Wellness Wednesday #11 – Game Changers

It’s been a hot minute since I was able to write anything on the blog, let alone anything about WELLNESS. I have been keeping myself busy in other ways and not putting too much pressure on myself to be superwoman. Thus, some things I love have slid a little this semester while doing other things I love…..like teaching and being involved in my kiddos school/sports/lives.

But, today I am thinking hard about a movie I watched lately…..Game Changers.

If you haven’t seen that Netflix documentary yet you may be thinking that it’s just like all of the other ones out there about sport and nutrition and it’s going to be preachy and annoying…..well, it’s not.

While Game Changers doesn’t teach me anything that I didn’t already know, it just keeps reaffirming for me the things that I do know in my head, my heart, and my gut about my diet. Lately I feel this strong urge to stop eating meat. It’s not enjoyable to me, it doesn’t make me feel positive about my food choices, and for many years it plagued me when I traveled. I also feel detached from eating dairy. We have already replaced a lot of dairy in our house with almond/coconut/cashew alternatives. I just feel like I want to do more.

For lunch today I had a burrito bowl….a staple meal at our house. I added leftover sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving and some avocado. I was tempted to put in cheese and sour cream, but I didn’t because something in my head reminded me that I didn’t need it. I used the only chips we had that were covered in cheese, but as I added them I wished that we had some corn at home that I could have added instead. I like the salt and crunch, not the chips themselves, so I could have had something else that met that need.

The biggest hurdle to eating the way I want to eat is the people I live with. I get a lot of push-back about not having meat because it’s something that we’ve become accustomed to. But, just because you’re used to something doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Smokers know that smoking’s not good for them….abuse is not good for you, pollution is not good for you…..we know that just because we have done it that way doesn’t mean we have to keep doing it that way. Habits are hard to change.

Recently a friend of mine who had been so against my messages of less animal product consumption messaged me. Their family had gone vegan after finally looking at the scientific research that supports a plant based diet. All of a sudden they have more energy and feel better and not just physically, but better about their life and their choices and about how they’re living sustainably!

Yesterday a different friend of mine was lamenting about the same issue I face….the family push-back. I know I have done this to myself. I was the one who gave my children dairy and eggs and meat. Now I am trying to take it away. I do this for their health and their wellness and the sustainability of a lifestyle that comes with it. I just wish I had someone to back me in this process. On this issue my wellness suffers not just because of the animal products we’re consuming, but because of the lack of community and support I feel on this journey.

I don’t know if I will ever be fully vegan, but I am on a journey in that direction and would love it if you’d come along. Go plant for yourself, your planet, your family, your future, your happiness, your health, your wellness!

Fave Reads Friday #15 – Devoured

Things I write about from time to time are the food that I eat and the books that I read and occasionally books about about food. Back in March and April when I was traveling a ton for NETA I was able to get some serious reading done. One book I completely destroyed in a single weekend was Devoured: How What We Eat Defines Who We Are by Sophie Egan.

 

Continue reading “Fave Reads Friday #15 – Devoured”

Wellness Wednesday #5 – Food for Thought

Last week I was only able to crank out a Wellness Wednesday post on the topic of Sensing. I had hoped to also sneak in a Meditation Monday post and a Fave Reads Friday about a book I’m reading….and then I didn’t even write a travel post about my time in Sheboygan! Isn’t that just fun to say? Sheboygan. Try it. Anyway…..Six inches of snow and below freezing temps and now, here we are again at Wednesday and it’s time to talk about EATING…. Continue reading “Wellness Wednesday #5 – Food for Thought”

Meditation Monday #41 – How to Meditate: The 5 Koshas (Pranamaya)

I swear that all Mondays are rainy ones now and it puts a real damper on my running…especially when I can’t wake up in the morning because my 4yo threw up at 3am and I had to do the usual clean up from that nonsense. Well, after that amazingly long run on sentence, how was your weekend? I went to Myrtle Beach on Saturday to see Chevelle at the House of Blues.

The House of Blues is a great venue for watching concerts and offers a fun “pass the line” feature if you eat at their restaurant. The restaurant is not super vegan/veg friendly, but I also said that we weren’t being strict about that when we go out to eat…..and I paid for it later anyway. I did, however, find myself choosing options that contained more veggies than I used to go for when I was out to eat. I ended up with a spicy turkey burger that was packed full of peppers (and sodium). I really wanted to try the veg sandwich with eggplant or the house salad, but opted for spicy this time around. Spicy is probably one of my favorite flavors, but you have to make sure it’s not too spicy because then you can’t enjoy it.

You may wonder why I’m spending all of this time talking about food? Well, that’s because food is a source of energy. I talk about this all of the time when I teach the PT Workshop and how language has changed. Diet used to mean the culmination of all the food and beverages you consumed. Now it means something restrictive to your eating/drinking patterns. Organic really means containing carbon (hence most food should technically be organic), but now means grown without added pesticides/hormones/genetically modified something. And calorie….or actually kilocalorie….is a measure of energy; not something to be dreaded and counted.

Energy is the essence behind the second of the Kosha layers: Pranamaya. You may have read some posts here on OGB about Pranayama, aka breathing techniques. Pranayama is often translated from Sanskrit to mean: Expansion of the Life Force. This makes sense as prana is your energy and I don’t know anyone who can survive without breathing. The Pranamaya layer represents all of those things that keep you alive. So, where do you get your energy from?

Some yogis claim to go without eating for days or weeks because they just soak up energy from the sun, nature, and sharing it from those around us. I’m not sure if I’m that deep of a yogini, but I do believe that we feed off of each other’s energy. I’ve written about that some in regards to Asteya and stealing from other’s energy.

The energy layer is also represented, in yoga and other practices, as the Chakra level. I keep meaning to write more about the Chakras, but haven’t gotten to that part of our practice together yet. My Yoga I class studies the Chakras and talk about the ways in which their energies are balanced from the most primal level (having enough to eat, clothing, shelter, security, etc) to the highest level of enlightenment (the goal of any good yoga practice).

In our Hatha (physical) yoga practice we often focus on the Pranamaya layer through those breathing exercises, but it is also important to think deeper. Ask yourself:

  • What energizes and inspires me? Remember that the word inspiration means to breath in as well as to fill with an urge to do something.
  • How do I want people to feel when I leave the room? Think about the energy that you exude.
  • What is one behavior I can change that would benefit my Pranamaya layer? Think about ways that you steal your own energy.

These questions are adaptations of the questions found in Pacheco’s book Do Your OM Thing. It’s a great resource for getting deeper into the Koshas. For me, the answers are

  • Practicing yoga, reading new books/blog posts, and exercising because those things help me reach toward enlightenment. They fill me with the desire to learn more, push harder, and learn to accept.
  • I want people to feel happy in my presence and like I am a trustworthy person. I want people to feel calm and centered in my presence, but also inspired to learn more in what I share/teach with/to them.
  • And the behavior I have changed most recently is becoming more aware of how my food fuels my body and my soul. I am still not fully committed to eliminating all animal products all of the time (don’t think I can sacrifice my honey in my tea yet), but I’m making the change for the right reason for me….and that reason is for me and my health. It’s for my Pranamaya layer.

One of my goals for the Wellness Training I am doing for the fall is to take 20 minutes once a week to breathe. So far I’ve fallen short of this goal, but the goal is one that would help my Pranamaya layer and I encourage you to also find 20 minutes this week to just breathe and contemplate your energy.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on/response to the questions posed above.

Breaking Up with Dairy in the Toilet Bowl of America – A Happiness Project Reset

So, it’s technically three months into this Happiness Project of mine and I’m kind of at the point of starting over. In the first month of my project I focused on getting myself well. Because the whole point of this project is to make me happy by giving me My Best Body, that included getting things right with my health. But, oh did that ever change for me in the last week?!

If you’ve read the blog at all, you know that I’m a big fan of documentaries…..I’m also a great proponent of eating what fuels you and not subscribing to restrictive eating plans. However, a shift has occurred within me that’s been coming for awhile. For a long time now I’ve felt on the verge of making a big change; something inside of me wasn’t quite yet defined, but I felt like the way I was eating was wrong for me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I watched What The Health.

Now, before you stop reading, let me put this disclaimer out there….

I still believe that each and every person has to make their own decisions based on what they feel is the right food for them and their body (diet). This decision can be made for health reasons, ethical reasons, financial reasons, cultural reasons…whatever. And I am not a Registered Dietician, so I will NEVER tell anyone what they should and shouldn’t eat.

With that in mind, I have made a choice for myself to slowly cut out animal products. Why? Because for some time now I’ve felt that they didn’t benefit me in the way that they used to. The food didn’t make me feel as good (hence the reason I went mostly meatless on travel weekends), it didn’t taste as good, it felt like a crutch. After watching many of the disturbing and disgusting facts presented in a wide variety of food documentaries, after always being informed about the secret funding behind our food guidance systems, and after my own experiences with dietary intake, I decided that dairy and meat aren’t really for me.

So, because I didn’t make this decision in an instant and I didn’t do it for ethical reasons (although I wish I could say that I did), I am making a slow transition away from these foods. I’m just not buying more dairy as it gets used up. I’m just not buying more meat as it gets used up. I am going to allocate more of my food budget toward whole fruits and vegetables. I enjoy almond milk and am going to try making my own cashew milk. I am going to try some alternative dairy products and eat more whole grains. I am going to explore different snacks and flavors. I’m rethinking what breakfast means. I am exploring and giving myself until the end of 2017 to see how this experiment goes.

The only expectation I have at this point is to try. I want to live happy and free from disease. I want to love the body that I’m in and feel that I am taking care of it. I am resetting my Happiness Project to have My Best Body in 2017!

Have you seen the documentary?

How do you make your food choices?

What is your favorite meatless meal?

Coming Down

It’s been awhile since I’ve written on the blog….a little over a week. On Monday I had every intention of posting about how wonderful it was to have taken my last dose of Prednisone, but the truth is that this week has been a little of ups and downs. In my health journal I have seen my first smile on Tuesday when I went for a run with a friend and didn’t have to take the meds, but also my first frown because Wednesday I was so fatigued and couldn’t get off the couch to go exercise.

I am pretty okay with the neutral face days because that means that I’m still getting life done. I had another smile on Thursday while getting to experience Goddess Yoga as taught by a former student of mine. Things are looking up, but coming down from the Prednisone has meant that I’m more tired, my mind has slowed down, and I’m adjusting to the old eating patterns again.

And today? Today gets another smile! Today I am in Rochester, New York at one of my favorite workshop sites (Rochester Athletic Club for Women) teaching the NETA Pilates Specialty Certification. I love this place because the women are amazing, the facility is super clean, and the host, Nikki, is fabulous! I would work for her if I lived in this area.

I’m also getting the opportunity to eat at one of my favorite restaurants….Root 31. Today I had their Mediterranean Flatbread for lunch and it was so good that I ate it before I could snag a photo for you. For dinner I had to indulge in my go to Beets and Sweets salad. At first I thought it was a little smaller than last year, but it still hit the spot after my 4 mile walk on the treadmill. I wanted to run, but seriously….the treadmill is so close to the ceiling at this hotel that I was afraid of going through the roof!

Now I’m just prepping for another great day of Pilates training, one last meal at Root 31, my trip home, and a better week ahead. Check in with me on Monday for a full recap of my weekend away plus the start of a new Meditation series (think How to Meditate); Wednesday we’ll be breathing together in a different way; and Saturday I’m back doing another race for RTE.

How is your health holding up?

What is on your agenda for the week ahead?

What was the best part of your weekend?

Health in 5 Easy Steps

One of my least favorite terms as a fitness professional is the word “HEALTHY”. Why does it rub me the wrong way? Well, because it’s hard to define in some instances. The definition of HEALTH that we use for the NETA PT Workshop is:

 

Health: Freedom from disease AND the capacity to enjoy life and withstand challenges.

Last week on Monday, when I started describing my Happiness Project I said that the first thing I wanted out of MY BEST BODY was:

To be in good health and not currently fighting minor nor chronic disease

So, for the first month of this project I will be focusing on my health in this regard. Continue reading “Health in 5 Easy Steps”

New Foods

We’re now on the backside of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. It’s something that I think a lot of people I know struggle with from time to time and I thought it pertinent to mention. Also of importance is this great post I read over the weekend:

I was looking at my calendar the other day and planning out meals through the end of March and into April. I like to rotate things, especially our staples: Mexican food, something grilled, something seafood, something pasta, and breakfast for dinner. We usually eat something from each category each week because I try to bring a balance of what my kids will already eat to exposing them to a little something new and also a dash of what I WANT from time to time. Continue reading “New Foods”

Limited Choices and Holiday Eating

My son’s school sent out this article that I think you all should read. At the bottom I have some thoughts related to the article and the upcoming holiday season and specifically eating during the holiday season.  This article is super applicable if you have children, work with children, interact regularly with children, or know adults that are like children….Enjoy!

LIMITED CHOICES

By Chip DeLorenzo, M.Ed.

One of the first classroom management tools that many of us learned, to redirect or set limits with children, is limited choices. This month, I’d like to explore this topic in some detail. I have found that the term limited choice is used frequently among Montessori educators, but just as often, it is used without an understanding of the principles behind the discipline tool that make it a respectful and effective way to interact with children and set clear and appropriate boundaries. Without an understanding of the principles, a discipline tool simply becomes a technique. Techniques fail because they are focused on the adult and the adult’s priorities, rather than on the child. The child becomes an object rather than the subject when the adult tries to employ a discipline tool as a technique. Let’s first explore the principle behind limited choices. Using limited choices is a respectful way to set limits with children while honoring their right and capability to make appropriate choices for themselves, while respecting others. Limited choices let the child know that they are part of plan, but that there are limits that are developmentally appropriate and respectful to everyone involved. Next, let’s explore what a limited choice is. A limited choice is simply a decision, given to a child by an adult, between two or more alternatives. The alternatives should be developmentally appropriate, reasonable, respectful and acceptable to the child, the adult and for the situation. Some examples of appropriate, respectful and acceptable limited choices: “You may eat the lunch your mother packed you, or you may make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for yourself. You choose.” “You may put away your yogurt first, or your cracker first. Which one do you choose?” “You may scoop the beans off the floor with your hands, or with a whisk broom and dustpan. What would you like to use?” “You may finish your math now, or after you eat snack. You choose?” “Would you like to bring him the Peace Rose, or put this on the class meeting agenda?” “You may write a report on any of the fundamental needs of the Ancient Romans. Please make your decision by tomorrow before lunch.” “You have four overdue assignments. You’re welcome to do them after school while I’m preparing my lessons, come in early and work on them in morning care, or bring them home for the weekend. Which would you prefer?” Adults, without realizing it, can find themselves in power struggles with students when they misunderstand the principles behind limited choices. This happens when an adult gives a student choices that are not developmentally appropriate, reasonable, respectful or acceptable to the child, the adult or the situation. Here are some examples: “You may put your lunch away or go sit in the office.” (This is a threat, and not acceptable to the child.) “You may come inside with the group, or stay on the playground by yourself.” (This is also a threat, and most likely an empty one that the adult cannot follow through with. It is not acceptable to the adult or the situation.) “You may put your lunch away, or leave it on the floor to be stepped on.” (This is not acceptable or respectful to the situation and the community.) “Would you like to do your math now, or during recess.” (This may not be respectful or acceptable to the adult who has other responsibilities after school, and not respectful to the student who needs time outside.) “You may write a research report on anything that interests you.” (This choice is most likely too broad for the student, and therefore not developmentally appropriate. Some children may choose topics that are not acceptable to the adults, or the situation, and this will lead to rejection of the idea later by the adult. It’s not a choice in the end.) Limited choices for younger children will be more concrete and limited, based on their developmental readiness. As students get older their choices will, appropriately, be broader. For instance, an adolescent may be given a much wider range of time to complete an agreed upon project, because they hopefully have developed the executive functioning to allow them to manage their time, make choices and experience the consequences (positive and negative) of those choices. Sometimes, children will push back, with a response to a limited choice, like, “I don’t what to do either of those.” If this occurs, we can simply respond with a statement like this, “That’s not one of the choices,” and then just remain silent, warm and present! If the child persists, just remaining silent and waiting for them to respond, without reacting, sends a powerful message: I care. I trust you to follow through with your responsibilities, and I will do the same. Until next time…
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Each year we head into this time known as the HOLIDAY SEASON and everyone panics about food. I hear so many people go on diets, start restricting, and demonizing foods because of the holidays and the massive amount of comfort foods/sweets that go along with this time of year. I say, forget the stress! This time of year is about celebration and if you celebrate with food, so be it.

How does this apply to the document above?

Well, since we don’t want to go crazy and eat until we’re stuffed, but also don’t want to give ourselves a million rules about eating so that we feel so restricted and set up for failure (you know you’ll eat the pie no matter what…). What if we gave ourselves limited and appropriate decisions?

I’ve written a lot about Mindful Eating in the past and I think that this approach goes along with Limited Decisions. So, let’s look at it this way:

I am eating Thanksgiving dinner and I’ve tried a little of everything…but I’m still hungry and I’m really digging the mashed potatoes and, yet, we haven’t hit dessert time yet. What limited decisions could I give myself?

Inappropriate decision making would say:

I have to stop eating all together because I’m trying to be good this year and I really shouldn’t have eaten as much as I did already.

or

I can wait and eat pie, but tomorrow I will have to hit the gym for at least an hour of cardio in order to make up for it and I definitely have to skip lunch.

Limited decision making with Mindful Eating tactics might say:

My two choices are that I eat the mashed potatoes because they are good and then maybe have dessert later when I am hungry again

or

I choose to wait for dessert because that’s what I really want anyway

or

I am here to celebrate and enjoy this moment, so I will have a small helping of more mashed potatoes and then a small piece of pie, enjoying the best of both worlds without feeling guilty, overly full, or caring what others think.

I think the whole thing about limited decisions is to give yourself appropriate choices. Choices that feed your body, your soul, your preferences, and the moment you choose to be in while being aware of the forces guiding the decision making process. I’m not choosing to wear “Thanksgiving Day Pants” and stuff myself to the max, but I’m also not denying myself the enjoyment of celebration and the good taste of food!

 

How do you eat on Thanksgiving and during the holiday season?