takes time to change behavioral patterns and form new habits. Studies also show behavioral changes last longer when made and mastered one at a time. Give yourself one small goal and work until you reach it. For example, it was my goal to ditch the chemical additives found in most personal care products. It occurred to me that I’d have to switch shampoo, toothpaste, lotion, makeup, perfume, mouthwash, soap, laundry detergent, hair products…you get the point. One simple goal actually ended up being more complicated than I thought. Honestly, there are a lot of products I haven’t changed yet because I decided to change products as I run out of the old ones to keep from being overwhelmed and wasting what I had previously purchased. Eventually, I will have all new products but it takes time. Be kind to yourself and start where you can. Little improvements add up to make big changes.
Sometimes we slip up a little. That’s fine. Just move on and try again tomorrow. Eventually, the habit will have formed and whatever it was you were trying to change will have become a part of your life. And then you’ll smile.